Boston Red Sox

V-Mart: 'No hard feelings' towards Red Sox

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V-Mart: 'No hard feelings' towards Red Sox

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

LAKELAND, Fla. The big Red Sox story at Joker Marchant Stadium in Tuesday's game against the Detroit Tigers is obviously Daisuke Matsuzaka, but there's also the first reunion between Victor Martinez with his old baseball team.V-Mart is in the Detroit lineup, batting fifth and serving as the designated hitter a role hes expected to occupy much more with the Tigers this season and said he was looking forward to playing against his old squad. Sox regulars Jacoby Ellsbury, J.D. Drew, Jason Varitek, Jed Lowrie and Darnell McDonald made the trip to Lakeland along with newcomer Carl Crawford, and Martinez has happy to spot familiar faces while serving out liners during batting practice.It was always nice to getting together with some old friends. I was really looking forward to it, said Martinez. Boston was a great experience for me and for my family. It was a great experience. My family and my son really miss the Red Sox. They treated my family first class, and as a player thats one of the things that youre really looking for.It makes you want to go out there, play your best and give your all. It was great for me, and it was one of the best experiences of my career. I cant say anything but great things about the Red Sox organization. There are no hard feelings at all.Martinezs son, Victor Jose, was a fixture around Fenway Park over the last two seasons and it was pretty clear listening to the backstopdesignated hitterfirst baseman that Boston and the Sox organization had a profound impact on both father and son.Sox manager Terry Francona was often spotted playing with the rambunctious duo of Victor Jose Martinez and DAngelo Ortiz in the Sox clubhouse over the last couple of summers, and he misses the energy and levity brought by both youngsters.Were trying to make a move today. Theo is trying to acquire Victor Jose. Theyre asking for Crawford, and were holding out for a little less, said the smirking Sox skipper.Martinez recounts a conversation with his 6-year-old son when they both realized the Sox were coming soon, and Big Papi wouldnt be making the trip: A week ago, he said to me, The Red Sox are coming. Im gonna see DAngelo. And I said Papi, I dont know if youre going to see him. I dont think David Ortiz is going to make the trip. And he was like Aw man!It was tough for him. Hes a kid, but you try to make him understand. Its a hard part of the game. Detroit is a great organization with a lot of good guys, and hes getting used to it over here.Martinez maintains he holds no ill will toward the Sox after they went in a different direction for their offense and catching and never really gave the former backstop the kind of contract offer denoting a serious desire to keep him in Boston. Questions about Martinezs overall defensive abilities and his skill throwing out base stealers certainly clouded his long term future in Boston as a full-time catcher. The Sox werent willing to shell out the bucks for a versatile switch-hitter capable of swinging between catcher, first base and designated hitter while providing respectable middle-of-the-order offense when they still had a few first basedesignated hitter types under contract.Martinez' first move, from Cleveland to Boston (when theRed Sox acquired him at the trade deadline in 2009), was gut-wrenching-- to that point, he'd spent his entire career with the Indians -- butit was easier this time around. For one thing, he'd been through itbefore. For another, Martinez got what he was looking for from theTigers: Four years, 52 million.He said hes interested to see if lightening the catching duty can help preserve his career and bulk up his offensive numbers further.They told me right out of the gate that I was going to catch two or three days a week and the rest of the time Id be DH-ing, said Martinez. Im good with it. Its going to be fun. Ill do my best and see what happens.Martinez ended his Sox career with a .313 batting average and .865 OPS with 28 home runs and 120 RBI in 183 big league games.
All of the good stuff we heard in Cleveland we found out was true, said Francona. Hes a gentleman, first of all. He instantly became a good teammate and kind of a leader. Thats a hard thing to do when you come in the middle of a season.He found a way because of his personality and leadership to find a way to have guys following him. Guys took to him after the first day and its a compliment to him. Guys come and go. Thats the business part of it, but it doesnt mean that youre not crazy about him.Trading for Adrian Gonzalez and signing Crawford certainly softened the blow on the business end of it for the Sox, and perhaps DAngelo and Victor Jose can rekindle their friendship 20 years from now when theyre both big league superstars. For now, though, V-Mart and the Sox are both getting on with their lives.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Drellich: In appreciation of a peculiar, throwback Red Sox offense

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Drellich: In appreciation of a peculiar, throwback Red Sox offense

BALTIMORE — On the night Major League Baseball saw its record for home runs in a season broken, the team with the fewest homers in the American League took a scoreless tie into extra innings.

In the 11th, the Red Sox won in a fashion they hadn’t in 100 years.

Just how peculiar was their 1-0 win over the Orioles, the AL leaders in homers? The lone run came when Jackie Bradley Jr. bolted home on a wild pitch from Brad Brach. So? So, the Red Sox won, but did not officially record a run batted in on the day MLB’s greatest league-wide power show to date was celebrated.

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The last time the Sox won an extra-inning game without recording an RBI was a century ago, in 1918. Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth played in that game. 

It’s a weird time for the Sox offense. A weird year, really. Because the Sox are in first place, and have been, but they don’t drive the ball. Their .408 slugging percentage was the fifth lowest in the majors entering Tuesday.

They’re also in the bottom third for strikeouts, the top five in steals and the top 10 in batting average (.260). That's the description of an effective National League offense. An old-school, move-the-line group that makes more contact than all but four teams in the majors. 

The rest of baseball is switching to golf swings to pound low-ball pitching. The Sox look like they could be on a black-and-white newsreel shuffling around the bags.

Should you have faith in that method come the playoffs? There's reason to be dubious.

But the construction should be appreciated for the sake of disparity, both in the context of recent Red Sox history and the sport’s home-run renaissance.

Alex Gordon of the Royals hit the season’s 5,964th home run Tuesday, besting the record mark set in 2000 — dead in the middle of the steroid era.

At present, the Sox lineup is particularly out of sorts because of injuries. Dustin Pedroia should be back Wednesday, but was out of the starting lineup Tuesday. Hanley Ramirez isn’t starting either. Eduardo Nunez’s rehab from a knee injury is coming along, but may not move quite as quickly as expected.

Even if all are healthy, this group remains strange. Because the Sox offense looks so different than what people expect of the Sox, the opposite of what people expect of an American League East-winning team. The opposite of what people expect of any American League team, period.

The arms are the driving force for the Sox, and must remain so if they’re to be successful in October. The sturdiness of the bullpen, tired but resolute, cannot be understated when the workload is extended in September. No team can go 15-3 in extra-inning games without stellar and timely pitching.

But the entirety of pitching coach Carl Willis’ staff has been wonderful. Drew Pomeranz didn’t have his best fastball velocity on Tuesday and was still effective in 6 1/3 innings.

The outfield play can’t be overlooked either. Bradley’s a brilliant patrolman in center field and his leaping catches to rob home runs — he took one away from Chris Davis Tuesday — have been their own attractions.

The Sox, meanwhile, just don't hit many balls far enough to be robbed.

If you’re cut from an old-school cloth, and didn’t really love those station-to-station, home-run powered offenses of yore, this Sox team is for you. There's something to be said for the experience of simply watching something different.

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Red Sox score on wild pitch in 11th for 1-0 win over Orioles

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Red Sox score on wild pitch in 11th for 1-0 win over Orioles

BALTIMORE -- Though they rank last in the American League in home runs, the Boston Red Sox have found plenty of other ways to win - especially in extra innings.

Jackie Bradley Jr. scored the game's lone run on a wild pitch by Brad Brach in the 11th inning, and Boston used six pitchers to silence the Baltimore Orioles' bats in a 1-0 victory Tuesday night.

Boston has won 10 of 13 to move a season-high 23 games over .500 (87-64) and draw closer to clinching a postseason berth. The Red Sox started the day with a three-game lead over the second-place New York Yankees in the AL East.

It was the second straight tight, lengthy game between these AL East rivals. Boston won in 11 innings on Monday night and is 15-3 in extra-inning games - tying a franchise record for extra-inning wins set in 1943.

In this one, pitching and defense proved to be the winning formula. After Drew Pomeranz allowed five hits over 6 1/3 innings, five relievers held the Orioles hitless the rest of the way.

"They've been able, to a man, hand it off to the next guy and continue to build a bridge until we can scratch out a run - tonight not even with an RBI," manager John Farrell said. "We find a way to push a run across."

With a runner on second and two outs in the 11th, Brach (4-5) walked Andrew Benintendi and Mookie Betts to load the bases for Mitch Moreland, who sidestepped a bouncing pitch from Brach that enabled Bradley to score without a throw.

Joe Kelly (4-1) worked the 10th and Matt Barnes got three outs for his first save.

"They've been unbelievable," Boston's Brock Holt said of the bullpen. "That's why our record is what is in extra-inning games, because of those guys."

The game stretched into extra innings in part because Bradley made a sensational catch to rob Baltimore slugger Chris Davis of a home run in the fifth inning. Bradley quickly judged the trajectory of the ball while running to his left, then left his feet and stretched his arm over the 7-foot wall in center field.

The finish came after Pomeranz and Kevin Gausman locked up in a scoreless duel that was essentially the exact opposite of Monday night's 10-8 slugfest.

Although he didn't get his 17th win, Pomeranz lowered his ERA to 3.15 and set a career high by pitching at least six innings for the 17th time (in 30 starts).

Gausman was even sharper, giving up just three hits over eight innings with one walk and seven strikeouts.

The right-hander retired the first 14 batters he faced before Rafael Devers singled off the right-field wall.

Baltimore threatened in the third inning when Manny Machado hit a two-out double, but he was thrown out by Benintendi trying to score on Jonathan Schoop's single to left field.

No one else got to third base until the sixth, when Baltimore had runners at the corners with two outs before Pomeranz struck out Mark Trumbo with a high, outside fastball.

The Orioles have lost 11 of 13 to fall out of contention.

"They're very frustrated right now," manager Buck Showalter said. "You can imagine grinding as our guys have since February and not being able to push a run like that across in some of these games when we pitch well. That's been a challenge for us. I feel for them because I know how much it means to them."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: 2B Dustin Pedroia, who left Monday's game in the fourth inning after fouling a ball off his nose, did not start but was used as a pinch hitter in the 10th inning and grounded into a double play. Farrell said Pedroia will likely return to the starting lineup Wednesday. . DH Hanley Ramirez (left arm soreness) was out of the starting lineup for the sixth consecutive game. Farrell said Ramirez was available to pinch hit and is likely to start Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: Chris Sale (16-7, 2.86 ERA) will seek to match his career high in wins Wednesday night in the series finale. He needs 13 strikeouts to become the first AL pitcher with 300 in a season since Pedro Martinez in 1999.

Orioles: Wade Miley (8-13, 5.32 ERA) has lost his last three starts. The left-hander gave up six runs and got only one out against the Yankees on Friday night.