Boston Red Sox

Red Sox use triple play, eight-run inning to beat Cardinals, 10-4

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Red Sox use triple play, eight-run inning to beat Cardinals, 10-4

BOSTON --The Red Sox have found different ways to win ball games over the past month.

Their latest came thanks to relentless offense and a rare defensive feat.

Xander Bogaerts had three hits, Hanley Ramirez, Sandy Leon and Jackie Bradley Jr. all added two RBIs and the Boston Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals 10-4 on Tuesday night.

Boston blew the game open courtesy of a wild fifth inning, tallying eight hits and eight runs against Cardinals starter Mike Leake and reliever Matt Bowman. It came an inning after the Red Sox turned their first triple play in six years .

The win kept Boston's lead in the AL East at 4 1/2 games over the New York Yankees. It marked the third time this season that the Red Sox have scored 10 or more runs without hitting a home run.

"I think it shows we don't have to hit homers to win ball games," Bradley said.

The Red Sox have won 11 of their last 13.

Manager John Farrell said he was most pleased to see Ramirez and Bogaerts continuing to provide pop in the middle of the order.

"Those two guys are critical to this offense," he said. "And not just the hits that they had - the way they were able to impact the baseball and drive the ball, it was good to see."

Rick Porcello (7-14) was mostly able to cruise, giving up eight hits and three runs over seven innings to pick up the victory. He has won his past three starts after going winless for more than a month.

Leake (7-11) got the loss and has failed to win in his last four starts. He has yielded 28 hits and 15 earned runs in 15 1/3 innings over his last three outings.

"You've got a team that's swinging the bat well," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "He wasn't getting a lot of chases. ... Eventually you've got to come back and challenge them."

Nearly everyone had a hand in the Red Sox's offensive onslaught in the fifth.

Eduardo Nunez and Mookie Betts reached on consecutive singles with one out, then Leake loaded the bases by hitting Andrew Benintendi's left knee with a pitch. Benintendi needed a few moments to shake off the pain before jogging to first to load the bases for Ramirez. He then promptly doubled off the Green Monster to drive in Nunez and Betts.

Leake intentionally walked rookie Rafael Devers, loading the bases once again, and Bogaerts and Mitch Moreland followed with RBI singles to put Boston up 5-0.

Bowman replaced Leake after Moreland's single and allowed a two-run double by Leon, Boston's 10th hit of the game and sixth in the inning, bringing up Bradley for the second time in the inning.

Bradley, whose fly out to left remained the only out of the inning, singled to right bringing in two more runs and Nunez followed with his second single of the inning.

Betts popped out to first for the second out, ending a run of 10 straight batters reaching base.

TRIPLE PLAY

Before the offensive onslaught, the Red Sox turned their first triple play in six years.

With runners at first and second in the fourth inning, slow-footed Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina grounded sharply to Devers at third base. He stepped on the bag and threw to Nunez, who relayed to Moreland at first, where Molina was out on a close play.

It was the first triple play for Boston since Aug. 16, 2011, in Game 2 of a doubleheader against Tampa Bay.

"Of course there's certain times when the pressure's high," Devers said through an interpreter. "You have to make quick decisions. That just comes with the game."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: Benintendi was pulled after the fifth, and was replaced by Chris Young. ... Farrell said Dustin Pedroia, who went on the disabled list Aug. 12 with left knee inflammation, continues to do strengthening exercises to stabilize it. But Farrell said the expectation is for his absence to last longer than 10 days.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: Lance Lynn (10-6, 3.12 ERA) will be making his 25th start of 2017. Since July 1 he is 4-1 with a major league-leading 1.61 ERA in eight starts.

Red Sox: Eduardo Rodriguez (4-3, 3.80) went six innings to earn a win over the Cardinals on May 16. Over his last two starts he has given up just two earned runs over 12 innings. He's also limited opponents to six hits in those outings.

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.