Boston Red Sox

Fluke injury dooms Cook's first outing

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Fluke injury dooms Cook's first outing

BOSTON After beginning his season in Triple A, and negotiating a call-up, this was not the way Aaron Cook wanted to begin his Red Sox career.

Facing the Orioles at Fenway Park Saturday afternoon, Cook cruised through the first inning. He needed just nine pitches to induce three groundballs to shortstop Mike Aviles.

But, his fortunes turned in the second. With two outs, he gave up consecutive hits, putting runners at first and third. On a passed ball by catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Chris Davis broke from third, Cook rushing to cover the plate. While Davis scored, the bigger damage was to Cooks left knee, which landed on Davis spike opening a gash that would eventually require 11 stitches.

Cook left the field and went to the dugout, appearing to be done Clayton Mortense ran in from the dugout to take the mound. But after a short delay, Cook returned to the mound. He got out of the inning, with another groundball out, but was mostly ineffective from that point. After retiring Robert Andino to lead off the third, he allowed the next seven batters to reach base. Of the final 11 batters he faced, nine reached base with seven scoring.

When I slid into the plate I came down on top of his back spike and at first I didnt think it was that bad and Salty was like, Hey, you might want to take a look at it. I see blood coming down your pants. When I looked at it, it was just kind of fileted open a little bit. So went back in the dugout and had the trainers just wrap it up real tight and try to put as much pressure on it as possible. My leg started getting numb after that. But it was my decision. I wanted to go out there and try to eat up some more innings. The bullpens been kind of taxed. But at the end of the day I dont know if it was the best decision, but it was what I was wanting to do."

Cook lasted just 2 23 innings, giving up seven runs, six earned on eight hits and a walk with a home run and a wild pitch. He was charged with the loss, his ERA at 20.25, as the Sox fell, 8-2.

I was feeling really good the first two innings then all of a sudden my pitches were up in the zone in the third inning, he said. So to be honest , my knee and the front of my leg was kind of numb. So I was really just out there throwing all arm and thats when you start to see the ball get flat and it was just up in the zone. So I just made bad pitches after that. I probably could have thrown a little bit slower and got down in the zone. But it was just one of those days.

I think it affected him a lot, Saltalamacchia said of Cooks injury. You got to change your motions a little bit Just a lot of stuff goes on when you got a hole in your knee. But he got back in there. I was surprised he even came back and pitched.

It was not the way Cook wanted to start.

Its frustrating, Cook said. But theres things you can control. Things you cant control. Like I said I was trying to stop in front of the plate and he made a perfect slide into the plate. My momentum took me into the plate. I knew I cant control things that happen like that. So Im going to try to keep a smile on my face. Try to encourage the guys, and come out tomorrow and see how it feels.

Its uncertain what is next for Cook, or if this injury will set him back.

The medical staff thought he was OK to pitch and they said he should be OK to pitch next time, said manager Bobby Valentine. Im not sure.

Cook was delayed in spring training, a cautionary move because of past shoulder injuries. This is one of several odd injuries hes incurred, in addition to a broken leg and broken finger.

Thats just the way life is, he said. We were out there, I was trying to make a good baseball play, I was trying to stop in front of the plate, thats why I slid. And its just one of those things that happens. Its part of baseball.

Drellich: In appreciation of a peculiar, throwback Red Sox offense

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Drellich: In appreciation of a peculiar, throwback Red Sox offense

BALTIMORE — On the night Major League Baseball saw its record for home runs in a season broken, the team with the fewest homers in the American League took a scoreless tie into extra innings.

In the 11th, the Red Sox won in a fashion they hadn’t in 100 years.

Just how peculiar was their 1-0 win over the Orioles, the AL leaders in homers? The lone run came when Jackie Bradley Jr. bolted home on a wild pitch from Brad Brach. So? So, the Red Sox won, but did not officially record a run batted in on the day MLB’s greatest league-wide power show to date was celebrated.

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The last time the Sox won an extra-inning game without recording an RBI was a century ago, in 1918. Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth played in that game. 

It’s a weird time for the Sox offense. A weird year, really. Because the Sox are in first place, and have been, but they don’t drive the ball. Their .408 slugging percentage was the fifth lowest in the majors entering Tuesday.

They’re also in the bottom third for strikeouts, the top five in steals and the top 10 in batting average (.260). That's the description of an effective National League offense. An old-school, move-the-line group that makes more contact than all but four teams in the majors. 

The rest of baseball is switching to golf swings to pound low-ball pitching. The Sox look like they could be on a black-and-white newsreel shuffling around the bags.

Should you have faith in that method come the playoffs? There's reason to be dubious.

But the construction should be appreciated for the sake of disparity, both in the context of recent Red Sox history and the sport’s home-run renaissance.

Alex Gordon of the Royals hit the season’s 5,964th home run Tuesday, besting the record mark set in 2000 — dead in the middle of the steroid era.

At present, the Sox lineup is particularly out of sorts because of injuries. Dustin Pedroia should be back Wednesday, but was out of the starting lineup Tuesday. Hanley Ramirez isn’t starting either. Eduardo Nunez’s rehab from a knee injury is coming along, but may not move quite as quickly as expected.

Even if all are healthy, this group remains strange. Because the Sox offense looks so different than what people expect of the Sox, the opposite of what people expect of an American League East-winning team. The opposite of what people expect of any American League team, period.

The arms are the driving force for the Sox, and must remain so if they’re to be successful in October. The sturdiness of the bullpen, tired but resolute, cannot be understated when the workload is extended in September. No team can go 15-3 in extra-inning games without stellar and timely pitching.

But the entirety of pitching coach Carl Willis’ staff has been wonderful. Drew Pomeranz didn’t have his best fastball velocity on Tuesday and was still effective in 6 1/3 innings.

The outfield play can’t be overlooked either. Bradley’s a brilliant patrolman in center field and his leaping catches to rob home runs — he took one away from Chris Davis Tuesday — have been their own attractions.

The Sox, meanwhile, just don't hit many balls far enough to be robbed.

If you’re cut from an old-school cloth, and didn’t really love those station-to-station, home-run powered offenses of yore, this Sox team is for you. There's something to be said for the experience of simply watching something different.

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Red Sox use wild pitch to beat Orioles 1-0 in 11 innings

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Red Sox use wild pitch to beat Orioles 1-0 in 11 innings

BALTIMORE - Jackie Bradley Jr. scored the game's lone run on a wild pitch by Brad Brach in the 11th inning, and the Boston Red Sox used six pitchers to silence the Baltimore Orioles' bats in a 1-0 victory Tuesday night.

Boston has won 10 of 13 to move a season-high 23 games over .500 (87-64) and draw closer to clinching a postseason berth. The Red Sox started the day with a three-game lead over the second-place New York Yankees in the AL East.

It was the second straight tight, lengthy game between these AL East rivals. Boston won in 11 innings on Monday night and is 15-3 in extra-inning games.

With a runner on second and two outs in the 11th, Brach (4-5) walked Andrew Benintendi and Mookie Betts to load the bases for Mitch Moreland, who sidestepped a bouncing pitch from Brach that enabled Bradley to score without a throw.