Sox squeeze past Tigers, 4-3

191542.jpg

Sox squeeze past Tigers, 4-3

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

DETROIT In the first game of their rain-induced, split day-night doubleheader, the Red Sox beat the Tigers, 4-3, on David Ortizs ninth-inning pinch-hit home run off Jose Valverde.

Ortiz went to the plate for the 97th pinch-hit plate appearance of his career and just his second time facing Valverde. In his only other time facing the Tigers closer Ortiz hit a grand slam.

Both starting pitchers threw quality starts but were not involved in the decision, departing after six innings with the scored tied, 3-3.

Clay Buchholz gave up three runs on six hits and a walk with three strikeouts and two home runs. He threw 98 pitches, 63 for strikes. Including his 127-pitch outing May 18 against the Tigers at Fenway Park, Buchholz has three straight no-decisions, but quality starts for all three. Before this game, Buchholz had not given up more than one home run in an outing since his first start of the season 1st start, a loss April 3 in Texas, when he allowed four.

Left-hander Andy Oliver, making his first start of the season after being called up on Saturday, went six innings, giving up three runs on five this and three walks, with three strikeouts, two home runs, a hit batter, and a wild pitch.

The Sox put singe runs up in each of the first three innings. In the first, Jacoby Ellsbury led off with double, stole third for his 19th steal of the season, and scored on Adrian Gonzalez sacrifice fly to center.

Mike Camerons solo home run to left field with one out in the second put the Sox ahead, 2-0, and Dusting Pedroia led off the third with his fourth homer of the season.

But staked to a three-run lead, Buchholz could not hold on. He gave up a lead-off homer to Andy Dirks in the fourth for the Tigers first run. With one out in the sixth, he gave up a solo homer to Brennan Boesch, followed by a double to Miguel Cabrera. Victor Martinezs groundout to Gonzalez at first moved Cabrera to third. Jhonny Peraltas single to center scored Cabrera, tying the game.

Reliever Matt Albers threw two scoreless innings to earn the win for Boston, as well as his first win as a member of the Red Sox. He is now 1-2 with a 3.54 ERA.

Jonathan Papelbon pitched a perfect ninth inning to preserve the Sox fifth straight win and his 10th save of the season. The Sox are now 5-1 on the seven-game road trip.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: David Ortiz
Ortiz had faced Jose Valverde just once before in his career. On July 30, 2010, at Fenway Park, with one out in the ninth inning, Ortiz blasted a grand slam off Valverde. In the first game of the Sox doubleheader Sunday, Ortiz hit a pinch-hit, one-out, ninth-inning solo homer to give the Sox a 4-3 win. Two plate appearances, two home runs, five RBI. The only difference: Ortizs home run today provided the difference in the Red Sox win. Last year, it merely gave the Sox a one-run loss.

The homer was also Ortizs fourth career pinch-hit home run and first since April 27, 2003 his first home run with the Red Sox, in Anaheim. It was Ortizs 11th homer of the season, eighth in May and second through six games of the seven-game road trip.

HONORABLE MENTION: Andy Oliver
Oliver, called up Saturday to make his first start of the season, gave the Tigers what their previous two starters Max Scherzer on Thursday and Rick Porcello on Friday were unable to give them: a quality start. Oliver went six innings, giving up three runs on five hits and three walks with three strikeouts, two home runs, a hit batter, and a wild pitch. It was his first career appearance against the Red Sox.

He was shaky in his first inning, facing six batters in the first, giving up a lead-off double to Jacoby Ellsbury, a walk to Dustin Pedroia, a sacrifice fly to Adrian Gonzalez, and hitting Kevin Youkilis with a pitch. But he held the Sox to just one run in the inning. He gave up single runs in the second and third, on solo homers by Mike Cameron and Pedroia, respectively, but appeared to settle down as the game went on.
THE GOAT: Jose Valverde
Valverde did not learn his lesson on July 30, 2010 the only other time he faced David Ortiz. On that day, he challenged Ortiz in the ninth inning with one out and three on base. Ortiz blasted a grand slam. On that day, though, Valverde escaped, as the Tigers won, 6-5.

On Sunday he would not be so fortunate. With one out in the ninth inning, he again challenged Ortiz, this time with a 3-2, 95-mph fastball. Ortiz did not miss his chance, blasting the pitch into the centerfield seats, giving the Sox a 4-3 lead.

THE TURNING POINT
Although the Sox failed to extend their lead against Oliver -- who was called up to make this start going 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position, Ortiz took care of that in the ninth inning. With one out, facing Jose Valverde for just the second time in his career, Ortiz bashed a 3-2, 95-mph fastball into the centerfield seats, giving the Sox a 4-3 lead, and ultimately, their fifth straight win, going 5-1 in their first six games of the seven-game road trip.

STAT OF THE DAY: 4.000
Going 2-for-2 in his career against Valverde, Ortiz has a slugging percentage of 4.000 against the Tigers closer, with five RBI, and an on-base percentage of 1.000.

QUOTE OF NOTE
Just go to the cage, get some swings, and make sure youre loose, make sure youre ready to go. -- David Ortiz, on being prepared to pinch-hit

MaureenMullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

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.

Francona misses second game this month because of health issues

Francona misses second game this month because of health issues

CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona missed Tuesday night's game against Texas after his second trip to the hospital this month.

The Indians said doctors for now have ruled out major health issues and Francona will be monitored the next several weeks.

Francona, 58, left Monday night's game because he wasn't feeling well. He spent several hours at Cleveland Clinic and underwent a series of tests.

Francona was released from the hospital on Tuesday and spent the rest of the day at home. He was expected to return to the dugout Wednesday when the Indians host the Rangers. Cleveland lost to Texas 2-1 on Tuesday.

Bench coach Brad Mills ran the team in Francona's absence. Cleveland began the day in first place in the AL Central after rallying for a 15-9 win Monday.

"Tito actually wanted to come back to the ballpark today," team president Chris Antonetti said Tuesday. "I told him he can't come back to the ballpark today. He only got a couple hours of sleep last night, so despite his desire to want to be here, I thought it was best that he gets some rest tonight and just come back tomorrow. His plan when he was getting released from the hospital was to come over here."

"I don't think he was exceedingly happy with me," Antonetti said with a laugh. "That's OK."

Francona was hospitalized June 13 following a game at Progressive Field. He underwent tests and was released a few hours later, returning to work the following night. Last August, he missed a game after experiencing chest pains but was back the next day.

"Thankfully, we've got some great doctors that are coordinating his care," Antonetti said. "They've done every test they can possibly imagine. They've all come back clean. They're now working to try to figure out what are some of those things that are causing him to not feel so well."

Francona, a close friend of Mills for several years, has retained his sense of humor through his health issues.

A statement released by the team Tuesday read, "Mr. Francona also wanted to express that medical personnel have not yet ruled out an allergy to Bench Coach Brad Mills."