McAdam: Latest Red Sox win a sigh of relief


McAdam: Latest Red Sox win a sigh of relief

By Sean McAdam Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
BALTIMORE -- It had been nearly a week since they last won and at times it seemed as though they literally had forgotten how.

Since last Monday night, they had lost games in every conceivable fashion -- blown-out early and overtaken late.

Mostly, they had just lost and though logic dictated that they wouldn't lose every remaining game, by the seventh inning Sunday night, when their first lead of the series disappeared after three hitters, that prospect didn't seem so far-fetched.

Then, salvation arrived in the form of a three-run homer from Jacoby Ellsbury in the top of the 14th, and suddenly, the Red Sox weren't dead after all.

In the clubhouse, the annual hazing practice of dressing rookies in risqu clothing was underway and the mood was suddenly upbeat.

For the first time in a while, the Red Sox could take a breath.

"It allows us to control our own destiny," said Ellsbury. "I've said from Day 1, that's all you can ask for. I think it's huge for momentum. We know if we play like we can, it's in our hands."

Indeed, two wins assures the Red Sox of no worse than a play-in game; three clinches a spot outright.

The question lingering after Sunday night was how big a bounce one win could provide.

Was the 14-inning marathon enough to spark a turnaround? Was the burden so heavy that lifting it could restore the Sox to their previous selves?

For the last few weeks, it seemed as though the Red Sox were fighting two forces at once -- the opponents and themselves. A day before John Lackey's self-induced meltdown, one Red Sox veteran complained that the media coverage during their 5-18 death spiral was unnecessarily negative.

Now they have their win and as Ellsbury noted, with it, control. It would be nice for the Red Sox to get some help from the Yankees against Tampa, but they don't really need it.

What they need are three -- or two, anyway -- strong starts to give the offense some time to do damage against a bad Baltimore pitching staff.

One of baseball's oldest maxims is this: momentum is the next day's starting pitcher. If so, the Red Sox are well-positioned. Josh Beckett may not have been able to protect a 4- 1 lead last week against these same Orioles, but he has been the Sox' most consistent and dominant starter all season.

If the Red Sox can't win a minimum of two games against the second-worst team in the league -- and if they know what's good for them the next two since they could hold back Jon Lester for Game 1 of the Division Series -- then they don't deserve a playoff spot anyway.

Either way, the path to the postseason is before them, thanks to one win which felt more like five.

Sean McAdam can be reached at Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Biggest Red Sox busts in recent memory


Biggest Red Sox busts in recent memory

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Farrell angered after Castillo fails to run out grounder

Farrell angered after Castillo fails to run out grounder

The Red Sox signed Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract bn August 2014. Over parts of three seasons, the 29-year-old has a .679 OPS across 337 plate appearances in the majors and spent the vast majority of the 2016 season at Triple-A Pawtucket.

Castillo had a chance to start things off on the right foot in 2017, but that ship has already sailed. On Thursday against Northeastern at JetBlue Park, Castillo didn’t run out a routine ground ball. He claims he lost track of the outs. Manager John Farrell isn’t happy about the situation. Via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald:

“Disappointing for a couple of reasons,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “One, he has lost the number of outs. Still, regardless of another of outs, getting down the line is controllable. And for a player in his situation, every little aspect of the game is important. That’s something that was addressed in the moment. He needs to execute the game situation. And for that matter, every player. But that one obviously stood out.”

Everyone always makes far too big a deal about running out grounders. It’s a real nit to pick when it’s February 23 and your team just finished playing an exhibition game that is even more meaningless than the other exhibition games that will be played in the coming month.

That being said, Castillo has to prove himself to merit inclusion on the 25-man roster and that means dotting all his i’s and crossing all his t’s. Even if he went hitless all spring, Castillo could have at least said he couldn’t have done anything else better. But on day one, he already gave his team a reason to count him out.