McAdam: Red Sox gotta win at least some of the close ones

McAdam: Red Sox gotta win at least some of the close ones

BOSTON - Red Sox reliever Brad Ziegler was trying to put yet another late-inning loss into perspective in the Red Sox clubhouse.
     
Ziegler had come into the game in the top of the eighth inning, entrusted with a one-run lead.
     
In the span of a few minutes, the Yankees would score three runs on three hits, each of which could have easily resulted in an out.
     
It was that kind of night.
     
"Any loss is tough,'' philosophized the reliever. "[But] I would say this way is  a little better than getting getting the crap beat out of us.''
     
Is it, Brad? It it really?
     
Maybe the accumulation of multiple late-inning, close losses has Ziegler grasping at straws.
     
There certainly have been enough of them of late. As Alex Speier of Boston.com pointed out, the Red Sox have lost five games in their last 20 in which they were leading after seven innings. Prior to that, in their first 93 games, they had suffered three blown saves.
     
And the losses have come in almost every conceivable manner. 
     
* There was a two-run throwing error by Hanley Ramirez to begin the recent 11-game West Coast trip.
     
* There was the gopher ball to Robinson Cano, served up in Seattle by Fernando Abad, hours after he joined the team on a Deadline Day deal, obtained specifically for such matchups.
     
* There was Wednesday's unraveling in which the team failed to fully take sufficient advantage of three bases-loaded opportunities in three successive innings, then saw three pitchers combine to get six outs while allowing seven (!) runs.
     
* And finally there was the death-by-a-thousand-cuts gem from Thursday, in which the Yankees' three big "hits" were, in order: a routine grounder to short that resulted in an infield hit because A) the Red Sox were in a shift and Hanley Ramirez collided with Gary Sanchez at the moment a throw to first arrived; a line drive hit directly at rookie outfielder Andrew Benintendi, who promptly lost the ball in the lights; and a squibber that traveled no more than a dozen feet from the plate, perfectly situated between an on-rushing  Ziegler and a charging Sandy Leon.
     
The whole inning reeked of what former Red Sox manager Jimy Williams used to call "buzzard's luck,'' and typified how things have been going  for the team in the last three weeks.
     
Cut these agonizing losses in half, and the Red Sox are neck-and-neck with the Blue Jays for first place in the East. As it is, they remain, almost improbably, only two games out of first in the loss column.
     
But what of the cumulative psychological toll of these sort of defeats.
     
The Sox look and appear snake-bitten at times, expecting the worst.
     
For the season, they're a combined 25-27 in games determined by one or two runs, a dip below average. But again, it's the recent cumulative weight of the recent losses, coming, as they have, at the worst possible time: now.
     
Whether Ziegler wants to acknowledge it or not, those close-but-no-cigar losses have a tendency to get a team to doubting itself, to expecting the worst -- and often getting it -- when close games head into the late innings.
     
What the Red Sox need, more than anything is to go on a hot run  over a few weeks. In other words, they need to have a stretch exactly like that had from July 3 through July 21, when they went 11-3.
     
Know what happened immediately before that streak?
     
A 21-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
     
A blowout loss can be overcome. It's these endless close losses that are choking the Red Sox.

Red Sox claim right-hander Doug Fister off waivers

Red Sox claim right-hander Doug Fister off waivers

Right-handed starter Doug Fister, who opted out of his contract with the Angels, has been claimed off waivers by the Red Sox, CSN Red Sox Insider Evan Drellich has confirmed.

The news was first reported by Chris Cotillo of SB Nation, who writes that Fister, 33, will join the Red Sox immediately.

Fister opted out of with the Angels after three Triple-A starts in Salt Lake City, where he allowed seven runs on 16 hits with five walks and 10 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings. 

With Eduardo Rodriguez and Brian Johnson on the DL, the Red Sox need immediate starting pitching help. Triple-A Pawtucket call-up Hector Velazquez made a spot start earlier this week in the fifth spot behind Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, David Price and Drew Pomeranz. 

Fister will receive $1.75 million in the majors from the Red Sox, with $1.2 million available in additional incentives, according to Cotillo. 

Fister has pitched eight seasons in the majors, including 2016 with the Astros, going 12-13 with 4.64 ERA in 180 1/3 innings. His best season was 2014 with the Nationals (16-6, 2.41 ERA).


 

Roasted: Ortiz apparently thought Pedroia's real first name was Pee Wee

Roasted: Ortiz apparently thought Pedroia's real first name was Pee Wee

BOSTON — It took until 2015, apparently, but David Ortiz now knows Dustin Pedroia’s full name.

The couple days leading up to the jersey retirement ceremony tonight for Ortiz have been packed. Around lunch time Thursday, Ortiz had a street near Fenway Park named after him — a bridge wasn’t enough — the street formerly known as Yawkey Way Extension. (It’s between Brookline Avenue and Yawkey Station.) On Friday morning, he was at Logan Airport where JetBlue Gate C34 was designed with a new theme to honor Ortiz.

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Tonight's the big night, so to speak. But Thursday night will probably go down as the most entertaining.

Ortiz was roasted at House of Blues on Thursday, joined on stage by Pedroia, Rob Gronkowski and a handful of actual comedians. Bill Burr was the biggest name among the professional joke-tellers. It was a charity event to benefit the David Ortiz Children’s Fund, which helps to provide lifesaving surgeries for children.

All the comedians — Lenny Clarke, Sarah Tiana, Anthony Mackie, Josh Wolf, Adam Ray (a young man dressed up as an old Yankees fan) — ripped on everyone on stage, including Pedroia. Naturally, Pedroia was mocked for being short over and over and over.

When he took the podium, Pedroia said it was a good thing the height of the microphone was adjustable. If he had to stand on his wallet, he said, he’d be up to the roof.

Most jokes were not suitable for print or broadcast. But the story Pedroia told about being in the on-deck circle when a catcher needed a ball once was a highlight. It's from just two years ago.

“So I had already played with David for, I don’t know, nine years?” Pedroia said. “And I hit right in front of him for nine years.”

The Red Sox were playing the Indians at home. The umpire had to use the bathroom and the ball rolled near Pedroia. So the catcher said hello to Pedroia, using the second baseman’s first name.

“David walks over and goes, what the [expletive] did he call you?” Pedroia said.

“I said, ‘Dustin,’” Pedroia said. 

Ortiz was confused. “’Why’d he call you that?’” he said.

“I go, that’s my [expletive] name,” Pedroia said. “He goes, 'Oh, is that right?’

"I’m like, ‘Yeah, bro. I’ve had 1,600 games with you. They’ve actually said it 5,000 [expletive] times: now batting, No. 15, Dustin Pedroia.’”

“I thought it was Pee Wee," Ortiz went.

“This is dead serious,” Pedroia said. “Now the umpire comes back — I’m standing there, I got to hit...and I’m looking at him, ‘You thought my parents would name me [expletive] Pee Wee?’ 

“And he’s just looking at me, and we’re having a conversation. The umpire’s yelling at me, the catcher’s laughing at me because he can hear kind of what he’s saying.”

No jersey retirement speech will be that funny.