Did Ortiz, Papelbon play final game at Fenway?

540351.jpg

Did Ortiz, Papelbon play final game at Fenway?

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
If the Red Sox don't win enough games over the next seven days to qualify for the postseason -- and that's hardly a guarantee -- it's possible that both closer Jontahan Papelbon and DH David Ortiz played their final home games as members of
the Red Sox Wednesday night.

Papelbon and Ortiz are free agents after the season. Papelbon has been anticipating his chance to make the most of free agency for several years while Ortiz is intent on getting a multi-year deal following this, his best season since 2006.

Given the Red Sox' reluctance to commit long-term to closers who already have high mileage and some concerns they might have about extending a DH in his mid-30s, it's not impossible to think that they both could be playing elsewhere when the 2012 season begins.

And unless the Sox successfully hold off both the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the next week, the Red Sox careers of both Papelbon and Ortiz might have ended in a hail of boos and catcalls as the Sox trudged off the field Wednesday, having lost three of the last four and seven of the last 10 at Fenway.

Ortiz said he hadn't given that much consideration after the Red Sox' 6-4 setback to Baltimore.

"Not really,'' he said. "I'm not thinking about that right now. I'm focused in on winning games and trying to get to the playoffs. I'm not thinking about any other crap right now.''

Papelbon had a slightly different viewpoint.

"I thought about it,'' admitted Papelbon. "It's a thought. But I just carried on with the rest of my day -- leave it behind and go. You're human, you have to think about those things. If someone tells you they're not, they're lying to you.

"But the thing is with me, I think about it for five or 10 minutes while we're shagging or whatever. And then on to the next thought.''

Papelbon said whatever thoughts he had about the future and where he'll be next season came before the game, and not when he was going out to the bullpen in the middle of the game, or, after, when the Sox were walking off the field.

''Once you cross the white lines,'' he said, "it's all about competition. That's it.''

Ortiz was originally signed by the Seattle Mariners and later traded to the Minnesota Twins before being non-tendered and joining the Red Sox prior to the 2003 season.

But for Papelbon -- drafted and developed by Boston -- the Red Sox are the only organization he's ever known.

"Yeah, it would be disappointing (if this was the end),'' he said. "There's a part of my heart that belongs here. So, that little bit of my heart would be like, 'Oh man . . . ' you know. But it goes back to (what I said about maintaining focus): it kind of comes and goes.''

Papelbon was part of the 2007 World Series team and has been at his best in the postseason, where, until the final game of the Sox' sweep at the hands of the Angels in 2009, he had never allowed an earned run.

Toward that end, despite the team's nosedive, he's enjoying the fact that the games are important and there's a must-win atmosphere.

"I enjoy this,'' he said of the playoff atmosphere. "I'm an adrenaline junkie. This is what gets me off, man.''

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Quotes, notes and stars: Betts has first career five-hit night

red_sox_mookie_betts_082516.jpg

Quotes, notes and stars: Betts has first career five-hit night

BOSTON - Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 6-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals

QUOTES:

"We continually do a great job in creating opportunities and I'm confident that (the struggles with men in scoring position) will turn.'' - John Farrell

"When you start off with a five-run spot in the first, that's a tough deficit to overcome.'' - Steven Wright.

"That's how it goes sometimes. Sometimes, we score when we're not expecting to and then when we need to score, sometimes it doesn't happen.'' - Mookie Betts on the team going 4-for-15 with RISP.

 

NOTES:

* The loss was just the third in the last 13 series openers for the Red Sox.

* The game marked the first time in 20 home games in which the Sox never led.

* Boston was 4-for-15 with runners in scoring position.

* The first four hitters in the order were 13-for-19 (.684). The fifth-through-nine hitters, however, were just 2-for-21 (.095).

* Mookie Betts (five hits) leads the majors with 55 multi-hit games.

* Dustin Pedroia has reached base in each of his last eight plate appearances.

* David Ortiz's double was the 625th of his career, passing Hank Aaron to move into 10 place in MLB history.

* Ortiz leads the A.L. in doubles (41) and extra-base hits (72).

 

STARS:

1) Eric Hosmer

Hosmer cranked a three-run homer into the Monster Seats four batters into the game, and the Royals were off and running with a five-run inning.

2) Ian Kennedy

The Royals starter wasn't dominant, allowing nine hits in 5 1/3 innings, but he bailed himself out of a number of jams and limited the Sox to just two runs.

3) Mookie Betts

Betts had his first career five-hit night and knocked in two of the three Red Sox runs, though he also got himself picked off first base.

 

First impressions: Royals' five-run first inning dooms Red Sox in 6-3 loss

red_sox_steven_wright_082616.jpg

First impressions: Royals' five-run first inning dooms Red Sox in 6-3 loss

First impressions from the Red Sox' 6-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals:

 

Steven Wright recovered nicely after the first inning, but the damage was done.

Wright's last five innings featured just three hits allowed -- one in the infield. But the first inning did the Red Sox in -- two walks followed by a three-run homer, then a single and a two-run homer.

Whether this was a matter of rust for Wright -- who last pitched three weeks ago Friday night -- or an early inability to command his knuckleball is uncertain.

The fact is, Wright dug an early hole for his teammates, and he had the misfortune to do so against a team with the best bullpen in baseball.

To his credit, Wright kept the game somewhat within reach thereafter, but the five-run head start proved too much of a jump.

 

It's time to worry a little about Jackie Bradley.

Bradley was just 7-for-40 in the just-completed road trip, and things didn't get any better on the first night of the homestand.

In the first, he came up with two on and two out and struck out swinging to strand both baserunners. In the third, he came to the plate with runners on the corners and, again, struck out swinging.

We're seeing the same kind of slump that Bradley fell into in previous seasons, where even contact is hard to find, with nine strikeouts in the last 16 at-bats.

Problem is, with Andrew Benitendi on the DL, there aren't a lot of options for John Farrell with the Red Sox outfield.

 

Trying to get Fernando Abad and Junichi Tazawa back on track in low- leverage mop-up didn't work.

Tazawa had a perfect seventh, but gave up a monster shot into the center field bleachers to Lorenzo Cain to start the eighth.

Abad entered, and while he did record a couple of strikeouts, also gave up a single, a walk and threw a wild pitches before he could complete the inning.

Getting some work for the two was the right idea, given that the Sox were down by three runs at the time. A good outing might help either regain some confidence and turn the corner.

But not even that could be accomplished Friday night.