Gomez, fellow Sox rookies make most of down year

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Gomez, fellow Sox rookies make most of down year

BOSTON There havent been many silver linings to be salvaged from this lost Red Sox season of 2012. From an inordinate number of injuries, to a record number of players used, to poor performances on the field, to off-field dysfunction and distractions, the bright moments in this season have been hard to find.

No question, said David Ortiz. Its another year were not in the pennant race. A disappointing year. Hopefully, it gets better the following year.

Because of all the issues swamping the team, though, younger players and those who werent expected to have a role at the beginning of the season were given a chance to prove themselves. Players like Pedro Ciriaco and Mauro Gomez, virtual unknowns in spring training, to Junichi Tazawa and Will Middlebrooks, who in the course of the season went from prospects to players who have been relied on to contribute.

I saw a lot from Pedro Ciriaco in spring training and now once hes been here, hes been amazing, Ortiz said. Hes got a lot of talent. And Tazawas been unbelievable. Hes been tough and very impressive. I could mention a whole bunch of them who are doing a really good job and Im sure the front office next year is going to keep a really close eye on them.

Ciriaco began to open eyes in spring training when he hit .419 playing shortstop, second base, third base, and center field. In 70 games this season, he is hitting .289 with two home runs and 19 RBI, playing third base, second base, short, and all three outfield positions. He has 15 stolen bases, getting caught twice. He began the season with 15 consecutive steals before being caught for the first time Saturday. It was the second-most successful steals this season without being caught by any major league player, behind 19 by Detroits Quentin Berry.

Middlebrooks was in the American League Rookie of the Year conversation before being shut down by a fractured wrist on Aug. 11.

Hes legit, said Ortiz. Thats my boy, man. He got injured. He came in a couple of months after the season started and he showed everybody he belonged here. So hopefully his hand gets better and he comes back next year and does what he was doing. Hes a young guy who Ive tried to teach everything I know, and he listens and thats what we need around here, guys like him.

In his last 12 outings since Aug. 31, spanning 11 innings, Tazawa has allowed just one run on three hits with a walk and 16 strikeouts although he has allowed 10 of 26 inherited runners to score, a 39-percent rate, above the team rate of 30 percent. Tazawa, who began the season continuing to recover from the Tommy John surgery he underwent in March 2010, is second in the AL among pitchers with at least 40.0 innings pitched with a 1.54 ERA, behind only the Rays Fernando Rodney (0.63). Since 1916, only two other Sox pitchers (Jonathan Papelbon, 0.92 in 2006 and Calvin Schiraldi, 1.41 in 1986) have posted a lower single-season mark, with a minimum of 40 innings. Tazawas 8.60 strikeout-to-walk ratio is best in the majors this season among pitchers with at least 40 innings pitched.

Hes been near perfect, said manager Bobby Valentine. Hes been as good a pitcher as Ive seen in this league. Hes continued to get better. His split-finger now is devastating, throwing it 90, 91 mph. His control is impeccable. He has nerve. Throws strikes. Hes everything you want in a pitcher.

Gomez has been among the more intriguing players this season. As close to a complete unknown as a player could be in spring training, he was named the International League MVP with Triple-A Pawtucket, while also being named an IL All-Star. In 34 games with the Sox he is hitting .290 with two home runs and 17 RBI. He also has two triples, tied with Ciriaco, one behind team leader Dustin Pedroia. The right-handed hitter is batting .340 with two home runs against righties (just .233 against lefties), playing first base, third base, and serving as the designated hitter.

Gomez, who turned 28 on Sept. 7, made his big league debut this season. After signing as an amateur free agent with the Rangers in 2003, spending eight seasons in the Texas organization and two in Atlantas, a big league call-up was never a given.

Always I worked hard to get to the big leagues, Gomez said. That was my goal. I was so excited when they called me up here. I called my family in the Dominican. They were so happy. I just wanted a chance to play. Every time they put me in the lineup I tried to do my best to help my team to win.

At the beginning of the season I started hitting the ball good. I was playing winter ball in the Dominican. So when I came to spring training I was ready. And when the season started I was ready. It was a good year.

When they give me the MVP award, when they told me, I was excited. Thats good because I work hard every day and try to get better and better. Thats an accomplishment. I was happy.

Gomez is a good hitter, Valentine said. Can hit right-handers, left-handers. I think the more at-bats he gets, the more power factor he can have. If he plays winter ball, Id like him to play some left field for value.

I havent seen him at an extended period at first base. I hear he catches everything that gets to him, thats around him. At third base I can see it being a bit of an issue because he hasnt had a lot of reps.

Gomez, along with Ciriaco, is among several Sox players planning to play winter ball. Gomez will return to Leones del Escogido, where he played last season. This year, he will focus on playing third base and left field, along with some first base, working on his defense. The Sox havent given him any information for next season, beyond being ready for spring training.

They told me, in Dominican winter ball, they want me to play third and left, be ready for spring training, and we never know, he said. Just be ready for spring training.

With just six games left in this lost season, thats all any Red Sox players can do. Given full health Middlebrooks will be the starting third baseman. Tazawa should have a spot on the staff. Less known is the role players like Ciriaco and Gomez will have. They werent expected to play in as many games as they did. So, just be ready for spring training.

Thats all that can be salvaged from this season.

Red Sox' seven-run rally in seventh keys 9-4 win over Rangers

Red Sox' seven-run rally in seventh keys 9-4 win over Rangers

BOSTON -- Chris Sale was perfectly happy to sit back and watch the Red Sox hitters do the work this time.

Sale cruised into the fifth inning, then was rewarded in the seventh when the Boston batters erupted for seven runs on their way to a 9-4 victory over the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night.

Sale (5-2) struck out six, falling short in his attempt to become the first pitcher in baseball's modern era to strike out at least 10 batters in nine straight games in one season.

But he didn't seem to mind.

"It was fun," said the left-hander, who received more runs of support in the seventh inning alone than while he was in any other game this season. "You get run after run, hit after hit. When we score like that, it's fun."

Dustin Pedroia waved home the tiebreaking run on a wild pitch, then singled in two more as the Red Sox turned a 3-1 deficit into a five-run lead and earned their third straight victory. Sam Travis had two singles for the Red Sox in his major league debut.

"I was a little nervous in the first inning," he said. "I'd be lying to you guys if I said I wasn't."

Mike Napoli homered for Texas, which has lost three of four to follow a 10-game winning streak.

FOR SALE

Sale, who also struck out 10 or more batters in eight straight games in 2015 with the White Sox, remains tied for the season record with Pedro Martinez. (Martinez had 10 straight in a span from 1999-2000.)

After scoring four runs in support of Sale in his first six starts, the Red Sox have scored 27 while he was in the game in his last five. He took a no-hitter into the fifth, but finished with three earned runs, six hits and a walk in 7 1/3 innings.

"Guys pulled through for me when I was probably pretty mediocre," he said.

NO RELIEF

Sam Dyson (1-5) faced seven batters in relief of Martin Perez and gave up four hits, three walks - two intentional - and a wild pitch without retiring a batter.

"Martin threw the ball really well and I came in with two guys on and couldn't get an out," Dyson said. "Sometimes they hit them where they are, and sometimes they hit them where they aren't."

Asked if he felt any different, he said: "Everything's the same.

"If I get my (expletive) handed to me, it's not like anything's wrong," he said. "Any more amazing questions from you all?"

SEVEN IN THE SEVENTH

It was 3-1 until the seventh, when Andrew Benintendi and Travis singled with one out to chase Perez. Mitch Moreland singled to make it 3-2, pinch-hitter Josh Rutledge singled to tie it and, after Mookie Betts was intentionally walked to load the bases, Moreland scored on a wild pitch to give Boston the lead.

Pedroia singled in two more runs, Xander Bogaerts doubled and Hanley Ramirez was intentionally walked to load the bases. Dyson was pulled after walking Chris Young to force in another run.

Austin Bibens-Dirkx got Benintendi to pop up foul of first base, but Napoli let it fall safely - his second such error in the game. Benintendi followed with a sacrifice fly that made it 8-3 before Travis was called out on strikes to end the inning.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rangers: 2B Rougned Odor was shaken up when he dived for Betts' grounder up the middle in the third inning. He was slow getting up. After being looked at by the trainer, he remained in the game.

Red Sox: LHP David Price made his second rehab start for Triple-A Pawtucket, allowing six runs - three earned - seven hits and a walk. He struck out four in 3 2/3 innings, throwing 89 pitches, 61 for strikes, and left without addressing reporters. 3B Pablo Sandoval also played in the game, going 2 for 4 with two runs.

"He felt fine physically," said Red Sox manager John Farrell, who added he would talk to Price on Thursday morning to determine how to proceed. "We had a scout there who liked what he saw."

UP NEXT:

Rangers: Will send RHP Nick Martinez (1-2) to the mound in the finale of the three-game series.

Red Sox: LHP Drew Pomeranz (3-3) looks to snap a personal two-game losing streak.

David Price dodges media after second rough rehab start

David Price dodges media after second rough rehab start

If only David Price could pitch as well as he dodges the media.

The Red Sox lefty bailed on a typical post-start media session with reporters in Pawtucket on Wednesday, after his second minor league rehab outing in Triple-A was another dud.

As Price comes back from a nondescript elbow injury, difficulty retiring minor league hitters doesn't combine well with difficulty facing questions. He sat in the mid-90s in his second rehab start with Pawtucket, but allowed six runs, three earned, in 3 2/3 innings. He struck out four and walked one.

The PawSox were at home at McCoy Stadium against Triple-A Louisville, a Reds affiliate, and Price heard some heckling. Postgame, he wanted to hear nothing, apparently.

Per CSNNE’s Bill Messina, who was on site in Pawtucket, the media was waiting outside the clubhouse for Price, as is standard. 

PawSox media relations told the media to go to the weight room, where Price would meet them. As media headed that way, PR alerted reporters that Price was leaving and did not want to talk. Media saw a car leaving, but there was no interview.

On the mound, Price’s velocity is there, but the command is not. The Red Sox would be unwise to bring back Price before really two more minor league starts — one to show he can do well, another to show he can repeat it.

Price’s ERA in two starts for Pawtucket is 9.53. He’s gone 5 2/3 innings and allowed six earned runs, while striking out eight and walking two overall.