Notes: Rough one for Stewart; Ross homers

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Notes: Rough one for Stewart; Ross homers

BALTIMORE -- Zach Stewart's second start was only marginally better than his first. And that meant it wasn't very good at all.

Stewart was rocked for five runs on seven hits in just 2 23 innings in the Red Sox' 6-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles Sunday.

That wasn't quite as bad as his first outing, when he gave up nine runs on 10 hits in just three innings against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Aug. 29 -- but the improvement was minimal.

"A little rusty,'' offered Valentine of Stewart, who hadn't pitched since the International League playoffs on Sept. 12. "Before you knew it, it was five runs (on the scoreboard). He'll have better days, that's for sure.''

Stewart gave up three runs in the first. Then he allowed a leadoff homer to Chris Davis, and two more singles before he could get through the third.

"I didn't feel like I was very consistent,'' said Stewart, "and against a team like that, you have to be consistent. They're good and they showed what they can do. I felt like I threw some good pitches and when I kept the ball down, it was good. But I just didn't do that consistently enough.''

These two outings, of course, weren't exactly the impression that Stewart wanted to make.

"I'm just going to take all the mistakes -- and there were a lot of them -- and just work from there,'' said Stewart. "It's not good to go into the off-season on these two starts, but I felt like the last couple of starts in Pawtucket were good and I'm just going to build on that and go from there and try to improve on that.''

Cody Ross homered in the fourth, giving him 22 for the season. But just as valuable, according to Valentine, is Ross's every-day presence in the lineup and durability.

Ross missed exactly a month -- from May 19 to June 19 -- with a broken foot, but has otherwise played in 127 games. Only Dustin Pedroia and Mike Aviles played more among position players.

"He and Dustin have really been the only ones to go the post more often than everyone else,'' said Valentine. "That's very commendable. Cody's been a warrior. He's never asked out. He's been clutch. He's been fun to have on the team. He's a very good teammates. Cody knows the difference between right and wrong and that's a good leadership quality. I think a lot of guys can follow Cody's lead.''

The Sox have been out of contention for the better part of the last six weeks, but Ross remains a constant in the lineup.

"I've pretty much asked him every day (about his availability) and he's never even shied away from it. We need more like him -- people understand that his way is the best way.''

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who was not in the starting lineup Sunday, is nonetheless a homer away from trying the club record for most homers in a season by a player whose primary position is at catcher.

Saltalamacchia hit his 25th homer Friday night. Carlton Fisk hit 26 in both 1973 and 1977.

"When you get that kind of offense from your catcher,'' said Valentine, "you can possibly get less offense from other positions (and survive). I think it's very valuable. The power is there. He just needs to do a little more with the other at-bats.

"A lot of his home run earlier in the season were real crucial home runs, real big. As a matter of fact, he hasn't had many where the game's been out of reach, as I remember.''

One problem for Saltalamacchia is his strikeout total. He's fanned 135 times in 395 at-bats. His selectivity could improve, too -- he's walked just 37 times for an on-base pecentage of .291.

But Valentine noticed other improvements in Saltalamacchia's game.

"He's not a one-dimensional guy anymore,'' said Valentine. "Going into the season, I think he had this rap where there were a lot of things he couldn't do. I think there's a lot of things he can do as a catcher. People thought he was (just) an offensive catcher. But I think he's great with the pitchers. He's thrown the ball efficiently; the numbers show that they stole a lot of bases against him, but a lot of them had nothing to do with him. And he's blocked the ball extremely well.''

MLB ump saves woman attempting to jump from Pittsburgh bridge

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MLB ump saves woman attempting to jump from Pittsburgh bridge

PITTSBURGH -- John Tumpane can't explain why he approached the woman as she hopped over the railing of the Roberto Clemente Bridge on Wednesday afternoon.

The woman told Tumpane she just wanted to get a better view of the Allegheny River below. The look on her face and the tone of her voice suggested otherwise to Tumpane, a major league baseball umpire in town to work the series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Tampa Bay Rays.

So the 34-year-old Tumpane reached for the woman even as she urged him to let her go.

"It was just pure instinct," Tumpane said . "You hear kind of stories of this all the time, different scenarios, people aiding and situation where I was lucky enough to be there to help and try to think of everything I could do, hanging on to her. At times she wanted to go the other way. I was like, 'not on my watch, please.' We were just hanging on."

And saving a life.

Tumpane secured one of her arms. A bystander walked up and grabbed the other while another -- Mike Weinman, an employee for the Rays -- clutched her legs and pinned them to the railing while Tumpane mouthed to someone in the crowd to call 911.

What followed were chaotic moments of panic, fear and ultimately, grace.

"I couldn't tell you how long we were waiting for everyone else to get in place," Tumpane said. 'Obviously another power comes into be when you're hanging on and you know what the alternative is of you letting go and not having other people to help you."

Tumpane, Weinman and the third volunteer clung to the unidentified woman until emergency responders arrived. A police boat raced up the river to the iconic yellow bridge named for the Pirates Hall of Famer who died on Dec. 31, 1972, when a plane making humanitarian deliveries to earthquake victims in Nicaragua crashed. Now, 45 years later a crowd thrust together by fate brought a complete stranger back from the brink. Together.

"Once they were able to secure her, we were able to talk her back to help us out and we got her back on this side," Tumpane said. "After that I went up to her, she said, 'You'll just forget me after this' and I said, 'No, I'll never forget you.' This was an unbelievable day and I'm glad to say she can have another day with us and I'm glad I was in the right place at the right time."

Tumpane, who grew up in the Chicago suburbs, got into umpiring as a teenager, made his major-league debut in 2012 and received his full-time MLB commission in 2016, stressed he's no hero.

"I just happened to be there," he said. "I think I've been a caring person in my life. I saw somebody in need, and it looked like a situation to obviously insert myself and help out."

The aftermath was a bit surreal. After the woman was taken away, Tumpane called his wife, his arms still shaking.

"Not too many times you call your wife and say you helped save somebody's life," he said. "A really special moment."

One that stayed with him even as he prepared to call balls and strikes behind home plate Wednesday night. During breaks in the action his eyes would drift to the bridge just a few hundred feet behind the center field wall at PNC Park.

"It's also hard when you stand back behind home plate and look and you see the bridge in the distance, In between innings and whatnot, just thinking of how things could have maybe been," he said. "Glad it was this way."

Tumpane has no experience in crisis management or suicide prevention. He's spent 16 years living the nomadic life of an umpire. Asked what was going through his head while he tried to coax the woman back to safety, Tumpane just shrugged his shoulders. How do you explain the unexplainable?

"I happened to be in the right spot at the right time," he said. "Tried to be as comforting as I could and talk her through it. Thankfully that was the outcome."