First pitch: Red Sox look to make their misery contagious

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First pitch: Red Sox look to make their misery contagious

In his now-infamous radio interview last week, Bobby Valentine labeled the 2012 Red Sox season miserable, a characterization with which few would quibble.

The Sox are on a crash course with a losing record for the first time in 15 years and are in eminent danger of finishing in the basement of the American League East.

But with exactly three weeks remaining in the season, the Sox have the capacity to make things miserable for others, too. Their 4-3 walkoff win over the Yankees Tuesday night was a step in that direction.

A win here or there in September won't change what this season became months ago. The Sox have still underachieved to a great degree and wasted an opportunity to wipe out their embarrassing fold from last September.

If you're going to be miserable, however, you might as well do your best to spread the condition around a little. And if the target just so happens to be your arch-rivals, the New York Yankees, then so much the better.

The Sox aren't accustomed to the roll of spoilers. Even with last year's fade, the Sox managed to win 90 games and weren't eliminated until after the final out in the final inning of their final game.

The previous year, in which they missed out on the post-season, they also reached the 90-win plateau, so they weren't really playing meaningless games in the final weeks of the season.

This year, it's different. It's been painfully obvious since mid-August that the Sox' unofficial theme song had become "You Ain't Going Nowhere.'' The mega-trade with the Dodgers may have cleansed the clubhouse and straightened out the payroll ledger, but it was tantamount to waving the white flag for 2012.

And when they stumbled and bumbled up and down the West Coast recently, dropping eight of nine, then returned home and were swept by Toronto, it looked like someone had opened the trap door and the Sox were going to free-fall their way to the finish line.

But something -- pride? schadenfreude? -- got flashed at Fenway. If the Sox are miserable, then they were going to drag everybody else down with them.

That the opponent was the Yankees, who have tormented them throughout history, only made the wakeup call more timely.

"They have a lot of pride,'' said Derek Jeter. "They've got a lot of guys on the team that have pride in how they play the game. I'm sure they would like to (be spoilers). When you compete, you want to win -- I don't care where you are in the standings.

"Especially when it's Red Sox-Yankees, guys want to play well.''

The bullpen -- especially Junichi Tazawa -- was brilliant in relief of Jon Lester on Tuesday. And three straight Red Sox hitters attempted to bunt in the seventh inning, surely some kind of franchise record.

But the Sox were scrappy, a word that has seldom been used to describe them in the last calendar year.

Lester, who got past some early wildness -- five walks to the first 13 hitters -- and some wandering focus, denied that the Yankees served as extra motivation. But he hinted that the Sox are ready to take their frustration out on whoever crosses their path between now and Oct. 3.

"I think right now we're just trying to win games,'' said Lester. "We're trying to win as many games as we can, finish up strong this year, try to have something positive heading into next year. If we end up being spoiler that's grreat. That's kind of where we're at right now.''

Valentine addressed the team before the game and reminded the Sox that they had an obligation to continue playing hard until the end.

"I told the guys before the game that the fans are still pulling for us and they want to see us play well,'' said Valentine. "The season's now over and we owe it to them and the organization to give it everything we have. And I think we did tonight.''

Cold comfort for a team 14 games under .500? Sure. But it's all the Sox have for now. The best they can do over the final three weeks is ensure that their misery is contagious.

Cardinals pull away late for 7-2 victory over Red Sox

Cardinals pull away late for 7-2 victory over Red Sox

The Cardinals broke open a close game with four runs in the last two innings against Red Sox relief prospect Chandler Shepherd and went on to a 7-2 exhibition victory over Boston yesterday at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers.

Red Sox-Cardinals box score

The loss dropped the Sox to 1-3 for the exhibition season.

Boston had jumped on top, 1-0, on an RBI single by Mitch Moreland in the bottom of the first, but St. Louis countered with two runs in the second and one in the third, all against starter Brian Johnson. It remained 3-1 until the Cards touched Shepherd for two runs in the eighth and two in the ninth. The Red Sox added their final run in the bottom of the ninth when catcher Jordan Procyshen, who spent last season at Single-A Salem, hit a sacrifice fly.

Moreland, Xander Bogaerts and Chris Young each had two hits for the Red Sox. who also got scoreless relief from Teddy Stankiewicz, Noe Ramirez, Robby Scott, Kyle Martin and Brandon Workman. It was Bogaerts' last game before leaving to compete for The Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic.

The Sox host the Yankees on Tuesday at 1:05 p.m.

Dustin Pedroia taking cues from Tom Brady to extend his career

Dustin Pedroia taking cues from Tom Brady to extend his career

Dustin Pedroia is no stranger to injuries. That's a big reason why he's no longer a stranger to the sometimes peculiar practices of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

In an interview on WEEI's "Bradfo Show," Pedroia told Rob Bradford that he's been taking cues from the five-time Super Bowl-winning QB to help extend his playing career and make his body healthier and more durable.

“I understand what he does and know what he does. I think it’s awesome,” Pedroia told Bradford. “There’s a reason why he’s successful at his age (39), and he looks better now than he did when he first came to the league. You have to be smarter as you get older and learn different styles -- the way to train and the way you take care of your body to be able to perform and stay on the field. It doesn’t matter what sport you’re playing. He’s definitely got that figured out.”

Pedroia, of course, played the entire 2013 World Series-winning season with a torn ligament in his thumb. He's battled through various other lower body and hand injuries over the past few seasons, as well. But in 2016, he had his best season in recent memory, posting his highest OPS since 2011, as WEEI notes.

Part of that is with his own take on the Brady approach -- which focuses more on pliability and resistance training than extensive, heavy weight lifting -- and a healthier overall lifestyle, something Brady is notoriously infamous for having.

"There’s tons of ways to take care of your body. It’s not just get in the weight room and throw weights around,” Pedroia explained. “As you get older, the human body can’t take the pounding if you’re going in there and power lifting. When you’re younger, you can handle some of that. But as you get older, you got to be smarter. Sometimes less is more -- whether that’s weight or reps or whatever. You’ve just got to be smart. And eating wise, that’s a big part of recovery. If you put the right foods in your body, you’ll heal faster if you’re injured or recover faster. It’s like a car, man. Put bad gas in, bro. It’s not going to be the same as good gas.”

He hopes the approach can, at the very least, keep him moving for quite some time.

“I plan on living until I’m 100," he said. "So we’re not even halfway home."