Middlebrooks pinch-hit homer a bright spot in loss


Middlebrooks pinch-hit homer a bright spot in loss

BOSTON If there was a silver lining to be scraped from the Red Sox 6-3 loss to the Rangers at Fenway Park Tuesday night, it was Will Middlebrooks pinch-hit home run in the seventh inning, accounting for all the Sox runs.

With two outs, Ryan Kalish on first after reaching on an error, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia on second after a single to right, Middlebrooks pinch hit for Nick Punto.

On the first pitch, an 85-mph slider, Middlebrooks launched a laser into the first row of Monster seats in left field, slicing the Sox deficit to one run, 4-3.

But the satisfaction was not immediate. Initially, it appeared a fan reached over to pull the ball in. The umpires convened on the field, deciding to review the play. After several minutes seeming to take longer than most home run reviews the umpires emerged from the visitors dugout (which allows access to the video review equipment) with the decision.

The home run stands.

It also ended the night for Rangers right-hander Ryan Dempster.

Middlebrooks had no doubt his blast would survive the review.

Oh, I knew, he said.

It was Middlebrooks 14th home run of the season, his first as a pinch-hitter, and the Sox fourth of the season from a pinch-hitter.

When youre not starting, about the sixth inning you start getting ready, he said. Go down in the cage, take some swings, get loose, because you never know.

Middlebrooks now has 51 RBI this season, putting him into elite company. Since 1918, Ted Williams is the only other Sox batter to hit at least 14 home runs and 51 RBI in his first 72 major league games. Williams had 14 homers and 74 RBI. Walt Dropo, Norm Zachin, and Fred Lynn all reached those numbers, but took more than one season to do so.

It was Middlebrooks first career plate appearance against Dempster. He was not concerned about seeing pitches from the Rangers right-hander.

Im pretty aggressive anyways, Middlebrooks said. Thats just my overall approach anyways every at-bat. So, if I can get a pitch up in the zone early, Ill take it.

But that was all the Sox could take from the Rangers in this game.

Three-run HR from Sandoval (.353) leads Red Sox split squad past Rays, 7-5

Three-run HR from Sandoval (.353) leads Red Sox split squad past Rays, 7-5

Pablo Sandoval hit his fourth home run of the spring and Rusney Castillo had three hits to lead a Red Sox split squad to a 7-5 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday in Port Charlotte, Fla. 

Sandoval, who has won back his third base job after missing nearly all of last season following surgery on his left shoulder, connected for a three-run shot, batting right-handed, against Rays starter Ian Snell in the fifth inning. The switch-hitting Sandoval had abandoned hitting right-handed in 2015, his last full season with the Red Sox.

He's hitting .353 this spring with a 1.051 OPS and 19 RBI.

Castillo, the Cuban outfielder signed to a seven-year, $72 million deal late in 2014 but again likely headed for Triple-A Pawtucket, went 3-for-4 and is hitting .368 this spring. Catcher Blake Swihart, also probably Pawtucket-bound, had two hits and is hitting .325.


Another strong start for Kendrick in Red Sox split squad's 3-3 tie with Phillies

Another strong start for Kendrick in Red Sox split squad's 3-3 tie with Phillies

Kyle Kendrick strengthened his bid for a spot in the rotation by allowing two runs in six innings and striking out six and Jackie Bradley homered as a Red Sox split squad played to a 3-3 tie with the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday in Fort Myers, Fla.

Kendrick, 32, a non-roster invitee to spring training, allowed eight hits and a walk in his sixth start this spring. He's been the Red Sox best starter with an ERA of 2.17. 

With David Price out until May and lefty Drew Pomeranz still a question mark, Kendrick could find his way into the rotation behind Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, Steven Wright and Eduardo Rodriguez.

Bradley went 2-for-3 with his third homer of the spring. He's hitting .244 in spring training games. 

The Phillies pushed across the tying run in the ninth off lefty reliever Robby Scott, the first run he's allowed this spring in 10 innings. 

The Minnesota Twins host the Red Sox on Sunday at 1:05 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.