Sox: Ump's blown call had huge impact on game

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Sox: Ump's blown call had huge impact on game

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Getting three outs in an inning is difficult enough. When a team is forced to get six outs, its almost a guarantee the opponent is going to put runs on the scoreboard.

Such was the case in the top of the fifth inning in the Red Sox 7-4 loss Wednesday afternoon, completing the White Sox three-game sweep at Fenway Park.

The White Sox entered their half of the inning trailing the Red Sox, 3-1. By the time the inning was over, six batters had gone to the plate and Bostons two-run advantage was wiped out.

Ramon Castro, the White Sox No. 8 hitter, led off with a walk and advanced to second when Dustin Pedroia couldnt handle Gordon Beckhams pop-up into shallow right field, racing toward the foul line.

Hes on a dead run, said manager Terry Francona. Thats a tough play, a lot tougher play than you think. In that corner, that triangle. If he makes that play, thats a lot more difficult than it looks.

Beckham was erased on Juan Pierres fielders choice, as shortstop Jed Lowrie and Pedroia were unable to turn a double play. With Alexi Ramirez batting, Pierre broke for second. Caught in a rundown, it appeared Pedroia slapped a tag on Pierres back. Second base umpire Marty Foster, though, signaled safe, drawing the ire of Pedroia, Francona, and Wakefield, all to no avail.

Go ask the umpire, man, Pedroia said. Im not going to talk for him. Those guys got to be held responsible for that because I tagged Juan right in the back. So if he doesnt want to ask for help, thats unfortunate because they got two runs out of it and it was a big part of the game.

I asked him to ask everybody and he said, Thats enough or Im going to throw you out of the game. I said OK. And then Tito talked to him. So I dont know.

I didn't ask Foster anything, Francona said. I just wanted to get it right. It was my opinion that you're allowed to do that. I know thats right. He wouldnt do it. Said it was his call. If thats the case, I wish hed have got it right.

For Wakefield, that play could have been the difference in the game.

Its huge, Wakefield said. It cost us two runs. Pretty much probably cost us the game.

Ramirez grounded out to Lowrie, scoring Castro with Chicagos first run of the inning. Carlos Quentins shot down the left field line scored Pierre, tying the game, before Paul Konerko flied out to right.

Wakefield threw 24 pitches in the inning, more than any of the previous innings 14 in the first, 10 in the second, 11 in the third, and 21 in the fourth. When a call doesnt go his teams way, he know knows he has to compose himself, return to the mound, and get his team out of the inning.

Tito calls a pitch-out there and we get the Pierre caught up in a rundown, Wakefield said. Thats a huge out for us. Unfortunately, the call didnt go our way there and now its second and third no outs. Try to minimize the damage as much as possible and I thought I was able to do that until two outs and they scored another run.

It happens once in a while. You try to compose yourself and get out of the inning as best you can. I had two outs there and given up one run. Unfortunately, Quentin hit a good pitch, double down the line and tied the game.

Each team scored single runs in the sixth, but Chicago put up a run in the seventh and two more in the ninth to complete the three-game sweep, handing the Red Sox their fourth straight loss.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

Dombrowski defends John Farrell after group strategy meeting on Monday

Dombrowski defends John Farrell after group strategy meeting on Monday

 

The Red Sox braintrust had a meeting on Monday's off-day to strategize with a 22-21 team that's underperforming and in third place.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski told NESN's Tom Caron on the Sox pre-game show that he was part of a meeting with Farrell, assistant general managers Eddie Romero and Brian O'Halloran and vice president of baseball research and development Zack Scott.

"We sat down yesterday for over a couple hours," Dombrowski told Caron. "I [had] already talked to some of our scouts and just kind of [went] over our club to try to get it to fit together a little bit. Because some of those things, the injuries, and even the guys that are playing, like in Hanley [Ramirez's] case, it does affect what you’re trying to do. So normally at this time of year, I think you have a better pulse [of the team]. But I think we need a little bit more time. We just really haven’t flowed as a club. We haven’t played as well as I think we’re capable of and I think we need to give ourselves that opportunity."

Asked about Farrell's job security, Dombrowski defended a manager whose 2018 option was picked up over the winter.

"Well, we won a divisional crown last year," Dombrowski said. "He managed very well for us at the time. I think that John, as well as everybody else, is frustrated by our performance and that we haven’t taken off, but we’re not buried either. I mean, we’re four games out of first place and we really haven’t been in a flow. And when you look at it, it’s like, OK, last week Thursday we won two great games in St. Louis. I wasn’t with the team, I was in Salem. 

"Well I looked at the match-up on Thursday, and I’m thinking, well if [Sonny] Gray throws like he’s capable, I’m not sure what we’re going to get out of [Hector] Velazquez at that particular time. And of course, Velazquez didn’t have a very good outing. So you lose that ball game. Is that John’s fault? I can’t put that on John. 

"Friday night, you have Chris Sale, he threw the ball very well. Well the play that Trevor Plouffe made on Hanley Ramirez, I don’t know if he’s made a play like that all year long. Mookie Betts, in the ninth inning gets a line drive right at the third baseman. Well you have a chance to score five or six runs, didn’t happen. No excuses, but it’s one of those where I think to pin those things on John Farrell are just not fair. I think we’re in a position where he’s managed well, he’s managed divisional champions. I think we’re in a position, we have a good club. We just need to get in a better flow of things."

Dombrowski felt the Sox were harder to evaluate a quarter into the season than most teams would be.

"Because the reality is when you look at our ballclub, it really hasn’t been together at all at any point during the year for me," he said. "So I think when you look at it, you say OK, well, we need to improve our fourth and fifth starters. Well, David Price comes back next week — we think he’ll be back next week. So that’s a pretty big addition, that’s like making a major trade. 

"I still think Drew Pomeranz, although he has scuffled at times, should be a fourth-, fifth-type starter on a good club. … We need to straighten him out. I think he’s capable of doing that. When you talk about bullpen, our bullpen’s been good but I still think we’re going to get Carson Smith in a short time period, so that’s another addition that we have.

"Third base, you know has been a hole for us where Pablo Sandoval could be back very soon. I’m not sure where Brock Holt fits into that whole equation. So we’re really on our fifth third baseman right now when you look at it. Pablo is there, and then Brock Holt was there. Marco Hernandez is going to have surgery, we’re going to miss him for the rest of the year. Josh Rutledge has been over there."

Holt, out with vertigo, and the Red Sox are regrouping. Holt's exhausted the 20 days permitted for a minor league rehab stint, and is heading to Pittsburgh to meet concussion expert Micky Collins. Another rehab stint figures to follow eventually, barring a change in diagnosis.

Hernandez is to have surgery on his left shoulder Friday, which likely ends his season.

Hanley Ramirez can still be the DH, but his sore shoulders have relegated him to only that position, not first base. That's part of the reason Sam Travis was added to the roster Tuesday.

"There’s a couple reasons behind it," Dombrowski said of Travis' call-up.  "We’re in a position where we have a roster spot for a positional player. Secondly, we’ve talked about giving Mitch [Moreland] a little bit of a blow on his feet at times, to not play too many games. And we faced a left hand pitcher tomorrow [in the Rangers' Martin Perez]. He’s been hitting the ball well, Sam has. 

"We’re trying to sit [Moreland] a little bit vs. the left-handed pitching. Even though he’s done OK, we just don’t want him to get too tired as the year goes on. And the reality is, originally that was going to be Hanley [playing first base vs. lefties]. Well, Hanley’s not available to do that now, so we needed to make an adjustment ourself on how to do that. And with the extra roster spot, Pawtucket right down the road, we figure it’s a good chance to give him that opportunity. 

"In Hanley’s case, not playing first base, people don’t realize at times how much that changes the mix of your club. Because at some time, we are going to have Chris Young get at-bats and DH at that point."

Napoli: Red Sox and his agent only had 'small talk' about reunion

Napoli: Red Sox and his agent only had 'small talk' about reunion

BOSTON -- Of course, the Rangers' Mike Napoli didn't mind the idea of replacing David Ortiz. He loved playing in Boston.

There just was never much chatter that way last offseason, when Napoli was a free agent after his Indians took the Cubs to seven games in the World Series.

"I think my agent had maybe a small talk or something [with the Red Sox], but I don't think it ever would have happened," Napoli said Tuesday afternoon as he returned to Fenway Park with Texas. "I mean, don't get me wrong, I would have loved to come back. But, I mean, it all worked out. I'm glad to be where I'm at now. Because I knew everybody here [with the Rangers]. I didn't have to start over again."

Napoli played with the Rangers in 2011 and '12, and was traded by the Sox to Texas for the last few months of the 2015 season.

He was hopeful the Sox -- his team from 2013 to midseason 2015 -- would be among the clubs to come calling last winter.

"Oh, yeah," he said.

But he wasn't optimistic it was going to happen. And it didn't.

"To be honest with you . . . Cleveland was my first priority," he said. "I just had a World Series run [with the Indians] and we didn't win it. And then Texas was there [in the bidding, along with] Minnesota."

The Rangers wound up giving Napoli, 35, a one-year deal for 8.5 million with an $11 million club option for next season or a $2.5 million buyout. He's hitting just .188 entering Tuesday, a subpar figure, but has 10 home runs.

"We started off pretty slow, but winning 10 straight will help," Napoli said of the Rangers' recent tear. "[Winning] 11 of 12, we've been playing better. I think we kind of lost track of who we are. We got some guys struggling, still trying to find themselves and kind of got away from doing it together as a team, but we got back to doing that. It's been going pretty well."

Part of the World Series championship team of four years ago, Napoli loved being in Boston in 2013, and he enjoys being back now.

"What we were able to do in 2013, obviously, it's something I'l never forget and something I cherish," Napoli said. "I love coming back here to play."

When it was noted there's been so much turmoil since Napoli left -- the talk of Tuesday was manager John Farrell's job security -- he was unsurprised.

"You got to have thick skin to play here," Napoli said. "You're expected to win a championship every single year. But that's what I loved about playing here, is that people were on you. For me, I loved it. A lot of people probably couldn't do it.

"I knew it in my heart that I went out there and I played as hard as I possibly could every single time . . . I know you're not going to be perfect and live up to everyone."