Notes: Gonzalez ends HR drought with two


Notes: Gonzalez ends HR drought with two

By Sean McAdam Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Adrian Gonzalez had gone the entire month of August without a homer, and, in fact, had just one homer since July 7 before Tuesday, dating back 146 at-bats.

But in the span of three at-bats Tuesday, Gonzalez swatted two homers -- the first ending an 84 at-bat homerless streak -- in the Red Sox' 11-5 win over Texas.

"It didn't matter," insisted Gonzalez of his homer drought. "I was getting on base, hitting for average and the main thing is we're in a good position to be in the playoffs."

Gonzalez said he had some good at-bats in Kansas City and felt his swing was starting to come around.

"Kansas City is a big park," he said. "I hit some balls good to left field that were outs on the (warning) track. I've been feeling better lately."

The second homer Tuesday was to the opposite field, which Gonzalez termed "my swing. If I can stay with it, that's when I'm going well. Hopefully, I can continue that."

The two-homer game was Gonzalez's second this season and 12th of the season. The second homer gave him 20 for the season, marking the sixth consecutive year he's reached that milestone.

As nice as the two homers were, Gonzalez was just as pleased with a single he had against lefty Darren Oliver in the seventh inning.

"I haven't had an at-bat like that against a lefty in a while," said Gonzalez. "I've been getting hits, but not in an at-bat where I battle and I'm able to stay through a ball and come up with a base hit like that.

"Hopefully, I can continue that swing and I can get on a little bit of a hot streak."

John Lackey, who gave up four runs in 6 23 innings, notched his 12th win of the season -- second-best on the staff -- and improved to 7-1 in his last nine starts.

"I thought he really pitched well," said Francona of his starter. "(He's providing) consistency. When you know what you're going to get, (it's great). This is Lackey. It took us a while and his ERA's higher (5.98) and it's going to be that way (because of his poor start to the season). But it doesn't mean we don't have the pitcher we want."

"I felt pretty good," said Lackey. "My stuff's been good the last month or so and my arm's feeling good. This is a tough place to pitch. Just to get away with a win is nice."

Lackey was given a 6-0 jumpstart by his teammates through the top of the third, but gave back three of those runs in the bottom of the third on three hits, a bases-loaded walk and two sacrifice flies.

"Five or six runs is not a big lead in this joint," joked Lackey. "But I'm feeling pretty good. I'm winning some games and contributing. That's always nice."

Outfielder Josh Reddick, who had been hitting as high as .360 a few weeks ago, has slumped in recent weeks and went into Tuesday's game hitting .293.

On the current road trip, Reddick was just 2-for-14. Since Aug. 1, Reddick was hitting just .214 with an OPS of .606.

"I don't know that he was ready to be a .360 hitter," said Francona. "Guys play and get hot, then the league makes their adjustments. Now, it's his turn. I think some pitches that he hit earlier, he's been fouling back. And he's left the strike zone a little bit. But he's still swinging pretty aggressive.

"If he swings at strikes, he's going to be fine. He's going to do some damage. He might not hit .360, but he's going to be OK. I just think . . . when you're playing once or twice a week, you might not get that (hard to hit) breaking ball. But when you're out there every day and you're racking up at-bats, you see it more often."

Francona said the Sox have had some internal discussions about Sept. 1 call ups.

Rosters will expand from the current 25 to as many as 40 next Thursday.

The Sox' situation is somewhat complicated by the fact that Triple A Pawtucket will be in the post-season and the organization would like some of the players to get a feel for the playoff atmosphere before being summoned to Boston.

In addition to activating Bobby Jenks and J.D. Drew from current DL stints, the Sox will likely call up shortstop Jose Iglesias, pitcher Junichi Tazawa, utilityman Drew Sutton, catcher Luis Exposito, lefty Felix Doubront and right-hander Kyle Weiland.

Sean McAdam can be reached at Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam.

Ramirez, Leon homer, Red Sox beat Angels 9-4 on Papi's night


Ramirez, Leon homer, Red Sox beat Angels 9-4 on Papi's night

BOSTON - David Ortiz became one of the most celebrated players in Red Sox history during his storied 14-year run in Boston.

On the night he returned to Fenway to have his No. 34 take its place among the franchise's other legends, his former teammates did their part to make sure it was a memorable one.

Hanley Ramirez and Sandy Leon hit two-run homers and the Boston Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels 9-4 on Friday to cap a night in which Ortiz's number became the latest retired at Fenway Park.

It was the 250th career home run for Ramirez, a good friend of Ortiz who was also born in the Dominican Republic. Leon finished with three hits and four RBIs.

Ramirez said he played with Ortiz on his mind.

"He's my mentor, my big brother. He's everything," Ramirez said. "Today when I saw him on the field crying, it made me cry."

He said his home run was in Big Papi's honor.

"Definitely, definitely, definitely," he said. "I was going to do his thing (pointing his hands in the air) but I forgot."

The homers helped provide a nice cushion for Rick Porcello (4-9), who gave up four runs and struck out eight in 6 1/3 innings to earn the victory. It was the 13th straight start Porcello has gone at least six innings.

"It was vintage Porcello," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "A couple of pitches that cut his night short, but he was crisp throughout."

This could serve as a needed confidence boost for Porcello, who had been 0-4 with a 7.92 ERA in his previous five starts, allowing 47 hits and 27 earned runs.

He had command of his pitches early, holding the Angels scoreless until the fourth, when a catching error by Leon at home allowed Albert Pujols to cross the plate.

Porcello said he isn't sure if he has completely turned a corner yet after his slow start, but he has felt better in his recent starts.

"Today was a step in the right direction," he said.

Alex Meyer (3-4) allowed five runs and five hits in 3 1/3 innings.

Los Angeles scored three runs in the seventh, but cooled off after Porcello left.

Boston got out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, scoring on an RBI double by Xander Bogaerts and then getting two more runs off wild pitches by Meyer.

Ramirez gave Porcello a 5-1 lead in the fourth with his two-run shot to right field.

Ortiz: 'A super honor' to have number retired by Red Sox

Ortiz: 'A super honor' to have number retired by Red Sox

BOSTON —  The Red Sox have become well known for their ceremonies, for their pull-out-all-the-stops approach to pomp. The retirement of David Ortiz’s No. 34 on Friday evening was in one way, then, typical.

A red banner covered up Ortiz’s No. 34 in right field, on the facade of the grandstand, until it was dropped down as Ortiz, his family, Red Sox ownership and others who have been immortalized in Fenway lore looked on. Carl Yazstremski and Jim Rice, Wade Boggs and Pedro Martinez. 

The half-hour long tribute further guaranteed permanence to a baseball icon whose permanence in the city and the sport was never in doubt. But the moments that made Friday actually feel special, rather than expected, were stripped down and quick. 

Dustin Pedroia’s not one to belabor many points, never been the most effusive guy around. (He’d probably do well on a newspaper deadline.) The second baseman spoke right before Ortiz took to the podium behind the mound.

“We want to thank you for not the clutch hits, the 500 home runs, we want to thank you for how you made us feel and it’s love,” Pedroia said, with No. 34 painted into both on-deck circles and cut into the grass in center field. “And you’re not our teammate, you’re not our friend, you’re our family. … Thank you, we love you.”

Those words were enough for Ortiz to have tears in his eyes.

“Little guy made me cry,” Ortiz said, wiping his hands across his face. “I feel so grateful. I thank God every day for giving me the opportunity to have the career that I have. But I thank God even more for giving me the family and what I came from, who teach me how to try to do everything the right way. Nothing — not money — nothing is better than socializing with the people that are around you, get familiar with, show them love, every single day. It’s honor to get to see my number …. I remember hitting batting practice on this field, I always was trying to hit those numbers.”

Now that’s a poignant image for a left-handed slugger at Fenway Park.

He did it once, he said — hit the numbers. He wasn’t sure when. Somewhere in 2011-13, he estimated — but he said he hit Bobby Doerr’s No. 1.

“It was a good day to hit during batting practice,” Ortiz remembered afterward in a press conference. “But to be honest with you, I never thought I’d have a chance to hit the ball out there. It’s pretty far. My comment based on those numbers was, like, I started just getting behind the history of this organization. Those guys, those numbers have a lot of good baseball in them. It takes special people to do special things and at the end of the day have their number retired up there, so that happening to me today, it’s a super honor to be up there, hanging with those guys.”

The day was all about his number, ultimately, and his number took inspiration from the late Kirby Puckett. Ortiz’s major league career began with the Twins in 1997. Puckett passed away in 2006, but the Red Sox brought his children to Fenway Park. They did not speak at the podium or throw a ceremonial first pitch, but their presence likely meant more than, say, Jason Varitek’s or Tim Wakefield’s.

“Oh man, that was very emotional,” Ortiz said. “I’m not going to lie to you, like, when I saw them coming toward me, I thought about Kirby. A lot. That was my man, you know. It was super nice to see his kids. Because I remember, when they were little guys, little kids. Once I got to join the Minnesota Twins, Kirby was already working in the front office. So they were, they used to come in and out. I used to get to see them. But their dad was a very special person for me and that’s why you saw me carry the No. 34 when I got here. It was very special to get to see them, to get kind of connected with Kirby somehow someway.”

Ortiz’s place in the row of 11 retired numbers comes in between Boggs’ No. 26 and Jackie Robinson’s No. 42.