April 30, 2011: Mariners 2, Red Sox 0

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April 30, 2011: Mariners 2, Red Sox 0

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON The Red Sox have found little remedy for the malaise that has enveloped them this season. Despite a respectable performance and a quality start -- by John Lackey, the Sox fell for the second straight game to the Mariners at Fenway Park, getting shut out, 2-0.

The Mariners entered the game with a record of 12-15 fewer wins than all but two other American League teams. That would be the Orioles and Red Sox, with 11 wins each. Saturdays loss drops the Sox record to 11-15.

Lackey, who went six innings, giving up two runs on seven hits and four walks with three strikeouts, took the loss, his record falling to 2-3 with a 5.65 ERA. The Mariners got a run in the third when Ichiro Suzuki drew a one-out walk, went to third on Chone Figgins single to right and scored on Milton Bradleys double to left.

The Mariners added another run in the sixth when Jack Cust led off with a single, went to second on Michael Saunders single and took third on Brendan Ryans sacrifice bunt. Jack Wilsons sacrifice fly to Jacoby Ellsbury in center scored Cust.

While it was the Red Sox pitching that was their undoing in Fridays loss, it was their inability to put together any type of productive offense in Saturdays shutout. They had 12 baserunners, on six hits and six walks, but could muster no run-producing offense. They left 11 runners on base, and were 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Their lack of production with runners in scoring position has plagued the Sox all season. They are 52-for-245 (.212) in such situations.

The Red Sox had several opportunities to get on the scoreboard Saturday, all going for naught. In the first inning, they loaded the bases with one out. But David Ortiz struck out on a Doug Fister slider and J.D. Drew flied out to center ending the inning.

They loaded the bases in the fifth with no outs, but Adrian Gonzalez lined into a double play, Ellsbury being forced at second. Kevin Youkilis fouled out to end the inning.

In the sixth they put runners on third and first with two outs. In the seventh they had runners at second and third with two outs. Each frame ended in futility for the Red Sox offense. In the sixth Jarrod Saltalamacchia fouled out. In the seventh Ortiz flied out to left.

The Red Sox have now been shut out three times this season, tying the Angels and White Sox for most in the American League. Their last shutout came April 19 in Oakland. Lackey also took the loss in that game, again throwing a quality start.

Fister earned the win, improving to 2-4 (2.70). Brandon League earned his seventh save in as many opportunities.

Player of the Game: Doug Fister

The Mariners right-hander held the Red Sox scoreless over 5 23 innigns, improving his record to 2-3 (2.70 ERA). Although he allowed 10 baserunners five hits and a career-high five walks he managed to keep the Sox off the scoreboard, maintaining a tenuous two-run lead.

Fister had just one clean inning, when he retired the side in the second, striking out Jed Lowrie, getting Carl Crawford to ground out and Jarrod Saltalamacchia to fly out. The Sox had enough scoring opportunities against Fister loading the bases in the first and fifth, putting runners in scoring position in the third, fourth, and sixth. But Fister was sufficiently effective to shut down the Sox' offense.

The win was his first on the road this season, and first since Sept. 19, 2010, in Texas. It was his first career scoreless outing on the road, and fifth overall. He lowered his ERA from 3.19 to 2.70. Fister has held opponents to two earned runs or fewer in five of his six starts this season, behind only Jered Weaver and Dan Haren in the AL.

Honorable Mention: John Lackey

Thats John Lackey, said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Thats the guy that goes out there and just battles. Thats what he did tonight. He pitched his butt off and I just wish we could have got that win for him.
Lackey took the tough-luck loss, going six innings, giving up two runs on seven hits and four walks with three strikeouts. His record falls to 2-3 (5.65). The Red Sox have been shut out three times this season, tied for most in the league. Lackey has taken the loss in the last two, despite posting quality starts in each. He has held opponents to two runs or fewer while pitching at least six innings in each of his last three starts. In that span, he has an ERA of 1.35, giving up three earned runs in 20 innings, after beginning the season with a 15.58 ERA (15 earned runs, 8 23 innings) in his first two starts.

The Mariners third-inning run snapped Lackeys scoreless inning streak at 15, his longest stretch since throwing 22 scoreless innings from Sept. 5 15, 2009, while with the Angels.

The Goat: David Ortiz

There were plenty of goat horns to go around. The Sox were 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position, leaving 11 runners on base. But Ortiz (0-for-4, two strikeouts) was responsible for leaving five runners on base, including two in scoring position with two outs.

With one out and the bases loaded in the first inning, he struck out on a Doug Fister slider (J.D. Drew followed that by flying out to center). In the seventh, with two outs and runners on second and third, he flied out to left to end the Sox last, best scoring chance.

Turning Point: Gonzalez lines into double play

The Sox certainly had enough opportunities to get on the board, as evidenced by the 11 runners they left on base, and the 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position. But, any hope seemed to fade away after the fifth inning. In that frame, the Sox loaded the bases with no outs against Fister. Adrian Gonzalez, their best offensive hope recently, came to the plate. But, Gonzalez lined out to second baseman Jack Wilson, who doubled off Jacoby Ellsbury at second. Kevin Youkilis fouled out to first baseman Justin Smoak,

Although the Sox were able to get runners on base in the sixth, seventh, and ninth, their best scoring opportunity was in the fifth.

By the Numbers: 11
As in 11 runners left on base, and 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position. The Sox futility added up to 11 Saturday night.

Not tonight, said manager Terry Francona, when asked if he had any answers for his teams lack of clutch hitting. Its a lot of the same thing. We get in situations like that and were swinging at a lot of off-speed pitches and not staying in the middle of the field We had a few opportunities and didnt do anything.

Quote of Note:

What are we, 11-15? We started 0-6. So, since then weve actually played OK. But we havent played up to our potential. Thats the good thing is that theres five months of the season left. So a lot of games to be played and we havent played anywhere close to where we want to play and were going to play great ball at some point. We just hope everyone stays patient with us. Its very frustrating for everybody. Everyone in this clubhouse is frustrated. We want to win more than anyone else. We understand the frustrations out there. People pay a lot of good money to come to these games. We know theyre frustrated. Just so everyone knows: Were really frustrated, too. Guys are, this is their lives. This is what they dream about their whole life to do. We want to play well. Were going to play well. Sometimes in life its not when you want it. Sometimes you have to wait a little bit in life.

--Kevin Youkilis on the Red Sox record and performance in April

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

BOSTON -- Every year it seems like there are major issues or question marks to start spring training where the answers are up in the air.

In 2015, the Red Sox lacked an ace, had Hanley Ramirez moving to left field and Pablo Sandoval coming to town.

In 2016, Ramirez was moving back to the infield, but at a new position, and his bat was in question. Sandoval was coming off a year where he couldn’t hit his weight (he hit .245 and he last weighed in at 255 pounds). How would the starting rotation look after David Price?

This year, there seem to be three questions, but in a way, they’ve already been answered.

How will the Red Sox make up for David Ortiz’s absence?

Well, for one, the Red Sox have three Cy Young-caliber starting pitchers (Price, Chris Sale and Rick Porcello) in their rotation.

And two, Hanley Ramirez is coming off a career year with his highest career output in RBI (111) and second-highest home run total (30). And while Mitch Moreland isn’t the greatest hitter, he’s good for 20 or more home runs. Plus, it seems he’s holding a spot for a certain Red Sox prospect who’s bouncing back well from an injury.

 

Will Sandoval earn the starting third base job back?

The weight loss is a good sign, not only for the physical reasons, but it shows he’s mentally committed to being better.

However, that doesn’t guarantee he gets his job back.

“I’m not going to say [third base] resolved itself,” John Farrell told CSNNE.com, “but you know Panda’s done a very good job of committing to get himself in better shape and we’re looking forward to seeing that play to in spring training.”

Even if Panda can’t put it all together, Farrell told reporters before Thursday’s BBWAA dinner, both Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge would be competing for the job as well.

Holt as plan B -- in the infield? Who wouldn’t take that?

Who’s going to start at catcher?

Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart each have their pros an cons.

Leon did it all last year, but went from hitting .383 in his first 39 games to .242 in his last 39.

Vazquez has Ivan Rodriguez-esque abilities behind the plate, but couldn’t keep the staff under control last year and cannot hit.

Swihart, who turns 25 April 3, is the youngest of the three, has the most potential at the plate, but is far and away the worst of the three defensively at the most important defensive position -- excluding pitcher -- on the field.

They all have their drawbacks, but they’ve all shown at some point why they can be the Red Sox starting catcher in the present and future.

Everywhere else, the Red Sox seem to be in a comfortable position as pitchers and catchers reporting to camp draws ever nearer.

“I think the fact that we’ve got veteran players that have done a great job in staying healthy [and] young players that are getting more establishing in their return, we’re in a pretty good place in terms of the overall status of our position player group,” Farrell told CSNNE.com.

And it seems some players are confident in the team’s options as they ready for camp.

“We’re looking good in a lot of areas,” shortstop Xander Bogaerts told CSNNE.com. “Especially the pitching staff, [since] we just got Chris Sale one of the best in the game.”

“Pablo’s definitely going to bounce back, especially with the weight he’s lost."

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

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Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.