Boston Red Sox

Hammel, Orioles shut down Sox 8-2

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Hammel, Orioles shut down Sox 8-2

BOSTON The Fenway futility continues for the Red Sox. Falling, 8-2, to the Orioles Saturday afternoon, as they lost their fourth straight, their home record fell to 4-9, 11-15 overall.

Right-hander Aaron Cook, whose May 1 opt-out clause was the cause of much consternation, made his Red Sox debut. But he lasted just 2 23 innings. Cook gave up seven runs, six earned, on eight hits and a walk with a wild pitch.

Meanwhile, Os right-hander Jason Hammel silenced the Red Sox offense for much of his outing. The Sox finally broke through with two runs in the seventh, knocking Hammel from the game. With two outs, Ryan Sweeneys double off the wall scored Adrian Gonzalez, who singled, ending Hammels day. Darren ODay came in and gave up an RBI single to Cody Ross. But that was all the Sox would get.

After Gonzalezs two-out double in the first, Hammel did not give up another hit until Gonzalezs single in the seventh. Facing 14 batters through the first four innings, Hammels had seven strikeouts.

Hammel went 6 23 innings, giving up two runs on four hits with a walk and eight strikeouts, improving his record to 4-1, with a 2.09 ERA.

Cook injured his left knee attempting to cover home plate on a passed ball with two outs in the second inning. He left the mound and went to the dugout, appearing to leave the game, but returned to the field within minutes.

Cook was ineffective from that point. After retiring Robert Andino to lead off the third, he allowed the next seven batters to reach base. Of the final 11 batters he faced, nine reached base with seven scoring.

Cook was charged with the loss, his ERA at 20.25.

In the Orioles seven-run third, Robert Andino had a two-run homer off Cook, and Mark Reynolds had a three-run shot off reliever Clayton Mortensen.

The seven runs were the most the Orioles have scored in an inning this season.

Drellich: Dave Dombrowski, at last, built an excellent bullpen

Drellich: Dave Dombrowski, at last, built an excellent bullpen

BOSTON — Congratulations, Dave Dombrowski. It’s September, and you built a certified, top-notch bullpen. 

Credit goes all around. The pitchers themselves receive the most, with the front office, John Farrell and the rest of the staff taking their slices as well.

But the success is particularly notable for an executive who perennially had terrible bullpens in Detroit. Dombrowski knows the reputation he garnered, too.

Maybe now he’ll start to shed it.

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The trouble in his old job wasn’t for lack of trying. Joe Nathan didn’t work out. Many folks didn’t.

“I think that there’s a few factors there,” Dombrowski said in 2016 of his bullpens in Detroit. “At one time we had (Jose) Valverde (from 2010-13 who) was the best closer for a couple years. (Joaquin) Benoit pitched very well as a set-up guy. We had a very solid bullpen at that point.

“We were unlucky a little bit in, for example, a guy like Joel Zumaya — who was a dominant guy, young — hurts his arm. Somebody you’re counting on. . . . Really (Bruce) Rondon never lived up to the early expectations. I know he’s still young, he’s doing better. So we got a little unlucky on those things. He got hurt too.”

So it goes. Per FanGraphs’ measurement of WAR, the Tigers had the worst bullpen in the majors from 2003-15, Dombrowski’s tenure.

The Sox’ bullpen is fifth in WAR this year, and second in ERA. Last year’s group was good, but not this good. 

One of Dombrowski’s premier pick-ups in Boston, Addison Reed, has a common refrain when asked about his own pitching: he doesn’t change a thing. 

When Reed got rocked in one of his early outings with the Red Sox, against the Yankees, he said he didn’t change. When he got in and out of trouble in the eighth inning Monday night in another extra-inning win for the Red Sox, 10-8 over the Orioles in 11, he said he didn’t change.

Same for Dombrowski, it would seem. 

He continued to go after established relievers. There was the huge trade for Craig Kimbrel. Carson Smith took a while to contribute because of arm injuries, but he had the 11th-inning save Monday, and his velocity appeared to be creeping up. 

The Tyler Thornburg situation was troubling, so Dombrowski went out and got Reed from the Mets.

Could Dombrowski have had success sooner if he had changed his approach? Well, maybe, but that’s a different argument.

It’s worked. He didn’t change a thing. 

How cliche. But cliches, we should point out, have become a central theme in all these extra-inning wins for the Sox (they're 14-3). Grit, resiliency, determination — you run the risk of drowning on those words, even if they’re well deserved.

Those relievers, though. Both throughout the season and in these marathon games the Sox too often seek, the ‘pen has been unexpectedly excellent, with a rotating cast of characters.

“It’d be nice if we started winning those games in nine and not going extras,” Reed joked, with a presumed kernel of truth. “If it takes 19, 20 innings to get that win, we’ll take it.”

The roles for the postseason are still up in the air, which is strange for a ‘pen that’s been so successful. But at the same time, it suggest an equal distribution of success (and at times, challenges).

The bottom line: Dombo did it, with his relievers making him look smart.

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Injuries piling up for Patriots

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Injuries piling up for Patriots

0:41 - Tom Curran, Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith give their main takeaways from the Patriots win over the Saints and discuss the injuries sustained during the game, specifically Rob Gronkowski's.

6:23 - Holley, Giles, and Smith talk about David Price pitching his first innings out of the bullpen for the Red Sox, but Holley thinks it is a mistake that he is not starting.

11:21 - Abby Chins joins BST for a discussion about Kyrie Irving's appearance on First Take.

14:43 - We go around the NFL for week 2 of the season and talk about the most surprising and best teams in the league.