McAdam: Sox need a major cleanup

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McAdam: Sox need a major cleanup

What's next?

What else is going to come from the steaming pile that was the 2011 Red Sox season?

What new, sordid tale remains to be told? What tawdry confession is on the on-deck circle?

First, it was beer being consumed in the clubhouse. Then, it was a beer-fried chicken-video game festival in the clubhouse. Now comes a report that three pitchers were drinking beer in the dugout during games.

In a statement released by the team late Tuesday night, all three of the accused players -- starting pitchers Josh Beckett, John Lackey and Jon Lester -- categorically denied the charges, as did former manager Terry Francona.

Now, we're into "he said, she said" territory.

But the fact remains: After all that we've learned in the aftermath of the season, the report seemed, at the very least, plausible.

In other words, even if it's not true, as Lackey, Beckett and Lester maintained, it could have been. We've been conditioned to believe just about anything about these Red Sox.

Drinking in the dugout might have seemed like it crossed the line. But then again, the 2011 Red Sox crossed that line some time ago.

Consider Francona the lucky one. He may be unemployed for the moment and his reputation slimed by some anonymous cowards. But at least he doesn't have to go back and deal with this bunch.

Missing the playoffs with a 7-20 September was just the start, apparently. The Red Sox could have recovered from that. They had a brutal month on the field and their starting rotation failed them miserably. They became a punch line with their final-month freefall.

But that was nothing compared to the revelations that have come since the end of the season.

The Red Sox have gone beyond punchline and headed directly for laughing stock. For the rest of the offseason, they'll be proper fodder for Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien and David Letterman.

Guaranteed, someone will take footage from the World Series winners' clubhouse, with champagne flowing and beer pouring and identify it as the home clubhouse at Fenway during a July game.

In the immediate aftermath of Francona's departure, team officials -- both publicly and off-the-record -- insisted that things weren't as bad as they seemed.

Larry Lucchino told the New York Daily News: "I agree we need to restore some order and rules enforcement in the clubhouse and the new manager will do that. That said, I think the stories have been blown out of proportion by the epic collapse. We have a core of really good, talented, charismatic players."

Blown out of proportion? Wonder if Lucchino would like that one back?

Another Red Sox official admonished me for a column two weeks ago in which I suggested that the final month of this season was every bit as bad the final month of 2001.

In hindsight, of course, that person was correct. This year was much, much worse. It's going to take some time is latest bit of nausea-inducing news from Fenway.

The reclamation project needs to begin soon. Incoming GM Ben Cherington -- and how's this for a cleanup job on Day 1? -- must begin exploring dealing each one of his top three starting pitchers.

Other than Lester, this will not be easy. Lackey has more than 45 million remaining over three years and next-to-no value, after coming off what was, quite literally, the worst season ever for a Red Sox starter. Beckett has 10-5 rights -- 10 years in the majors, the last five with the same team -- giving him the ability to refuse a trade.

Something tells me that's not going to be much of a hurdle now.

As presently constituted, the Red Sox roster is toxic. Laughed at around the country and throughout baseball, they are positively reviled in their own region.

I've lost track of the number of people who have used the word "disgusted" in recent days and weeks about the 2011 Red Sox. And that was before the latest bombshell. Imagine their revulsion now.

Choking, fans can deal with. But that was when no one questioned the players' sobriety.

In addition to a roster makeover, there's plenty of other work to be done this winter.

If ownership has any sense of propriety, they won't dare introduce a price increase in tickets. In fact, a reduction -- the first in, what, decades? -- would be in order. For that matter, how about a modest refund to season-ticket holders who paid full price this past season for less than full effort from the players?

No more, please, about the consecutive-game sellout streak, since that's about to come to an inglorious end anyway, on, say, the fifth or sixth home game next April.

No more reminders that fans are inhabiting "America's Most Beloved Ballpark," and other similar sticky Valentines.

And please, no more institutional unhealthy obsession with the Yankees and repeated vows to outdo them.

The cleanup has to start at the top. It's time for Lucchino, John Henry and Tom Werner to revoke the fraternity charter, and put the players -- like the residents of Delta House -- and themselves on double-secret probation and go about the business of turning this bad joke back into a proud franchise.

Weird umpire replay mistake helps Red Sox to record-tying 20 Ks

Weird umpire replay mistake helps Red Sox to record-tying 20 Ks

BOSTON -- New York’s mistake helped the Red Sox, and they weren’t playing the Yankees.

The Red Sox struck out 20 in a game for the third time in franchise history on Thursday night, and they were able to do so only after MLB’s replay team — based in Manhattan — gave Craig Kimbrel an extra batter to strike out in the ninth inning.

A 6-2 win over the Rangers featured 16 strikeouts for Red Sox pitching heading into the top of the ninth at Fenway Park. Kimbrel came on for a non-save situation because he had five days off previously.

There’s always that outside chance for a four-strikeout inning, and it happened. Even for a four-strikeout inning, however, this was bizarre.

The first batter, left-handed hitting Nomar Mazara, swung and missed at a back-foot breaking ball for strike three — a literal back-foot breaking ball, because it hit him in that foot after he whiffed on the pitch.

On a swing and a miss with a pitch that hits the batter, the ball should be dead. He should not have been able to reach first base. But the umpires didn’t catch the ball hitting Mazara, and instead saw it as a wild pitch. 

Sox manager John Farrell asked for a review and the umpires went for one, but came back empty-handed. The crew was told, erroneously, that the play could not be looked at and the batter was awarded first base.

“It was just a swinging strike three, ball that go away and he obviously reached first base,” crew chief Alfonso Marquez told pool reporter Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. “The only thing that I can tell you, and the only thing I will say is, this was a replay issue. New York will come out with a statement.”

You could say it worked out just fine. Kimbrel went on to strike out the next three, and got the Sox to 20 Ks.

Kimbrel and Tim Wakefield are the only Red Sox pitchers to fan four batters in a single inning. Wakefield did it in the ninth inning on Aug. 10, 1999. 

Kimbrel did it once before as well, when he was with the Braves on Sept. 26, 2012.

No one has struck out five in a major league inning, although Kimbrel has as good a chance as anyone.

“The guy strikes out the world,” Matt Barnes said. “It’s ridiculous. … His fastball is seemingly unhittable. Complement that with the breaking ball he’s got, which comes right off that same plane, when he’s commanding it like he is, the numbers kind of speak for themselves. It’s kind of ridiculous. It’s fun to watch.”

The Sox have struck out 20 in a nine-inning game three times since 1913. Roger Clemens' two 20-strikeout games are the other two.

Red Sox tie strikeout record in completing sweep of Rangers, 6-2

Red Sox tie strikeout record in completing sweep of Rangers, 6-2

BOSTON (AP) There's something about Boston Red Sox pitchers and 20-strikeout games.

There have been six major-league games with that many strikeouts and the Red Sox made the list for the third time, fanning that many Texas Rangers for a 6-2 victory Thursday night and a sweep of the three-game series.

Five Boston pitchers combined on the 20 strikeouts with starter Drew Pomeranz getting 11 in six innings and closer Craig Kimbrel getting four in the ninth when the leadoff batter reached on a wild pitch strike three. Boston's Roger Clemens twice reached 20 strikeouts by himself.

"His stuff is nasty. What he is doing right now I have never seen anything like that," Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes said of Kimbrel.

Kimbrel has retired 53 of the last 56 batters he has faced and right-handed hitters are on an 0-for-41 streak.

Xander Bogaerts and Deven Marrero hit their first home runs of the season helping Boston to its fourth straight win.

"A lot has been made about our home run totals or lack thereof," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "Tonight was the first of what should be many more."

Pomeranz (4-3), who tied his career high with the 11 strikeouts, made it as far as six innings for the third time this season and beat Texas for the first time in nine career outings.

"Felt lost for a couple of starts and wasn't satisfied," said Pomeranz, who gave up four hits and walked one. "Tonight I felt more like last year."

Elvis Andrus homered and Nomar Mazara had two hits and an RBI for Texas, which has lost four of five overall and 15 of 21 on the road.

"The sweep is surprising," Andrus said. "But that's the beauty of baseball, I guess. You cannot take any team for granted. Even when you feel you're playing at your best, stuff like this can happen."

Andrew Benintendi and Mitch Moreland had RBI singles in the first inning as Boston got to Rangers starter Nick Martinez (1-3) early.

Bogaerts hit a two-run homer in the third to put Boston ahead 4-0. Despite finishing with 21 home runs last year, Bogaerts needed 46 games to connect for the first time this season.

"Good to get one over the wall and get it out of the way," Bogaerts said.

Mike Napoli struck out four times while Pete Kozma and Andrus went down three times each. Every Ranger starter struck out at least once.

"Pomeranz was throwing well," Rangers catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. "Obviously their bullpen came in and threw well also and they played better than we did overall tonight."

Marrero homered in the eighth off Alex Claudio.

Martinez gave up four runs in five innings and is winless in four starts against Boston with a 6.46 ERA.

Andrus cut Boston's lead to 4-1 in the fourth inning with the homer, snapping an 0-for-9 drought.

Moreland tied his career high by driving in at least one run for the sixth straight game and extended his hitting streak to seven games, batting .393 in that stretch.

Boston swept Texas for the first time at Fenway Park since 2008. Since 2009, Texas has the best winning percentage at Fenway Park in the major leagues at .600.

STRIKING SUCCESS

Pomeranz recorded his 500th career strikeout when he whiffed Napoli for the final out of the fourth inning, his eighth of the game.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rangers: 3B Adrian Beltre will play in extended spring training games in Arizona the next three days after being sidelined all season with a calf strain.

Red Sox: 2B Dustin Pedroia was removed from the game after five innings for precautionary reasons due to left knee pain. He is listed as day to day. ... LHP David Price will make his season debut Monday in Chicago against the White Sox despite surrendering six earned runs in 5 2/3 innings over his last two rehab starts. ... 3B Pablo Sandoval is 3 for 13 in four rehab games.

UP NEXT:

Rangers: Will send RHP A.J. Griffin (4-1) in the opener at Toronto.

Red Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (3-1) looks to win his fourth straight decision when they entertain Seattle on Friday.