Sox beat Tigers, 6-3, take A.L. East lead

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Sox beat Tigers, 6-3, take A.L. East lead

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

DETROIT The Red Sox continued to slug their way through their road trip, pounding the Tigers, 6-3, Friday night in front of 34,046 at Comerica Park.

Trailing, 2-1, going into the third inning, the Sox sent eight batters to the plate with five scoring.

Staked to a four-run lead, starter Tim Wakefield cruised through his outing. He went seven innings, giving up two runs on five hits and two walks with two strikeouts. He needed just 83 pitches, 58 for strikes.

It is the 195th win of Wakefields 19-season career, 181st with the Sox.

The Sox beat up on Tigers starter Rick Porcello, driving him from the game after three innings. Porcello took the loss, falling to 4-3, with a 3.93 ERA. He gave up six runs on six hits and two walks with two strikeouts and a wild pitch.

Jacoby Ellsbury led off the third with a home run to right field, his sixth of the season, tying the score. Dustin Pedroia followed with a walk, going to second on Adrian Gonzalezs single. Kevin Youkilis double to center scored Pedroia and Gonzalez. After David Ortiz flied out to center, Carl Crawfords fourth home run of the season put the Sox up, 6-2, before Jed Lowrie grounded out and Josh Reddick popped out.

The Sox got a single run in the first inning when Ellsbury led off with a single to right, stole second, went to third on Gonzalezs ground out to second, and scored on Porcellos wild pitch.

The Tigers got the run back in the bottom of the inning. Austin Jackson led off with a single to left, stole second and scored on Miguel Cabreras single to center.

Jhonny Peraltas home run leading off the second gave the Tigers a brief one-run lead. It was the first time the Sox had trailed since the second inning Tuesday in Cleveland.

Daniel Bard pitched a scoreless eighth inning, while Jonathan Papelbon allowed a run in the ninth.

It is the Sox fourth straight win, going 4-1 in the first five games of their seven-game road trip.

South Portland, Maines Charlie Furbush relieved Porcello admirably, going five scoreless innings, giving up two hits and two walks with six strikeouts.

But by then, the Sox had done enough damage to improve to 29-22.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Tim Wakefield
Wakefield went seven innings, giving up two runs on five hits and two walks with two strikeouts. He threw just 83 pitches (58 strikes), cruising to the win. He improved to 2-1 with a 4.14 ERA.

It was his longest outing since going eight innings in a 3-2 win over the Orioles on July 2, 2010.

He has made four starts this season, including his last two outings, as he fills in with John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka on the DL. In his last two starts he has gone a combined 13 23 innings, giving up three earned runs on nine hits and two walks with five strikeouts. He has posted a cumulative ERA of 1.98.

I was fighting my mechanics in the first couple of innings, Wakefield said, but was able to make some adjustments after the second inning and was able to cruise through into the seventh.

"I'm just doing what I can to help us win games. Asked me to fill a role here and do the best that I can.
HONORABLE MENTION: Jacoby Ellsbury
Ellsbury went 2-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI. He scored after his first two at-bats of the game. His speed helped him to his first run, while his power gave him the second run. Ellsbury led off the game with a single to right, taking second on his 18th stolen base of the season. He went to third on Adrian Gonzalezs groundout, and scored on Rick Porcellos wild pitch.

He led off the third with his sixth home run of the season, to tie the game. It was his second home run in as many games.

For good measure, he added some strong defense in center field.

Hes a great player, said Dustin Pedroia. We knew. We expect this of him. He can do anything. He hits homers. He steals bases. He plays great defense. Hes a special player, man.
THE GOAT: Rick Porcello
Porcello lasted just three innings, giving up six runs on three hits and two walks with two strikeouts, a wild pitch, and two home runs. He was given a slim 2-1 lead in the second on Jhonny Peraltas lead-off homer, but couldnt hold on to it. In the next inning, he gave up five runs as the Sox sent eight batters to the plate.

THE TURNING POINT
Trailing 2-1 going into the third inning, the Sox sent eight batters to the plate, with five scoring.

Jacoby Ellsbury led off the third with a home run to right field, his sixth of the season, tying the score. Dustin Pedroia followed with a walk, going to second on Adrian Gonzalezs single. Kevin Youkilis double to center scored Pedroia and Gonzalez. After David Ortiz flied out to center, Carl Crawfords fourth home run of the season put the Sox up, 6-2, before Jed Lowrie grounded out and Josh Reddick popped out.

STAT OF THE DAY: 1-2-3
The Sox scored seven runs in the first inning Wednesday against the Indians, five runs in the second inning Thursday against the Tigers, and five runs in the third inning Friday against the Tigers. What can that mean for the fourth inning Saturday (Oh, yeah, they also scored five runs in the eighth inning on Thursday.)

QUOTE OF NOTE
"I don't think its unusual, I think it's a blessing for us that its happened so far and hopefully we can continue to do so. -- Tim Wakefield, on the four starts he and Alfredo Aceves have made in place of John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka, who are on the DL. Wakefield and Aceves are a combined 3-0 with a 1.82 ERA in those four starts.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

NEW YORK - There won't be any wild pitches on intentional walks this season.

The players' association has agreed to Major League Baseball's proposal to have intentional walks without pitches this year.

"It doesn't seem like that big of a deal. I know they're trying to cut out some of the fat. I'm OK with that," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.

While the union has resisted many of MLB's proposed innovations, such as raising the bottom of the strike zone, installing pitch clocks and limiting trips to the mound, players are willing to accept the intentional walk change.

"As part of a broader discussion with other moving pieces, the answer is yes," union head Tony Clark wrote Wednesday in an email to The Associated Press. "There are details, as part of that discussion, that are still being worked through, however."

The union's decision was first reported by ESPN .

"I'm OK with it. You signal. I don't think that's a big deal," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "For the most part, it's not changing the strategy, it's just kind of speeding things up. I'm good with it."

There were 932 intentional walks last year, including 600 in the National League, where batters are walked to bring the pitcher's slot to the plate.

"You don't want to get your pitcher out of a rhythm, and when you do the intentional walk, I think you can take a pitcher out of his rhythm," Girardi said. "I've often wondered why you don't bring in your shortstop and the pitcher stand at short. Let the shortstop walk him. They're used to playing catch more like that than a pitcher is."

Agreement with the union is required for playing rules changes unless MLB gives one year advance notice, in which case it can unilaterally make alterations. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope Tuesday that ongoing talks would lead to an agreement on other changes but also said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Some changes with video review can be made unilaterally, such as shortening the time to make a challenge.

"I know they were thinking about putting in a 30-second (limit) for managers to make a decision," Francona said. "I actually wish they would. I think it would hustle it up and if we can't tell in 30 seconds, maybe we shouldn't be doing it anyway."

Bean: There's no way to spin a potential Ortiz return as a bad idea

Bean: There's no way to spin a potential Ortiz return as a bad idea

As if there weren’t enough storylines with the 2017 Red Sox, there figures to be the lingering possibility that, at any point, one of the franchise’s greatest hitters will return to make a push for his fourth World Series title.

As Pedro Martinez keeps saying, he won’t believe David Ortiz is retired until season’s end.

And with that possibility comes a good ol’ fashioned sports debate: You’re maybe the biggest lunatic in the whole wide world if you’re hoping for the latter.

There are exactly two potential downsides to Ortiz coming back. One is that the team would be worse defensively if it puts Hanley Ramirez in the field, a tradeoff that seemingly anyone would take if it meant adding Ortiz’ offense to the middle of the order. The other is that we would probably have to see Kenan Thompson’s Ortiz impression again . . . which, come to think of it, would be the worst. Actually, I might kill myself if that happens.  

All the other drawbacks are varying degrees of noise. It basically boils down to the “what if he isn’t good?” fear. Which may be valid, but it shouldn’t be reason enough to not want him to attempt a comeback.

Ortiz is coming off a 38-homer, 127-RBI 2016 in which he hit .315 with a league-best 1.021 OPS. It's probably the best final season of any hitter over the last 50 years.

We also know Ortiz is 41 and dealt with ankle and heel injuries so vast in recent years that he was “playing on stumps,” according to Red Sox coordinator of sports medicine services Dan Dyrek. There is the possibility that he was almost literally on his last legs in 2016 and that he doesn’t have another great season in him.

Unless Ortiz is medically incapable and/or not interested in returning, what would the harm be in rolling the dice? Is it a money thing? It really depends on just how intent the Sox are on staying under the luxury-tax threshold, but it’s hard to imagine that holding them up given that they’ve bobbed over and under the line throughout the years.

The one unacceptable argument is the legacy stuff, which expresses concern that Ortiz would tarnish his overall body of work if he came back for one last season and was relatively ineffective.  

If you think that five years after Ortiz is done playing, a single person will say, “Yeah, he’s a Hall of Famer; it’s just a shame he came back that for one last season,” you’re absolutely crazy. The fact that one could dwell that much on a legacy shows how much they romanticize the player, meaning that in however many years it's the 40-homer seasons, and not the potentially underwhelming few months in 2017, that will stand the test of time.

But he’ll have thrown away having one of the best final seasons ever for a hitter.

Oh man. That’s a life-ruiner right there. A 10-time All-Star and three-time World Series champion totally becomes just another guy if you take that away.

Plus, the fact that he’s a DH limits how bad it could really be. You won’t get the sight of an over-the-hill Willie Mays misplaying fly balls in the 1973 World Series after hitting .211 in the regular season. Ortiz will either be able to hit or he won’t, and if it’s the latter they’ll chalk it up to age and injuries and sit him down. Any potential decision to put him on the field in a World Series would likely mean his bat was worth it enough to get them to that point.

The Red Sox, on paper at least, have a real shot at another title. Teams in such a position should always go for broke. Ortiz has absolutely nothing left to prove, but if he thinks he has anything left to give, nobody but the fans who dropped 30-something bucks on T-shirts commemorating his retirement should have a problem with that.