Firepower leads Sox past Orioles, 10-3

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Firepower leads Sox past Orioles, 10-3

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON An offensive explosion in the first and an explosion of a different type in the eighth marked the start and finish of the Red Sox thumping of the Orioles, 10-3, Friday night at Fenway Park.

Sending 13 batters to the plate in the first inning, with eight of them scoring, there was little else the Red Sox had to do in beating the Orioles, 10-3, for the second straight game at Fenway Park.

The Sox battered Orioles left-hander Zach Britton for six hits in the first, including a three-run blast by David Ortiz, his 19th of the season. Britton lasted just two-thirds of an inning, giving up eight runs (seven earned) on six hits and two walks with one strikeout.

Dustin Pedroia added a solo shot leading off the sixth off Chris Jakabauskus

Josh Beckett, who left after the fifth inning for precautionary reasons, with a mildly hyperextended left knee, earned the win improving to 7-4 with a 2.27 ERA. He gave up three runs on seven hits and two walks with three strikeouts.

Matt Albers followed Beckett, with four strikeouts in two innings.

Two bench-clearing brawls, with four ejections, in the eighth inning, triggered by a David Ortiz-Kevin Gregg showdown marked the end of the game. Ortiz, Gregg, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Jim Johnson were all ejected.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: David Ortiz
Ortizs three-run homer in the first inning off starter Zach Britton was the big blast in the Sox eight-run barrage that inning. It was his team-leading 19th home run of the season, second in as many nights against a lefty, and 146th of his career at Fenway Park, passing Bobby Doerr for sole possession of fifth all-time. It was the seventh time he has homered in back-to-back games this season four more than he did all last year.

Ortiz went 2-for-4 with three RBI, and is now 6-for-17 with three doubles, two home runs, and five walks in five games on the homestand.

But, it was his eighth-inning fireworks that provided Ortizs signature to the game. Ortiz and Os reliever Kevin Gregg sparked two bench-clearing brawls, with the second resulting in haymakers thrown by each and four players ejected Ortiz, Gregg, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and the Os Jim Johnson.

Ortiz initially took exception to three inside pitches from Gregg that jackknifed the Sox DH, emptying both dugouts and bullpens. After flying out to center field, Ortiz objected to Greggs directions for him to run out the play to first base. Ortiz charged the mound, with an all-out brawl ensuing.

It was the ninth career ejection for Ortiz, and first for Saltalamacchia.

HONORABLE MENTION: Dustin Pedroia
For the second straight game, Pedroia blasted a titanic home run. Unlike his home run on Thursday, though, his Friday night shot leading off the sixth inning -- stayed in the park only because it hit the signage high above the Green Monster.

Pedroia went 2-for-4, raising his average to .281, with three RBI and a home run, his 10th of the season. It was the first time hes hit back-to-back home runs in consecutive games since April 10 and 11. He has homered in three of his last four games.

His first-inning single to center field extended his on-base streak to 22 games going back to June 15, the longest active streak in the AL. In that time he is 30-for-86, batting .349, with 17 walks. His eighth-inning walk was his 62nd of the season, passing Mark Bellhorn for most by a Sox second baseman prior to the All-Star break since 1946.
THE GOAT: Zach Britton
With less than a full inning of work to show for it, Britton left his team in a very deep and very early eight-run hole. It was more than the Orioles climb out of. After getting Jacoby Ellsbury to fly out to Adam Jones in center field one of two stellar catches the Os centerfield made on his Sox counterpart in the game -- to open the inning, Britton allowed the next seven Sox batters to reach base before he could record another out.

Britton went just two-thirds of an inning, giving up eight runs (seven earned) on six hits and two walks with a strikeout, and a home run. His record fell to 6-6 while his ERA climbed from 3.47 to 4.05.

THE TURNING POINT
Fans were still trying to find their seats at Fenway Park when the game was all but over. The Sox sent 13 batters to the plate in the first inning, with eight scoring. The last time the Sox scored as many runs in the first inning was on Aug. 12, 2008, against Texas, when they scored 10.

Jacoby Ellsbury led off against Zach Britton, flying out to Adam Jones, who made a nice catch, running into the triangle in center field. Dustin Pedroia singled to center Adrian Gonzalez walked. Kevin Youkilis singled through the shortstop hole, scoring Pedroia, sending Gonzalez to second. Ortiz blasted a three-run homer to right. Jason Varitek walked. Marco Scutaro singled to center, with Varitek taking third. Darnell McDonald doubled to left-center, scoring Varitek and Scutaro. Yamaico Navarro struck out. Ellsbury singled to left, scoring McDonald, and ending Brittons outing.

Brad Bergesen came in for the Os. Pedroia reached on an error by shortstop J.J. Hardy. Gonzalez singled, scoring Ellsbury, sending Pedroia to third. Youkilis grounded out to third, ending the offensive explosion.

The total: One inning, 13 batters, eight runs (seven earned), seven hits, two walks, one strikeout, one error, two runners left on base, and two pitchers. And one game virtually in the win column.

STAT OF THE DAY: 18
Sending 13 batters to the plate in the first inning, it was the 18th time the Sox have batted around this season, extending their major league lead

QUOTE OF NOTE:
I was pretty close. I was on the little bench, the one where titos always in. so when the thing happened I guess I was the first guy. So, I was just trying to hold him. Hes so tall and I was just trying to hold him and I couldnt even reach the ground, just jumping on his back. -- Marco Scutaro, listed at 5-feet-10, who jumped on the back of 6-feet-6 Os pitcher Kevin Gregg during the eighth-inning brawl.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

PHOENIX - Major League Baseball intends to push forward with the process that could lead to possible rule changes involving the strike zone, installation of pitch clocks and limits on trips to the pitcher's mound. While baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope the ongoing process would lead to an agreement, he said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Union head Tony Clark said last weekend he did not foresee players agreeing to proposed changes for 2017. Under baseball's collective bargaining agreement, management can alter playing rules only with agreement from the union - unless it gives one year notice. With the one year of notice, management can make changes on its own.

"Unfortunately it now appears that there really won't be any meaningful change for the 2017 season due to a lack of cooperation from the MLBPA," Manfred said Tuesday during a news conference. "I've tried to be clear that our game is fundamentally sound, that it does not need to be fixed as some people have suggested, and I think last season was the kind of demonstration of the potential of our league to captivate the nation and of the game's unique place in American culture."

Yet, he also added: "I believe it's a mistake to stick our head in the sand and ignore the fact that our game has changed and continues to change."

Manfred said while he prefers an agreement, "I'm also not willing to walk away." He said he will send a letter to the union in the coming days and plans to continue dialogue with Clark and others in hopes of reaching agreement.

Clark met with Cactus League teams last week, five at a time over Thursday, Friday and Saturday, before departing Monday for Florida to visit each Grapefruit League club - and proposed rules changes were a topic.

"I have great respect for the labor relations process, and I have a pretty good track record for getting things done with the MLBPA," Manfred said. "I have to admit, however, that I am disappointed that we could not even get the MLBPA to agree to modest rule changes like limits on trips to the mound that have little effect on the competitive character of the game."

Clark saw talks differently.

"Unless your definition of `cooperation' is blanket approval, I don't agree that we've failed to cooperate with the commissioner's office on these issues," he wrote in an email to The Associated Press. "Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this offseason we've been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened. I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don't continue, notwithstanding today's comments about implementation. As I've said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open."

Clark added "my understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2-minute limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of game warning/fine adjustments."

Manfred said he didn't want to share specifics of his priorities for alterations.

"There's a variety of changes that can be undertaken," Manfred said. "I'm committed to the idea that we have a set of proposals out there and we continue to discuss those proposals in private."

MLB has studied whether to restore the lower edge of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level - at the top of the kneecap. Management would like to install 20-second pitch clocks in an attempt to speed the pace of play - they have been used at Triple-A and Double-A for the past two seasons.

Players also have been against limiting mound meetings. The least controversial change appears to be allowing a team to call for an intentional walk without the pitcher having to throw pitches. In addition, MLB likely can alter some video review rules without the union's agreement- such as shortening the time a manager has to call for a review.

"Most of this stuff that they were talking about I don't think it would have been a major adjustment for us," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

Manfred said starting runners on second base in extra innings sounds unlikely to be implemented in the majors. The change will be experimented with during the World Baseball Classic and perhaps at some short-season Class A leagues. Manfred said it was a special-purpose rule "beneficial in developmental leagues."

Manfred also said Tuesday that a renovated Wrigley Field would be a great choice to host an All-Star Game and Las Vegas could be a "viable market for us."

"I don't think that the presence of legalized gambling in Las Vegas should necessarily disqualify that market as a potential major league city," Manfred said.