Sox rally to end four-game slide, 8-6

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Sox rally to end four-game slide, 8-6

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Carl Crawford entered Friday nights game against the As batting just .106 against left-handed pitchers. As reliever lefty Brian Fuentes entered the game allowing lefties a .269 average this season.

With the Red Sox trailing by a run in the seventh inning, bases loaded, two outs, and a 3-2 count, Crawford delivered a 91-mph sinker into center field, scoring Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis, giving the Sox the lead.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia's home run to lead off the eighth, on Michael Wuertzs first pitch of the game, completed the Sox scoring, for an 8-6 win.

It was not an easy win, though, for the Sox, who have struggled through this six-game homestand.

Clay Buchholz lasted just 4 23 innings against the As at Fenway Park Friday night. It was his shortest outing of the season since going just 3 23 innings in an April 9 loss to the Yankees.

He allowed the light-hitting and light-scoring As six runs (five earned) on eight hits with two walks and five strikeouts. The As entered the game 12th in the American League in both team batting average and runs scored. They had 11 total hits against the Red Sox. Their season high is 15.

Buchholz faced eight batters in the first inning, giving up four runs on five hits, matching an Oakland season-high for hits in an inning.

By the third inning, the Sox had taken the lead, 5-4, driving Oakland starter Josh Outman from the game. But Buchholz allowed single runs in the fourth and fifth innings, letting the As get ahead. After Daric Bartons two-out single scored Josh Willingham in the fifth, Buchholz was done.

In three starts since throwing a career-high 127 pitches against the Tigers on May 18, Buchholz has gone a combined 18 innings pitched, giving up 10 earned runs for a 5.00 ERA with three no-decisions, while the Red Sox have gone 2-1 in those games. In the three starts before that, including May 18, he threw a combined 19 innings giving up two earned runs (0.95 ERA). The Sox were 3-0 in those games.

Bobby Jenks got the win, pitching a scoreless seventh, allowing a hit and a walk with one strikeout and a balk. He improves to 2-2 with a 7.59 ERA. Jonathan Papelbon earned his 11th save with a scoreless ninth inning.

Joey Devine, who started the seventh inning before Fuentes entered, was charged with the loss, going two-third of an inning, giving up two runs the first runs he has allowed this season -- on a hit and walk. His record falls to 0-1 with a 2.45 ERA.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Carl Crawford
His two-run single off Brian Fuentes in the seventh inning, with the Sox trailing by a run, bases loaded, and two outs, gave the Sox the lead. Crawford entered the at-bat hitting .106 against left-handed pitchers this season. In his career, he was 1-for-5 with two RBI against Fuentes.

Crawford, whose deep drive to right earlier in the game would have been a home run in most parks, entered the at-bat 0-for-3. The go-ahead single was his only hit of the game.

It was his fifth game-winning RBI of the season. In his last nine games he has nine RBI.
HONORABLE MENTION: David Ortiz
Ortiz went 2-for-3 with a run scored, two RBI, and a double. His second RBI of the night, tied the game in the third inning, before the As regained the lead.

He has hit safely in 13 of his last 15 games, batting .414 with 14 extra-base hits and 10 multi-hit games in that span.
THE GOAT: Brian Fuentes
While Joey Devine (0-1, 2.45) was charged with the loss, Fuentes suffered his third blown save. Fuentes is among the league leaders in saves, with 11. While it was a difficult situation in which to enter with the bases loaded, two outs, his team ahead by one tenuous run, facing Carl Crawford, who is still struggling but always dangerous it was a situation his team needed him to handle. He didnt.

THE TURNING POINT
It was a struggle for both teams throughout the game.But with the As ahead by one run in the seventh, Joey Devine, who started the inning, got Dustin Pedroia to ground out before allowing the next three batters to reach -- Adrian Gonzalez on a double, hitting Kevin Youkilis with a pitch, and walking David Ortiz before getting Jed Lowrie to fly out. At that point As manager Bob Geren called for his closer, Brian Fuentes, to face Carl Crawford. On a 3-2 pitch, Crawford delivered a single to center field, with Gonzalez and Youkilis scoring, giving the Sox the lead, which they would not relinquish.
STAT OF THE DAY: .297
The As entered the game hitting .240, 12th in the American League. Against the Sox Friday night they went a combined 11-for-37, batting .297. They matched their season-high for hits in an inning with five in the first. The 11 hits, which they compiled through the first six innings, were shy of their season high, 15.

QUOTE OF NOTE:
Love of the game. I wouldnt have gone through the stuff I went through and
kept rolling if I didn't want to be here and have a goal of being a big league
pitcher. I think thats what drove me every day.

-Red Sox left-hander Tommy Hottovy -- who made his big league debut Friday, retiring David DeJesus, the only batter he faced -- on what has kept him motivated over the last few years. Hottovy has been in the Sox system since being drafted in 2004, spending parts of the last six seasons in Double-A Portland, and having Tommy John surgery in 2008.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Ramirez bothered by right shoulder more than last year

Ramirez bothered by right shoulder more than last year

BOSTON — Hanley Ramirez on Wednesday afternoon acknowledged his shoulders are bothering him more this year than last year.

In specific, it’s the right (throwing) shoulder that’s bothersome, he said to CSNNE, noting it just doesn’t move as he wants it to — rotating his arm as he spoke. Asked how that happened, how it worsened, he said it was in spring training that he thinks he pushed it too hard.

On the positive side, Ramirez said his shoulders are improving.

"Honestly, yeah, it's feeling better now," Ramirez told a group of reporters. "It's started feeling better now than early in the year. I can use the top hand and drop a little bit the head of the bat. I was losing that. I was talking to [hitting coaches Chili Davis and Victor Rodriguez] about that. I've got to be able to use that top hand. Like Jim Rice."

Ramirez, who seems to always want to be playful in his interactions with the media, appeared surprised to learn that he was not hitting lefties well so far this year. He’s 5-for-35 against them.

Ramirez was out the lineup for a third straight game Wednesday, but took batting practice on the field and also took grounders at first base. As batting practice ended, he spoke to a group of reporters coming off the field.

"What am I hitting against lefties right now?” Ramirez asked in a response to a question about how he was feeling vs. southpaws.

It was low, he was told. He waited while a reporter used his phone to look up the specifics for him.

“Is it really? So it’s not me. I've got to get going because I crush lefties. It can't happen,” Ramirez said in the group. "You're kidding me. It took you long enough to tell me that. I didn't know that for real. So OK, after this conversation, let's see what's going to happen now. I'll say it. Yeah. Bring it. OK? I didn't know, I swear. Interesting. Thank you.”

Red Sox manager John Farrell wasn’t sure if Ramirez’s struggles vs. lefties was related to his shoulders. 

“Because if there’s the need or the tendency for Hanley to start his swing early because he might not feel as loose or reactive, as he might otherwise, if a left-hander’s going to sink the ball away from him or keep the ball on the outside of the plate and that early commitment might cause you to pull off some pitches, that’s one possibility,” Farrell said. “But I can’t say that’s the absolute sole reason.”

The Sox still believe Ramirez is healthy enough to contribute well.

“Without being in his body, and knowing what he’s feeling, you know, if you watch the number of hours he puts in for the shoulder maintenance, that’s real,” Farrell said. “All we can evaluate is his feedback and how he swings the bat with either the plate coverage or the aggressiveness and the ability to impact the baseball. And there has been stretches of that. I think he would be the first to admit, would like for it to be more consistent.”

Farrell was asked a bunch of questions about Ramirez on Wednesday afternoon in the usual pre-game press conference, including whether he’s difficult to manage. If that’s the case — and it sure seems so —  Farrell did not let on.

"With individuals you take the added time needed to sit down and talk things through and get a sense of where each individual player is," Farrell said. "I wouldn’t say Hanley is different than other guys in that clubhouse."

Ramirez did very well in the second half last year and was optimistic.

“It's coming along,” he said. “I think second half's coming and I'm ready for that. ... Just one click and you go from there. Like I said, I'm not going to stop working. I'm going to get hot.”

Drellich: Pomeranz lessens heat on Dombrowski's trade history

Drellich: Pomeranz lessens heat on Dombrowski's trade history

BOSTON — Drew Pomeranz is helping out Dave Dombrowski’s balance sheet in Boston.

The Chris Sale and Craig Kimbrel trades have been awesome — beyond awesome, even. The Tyler Thornburg deal looks like a disaster that, maybe someday, Dombrowski will acknowledge rather than sidestep. The Carson Smith deal has produced, if nothing else, no gain. The Fernando Abad deal has not hurt the Sox, and he’s had some decent moments.

But the Pomeranz trade with the Padres, for just top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza, stood as the most controversial of Dealer Dave’s moves until the past couple months. Now, the Cult of Travis Shaw has slowly made folks forget about Espinoza and the complicated set of circumstances that surrounded that trade.

“Rescind” is something you’re hearing less and less. 

It’s remarkable what a 2.70 ERA in a 40-inning, seven-start stretch can do. Pomeranz is looking like a lot shinier these days, particularly after Tuesday night, when he came back out despite a rain delay of more than an hour in a 9-2 win over the Twins.

From the day that 40-inning stretch began, May 25, through Tuesday, only four qualified starters posted a better ERA in the American League: Corey Kluber (1.29), Jason Vargas (2.27), Jordan Montgomery (2.52) and Mike Pelfrey (2.64).

For comparison: Chris Sale is 10th in that stretch, at 3.54. Rick Porcello has 6.08 ERA in the same time.

Realistically, where the Sox stood last season, they needed Pomeranz. He was healthy enough to throw. That’s the reality everyone who wanted the deal undone always undersold: the back of the rotation was crumbling. 

But that was just one layer of the deal.

The Padres did not provide as much medical information as they should have, and the Sox stuck with Pomeranz despite the opportunity to look elsewhere.

Espinoza hasn’t pitched for a Padres minor league affiliate yet this season. He’s playing catch from flat ground as he comes back from a forearm injury, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported recently. 

Trades, to this observer, are typically best evaluated by reviewing the process behind them — which is to say, by looking back at the information was available at the time the deal was made. And at the time, it was known that the Sox were paying for Pomeranz beyond just last season's second half. They were paying for a controllable arm who could help out the rotation this year too.

Dombrowski may well have acquired Pomeranz at his peak value, which is unsurprising. But what mattered most was whether the team believed Pomeranz could contribute effectively beyond 2016. That, once they had all the health information, whether they properly evaluated what it would mean for his future.

It looked bad when Pomeranz started the season on the disabled list. He had a stem-cell injection in his forearm in the winter, too. There wasn’t much to hang your hat on at the start of April. 

Realistically, Pomeranz probably isn’t 100 percent right now. Even within the relative world of pro baseball — where no one is ever 100 percent — Pomeranz is probably further from it than most. 

But he's powered through. Pomeranz’s attitude might actually fit Boston better than most realize. He also is, whether people want to acknowledge it or not, a pitcher with a high ceiling in terms of ability (if not innings).

He also is, whether people want to acknowledge it or not, a pitcher with a high ceiling in terms of ability (if not innings).

How Pomeranz holds up is to be seen. But the team’s judgment that he would have value beyond last season, a value worth surrendering Espinoza for, is looking better and better.