Boston Red Sox

Ortiz: 'I like to be the underdog'

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Ortiz: 'I like to be the underdog'

We're used to hearing the Red Sox put spin on things.

"Run prevention" ring a bell?

What about anything ownership has ever said about the team?

Well, now they're pushing the underdog card, and it looks like David Ortiz is buying into it as well.

"I like it because, one, that's motivation," Ortiz said to Jessica Moran and Sean McAdam on CSNNE's The Baseball Show. "And No. 2, you're pretty much under the radar. You slowly start digging and digging, and the next thing you know you're in the playoffs. So I like to be the underdog."

But it won't be easy to make the playoffs with some teams getting a lot better over the offseason, including the Toronto Blue Jays, or as Ortiz called them, the "Dominican Blue Jays", after a number of offseason acquisitions including Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera.

The Sox may be underdogs, but the Jays aren't, and Ortiz has a bit of advice for them now that the spotlight is on them.

Devers, Sale making mark on history as Red Sox battle for division

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Devers, Sale making mark on history as Red Sox battle for division

BOSTON — The Red Sox on Saturday lost a game in which Chris Sale pitched and Rafael Devers homered. Let the Yankees’ 4-3 victory be a reminder: the American League East race isn’t going to close any time soon. At least, it shouldn’t. 

But even in close losses, there’s a parallel track to the pursuit of the division that should be a compelling sideshow for Red Sox fans: history.

The importance of Chris Sale breaking Pedro Martinez’s club single-season strikeout record is minimal compared to KO’ing the Yankees. Yet, with every passing start, tracking each K becomes a tad more intriguing. 

The southpaw on Saturday surpassed 250 strikeouts for the season, becoming just the third pitcher to do so in his first 25 games. Randy Johnson did that in 1997, 1999, 2000 and 2001, and Pedro Martinez did it in 2000 as well.

But now, unexpectedly, it’s not just Sale’s work that’s worth watching. He has a partner in the pursuit of bookkeepers. 

Devers, in just 20 games, has become the hitting foil for the ace. He ripped his eighth home run in Saturday’s 4-3 loss, a seventh-inning shot just to the right of the yellow line reaching out of the triangle in center field. The homer was also a record breaker, because no one else under the age of 21 has hit eight home runs in their first 20 games, per Elias. That’s in major league history, to be clear. 

The record for a player of any age is nine home runs, matched most recently by Trevor Story last year, and once upon a time by George Scott, in 1966.

A chubby left-handed hitter swatting home runs everywhere, defying everyone’s expectations? It’s almost too stunning to properly contextualize or explain. 

“I try not to look too much at videos because I would go out there with the mentality of what this guy has,” Devers said. “I just try to do my batting practice and do my fielding practice every day and just keep things the same.”

“If it's in the strike zone I try to be aggressive with it, and try to lay off the ones outside the strike zone. But I don't look for any location or any type of pitches.”

He’s that good: he steps in and rips and the results have been stunning. Almost Ruthian. Or, in fact, Ruthian.

Devers on Saturday became the first player under the age of 21 to homer in three consecutive games against the Yankees since Ruth did it in 1915, per Elias. Ruth, of course, was still with the Sox then. Those home runs happened to be the first three of his career.

Devers’ 28 hits through his first 20 games are the most by a Red Sox hitter since Johnny Pesky had the same amount in 1942.

Four Sox hitters have hit safely against the Yankees in their first five games against them since the age of 21: Jack Rothrock (1925), Ruth (1914-15), and Ted Williams (1939).

Sale needs 83 strikeouts to tie Martinez’s 1999 mark of 313. If Sale makes another seven starts, he’ll need to average 12 an outing to get it done — which is possible, but certainly far from a guarantee.

Red Sox' AL East lead trimmed following 4-3 loss to Yankees

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Red Sox' AL East lead trimmed following 4-3 loss to Yankees

BOSTON - CC Sabathia thought about retiring after a knee injury put the 37-year-old left-hander out of commission earlier this month.

He didn't, and his return to the New York Yankees' rotation was perfect timing for a team fighting to stay in the AL East race.

Tyler Austin hit a three-run home run, Todd Frazier added a solo homer and Sabathia retired 13 of the first 14 batters he faced as the Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox 4-3 on Saturday night.

Sabathia (10-5), returning from a stint on the disabled list because of sore right knee, allowed two runs and four hits to earn his first victory since July 21. He also improved to 3-0 in three starts against Boston this season. Dellin Betances got the last three outs for his ninth save.

"I felt confident coming in. But to be able to go out and pitch well against that team and get us a big win, feels really good," Sabathia said.

He said he's surprised himself by how fast he was able to return to action.

"I would have said, `No way.' But everything's worked out," he said. "I want to keep going out there and helping the team."

The Yankees won for the fifth time in six games and snapped Boston's three game winning streak to pull within four games of the first-place Red Sox in the AL East.

Chris Sale (14-5) struck out nine, but was tagged for the four runs and seven hits. He is still looking for his first victory in the rivalry. He had allowed three runs or more only once over his previous six starts and had a 1.19 ERA in three starts against the Yankees. New York is 4-0 in games he has started.

The Yankees needed all four runs to preserve the win.

The score was 4-3 the eighth when Andrew Benintendi struck out, but advanced to first on a wild pitch by reliever David Robertson. Hanley Ramirez followed by lining a double to left field. The Yankees then intentionally walked Chris Young to load the bases.

But Robertson was able to settle down and struck out Xander Bogaerts on three straight knuckle curves.

Boston got within a run an inning earlier when Rafael Devers got ahold of reliever Adam Warren's fastball, driving it just over the center-field boundary for a home run. It was confirmed after an umpire review. Devers' eighth homer was the latest highlight in the rookie's remarkable run since being called up to the majors July 24.

"Even when we lose, we don't go down easy," Sale said. "They throw some tough arms out there. We put some good at-bats together...We just couldn't squeeze it out."