McAdam: Sox continue to beat up on Sabathia

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McAdam: Sox continue to beat up on Sabathia

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam

BOSTON -- In four games against CC Sabathia this season, the Red Sox are 4-0 and have scored six or more runs in three of the four games.

But ask them to explain their success against the big lefty and the Red Sox suddenly seemed more overmatched by the question that Sabathia himself.

It's a mystery to them, too, why Sabathia is 16-2 with a 2.11 ERA against everyone else in baseball, but 0-4 with a 7.20 ERA against the Sox.

Perhaps they were just being polite, but the Sox had far fewer answers than they had runs scored.

"Believe me,'' said manager Terry Francona, "it's not like we see him and think, 'Oh, we're going to lunch up on this guy.' He's good. He's really good.''

Against lineups other than the Red Sox, yes. He had allowed seven runs in his last eight starts combined; Saturday night, he gave up seven to the Red Sox by the end of the sixth inning.

Sabathia found himself in a 2-2 game in the bottom of the fourth after his teammates had negated a two-run third with two runs of their own off Red Sox starter John Lackey in the top of the fourth.

But just as quickly, the Sox exploded for five runs in the bottom of the fourth to blow the game open, with the big hit coming on Jacoby Ellsbury's three-run blast into the seats in right.

Asked to explain the Red Sox' almost inexplicable success against Sabathia, Dustin Pedroia offered: "I don't know -- luck, I guess. He's got great stuff. We know what CC's about. He's a competitor. He's their horse.

"But we've been able to get big hits at the right time. We did that today.''

Pedroia said the Sox haven't necessarily taken the same approach against Sabathia in each of the four starts. Against an experienced ace like Sabathia, the methodology has to change because Sabathia won't fall into predictable patterns.

"You're only going to get one pitch to hit -- if that -- each at-bat,'' said Pedroia. "You've got to make sure you hit it (when you get the chance).''

Surely, the Red Sox' habit of grinding out at-bats serves them well against Sabathia. For the most part, Red Sox hitters don't often get themselves out by swinging at pitches out of the strike zone.

Instead, they work pitchers and grind, getting themselves in hitter's counts, then taking full advantage.

It helps, too, that the Sox know what to expect from Sabathia. The more teams see a pitcher, the more familiar they get.

Finally, this Red Sox team has a habit of rising to a challenge. Last year, they were able to beat perennial Cy Young Award candidates like Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum, while chasing Ubaldo Jiminez.

"You want to rise to the occasion against good pitchers,'' said hitting coach Dave Magadan.

"We grind out at-bats, get on base and try to wear him down,'' shrugged Adrian Gonzalez.

"Good pitchers like that,'' offered David Ortiz, "it's just the one inning where they make a few mistakes and things like that happen. It happened to (Jon Lester) the other day. Today, he had that one inning when he made the mistake to Ellsbury.''

To put into historical perspective, the last time the Red Sox beat a Yankee starter four times in the same season was 1975, when they did so to Pat Dobson.

Sabathia, meanwhile, had never lost to the same team four times in the same year until he was saddled with another defeat to the Sox on Saturday.

"We've made him work and we've gotten some big hits in two-out situations,'' said Magadan, reflecting back on the four wins against Sabathia. "But there's no secret. You need to make him work. When you have at-bats against CC or Felix (Hernandez), you don't want to have those one-pitch at-bats where it makes their job easier.''

"I'm glad (we've had success against him),'' said Francona, ''because at some point, you have to beat pitchers like that. He's had his way with a lot of teams, (but) we've given him a good battle. I'm sure we'll face him a few times.''

Unlike other teams, they'll do so with some confidence.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam.

Perez's eighth-inning slam, after three walks, lifts Royals over Red Sox, 6-4

Perez's eighth-inning slam, after three walks, lifts Royals over Red Sox, 6-4

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Salvador Perez borrowed a Miguel Cabrera bat from Kansas City Royals teammate Drew Butera for the first time Wednesday.

"It's a magic stick," Butera said.

It was magic for Perez, who hit his first career grand slam, connecting in the eighth inning to rally the Royals over the Boston Red Sox 6-4.

"Miggy gave the bat to Butera when Detroit was playing here," Perez said. "Drew doesn't use it. It's too heavy for him. Today, coming into the clubhouse, I put it in my locker. I like the bat.

"Today was the first day I used it and I'll use it Friday, too, before you ask me. I don't want to break that one. I've got to call Miggy and say, `You've got to send me some more bats.'"

The Royals have won nine of 11 and moved within a game of .500.

Perez homered over the Kansas City bullpen in left field on the ninth pitch from Robby Scott (0-1). With Boston leading 4-2, reliever Matt Barnes started the inning by walking Jorge Bonifacio and Lorenzo Cain on 12 pitches.

"We uncharacteristically lost the strike zone," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "For a group that has been so good at not issuing too many walks over the course of the year, we had an inning that got away from us. Matt was up in the zone. He couldn't get the ball down.

"This one stings because that group has been so good, so consistent for the better part of the whole season."

Scott was summoned to face Eric Hosmer, but walked him on four pitches to load the bases for Perez. The All-Star catcher fouled off three full-count deliveries before hitting his 15th home run of the season.

"I was happy with where the pitch was, but it was too good," Scott said. "There's not much else to say about it."

According to ESPN Stats and Information, Perez was the first Kansas City player to hit a grand slam in the eighth inning or later with the Royals trailing since Frank White in 1986. Perez went 3 for 3 in the win.

Jorge Soria (3-2) worked a spotless eighth. Kelvin Herrera pitched the ninth for his 17th save in 19 chances.

Andrew Benintendi and Xander Bogaerts hit successive home runs in the Boston fourth off Ian Kennedy.

Benintendi's drive was estimated at 454 feet and landed in the right-center waterfall. The leadoff homer was Boston's first hit, and the 100th of Benintendi's career.

Five pitches later, Bogaerts went deep to left, tying the score at 2. It was the fourth time this season the Red Sox have hit back-to-back home runs.

"I tried to go inside and the ball just ran back over," Kennedy said of the homers.

Red Sox lefty Drew Pomeranz worked 6 1/3 innings, allowing two runs and six hits.

Kennedy was removed after 4 2/3 innings, giving up four runs, two earned, three hits and three walks. He has just one victory in his past 17 starts.

Errors by Kennedy and first baseman Cheslor Cuthbert helped Boston score twice in the fifth.

ORTIZ'S CEREMONY

The Red Sox will retire David Ortiz's No. 34 in a pregame ceremony Friday at Fenway Park. "When you consider the careers that are on that facade, the numbers that are up there and the fact that his being done so soon after retiring, I think speaks volumes," Farrell said. "What he's meant to the city, what he's meant to the organization. To see him at the ballpark, see the smile, to hear the booming voice, it will be a good day for us."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: 2B Dustin Pedroia missed his third straight game with rib soreness after being hit by a pitch Sunday. "When he went down to swing in the cage, there's still some restriction," Farrell said. "Hopefully he'll be back in the lineup Friday." ... LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (right knee subluxation) will throw a 30-pitch two-inning simulated game Saturday.

Royals: RHP Nathan Karns (forearm strain) threw off a flat surface, his first time tossing since having a setback 11 days ago. ... LHP Danny Duffy (oblique strain) will throw a bullpen session Friday and could begin a minor league rehab stint next week.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: After a day off Thursday, RHP Rick Porcello will start Friday against the Angels.

Royals: RHP Jakob Junis will start Friday against the Blue Jays.

Pedro's Players' Tribune story: How lobster led the Red Sox to David Ortiz

Pedro's Players' Tribune story: How lobster led the Red Sox to David Ortiz

As David Ortiz prepares to have his No. 34 retired Friday night at Fenway Park, Pedro Martinez, in a piece written for The Players' Tribune, recalls how it was a craving for lobster that led to his meeting with Ortiz and the signing that changed the fortunes of the Red Sox.

Martinez recalls how when he was out with the friends in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in December 2002 and wanted lobster. It led him to a restaurant where Ortiz also happened to be just after Big Papi had gotten the news that the Minnesota Twins had released him.

Martinez said he immediately began trying to reach the Red Sox brass.

"I pulled out my little flip phone right there and started calling everybody I could think of back in Boston," Martinez writes. "But nobody picked up, because they were all in the MLB Winter Meetings. Finally I got to the traveling secretary, Jack McCormick, and I said, “Hey, can you get a hold of Lucchino or Theo or somebody?”

“Listen, I’m in the Dominican and I ran into David Ortiz. He just got released by Minnesota. We need to sign him.”

The rest, three World Series championships later, is history. Culminating with No. 34 being unveiled on the right field facade in a pregame ceremony Friday night.

"I thank God that he made me hungry for lobster stew that night in Santo Domingo," Martinez writes. "Because it gave Boston a championship, and it gave me one of my best friends in the world."