Kaepernick playing beyond his years for Niners

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Kaepernick playing beyond his years for Niners

FOXBORO -- Let us get this out of the way.

This is coming directly from the mouth of San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh on Wednesday: "Colin's starting, yes."

He's talking about Colin Kaepernick, who will make his fifth start at quarterback since replacing Alex Smith, who seemingly lost his job after suffering a concussion last month.

Kaepernick is 3-1 since becoming the starter. And Harbaugh explained, on Wednesday, why he's sticking with the kid.

"I think it was a unique situation here," said Harbaugh in a conference call on Wednesday. "Two guys that we believe in, believe can win games for us. And picking one, it's who do you think can give you the best chance for this next game.

"He's playing, really, with a lot of poise and beyond his years. He's produced. he's made big plays with his arm and his feet and with his mind. He's 3-1 as a starter, doing a fine job. He's acquitting himself very well."

Linebacker Aldon Smith seems to agree with Harbaugh's decision to stick with Kaepernick.

"I think we're in a good spot," said Smith. "We have two good guys on our team, and Colin's playing good ball right now. It's exciting to see where he takes us."

Not just because of his legs, but also because of his arm.

"Not only can he run -- because I think people have seen that -- but his arm strength is out of this world," said Smith. "We were actually playing catch last week, and I was telling him, 'I don't think I'm about to play with you because you throw a little too hard for me. I can hear the ball coming before it gets to me so I'll step out of this one.' "

Weird umpire replay mistake helps Red Sox to record-tying 20 Ks

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Weird umpire replay mistake helps Red Sox to record-tying 20 Ks

New York’s mistake helped the Red Sox, and they weren’t playing the Yankees.

The Red Sox struck out 20 in a game for the third time in franchise history on Thursday night, and they were able to do so only after MLB’s replay team — based in Manhattan — gave Craig Kimbrel an extra batter to strike out in the ninth inning.

A 6-2 win over the Rangers featured 16 strikeouts for Red Sox pitching heading into the top of the ninth at Fenway Park. Kimbrel came on for a non-save situation because he had five days off previously.

There’s always that outside chance for a four-strikeout inning, and it happened. Even for a four-strikeout inning, however, this was bizarre.

The first batter, lefthanded hitting Nomar Mazara, swung and missed at a back-foot breaking ball for strike 3 — a literal back-foot breaking ball, because it hit him in that foot after he whiffed on the pitch.

On a swing and a miss with a pitch that hits the batter, the ball should be dead. He should not have been able to reach first base. But the umpires didn’t catch the ball hitting Mazara, and instead saw it as a wild pitch. 

Sox manager John Farrell asked for a review and the umpires went for one, but came back empty-handed. The crew was told, erroneously, that the play could not be looked at and the batter was awarded first base.

“It was just a swinging strike three, ball that go away and he obviously reached first base,” crew chief Alfonso Marquez told pool reporter Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. “The only thing that I can tell you, and the only thing I will say is, this was a replay issue. New York will come out with a statement.”

You could say it worked out just fine. Kimbrel went on to strike out the next three, and got the Sox to 20 Ks.

Kimbrel and Tim Wakefield are the only Red Sox pitchers to fan four batters in a single inning. Wakefield did it in the ninth inning on Aug. 10, 1999. 

Kimbrel did it once before as well, when he was with the Braves on Sept. 26, 2012.

No one has struck out five in a major league inning, although Kimbrel has as good a chance as anyone.

“The guy strikes out the world,” Matt Barnes said. “It’s ridiculous. … His fastball is seemingly unhittable. Complement that with the breaking ball he’s got, which comes right off that same plane, when he’s commanding it like he is, the numbers kind of speak for themselves. It’s kind of ridiculous. It’s fun to watch.”

The Sox have struck out 20 in a nine-inning game three times since 1913. Roger Clemens' two 20-strikeout games are the other two.

Red Sox win 4th straight behind stellar outing from Pomeranz, 6-2

Red Sox win 4th straight behind stellar outing from Pomeranz, 6-2

BOSTON - Drew Pomeranz pitched six strong innings and tied his career high with 11 strikeouts to lift the Boston Red Sox to a 6-2 victory over the Texas Rangers on Thursday night.

Xander Bogaerts and Deven Marrero hit their first home runs of the season helping Boston to their fourth straight win.

Pomeranz (4-3) made it as far as six innings for the third time this season and beat Texas for the first time in nine career outings.

Elvis Andrus homered and Nomar Mazara had two hits and an RBI for Texas, which has lost four of five overall and has lost 15 of 21 on the road.

Andrew Benintendi and Mitch Moreland had RBI singles in the first inning as Boston got to Rangers pitcher Nick Martinez (1-3) early.