McAdam: Sox hoping for a friendly Fenway

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McAdam: Sox hoping for a friendly Fenway

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

CLEVELAND -- They have become baseball's walking, talking version of Murphy's Law: if something can go wrong, the 2011 Red Sox will make sure to find a way to make it happen.

They've been outpitched at times, outhit at others, and lost another game on a freaky lapse of fundamentals.

On Thursday, though, they may have topped themselves, losing their sixth straight after walking the No. 9 hitter, watching him score on a perfectly executed suicide squeeze, then, for good measure, making the final out of the game when their pinch-runner took too wide a turn at second and was caught trying to slide back into the bag.

It's been a futile week on the road, and ordinarily, the Red Sox would be eager to get back home. But they also sense that Fenway might not be the most hospitable place for them.

A fan base delighted by the events of the offseason has been just as demoralized by the first week of the season, the worst start since 1945. So even as they packed their bags in the visitor's clubhouse Thursday, the Red Sox went on damage control and essentially pleaded for patience and support.

It's as though the Red Sox are throwing themselves at the mercy of the court . . . of public opinion.

"We've got to get back at home, man, and get those fans into it," said Dustin Pedroia, "get everybody fired up. We need those fans more than ever right now... We need them, we need someone on our side. Carl Crawford and Kevin Youkilis and J.D. Drew, they were getting yelled at the whole time.

"It'd be good to have someone cheering for us for a change. I hope. You're either two feet in now or two feet out -- let us know. Because we're coming."

Ready or not.

The week-long debacle that was the first road trip of the season is mercifully over. The Sox hit a woeful .181 and slugged .275. Their staff ERA is 7.12 and it wasn't until Thursday that they got so much as a quality start from their rotation -- on the sixth try.

Just when it seemed that Jon Lester might do exactly what his manager had forecast ("Let the big boy get on a roll and put us on his shoulders,'' said Terry Francona Wednesday night), the team imploded over the last inning.

It started with a walk from Daniel Bard to weak-hitting Adam Everett in the bottom of the inning, continued with a poor throw into center from Jarrod Saltalamacchia on a stolen-base attempt, and culminated in pinch-runner Darnell McDonald being caught too far off the bag in the top of the ninth for the game's final out.

"I was trying to be a little aggressive," said a subdued McDonald, "anticipating them making a throw. I lost my footing after rounding second out there and really got caught in no-man's land.

"I was trying to make something happen and it didn't work out."

That might aptly sum up the state of the Red Sox after a week. No matter what, it hasn't worked out, and the sight of McDonald having fallen and trying in vain to scramble back to his feet was a suitable metaphor for the first six games.

It's not, of course, about to get any easier, even though the next 10 games are at home, where the Sox traditionally play better and hit more.

"The slate's not really clean," said Francona. "The record's what it is. I don't want us to have a hangover. We need to pick it up. We're going to be playing a good team now (the Yankees are the Sox' Opening Day opponent) and we've not done a very good job to this point."

DBard, who invited trouble by walking Everett to begin the bottom of the eighth ("Can't do that, especially to the nine-hole guy"), hopes the mob will not be an angry one.

"I think most Red Sox fans are smart enough to know, as cliched as it is, it's a long season," Bard said. "If they give up on us right now after six games, then they've got more problems than we do. And I don't think that's the case. I think they'll stick behind us."

Ultimately, it's not up to the fans and their response. It's up to the Red Sox, who have gotten themselves into this mess and now, need to get themselves out of it.

Fast.

"We'll figure it out -- we have to,'' vowed Pedroia. "We don't want to let anybody down."

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

Bogaerts has three hits, three RBIs as Red Sox beat Rangers, 11-6

Bogaerts has three hits, three RBIs as Red Sox beat Rangers, 11-6

BOSTON - Xander Bogaerts and the Boston Red Sox don't need help putting runs on the board right now. They got some from the Texas Rangers anyway.

Bogaerts had three RBIs and twice scored on wild pitches, Dustin Pedroia had a two-run double during a four-run sixth inning and the Red Sox beat the Rangers 11-6 on Tuesday night.

"That's the kind of offense we have," Bogaerts said. "The weather's heating up and a lot of guys are putting good swings on the ball. It was a good win today. A lot of guys contributed."

Boston won its second in a row and once again did it primarily with offense. Coming off a 12-3 win at Oakland on Sunday, the Red Sox pummeled one of the hottest teams in the AL and helped Rick Porcello get just his second home win this season.

Porcello (3-5) won despite allowing 11 hits in 6 2/3 innings. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner struck out four and allowed five runs, four earned.

"We got the win. That's what's most important. Obviously you don't want to go out there and give up five runs or whatever it was," Porcello said. "Our guys swung the bats extremely well and played really good defense and we were able to come out with it tonight."

Joey Gallo got his 14th homer for Texas, and Shin-Soo Choo went 2 for 5 with two RBIs.

Texas entered having won 11 of 12. The 11 runs allowed marked a season high.

The Rangers outhit the Red Sox 13-12 and Boston left eight runners on base, but Texas could not overcome eight walks, one of them intentional.

"It was the walks. Really that's been a nemesis from time to time this year," manager Jeff Banister said. "It's the freebies that showed up again tonight that got us in trouble."

Andrew Cashner (1-4) pitched five innings, allowing five runs, six hits and four walks. He also threw a pair of wild pitches, one of them allowing Bogaerts to score from third and put Boston up 2-1 after three.

Bogaerts was 3 for 5 and took advantage of misfires by Cashner and Jeremy Jeffress to score, and Andrew Benintendi came home on a balk by Alex Claudio in the eighth. Pedroia, who had his 500th career multihit game, and Mitch Moreland finished with two hits and two RBIs apiece.

Texas went to the bullpen in the sixth and the Red Sox broke open the game. Deven Marrero and Mookie Betts both walked with two outs and scored on Pedroia's double to right. Bogaerts followed with another double that scored Pedroia. Two more walks loaded the bases and Bogaerts scored on Jeffress' wild pitch, putting Boston up 9-3.

LET'S TALK

Boston manager John Farrell said the Red Sox took advantage of the day off Monday with a team meeting to chat about how the season had gone so far - and not just the areas that have kept Boston hovering around .500.

"It was also to re-emphasize the things that are going well here and not just to pick out all that is wrong here. There are a number of things going right and a number of those things were on display here tonight," Farrell said.

ROUGHED-UP RANGERS

Of his 90 pitches, Cashner threw 54 for strikes and was still irked after the game about walking four batters in five innings of work.

"I thought the walks in certain spots definitely hurt me. I think it could have been a different game had some things gone differently," Cashner said.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rangers: 3B Adrian Beltre (strained right calf) did some running before the game and is making progress toward a return, manager Jeff Banister said. Beltre's next evaluation will be Thursday, and he could be back by the beginning of June, Banister said. ... Boston sent RHP Tyson Ross (thoracic outlet syndrome) on a rehab assignment to Triple-A Round Rock.

Red Sox: Called up 1B Sam Travis from Triple-A Pawtucket and optioned RHP Hector Velazquez to Pawtucket. Travis will platoon with Moreland. ... 3B Pablo Sandoval (right knee sprain) was ill and out of the lineup for Pawtucket in a rehab game. Manager John Farrell said Sandoval might need only two more rehab starts before returning.

UP NEXT

Rangers: LHP Martin Perez (2-5, 3.71 ERA) struck out eight in his last start, allowing two runs on five hits over seven innings Thursday against Philadelphia for his second win of the season.

Red Sox: LHP Chris Sale (4-2, 2.19 ERA) is riding a streak of eight consecutive starts with 10 or more strikeouts, an MLB record he also achieved in 2015 and shares with Pedro Martinez (1999).

Dombrowski defends John Farrell after group strategy meeting on Monday

Dombrowski defends John Farrell after group strategy meeting on Monday

 

The Red Sox braintrust had a meeting on Monday's off-day to strategize with a 22-21 team that's underperforming and in third place.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski told NESN's Tom Caron on the Sox pre-game show that he was part of a meeting with Farrell, assistant general managers Eddie Romero and Brian O'Halloran and vice president of baseball research and development Zack Scott.

"We sat down yesterday for over a couple hours," Dombrowski told Caron. "I [had] already talked to some of our scouts and just kind of [went] over our club to try to get it to fit together a little bit. Because some of those things, the injuries, and even the guys that are playing, like in Hanley [Ramirez's] case, it does affect what you’re trying to do. So normally at this time of year, I think you have a better pulse [of the team]. But I think we need a little bit more time. We just really haven’t flowed as a club. We haven’t played as well as I think we’re capable of and I think we need to give ourselves that opportunity."

Asked about Farrell's job security, Dombrowski defended a manager whose 2018 option was picked up over the winter.

"Well, we won a divisional crown last year," Dombrowski said. "He managed very well for us at the time. I think that John, as well as everybody else, is frustrated by our performance and that we haven’t taken off, but we’re not buried either. I mean, we’re four games out of first place and we really haven’t been in a flow. And when you look at it, it’s like, OK, last week Thursday we won two great games in St. Louis. I wasn’t with the team, I was in Salem. 

"Well I looked at the match-up on Thursday, and I’m thinking, well if [Sonny] Gray throws like he’s capable, I’m not sure what we’re going to get out of [Hector] Velazquez at that particular time. And of course, Velazquez didn’t have a very good outing. So you lose that ball game. Is that John’s fault? I can’t put that on John. 

"Friday night, you have Chris Sale, he threw the ball very well. Well the play that Trevor Plouffe made on Hanley Ramirez, I don’t know if he’s made a play like that all year long. Mookie Betts, in the ninth inning gets a line drive right at the third baseman. Well you have a chance to score five or six runs, didn’t happen. No excuses, but it’s one of those where I think to pin those things on John Farrell are just not fair. I think we’re in a position where he’s managed well, he’s managed divisional champions. I think we’re in a position, we have a good club. We just need to get in a better flow of things."

Dombrowski felt the Sox were harder to evaluate a quarter into the season than most teams would be.

"Because the reality is when you look at our ballclub, it really hasn’t been together at all at any point during the year for me," he said. "So I think when you look at it, you say OK, well, we need to improve our fourth and fifth starters. Well, David Price comes back next week — we think he’ll be back next week. So that’s a pretty big addition, that’s like making a major trade. 

"I still think Drew Pomeranz, although he has scuffled at times, should be a fourth-, fifth-type starter on a good club. … We need to straighten him out. I think he’s capable of doing that. When you talk about bullpen, our bullpen’s been good but I still think we’re going to get Carson Smith in a short time period, so that’s another addition that we have.

"Third base, you know has been a hole for us where Pablo Sandoval could be back very soon. I’m not sure where Brock Holt fits into that whole equation. So we’re really on our fifth third baseman right now when you look at it. Pablo is there, and then Brock Holt was there. Marco Hernandez is going to have surgery, we’re going to miss him for the rest of the year. Josh Rutledge has been over there."

Holt, out with vertigo, and the Red Sox are regrouping. Holt's exhausted the 20 days permitted for a minor league rehab stint, and is heading to Pittsburgh to meet concussion expert Micky Collins. Another rehab stint figures to follow eventually, barring a change in diagnosis.

Hernandez is to have surgery on his left shoulder Friday, which likely ends his season.

Hanley Ramirez can still be the DH, but his sore shoulders have relegated him to only that position, not first base. That's part of the reason Sam Travis was added to the roster Tuesday.

"There’s a couple reasons behind it," Dombrowski said of Travis' call-up.  "We’re in a position where we have a roster spot for a positional player. Secondly, we’ve talked about giving Mitch [Moreland] a little bit of a blow on his feet at times, to not play too many games. And we faced a left hand pitcher tomorrow [in the Rangers' Martin Perez]. He’s been hitting the ball well, Sam has. 

"We’re trying to sit [Moreland] a little bit vs. the left-handed pitching. Even though he’s done OK, we just don’t want him to get too tired as the year goes on. And the reality is, originally that was going to be Hanley [playing first base vs. lefties]. Well, Hanley’s not available to do that now, so we needed to make an adjustment ourself on how to do that. And with the extra roster spot, Pawtucket right down the road, we figure it’s a good chance to give him that opportunity. 

"In Hanley’s case, not playing first base, people don’t realize at times how much that changes the mix of your club. Because at some time, we are going to have Chris Young get at-bats and DH at that point."