Boston Red Sox

Jenks looking for answers after another rough outing

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Jenks looking for answers after another rough outing

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON The good news is that Bobby Jenks now knows what the problem has been. The bad news is that he didnt figure it out until after Sundays game, a 3-2 Red Sox win over the Mariners at Fenway Park, featuring another Jenks meltdown.

This one came at the expense of a win by Tim Wakefield, who left with a 2-0 lead, two outs, and a runner on first in the sixth inning. Jenks, charged with getting just one out, faced five batters, giving up a single and three straight walks, allowing two runs to score before getting the final out.

Well, if there is a good note, I was looking at video and I am mechanically off, Jenks said. So, with this hopefully it's a quick fix, because everything's there. We're talking a few inches here and, obviously, it can make a big difference out on the field. I've always been a guy who's been known for throwing strikes and my walks have been low. So this is very uncharacteristic and we found the reason why.

The person who helped him figure it out?

Wakefield, Jenks said. He picked up on it right away, too.

On Friday night, Jenks allowed the Mariners to score two runs in the seventh inning, getting charged with a blown save, and a loss. Sunday, he was charged with another blown save, his second. His record now stands at 1-2 with a 9.35 ERA.

Sunday he wasnt throwing enough strikes, manager Terry Francona said. His velocity was better than weve seen. Balls coming out of his hand. I think he was getting mad, but he wasnt throwing enough strikes. Its kind of a trait I guess you appreciate in your players when theyre trying too hard a little bit. You see him and hes trying so hard. Hes grinding and we just need him to get a good inning and get back to relax, and thats a little easier said than done. But were not going run from him. Hes going to help us win a lot of games.

Jenks, likewise, has not run from the tough questions. Asked how he felt after losing the lead Wakefield had given him, Jenks replied:

Feel like expletive. What else can I say?

Pitching coach Curt Young has noticed the right-handers confidence waning.

Hes a guy whos been in situations as a closer with the White Sox and Im sure theres games that got away from him. Hes a guy that has that class to always bounce back, Young said.

I dont think its mechanics. Its just a feel every pitcher gets throwing a baseball and you do, you lose that touch on occasion and guys like him get it back in a hurry.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia was behind the plate for Jenks latest outing.

Its tough because Bobby, hes human, Saltalamacchia said. We all can lose confidence. So I think he might have lost a little bit. But hes not going to show it. Hes going to go out there and take the ball every time. I think he had six or seven days without seeing the mound so thats tough. Especially coming from when youre in there every game closing. So I think thats just tough for him. But I think hes just going to have to find a program where he can throw maybe between and not wear himself down, but something that hes comfortable with. But hell be fine.

Jenks acknowledges his confidence has taken some hits.

You know what? It got kicked in the pants a little bit, he said. I've done this long enough, I've had plenty of bad times in my career before that this is something I can bounce back from, because I've done it so many times.

And, now that hes figured out the problem, he can apply a fix -- to both his mechanics and his confidence.

It's just that I'm coming off the ball. But, it's in a way, where it's almost right after I release it. It doesn't feel like I am when I'm out there, but it's completely clear. It's big when you look at the video.

This is a new issue. I've always been very mechanically sound. It's a good thing. This is something that's only going to make me stronger and better for it. I'm going to be putting in work in the bullpen doing all the standard things I need to do to get better and we'll just go from there.

In his first season with the Red Sox, the erstwhile closer knows he has some work to do to win fans into his camp. He heard the boos they were hard to miss that rained down on him as he left the field Sunday.

You know what? The way I'd been pitching, I deserved it, he said. Face it, I stunk. There's no other way around it. There's only one way to go and that's up and that's what we're shooting
for.

Once I'm right, I know what type of pitcher I am and everybody else does, too. Obviously things aren't right right now and now that we've figured it out, we'll put in the extra time and just get things back on track and get 'em right.

It cant be soon enough for Jenks, his team, or his fans-in-waiting.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

Drellich: Dave Dombrowski, at last, built an excellent bullpen

Drellich: Dave Dombrowski, at last, built an excellent bullpen

BOSTON — Congratulations, Dave Dombrowski. It’s September, and you built a certified, top-notch bullpen. 

Credit goes all around. The pitchers themselves receive the most, with the front office, John Farrell and the rest of the staff taking their slices as well.

But the success is particularly notable for an executive who perennially had terrible bullpens in Detroit. Dombrowski knows the reputation he garnered, too.

Maybe now he’ll start to shed it.

MORE:

The trouble in his old job wasn’t for lack of trying. Joe Nathan didn’t work out. Many folks didn’t.

“I think that there’s a few factors there,” Dombrowski said in 2016 of his bullpens in Detroit. “At one time we had (Jose) Valverde (from 2010-13 who) was the best closer for a couple years. (Joaquin) Benoit pitched very well as a set-up guy. We had a very solid bullpen at that point.

“We were unlucky a little bit in, for example, a guy like Joel Zumaya — who was a dominant guy, young — hurts his arm. Somebody you’re counting on. . . . Really (Bruce) Rondon never lived up to the early expectations. I know he’s still young, he’s doing better. So we got a little unlucky on those things. He got hurt too.”

So it goes. Per FanGraphs’ measurement of WAR, the Tigers had the worst bullpen in the majors from 2003-15, Dombrowski’s tenure.

The Sox’ bullpen is fifth in WAR this year, and second in ERA. Last year’s group was good, but not this good. 

One of Dombrowski’s premier pick-ups in Boston, Addison Reed, has a common refrain when asked about his own pitching: he doesn’t change a thing. 

When Reed got rocked in one of his early outings with the Red Sox, against the Yankees, he said he didn’t change. When he got in and out of trouble in the eighth inning Monday night in another extra-inning win for the Red Sox, 10-8 over the Orioles in 11, he said he didn’t change.

Same for Dombrowski, it would seem. 

He continued to go after established relievers. There was the huge trade for Craig Kimbrel. Carson Smith took a while to contribute because of arm injuries, but he had the 11th-inning save Monday, and his velocity appeared to be creeping up. 

The Tyler Thornburg situation was troubling, so Dombrowski went out and got Reed from the Mets.

Could Dombrowski have had success sooner if he had changed his approach? Well, maybe, but that’s a different argument.

It’s worked. He didn’t change a thing. 

How cliche. But cliches, we should point out, have become a central theme in all these extra-inning wins for the Sox (they're 14-3). Grit, resiliency, determination — you run the risk of drowning on those words, even if they’re well deserved.

Those relievers, though. Both throughout the season and in these marathon games the Sox too often seek, the ‘pen has been unexpectedly excellent, with a rotating cast of characters.

“It’d be nice if we started winning those games in nine and not going extras,” Reed joked, with a presumed kernel of truth. “If it takes 19, 20 innings to get that win, we’ll take it.”

The roles for the postseason are still up in the air, which is strange for a ‘pen that’s been so successful. But at the same time, it suggest an equal distribution of success (and at times, challenges).

The bottom line: Dombo did it, with his relievers making him look smart.

CSNNE SCHEDULE

Benintendi's single in 11th sends Red Sox over Orioles, 10-8

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Benintendi's single in 11th sends Red Sox over Orioles, 10-8

BALTIMORE -- Roaring from behind and then finally winning in extra innings, the Boston Red Sox did more than merely maintain their lead in the A.L. East.

They showed their mettle, a characteristic that should come in handy during the postseason.

Andrew Benintendi hit a two-run single in the 11th inning, Mookie Betts had four RBIs and Boston beat the Baltimore Orioles 10-8 Monday night for their ninth win in 12 games.

Xander Bogaerts homered and scored three runs for the Red Sox, who remained three games ahead of the second-place Yankees in the AL East and reduced to four their magic number for clinching a playoff berth.

Boston erased a five-run deficit with a six-run fifth inning and needed 10 pitchers to beat a skidding Orioles team that has now lost 10 of 12.

"This is a big one, being down early and coming back," Benintendi said. "Obviously it's a good win, but it's kind of a character win. Everybody contributed tonight."

After three walks - one intentional - off Miguel Castro (3-2) loaded the bases in the 11th, Benintendi hit a grounder past diving second baseman Jonathan Schoop to give Boston its major-league leading 14th extra-inning win against three defeats.

"That's one of the reasons we stand here today," manager John Farrell said.

Matt Barnes (7-3) pitched the 10th and Carson Smith got three outs for his first save.

"Our group has such grit, such determination, such competiveness," Farrell said. "There's no quit in them."

Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia left in the fourth inning after being struck in the face by a foul ball he chopped off the plate. The team described the injury as a bruised nose and listed his availability as day to day.

It was the second freak injury Pedroia sustained at Camden Yards this season. On April 21, the All-Star was spiked on a late slide by Manny Machado, a play that created bad blood between the teams into May.

Baltimore built a 5-0 lead against Doug Fister over the first three innings, taking advantage of five walks and getting a two-run double from rookie Austin Hays.

After Betts hit an RBI double in the fourth, Adam Jones countered with a run-scoring single in the bottom half. But the 6-1 advantage vanished in the fifth under a torrent of six hits against Dylan Bundy and two Baltimore relievers.

The key blows in the six-run inning were a two-run double by Brock Holt - Pedroia's replacement - and a bases-loaded double by Betts that scored all three runners.

"It was just that one inning. I let things slip away from me," Bundy said. "I didn't really limit the damage very well, obviously. I was just leaving balls over the middle of the plate and they made me pay for them."

Pedro Alvarez homered in the bottom half and Tim Beckham put Baltimore back in front with a two-out RBI double .

"We find a way to build a big inning, we give it right back and then from that point on the bullpen is outstanding," Farrell said.

The see-saw leveled in the seventh when Bogaerts homered off Donnie Hart to make it 8-all.

BUNDY WILL CONTINUE

As the Orioles stagger to the end of the season, there's speculation that manager Buck Showalter might shut down Bundy, who's now at a career-high 169 2/3 innings.

"I don't think we're at that point yet," the manager said. "Stuff's fine, he feels great between starts, he's getting extra days rest."

Bundy said: "It's September. Everybody is tired right now. So, you've got to battle through it."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: Betts was in the starting lineup despite hurting his thumb in two places Sunday. ... DH Hanley Ramirez (left arm soreness) did not start but appeared as a pinch-hitter in the ninth. ... 2B Eduardo Nunez will test his sore right knee running the bases Wednesday. Farrell said: "Wednesday will be a good test in terms of where he is at."

UP NEXT

Red Sox: LHP Drew Pomeranz (16-5, 3.28 ERA) looks to keep his outstanding season going in his fourth start of the year against Baltimore. Pomeranz was 25-36 lifetime before this season.

Orioles: Kevin Gausman (11-10, 4.83 ERA) makes his 32nd start of the year, the fourth against Boston. He's 1-2 with a 3.86 ERA against the Red Sox in 2017.