Red Sox continue to write happy endings

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Red Sox continue to write happy endings

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Theres certainly an easier way to win, but in the last three games, the Red Sox have saved their best for last.

Thursday against the Tigers at Fenway Park was no different. The Sox squandered a two-run lead in the eighth inning and needed Carl Crawfords third walk-off hit of the season to secure the 4-3 win.

I think Im glad were playing at home, said manager Terry Francona. Certainly, I know how we feel on the road sometimes. You get in games like this, if theres a mistake or something you go home. Thats the luxury of playing at home. And you can use your closer where you cant normally on the road.

With the Sox leading 3-1 going into the eighth, Daniel Bard gave up back-to-back home runs to Brennan Boesch and Miguel Cabrera, tying the game. It was just the second time in his career Bard has allowed two home runs in one game. The last time was Aug. 9, 2009, also back-to-back numbers to Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira in Yankee Stadium.

That merely set the stage for what is becoming a common scene at Fenway the Sox fourth walk-off win of the season, third in their last four games, and third straight win in their last at-bat.

In the bottom of the ninth, with Al Albuquerque replacing Tigers starter Justin Verlander, Kevin Youkilis led off with an eight-pitch walk. With Jose Iglesias pinch-running, David Ortiz singled to right field, moving Iglesias to third. Albuquerque intentionally walked J.D. Drew to load the bases for Jed Lowrie, who blooped a shot that landed just in front of left fielder Andy Dirks, the ball taking a slight bounce to Dirks right before he could snare it. Dirks came up firing home to catcher Alex Avila, cutting down Iglesias, who was caught at third, waiting to see if the ball would be caught. The result: a rare bases-loaded 7-2 force out.

With the bases still loaded Darnell McDonald in to run for Ortiz at third base Crawford came to the plate. He took Albuquerques third pitch, a 1-1, 93-mph fastball, driving it over the head of Austin Jackson in center field, scoring McDonald with the winning run.

Im just trying to get a pitch to hit, Crawford said. We had bases loaded, not trying to do too much but just make good contact.

You try to narrow your focus. Thats the main thing. Try not to swing at balls. You know hes trying to get you out with his pitches. So you just try to tell yourself to swing at your pitch and try not to go out of the zone.

Although Crawford continues to struggle at the plate -- he went 2-for-4 on Thursday bringing his average up to .212 -- hes been making the most of his ninth-inning plate appearances. Thursdays game-winning hit was his third this season, all in May.

Yeah, its weird, he said. But Ill take whatever I can get right now. So we won and thats the main thing. So Im happy about that.

You always want to get a hit in those situations. You know its going to win the game. Definitely dont want to go to extra innings. So you just try to tell yourself to focus a little harder and hope for the best.

Crawford also had game-winners on May 1 against Seattle and May 9 against Minnesota. The last Sox batter with three or more walk-off hits in a season was Ortiz, with five in 2006.

Yeah, thats got to be good for his confidence, Francona said. Thats a good time to hit. The infields playing in. the outfields playing in, and he stayed on the ball really well. Thats the one think you dont want to do is roll over or pull off and he stayed on it really well.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

Farrell angered after Castillo fails to run out grounder

Farrell angered after Castillo fails to run out grounder

The Red Sox signed Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract bn August 2014. Over parts of three seasons, the 29-year-old has a .679 OPS across 337 plate appearances in the majors and spent the vast majority of the 2016 season at Triple-A Pawtucket.

Castillo had a chance to start things off on the right foot in 2017, but that ship has already sailed. On Thursday against Northeastern at JetBlue Park, Castillo didn’t run out a routine ground ball. He claims he lost track of the outs. Manager John Farrell isn’t happy about the situation. Via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald:

“Disappointing for a couple of reasons,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “One, he has lost the number of outs. Still, regardless of another of outs, getting down the line is controllable. And for a player in his situation, every little aspect of the game is important. That’s something that was addressed in the moment. He needs to execute the game situation. And for that matter, every player. But that one obviously stood out.”

Everyone always makes far too big a deal about running out grounders. It’s a real nit to pick when it’s February 23 and your team just finished playing an exhibition game that is even more meaningless than the other exhibition games that will be played in the coming month.

That being said, Castillo has to prove himself to merit inclusion on the 25-man roster and that means dotting all his i’s and crossing all his t’s. Even if he went hitless all spring, Castillo could have at least said he couldn’t have done anything else better. But on day one, he already gave his team a reason to count him out.

Moreland, Travis homer to lead Red Sox past Northeastern 9-6 in opener

Moreland, Travis homer to lead Red Sox past Northeastern 9-6 in opener

Mitch Moreland and Sam Travis hit three-run homers and left-hander Brian Johnson started and pitched two scoreless innings to help the Red Sox win their spring training opener, 9-6, over Northeastern University on Thursday in Fort Myers, Fla.

Johnson, who made one spot start in his MLB debut with the Red Sox in 2015 but then was derailed by injuries and anxiety issues last season, struck out three and walked one Thursday. He's expected to start the season at Triple-A Pawtucket, where he went 5-6 with a 4.44 ERA in 15 starts in 2016.

Moreland, the left-handed hitting first baseman signed to a one-year deal after spending his first seven seasons with the Texas Rangers, and Travis, a right-handed hitting first base prospect coming back from knee surgery last season, each hit three-run homers in a six-run third inning.

Pablo Sandoval, attempting to reclaim the third-base job after missing nearly all of last season after surgery on his left shoulder, went 1-for-2 with a double. 

The Red Sox open Grapefruit League play Friday afternoon when they host the New York Mets at JetBlue Park.