Boston Red Sox

Notes: Bedard keeps his cool on mound

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Notes: Bedard keeps his cool on mound

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

MINNEAPOLIS -- Erik Bedard's second start for the Red Sox was more impressive than his first, but it didn't begin that way.

Bedard, who allowed two runs on just three hits while striking out six in five innings, had a rough first inning, walking four -- including one with the bases loaded.

"Just lack of control in the first," shrugged Bedard, who dismissed any suggestion that he was the victim of a tiny strike zone by home plate umpire Tim McClelland. "I tried to battle and limit the damage . . . It could have been (a lot) worse. You have to bear down in those situations. If you let it get it out of hand, the score could have been 6-0."

"He didn't give up a big hit there (in the first)," said catcher Jason Varitek. "He continued to throw good pitches and not give in. Tim always has a smaller strike zone and he stays with it. We just couldn't get one of those borderline ones to go our way early."

Bedard threw 37 pitches in the first -- thanks to the walks -- which limited how deep into the game he could go.

From the second through the fifth, Bedard didn't walk a single batter and allowed just two hits -- both singles.

"I kept battling -- throwing strikes and keep the ball down and keep them off them balance," he said.

Bedard will get an extra day before pitching again and predicted, now that he got up to 90 pitches, the next outing will be treated without any limitations.

"Physically, I feel fine," said Bedard, who missed a month with a knee injury before coming to the Red Sox at the trade deadline.

Monday night, David Ortiz's two-run homer helped the Red Sox stage a comeback and earn a win over the Twins.

Tuesday night, he delivered the game-winner in the seventh with a swinging bunt that traveled about 30 feet.

With the bases loaded and Phil Dumatrait on the mound, Ortiz swung and barely topped a ball to the right of the pitcher's mound.

When Dumatrait stumbled trying to field it, Ortiz reached safely and Dustin Pedroia scored what proved to be the winning run.

"I was live-stepping," cracked Ortiz of motoring down the line.

Asked what was more satisfying: a 438-foot bomb or an infield chopper, Ortiz said: "It all depends on the situation. To win a game, I'll take both of them. I'm glad it was a (hit)."

It took a few days, but the RBI which David Ortiz lost due to an official scorer's call last week was given to him Tuesday, thanks to a ruling by Major League Baseball.

Official scorer Chaz Scoggins of the Lowell Sun ruled last Wednesday that Ortiz wouldn't be awarded a second RBI because of an error made by Cleveland outfielder Austin Kearns.

MLB has a committee to review controversial calls upon appeal and Tuesday, it ruled in Ortiz's favor.

Ortiz had complained bitterly over the scoring change, and burst into a Terry Francona pre-game press conference the following day to complain.

An ESPNDeportes story over the weekend, meanwhile, suggested Ortiz was upset that the Red Sox had not approached him about a contract extension.

"We love David around here," said Dustin Pedroia. "He's been so great for so long for this organization. He's got so many big hits. I can't imagine him playing for somebody else."

"We love David, we want David here. Everyone wants David here. He wants to be here. So, the business side of baseball, it works itself out. The kind of year he's having definitely puts pressure on the organization to sign him back.

Even seven hits in his previous two games couldn't keep Marco Scutaro in the Red Sox lineup Monday night. Francona gave him the night off, with Jed Lowrie getting the start at short.

"He's scuffled against (Twins starter Francisco Liriano) a little bit," said Francona of Scutaro, noting the batter's 1-for-9 history. "I want to give guys a break. I wanted to play Lowrie (against Liriano), then we'll give Jed a day (off Wednesday).

"We're just trying to look ahead and make sure it fits. I think you have a responsibility to do the right thing for your team. I think it's common sense."

Reliever Bobby Jenks was released from a Boston hospital Monday. The Red Sox hope that Jenks feels well enough to go to Fenway Wednesday and began some throwing.

Outfielder J.D. Drew took some swings off some flips from hitting coach Dave Magadan both Monday and Tuesday. He'll hit in the cage either Wednesday or Friday in Seattle. Drew has been on the DL for the past three weeks with an impingement of his left shoulder.

Somewhat unnoticed Monday night was the fact that closer Jonathan Papelbon became the first to record at least 25 saves in each of his six full seasons.

Papelbon has successfully converted his last 20 save opportunities, dating back to May 13.

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

Red Sox rally for 5-4 win over Reds, extend AL East lead

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Red Sox rally for 5-4 win over Reds, extend AL East lead

CINCINNATI - Rafael Devers hit a three-run homer Friday night, and the Boston Red Sox extended their AL East lead to four games by overcoming Scooter Gennett's fourth grand slam of the season for a 5-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

Boston added to its lead with the help of the Yankees' 8-1 loss at Toronto. The Red Sox have won 12 of 15, keeping the Yankees at bay while moving a season-high 25 games over .500 (89-64).

Their AL Cy Young Award winner is still struggling heading into playoff time.

Rick Porcello gave up Gennett's fourth grand slam - a Reds' season record - in the first inning. He lasted a season-low four innings, turning a 5-4 lead over to the bullpen. Porcello has lost 17 games - most in the majors - after winning 22 last year along with the Cy Young.

Part of Porcello's problem has been a lack of run support. Boston has been blanked while he's on the mound in 10 of his losses. This time, the Red Sox got him off the hook, overcoming Gennett's career-high 27th homer with the help of Devers' three-run shot off Sal Romano (5-7).

The Red Sox are last in the AL with 159 homers.

Left-hander David Price (6-3) pitched 2 2/3 innings and contributed a single, bringing the Red Sox to the front of the dugout for a celebration. Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 34th save in 38 chances. He hasn't allowed a run in his last 10 appearances.

Gennett was claimed off waivers from Milwaukee late in spring training. He has provided some of the Reds' best moments in an 88-loss season, including a four-homer game on June 6. His homer off Porcello ended the Red Sox' streak of 26 straight scoreless innings.

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Drellich: Pomeranz, league's second-best lefty, knows how to be even better

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Drellich: Pomeranz, league's second-best lefty, knows how to be even better

BOSTON — Drew Pomeranz may not actually be the No. 2 starter for the Red Sox in this year’s presumed American League Division Series. Maybe the Sox will mix in a right-hander between Pomeranz and Chris Sale.

Still, everyone knows which pitcher, in spirit, has been the second-most reliable for the Red Sox. A day after Chris Sale notched his 300th strikeout and on the final off-day of the regular season, it’s worth considering the importance of the other excellent lefty on the Sox, and how much he’s meant to a team that’s needed surprise performances because of the lineup’s drop-off.

Per FanGraphs’ wins above replacement, Pomeranz is the second-most valuable lefthanded starter among those qualified in the American League (you know who's No. 1). He's one of the 10 best starters in the AL overall.

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Pomeranz, 28, was a first-round pick seven years ago. But he didn’t exactly blossom until the last two years. He has a 3.15 ERA in 165 2/3 innings. His next start, if decent, should give him a career-high in innings after he threw 170 2/3 last year.

Pomeranz is a 16-game winner, just one win behind Sale. The value of wins and losses is known to be nil, but there’s still a picture of reliability that can be gleaned.

Is this the year Pomeranz became the pitcher he always envisioned he would be?

“I don’t know, I mean, I had a pretty dang good year last year,” Pomeranz said, referring to a 3.32 ERA between the Padres and Sox, and an All-Star selection. “I think these last two years have been kind of you know, more what I wanted to be like. But I still, I don’t think I’m done yet, you know what I mean?”

Most pro athletes say there’s always room to improve. Pomeranz, however, was able to specify what he wants. The focus is on his third and fourth pitches: his cutter and his change-up. 

“My changeup’s been really good this year,” Pomeranz said. “That’s something that still can go a lot further. And same with my cutter too. I still use it sparingly. I don’t think me just being a six-inning guy is the end of it for me either.

“You set personal goals. You want to throw more innings, cover more innings so the bullpen doesn’t have to cover those. Helps save them for right now during the year.”

Early in the year, Pomeranz wasn’t using his cutter much. He threw just nine in April, per BrooksBaseball.net. That led to talk that he wasn’t throwing the pitch to take it easy on his arm. He did start the year on the disabled list, after all, and cutters and sliders can be more stressful on the elbow and forearm.

That wasn’t the case.

“The reason I didn’t throw it in the beginning of the year was because half the times I threw it went the other way,” Pomeranz said. “It backed up. Instead of cutting, it was like sinking or running back. I mean, I pitched [in Baltimore] and gave up a home run to [Manny] Machado, we were trying to throw one in and it went back. So I didn’t trust it.

“Mechanical thing. I was still trying to clean my mechanics up, and once I cleaned ‘em up and got my arm slot right, then everything started moving the way it was supposed to and then I started throwing it more.”

Pomeranz’s cutter usage, and how he developed the pitch heading into 2016, has been well documented.

The change-up is more of an X-factor. He threw five in each of his last two starts, per Brooks, and it’s a pitch he wants to use more.

“It’s been good,” Pomeranz said. “I think I could throw it a lot more and a lot more effectively, and ... tweaking of pitch selection probably could help me get into some of those later innings too.”

Well, then why not just throw the change more often? Easier said than done when you’re talking about your fourth pitch in a key moment.

“I throw a few a game,” Pomeranz said. “Sometimes you feel like you don’t want too throw it in situations where you get beat with your third or fourth best pitch. I mean it’s felt — every time I’ve thrown it it’s been consistent. It’s just a matter of, it’s something me and Vazqy [Christian Vazquez] talk about, too." 

(When you hear these kind of issues, which most pitchers deal with, it makes you appreciate Sale’s ability to throw any pitch at any time even more.)

Speaking on Wednesday, the day after Pomeranz’s most recent outing, Sox pitching coach Carl Willis said he thinks the change-up’s already starting to have a greater presence.

“He’s kind of always had a changeup, and he hadn’t had any trust or conviction in that pitch,” Willis said. “I was really excited last night that he used the changeup more. He threw it. He doubled up with it on occasion. Something that’s not in the scouting report.

"It’s his fourth pitch and he seldom threw it in a game and he’s in a situation where, OK, the change-up’s the right pitch, but location of whatever I throw is going to outweigh [selection]. Now he’s starting to gain that confidence [that he can locate it]. 

“I think that’s going to make him an extremely better pitcher. I thought it was a huge factor in his outing last night. Because he didn’t have his best velocity. He really did a good job of changing speeds with the changeup, and obviously with the curveball and being able to give different shapes of the pitches.”

The Sox already have the best left-hander in the AL, if not anywhere. The AL's second-best southpaw happens to pitch on the same team, and has tangible plans to be even better.

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