Boston Red Sox

Red Sox notes: Albers bites bullet without Bard

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Red Sox notes: Albers bites bullet without Bard

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com

BOSTON - It wasnt a matter of choice, but rather of necessity.

As Matt Albers stood on the mound while the Chicago Cubs scored five runs in the eighth inning (six were attributed to him by the time the inning was over), he knew he had to work his way out of the jam.

Usually a pitcher would have been pulled by that point, but the Boston Red Sox didnt have that option on Saturday night against the Cubs.

Prior to the game, Terry Francona had made the decision to rest Daniel Bard for the second straight night - Weve been leaning on him a lot, he said after the game - leaving only newcomer Franklin Morales and Jonathan Papelbon left behind Albers.

That meant Albers had to keep on throwing.

I knew with Bard down tonight I was probably going to have that inning and worked out great, we had the lead to that point, said Albers following the Red Sox 9-3 loss. I just didnt do my job.

Albers entered the game with a 3-1 lead, but gave up five earned runs, three hits, and two walks over 31 pitches. Morales eventually replaced Albers, but by then the damage was done. The inning - which included eight runs, five hits, and three errors in total - changed the course of a game which the Red Sox had maintained a lead the majority of the night.

It didnt go good, said Albers. I had a few guys two strikes, just wasnt able to put them away. They had a couple tough at bats and a couple back-to-back walks there hurt me. Obviously just didnt get the results I was looking for.

The Red Sox built a lead early on with Alfredo Aceves making his first start as a member of the Red Sox. Aceves threw 86 pitches over five innings, giving up only one earned run. Francona was pleased by the length of the outing.

I thought he did a really good job, Francona said. Probably gave us a little bit more than we could have asked for. Again, without being terribly stretched out - I think he threw 74 pitches in a Triple-A start - but he did pretty well. And again, he gave us a good chance to win the game.

Aceves said he thought he could pitch into the sixth inning and hopes to do so in his next outing. He was happy with his overall performance, but noted room for improvement. Aceves hit two batters, including hitting Marlon Byrd in the face in the second inning. (Byrd left the game and was hospitalized for further examination.)

Nothing intentional, obviously, said Aceves. I asked a couple of guys from here if he had an MRI or something if hes ok. Im concerned, hes a Major League player.

Dan Wheeler relieved Aceves and along with Rich Hill pitched two scoreless innings. Enter Albers, and exit the Red Sox win.

I dont think he pitched as bad as the lines going to show, said Francona. His command wasnt as good as its been with his two-seamer. They had a couple good at-bats. (Aramis) Ramirezs 10-pitch at-bat was a really good one, a couple of the breaking balls were left over the middle. Because of the score of the game, they get the first couple of hits and then the walk, and then all of a sudden youre pitching to the scoreboard and then it really unraveled. We dropped balls, we threw them away, just got a little bit ugly.

As the Red Sox watched their lead turn into a loss, Bard sat anxiously, knowing there was nothing he could do to help. While it was difficult to do, he knows it will help him in the long run.

I wanted to be in there bad, he said. Just competitive nature and also just wanting to help the team. But we set that up before the game and they stuck to it.

Noted Francona, We made the decision before the game to give him yesterday and today. And thats why we do it before the game, because your emotions get the best of you during a game and you want to use him. Weve been leaning on him a lot and itll do him a world of good. It didnt do us a world of good tonight, but its something we needed to do.

The Red Sox snapped a seven-game winning streak and lost for the first time since May 11. They also lost for the first time at Fenway Park since May 6.

David Ortiz hit his 300th career homerun as a member of the Red Sox in the fourth inning. He became only the fifth player to do so, joining Ted Williams (521), Carl Yastrzemski (452), Jim Rice (382), and Dwight Evans (379).

Its an honor for me to be mentioned in that category with those guys that played here for a long time and through the years were putting up great numbers, he said.

Ortiz also tied Manny Ramirez for sixth on the all-time list of most homeruns hit at Fenway Park (142). When asked what he liked most about hitting at Fenway, he laughed, I think Fenway has taken a lot of homers away from me, thats what I think.

Kevin Youkilis also set a Red Sox mark, only this isnt exactly a list players strive to be at the top of. Youkilis became the Red Sox all-time leader in hits by pitches (72), passing Mo Vaughn.

The Red Sox' three errors were the most committed by the team since August 4, 2010 against the Cleveland Indians. They committed three in a single inning for the first time since June 3, 2009 against the Detroit Tigers made by Dustin Pedroia, Nick Green, and Mike Lowell (also in the eighth inning).

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcameratonba.

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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Werner criticizes Price for Eck incident; says Sox' relationship with Yanks is 'frosty'

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Werner criticizes Price for Eck incident; says Sox' relationship with Yanks is 'frosty'

BOSTON — Red Sox chairman Tom Werner doesn’t seem to be the biggest fan of the the Yankees, MLB disciplinarian Joe Torre, and players who can’t take criticism from broadcasters.

In a spot Thursday with WEEI, Werner made clear David Price’s handling of Dennis Eckersley was unprofessional.

“Boston is a tough place to play,” Werner said on WEEI’s Ordway, Merlonia and Fauria. “Some players thrive here, and some players don’t. Get a thicker skin. My feeling is, let the broadcasts be honest, be personable, informative, and get over it if you think a certain announcer took a shot at you.”

“I thought there was a way of handling that. It wasn’t handled appropriately. If I’ve got a problem with Lou [Merloni], and I hear something he says on the radio, I’ll say to Lou, ‘That wasn’t fair.’ ”

Werner also called the team’s relationship with the Yankees “frosty” following the public sign-stealing saga that resulted in fines for both clubs.

“The fact is, I do think this was a minor technical violation,” Werner said. “I start with the fact that this was unfortunately raised to a level it never should have been raised to.”

Werner also insinuated he did not approve of how MLB and Torre handled the disciplining of Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, who receieved a four-game suspension for his part in a fight against the Tigers (reduced on appeal to three games).

“Do you think Gary Sanchez got an appropriate punishment?” Werner asked.