Weiland can't buck the starting-pitching trend

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Weiland can't buck the starting-pitching trend

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen

BOSTON Kyle Weiland, the Red Sox rookie right-hander who had just 19 major-league innings heading into game one of Mondays doubleheader against the lowly Orioles, was giventhe unenviable task of being asked to do what veteran starting pitchers have been unable to do: Stop the September bleeding.

But like most of the other Sox pitchers this month, Weiland was unable to put a stop to the September collapse the Sox are in. After falling, 6-5, to the Os who entered the game with the second-worst record in the American League and third-worst overall the Sox are now just 4-14 this month. In their last 15 games they have suffered six one-run losses.

Their once comfortable lead over the Rays for the wild card is down to just 1 games. The Sox entered September with an AL-best record of 83-52 and a 1 -game lead over the Yankees. They now trail New York, who beat the Twins Monday afternoon, by 5 games for the division lead.

In 18 games this month, starting pitchers have gone just 86 innings, averaging less than five innings a game. They have given up 68 runs (61 earned) on 100 hits and 43 walks with 75 strikeouts and 13 home runs. The starters have posted a combined 6.38 ERA while pitching just three quality starts.

Weiland, who was returning to the mound on short rest after throwing 61 pitches in Thursdays loss to the Rays, took the loss, dropping his record to 0-3 with a 7.99 ERA. He went 4 23 innings, giving up six runs (five earned) on five hits and two walks with five strikeouts. The three home runs he gave up were one shy of the Orioles single-game high this season. He left with the Sox trailing, 6-2.

Weiland went through the first seven batters in the Orioles lineup smoothly with four strikeouts, not allowing a runner on base. But when left fielder Darnell McDonald lost two consecutive fly balls in the sun, the game quickly unraveled for Weiland.

Kyle started out really keeping his pitches down, with movement, missing some bats, manager Terry Francona said. Then the second time through the order we didnt help him because we lost a ball, then Mac couldnt catch the second one. Then he got up with too many pitches, fastball, breaking ball. Couple of them left the park.

So its kind of a different once through the order than the second time through the order.

Weiland said the two balls lost in the sun, putting runners on second and third with one out, did not cause him to lose focus.

No,he said. Thats stuff that I kind of expect in the game of baseball. Some things are going to go your way, some things arent. You cant help that the sun is right behind home plate, and obviously both sides are having trouble with it. So you cant think about that stuff. Its my job to go back out there when stuff like that happens and pick up my teammates because nine times out of 10 theyre going to pick me up more than Im going to pick them up. So its definitely something that pitchers try to really step up when stuff like that happens topick up guys because theyre saving us all the time.

But the loss the Sox first to the Os at Fenway this season -- can hardly be blamed on Weiland

Darnell McDonald was in left field, a late addition because Carl Crawford was scratched shortly before game time with a stiff neck. He had the unfortunate luck of trying to field the two balls in the sun. The first, a Nolan Reimold drive was ruled a hit, despite falling out of McDonalds glove. The next batter, Josh Bell, was given a two-base error. Both runners eventually scored in the inning, giving the Os a 2-0 lead.

The first one was a tough sun, McDonald said. I lost it in the sun. I saw it off the bat and after that I didnt see it. The second one I got there and took my eye off it at the last minute and didn't make the play. Its a situation where I feel terrible putting my team in the hole like that. But you got to bounce back and play the game. It was a tough day for me. It was terrible out there today. Youre paid to play baseball. I was ready. It was just one of them days whereI didnt make the plays.

McDonald led off the bottom of the third with a home run, his sixth of the season, cutting the Sox deficit in half. But the bats could not get the job done today. The batters, despite 12 hits in the game, were just 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position. The Sox had an opportunity to add another run in their two-run fifth when David Ortizs drive down the right field line appeared to be fair but was ruled foul. When Ortiz eventually flied out to center, Dustin Pedroia was stranded on third base, his third triple of the season.

Very frustrating, Ortiz said. Nothing we can do but come back the second game and try to hit the ball fair. Its a mistake that happened. You got to deal with it.

I guess the reason why we have umpires down the line is so they can read the ball better because from distance sometimes it gives you some trouble and . . . that reviewing thing I think it was good for home runs and things like that. But I guess a situation like what happened today you should give it a shot because were trying to win a baseball game and its not the right call.

But there was plenty of blame to go around.

We need to pitch better, we need to hit better, we need to play better D, Pedroia said. We need to do everything better, so when youre losing you can point fingers at everybody. We just got to go out there and play hard and play winning baseball. We do that, theres not a team in the world that can beat us. So we got to play better.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen.

Drellich: Why David Ortiz should hang around the Red Sox more often

Drellich: Why David Ortiz should hang around the Red Sox more often

BOSTON — David Ortiz should stop by Fenway Park more often. 

There may be no tangible gain for his old teammates. At this point, it defies logic to think there’d be tangible harm.

On Thursday evening before Ortiz’s charity roast at House of Blues, Red Sox president Sam Kennedy recalled how it was a no-brainer to plan Friday’s jersey retirement so soon after Ortiz’s exit from the game. 

Kennedy said he was the one who actually broached the question with team management last year. Basically, everyone looked at him sideways because of the implication any other time but right away made sense.

“No person has meant more to the [John] Henry-[Larry] Lucchino-[Tom] Werner era than David Ortiz,” Kennedy said.

Let’s accept the premise wholly: that because Ortiz is so special, the timing for his ceremony deserved to be just as unique. The design of the day was centered on how much Ortiz means to people: fans, the team.

Why, then, has Ortiz been staying away from the ballclub? Dustin Pedroia has been a leader for years. Ortiz is a positive influence. The idea that having Big Papi swing by Fenway sometimes would actively stunt the development of the Red Sox’ identity is a stretch. 

There’s been a grace period of nearly three months. 

“Well I, I could never entirely walk away. I have been around,” Ortiz said Friday night in a press conference. “I have been watching the games and I have been in touch with my teammates. I have been in touch with the organization. You know, I just don’t like to, you know, be in the way of anything. 

“I know that, me retiring, it was going to have a big impact on what we do around here. So I don’t — I tell myself, give everybody their space and I don’t want to, now that I’m not playing, I don’t want to be a distraction. And I know that coming to the field sometimes, it can cause a distraction or something, so. I have been able to keep my distance so I’m not in nobody’s way. But I stay in touch with everybody and I have been pretty busy also, doing a lot of things. 

“But me and the organization, we’ve been talking for a while about me working with the organization. Probably Sam Kennedy can give you guys more info about it. But it’s going to happen, and at some point I’m going to be able to help out somewhere, somehow some way.”

It’d be ridiculous to say Ortiz is the reason Rick Porcello pitched well and Hanley Ramirez homered Friday. It’d be a flat-out lie.

But Ortiz’s presence shouldn’t somehow be a distraction, if leadership and the mentality in the Red Sox clubhouse is as the Red Sox describe it.

"Pedey has been a leader of this team for the entire time he's been here,” manager John Farrell said Friday. “To me, the clubhouse has been a place where guys have felt comfortable. They've been able to come in and be themselves. They have rallied around one another when times have called for that. When you remove an individual, there are going to be other people who step up. I firmly believe that has taken place.”

If that’s the case, then how does what Farrell said in the same pregame press conference yesterday make sense?

“[Ortiz] has a keen awareness that he could potentially keep others from flourishing with the potential thought and the question always being there,” Farrell said. “Well, he is around, is he ever coming back? All the things that I think have been reported on to a certain extent. I think David's keen awareness of himself and how a team works, I wouldn't be surprised if that is at the root of his decision to keep the space that he's done.”

But that decision seems flawed. No one in that room should be hurt or confused by Ortiz coming by occasionally — absolutely not now that the jersey’s hanging. (A little speculation he could un-retire was throwing the Sox off their game? Really?) 

If anything, the team should find comfort in seeing such an important, charismatic man with ties to the group.

Ortiz is special. The team has adapted well without him. If those are facts, the need for Ortiz to stay away doesn’t make sense.

Ramirez, Leon homer, Red Sox beat Angels 9-4 on Papi's night

Ramirez, Leon homer, Red Sox beat Angels 9-4 on Papi's night

BOSTON - David Ortiz became one of the most celebrated players in Red Sox history during his storied 14-year run in Boston.

On the night he returned to Fenway to have his No. 34 take its place among the franchise's other legends, his former teammates did their part to make sure it was a memorable one.

Hanley Ramirez and Sandy Leon hit two-run homers and the Boston Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels 9-4 on Friday to cap a night in which Ortiz's number became the latest retired at Fenway Park.

It was the 250th career home run for Ramirez, a good friend of Ortiz who was also born in the Dominican Republic. Leon finished with three hits and four RBIs.

Ramirez said he played with Ortiz on his mind.

"He's my mentor, my big brother. He's everything," Ramirez said. "Today when I saw him on the field crying, it made me cry."

He said his home run was in Big Papi's honor.

"Definitely, definitely, definitely," he said. "I was going to do his thing (pointing his hands in the air) but I forgot."

The homers helped provide a nice cushion for Rick Porcello (4-9), who gave up four runs and struck out eight in 6 1/3 innings to earn the victory. It was the 13th straight start Porcello has gone at least six innings.

"It was vintage Porcello," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "A couple of pitches that cut his night short, but he was crisp throughout."

This could serve as a needed confidence boost for Porcello, who had been 0-4 with a 7.92 ERA in his previous five starts, allowing 47 hits and 27 earned runs.

He had command of his pitches early, holding the Angels scoreless until the fourth, when a catching error by Leon at home allowed Albert Pujols to cross the plate.

Porcello said he isn't sure if he has completely turned a corner yet after his slow start, but he has felt better in his recent starts.

"Today was a step in the right direction," he said.

Alex Meyer (3-4) allowed five runs and five hits in 3 1/3 innings.

Los Angeles scored three runs in the seventh, but cooled off after Porcello left.

Boston got out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, scoring on an RBI double by Xander Bogaerts and then getting two more runs off wild pitches by Meyer.

Ramirez gave Porcello a 5-1 lead in the fourth with his two-run shot to right field.