Saltalamacchia's late-inning heroics not enough

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Saltalamacchia's late-inning heroics not enough

BOSTON -- He's not about to be confused with David Ortiz, but catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia now has two dramatic late-inning homers at Fenway the last two weeks.

Saltalamacchia, who won a game against Tampa Bay on May 26 with a pinch-hit, walkoff homer, delivered in the clutch again Tuesday night when he swatted a two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game 6-6 with the Baltimore Orioles.

This one, however, didn't have the same impact, as the Red Sox went on to lose in the 10th, 8-6.

Still, it was hard to not be impressed with Saltalamacchia's growth as a hitter and the power surge he's been on of late.

In his last 20 games, Saltalamacchia has seven homers and 17 RBI and is hitting .349.

"He's been playing great,'' said Bobby Valentine of Saltalamacchia. "I think he's gaining confidence in all aspects of his game. He walks into the clubhouse and exudes confidence . . . He's a confident player right now.''

The homer came off Orioles closer Jim Johnson, who had been a perfect 17-for-17 in save chances this season and had converted his last 25, dating back to last Aug. 8.

"I was facing a good pitcher and I knew he had a good fastball,'' said Saltalamacchia, "so I was just trying to to be ready for it. I wasn't trying to do too much, just put the ball in play and keep the inning going anyway we can.''

The walkoff homer against the Rays on the last homestand didn't necessarily help Saltalamacchia in his approach Tuesday night. But success in those spots can breed more success.

"I don't think you ever think you're going to succeed (in that situation) every time,'' he said. "You've got a guy on the mound who throws hard. He's trying to get you out. He's not going to lay it over the plate for you.''

Saltalamacchia, hitting lefthanded against the righthanded Johnson, hit the ball the opposite way and it just cleared The Wall, settling into the first row of Monster Seats.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter urged the umpires to review the call on replay. They did and ruled that it was indeed a homer.

"I knew I hit it good, but I didn't think it was going to be out,'' said the catcher. "I thought it was going to be off the wall and at least be a double. A cold night like tonight, the ball doesn't carry very well. I was just happy that I hit the ball well, to get it off the wall, get the run in and keep the inning going.''

Rosenthal: 'Some' Sox players question Farrell's leadership, game management

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Rosenthal: 'Some' Sox players question Farrell's leadership, game management

Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal ignited a local firestorm when he made a seemingly off-hand comment a few days ago that he "wouldn't be surprised" if the Red Sox fired John Farrell this year. (He quickly added he also "wouldn't be surprised" if Farrell stayed on and led the team to the A.L. East title this year, but that got scant mention.)

Today, however, Rosenthal expounded on Farrell and the Sox in a lengthy column on foxsports.com. While acknowledging the team's injuries and beyond-the-manager's-control inconsistencies (in the starting rotation and with the offense), he also ominously added, "The excuses for the Sox, though, go only so far — all teams deal with injuries, and not all of them boast $200 million payrolls. Other issues also have emerged under Farrell . . . "

Farrell, even when he won the 2013 World Series as a rookie manager, was not popular in all corners of the clubhouse. Some players, but not all, believe that he does not stand up for them strongly enough to the media when the team is struggling, sources say. Some also question Farrell’s game management, talk that exists in virtually every clubhouse, some more than others.

And then he mentioned two leadership problems:

The first occurred during the Red Sox’s prolonged dispute with the Orioles’ Manny Machado. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia, after Matt Barnes threw at Machado’s head, shouted across the field to Machado, 'it wasn’t me,' then told reporters that it was 'definitely a mishandled situation,' without mentioning Barnes or Farrell by name . . . 

The second incident occurred last Saturday, when Farrell engaged in a heated exchange with left-hander Drew Pomeranz in the dugout . . . [Pomeranz's] willingness to publicly challenge Farrell, in an exchange captured by television cameras, offered another indication that the manager and some of his players are not always on the same page.

Hmm.

Rosenthal's piece comes at a time when some of Farrell's harshest local critics are more or less giving him a pass, instead blaming Dave Dombrowski's flawed roster construction for the Sox' early season struggles , , , 

But there has been speculation hereabouts on whether or not Farrell has control of the clubhouse . . . 

Now that Rosenthal has weighed in, that sort of talk should increase.

In the end, Rosenthal makes no prediction on Farrell's future other than to conclude "If Dombrowski senses a change is necessary, he’ll make a change." 

But one prediction that can be made: The should-Farrell-be-fired? debate, which raged at unrealistic levels last year when the Red Sox won the division, isn't going to end anytime soon.