Mookie Betts

Drellich: Aggressive Red Sox run into a win, and some validation

Drellich: Aggressive Red Sox run into a win, and some validation

BOSTON — Mookie Betts pulled into second base as Jackie Bradley Jr. made a swim move across home plate, a smooth maneuver that wound up unnecessary. One of the best anywhere, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, didn’t come up with the throw. 

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Bradley would have been out if he had. Instead, an aggressive attempt to score the winning run from first base on a double off the Monster worked and the Red Sox walked off the Cards, 5-4. 

Afterward, third-base coach Brian Butterfield and some coaches happened to hear Betts describe his view of Bradley’s sprint.

“It seems like everybody is saying we’re too aggressive and guys are getting thrown out but the risk-reward,” Betts said. “You’re going to run into some outs, but you’re going to run into something like today. It just shows you that there’s a means to an end, and we’re just going to be an aggressive base-running team.”

Music to Butterfield’s ears.

“We noticed that Mookie said, ‘There’s the means to the end,’” Butterfield said. “We kind of went ‘Oh, play that one back’ — because that’s what we say all the time.”

Butterfield and the Red Sox aren’t changing their overall approach.  They’ve run into more outs than anyone. Privately, conversations have indeed been held to address individual mistakes.

Within the clubhouse, perhaps the Sox do not need outside validation. But Wednesday night’s win, another moment of resiliency overall, showed everyone the other side of the running coin: the good that can come out of stretching a defense.

“I don’t know the inner workings of the Patriots — I want to know,” Butterfield said. “But I trust that they hit on things [that go wrong] and I know that they do. They’re the benchmark for us. They are. They should be for everybody.

“You can bet your bottom dollar that when a kid gets too aggressive, then we say OK, here’s the time that you slow down.”

Before Betts’ winning double, Bradley told Butterfield that he wanted to try for home on a ball off the Monster. 

Well, Bradley didn’t exactly tell Butterfield that. Standing across the diamond at first base, Bradley signaled over to his third-base coach.

“We talk about being engaged on the bases,” Butterfield said. “We have hand signals to remind [them]. Part of our job is reminding the guy before the pitcher steps on the rubber. But, we love it when players are getting Ruben [first-base coach Ruben Amaro] and I engaged by looking at us.”

Bradley was the trail runner with Betts at the plate, the Sox down 4-3 and two out. Chris Young was on second base when Betts roped a hanging breaking ball off the Monster.

“[Bradley is] over at first base and he’s looking at me and I was looking at my lead runner, and I look over at Jackie and he's going — ‘Watch the wall,’” Butterfield said, motioning with his arms the way Bradley did. “He goes, ‘Ball off the wall, you score me.’ Love that. ‘Cause you know he’s going to fight for everything that he’s got on a secondary lead. He’s gonna anticipate and he’s gonna give a great bolt.”

Bradley Jr., was probably getting waved in even without that pre-pitch conversation, Butterfield said. Because the Sox are sticking to their guns, which have at times appeared reckless.

“It’s OK,” Butterfield said of the criticism. “If you have a plan you got to stay with it, you got to do it with conviction.”

Are the Sox trying to be more aggressive compared to last year? Butterfield didn’t give a firm answer. But the way the Sox have played lately, with wins in 12 of 14, they do look like a team with fresh legs. 

“There was a point last year at the midway point where I thought it was electric the way these guys were pushing it, and the way they were giving great effort and they made a lot of stuff happen with their legs,” Butterfield said. “We’re in the middle of August, the dog days of August. 

"We’re in a pennant race and we’ve told the guys that we feel like we’re going that way as far as effort," Butterfield continued, pointing upward. "And we’re noticing some other people that we’re playing, it doesn’t seem like — this is when you get tired mentally. This is when you get tired physically, worn out, banged up. But you got to keep pushing it, and they’re doing a good job at doing that.”

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Mookie Betts' two-run double caps Red Sox 5-4 comeback win

Mookie Betts' two-run double caps Red Sox 5-4 comeback win

BOSTON -- Mookie Betts finally had a pitch he could drive and the Boston Red Sox pulled out anther last at-bat win in Fenway Park.

Betts lined a two-run double off the Green Monster with two outs in the ninth inning, capping a three-run rally that lifted the Red Sox to a 5-4 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night.

Xander Bogaerts opened the ninth with a solo homer for the AL East-leading Red Sox, who won for the 12th time in 14 games and maintained their 4 1/2-game lead over the second-place New York Yankees.

It was Boston's eighth walk-off win in its last 19 victories at home.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was ejected by home plate umpire Chris Segal in a wild ninth inning. Trevor Rosenthal gave up Bogaerts' homer into the Monster seats.

Zach Duke (0-1) struck out a batter and walked one before John Brebbia gave up Betts' hit after he laid off a pair of tough sliders, with Jackie Bradley Jr. beating a relay home with a headfirst slide for the winning run as catcher Yadier Molina dropped the throw.

"It changed the whole at-bat. I was able to force him to throw a strike," Betts said. "Anytime I get a strike, I've got a better chance to put good wood on it."

Bradley didn't see Molina drop the throw as he slid past the plate without touching it. He had to reach back after he stopped.

"I pulled my hand back completely to try and avoid the tag," he said. "I knew I didn't tag it at first. I didn't pay attention whether he had the ball or not. I was just trying to tag the plate."

Molina was arguing with Segal before Matheny came out.

"The fact that he was kind of going at it with our catcher, you hate to see it at that particular point of the game," Matheny said. "But a lot of barking going on all game long."

Kolten Wong had three hits, including an RBI single in St. Louis' four-run second inning, and Lance Lynn held Boston's offense down with six solid innings before the Red Sox rallied.

It was just the third loss in 11 games for the Cardinals, who were swept in the two-game series, their first visit to Fenway Park since the 2013 World Series.

Craig Kimbrel (5-0) pitched one hitless inning for the win.

Lynn allowed two runs and seven hits, walking and striking out three.

Eduardo Rodriguez gave up four runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings.

The Cardinals jumped ahead 4-0 when Wong and Matt Carpenter sandwiched RBI singles around Luke Voit's run-scoring double. Wong scored on Christian Vazquez's passed ball.

Vazquez scored on a throwing error in the third when Lynn fired the ball wildly past first on Eduardo Nunez's infield hit. Betts added his sacrifice fly.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Cardinals: 1B Carpenter had his glove knocked off his left hand by Nunez, who was running down the line, and had the hand looked at briefly by the trainer, but stayed in. . Lynn struggled with a blister.

"Every once in a while you're going to get one of those," he said. "They seem to kind of fester when you don't need them to, but everything's fine."

Red Sox: Manager John Farrell said LHP David Price (left elbow inflammation) rested after throwing Tuesday. ... LF Andrew Benintendi returned to the lineup after getting hit by a pitch and leaving early Tuesday.

MEMORIES

The Red Sox honored their 1967 AL Champs - known as the Impossible Dream team.

Led by Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski - a Triple Crown winner that season - there were 18 former players honored during an on-field pregame ceremony.

It's known as the team that triggered fan interest in Boston after years of small crowds.

"I think we were the ones that sparked the fire and the fire is now `Red Sox Nation' - and it's great to be a part of that," said Jim Lonborg, who won the `67 Cy Young Award.

INTERSTING PLAY

Red Sox CF Bradley threw out Carpenter, who was on third, at the plate on Tommy Pham's bloop single.

Carpenter held on the bag, looking to tag up, and was cut down as he tried to slide around Vazquez's tag.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: RHP Adam Wainwright (12-5, 4.87 ERA) is set to face Pittsburgh RHP Jameson Taillon (7-5, 4.50) Thursday. Wainwright has won his last five decisions.

Red Sox: After a day off, LHP Drew Pomeranz (12-4, 3.39) looks to extend his career-best six-game winning streak when Boston faces the rival Yankees in the opener of a three-game series in Fenway.

Drellich: Devers, Benintendi need help if Red Sox are to keep rolling

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Drellich: Devers, Benintendi need help if Red Sox are to keep rolling

BOSTON -- You have to consider the cast, the group of players who have been powering the Red Sox lately. 

Two players in particular have hit home run after home run for a club that was devoid of the long ball for so much of the season.

“It's been [Rafael] Devers and Benny [Andrew Benintendi],” manager John Farrell said. “Those two guys of late have supplied the power for us. So it's good to see the ball travel as it's been. What we're seeing the last two days from Rafael Devers is nothing short of impressive.”

Great talents. But they need some help. 

Consider who else has been contributing as the Red Sox rattled off win after win -- or rather, who hasn’t.

Doug Fister, who walked four in a disappointing outing, has taken over for David Price. Farrell said Price would throw pregame on Tuesday.

Brock Holt, hitting .197 now, was at second base on Monday in place of Dustin Pedroia. (Eduardo Nunez, who is an unstoppable typhoon, did have another three hits as the DH.)

There’s no significant update on Pedroia at this point. He's getting treatment and strengthening his left knee.

It’s kind of incredible that even without Price and Pedroia, the Red Sox have won 10 of 12 entering Tuesday. You can argue the Sox have done so without several other guys too. 

The strong play in absence of Price and Pedroia is a testament to a deep and capable roster, a team that was projected to be neck and neck with the Indians as the best in the American League this year.

But it’s also an indication there’s a bubble that might burst -- unless some of the standards get going.

In August, Mookie Betts has a .220/.319/.341 line.

“Last night he chased a couple sliders off the plate,” Farrell said. “For periods of time, Mookie, I think, has gotten back into that approach that he had a year ago for the vast majority of the season that was driving balls into right field or right center field on pitches away from him, reacting and turning on balls that were in. 

“Then there’s been times where it looks like he gets a little pull happy and there’s some ball in the air. I can’t say that he’s expanding the strike zone wholesale, that’s not the case. Because he’s still taking his walks. We’re just still trying -- he and a couple other guys, we’re still trying to have them hit stride which they haven’t yet for a lengthy period of time.”

Jackie Bradley Jr.’s in that group. He has a .179/.273/.256 line this month. Hanley Ramirez, who said his shoulders are feeling good with treatment every day, is at .214/.333/.393 this month.

"Yeah [I feel comfortable], three games in New York, first game: homer, double,” Ramirez said. “Second game, one hit. Third game, four strikeouts."

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