Drew turns negative day into positive finish

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Drew turns negative day into positive finish

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- @font-face font-family: "Times New Roman";p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; a:link, span.MsoHyperlink color: blue; text-decoration: underline; a:visited, span.MsoHyperlinkFollowed color: purple; text-decoration: underline; table.MsoNormalTable font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; div.Section1 page: Section1; You could look at the positives. Or, you could look at thenegatives.

Prior to his seventh at-bat of the night in the bottom ofthe 14th, youd be hard-pressed to find anyone pointing out that J.D. Drewdrove in a run in the bottom of the fifth.

Thats because he struck out four times before hisgame-winning heroics in his seventh at-bat.

But his walkoff, RBI single in the 14th inning that willmake everyone in the Red Sox clubhouse forget about those four strikeouts.

That was a good swing, said Red Sox manager Terry Franconaafter Bostons 9-8 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Saturday. I think he wasready to go home. We all were.

The Red Sox blew a 7-3 lead in the ninth, as JonathanPapelon in a non-save situation allowed four runs (three earned) on threehits and a walk in just one-third of an inning.

After the Athletics took an 8-7 lead in the top of the 11th,the Red Sox kept the game alive, thanks to a pair of two-out doubles fromJarrod Saltalamacchia and Jacoby Ellsbury.

It got all the way to the 14th, when Carl Crawford doubledto left field with two outs. The Athletics then decided to intentionally walkJed Lowrie to get to the struggling Drew.

And he didnt disappoint, lining an 0-and-1 fastball toright-center to drive in Crawford easily from second base forhis fifth-career walkoff hit, and his first since April 2006 with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Just a fastball down the middle, said Drew after the game.Got the barrel to it, hit it short right-center field, which was a perfectspot for it.

When I hit it, I knew there was no doubt, so its a greatdeal, especially after an afternoon like that.

Drew admitted after the game that hes been searching alittle bit with regards to his production at the plate. That searching seemedto continue after four strikeouts through his first six at-bats on Saturday.

But he stayed short with his swing in his final appearanceat the plate, and it paid off. Now, Drew hopes its something to build on.

You dont want to strike out four times in a game, saidDrew. But Ive had my scuffles, and tried to just battle through them. Eventhough I stuck out four times in those at-bats, I felt like I had some reallyquality swings in those at-bats. In those situations right there, with men onfirst and second, you have an opportunity to try to shorten up just a littlebit, but continue being aggressive in the zone. And it worked out.

Well, the musics playing after a Red Sox home win, so theres something to be saidfor persistence, said Francona. I dont know if its exactly like we drew itup, but were playing at home, and as weve said a lot on the road, when youget in games like that, theyre easy to lose when youre on the road.

I know the ninth inning wasnt the way we drew it up, but Inever felt like we were going to lose. Maybe thats because we have goodplayers . . . But I think we all felt like we were going to win. Its a goodfeeling.

Danny Picard is on twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.

Three things we learned from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

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Three things we learned from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

Three Things we learned from the Boston Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins:

1) It only seems like David Ortiz can come through every time.

When Ortiz comes to the plate as he did Friday night -- bases loaded, no out, bottom of the ninth, Red Sox trailing by a run -- it seems like a win is a fait accompli.

"I think everybody in the ballpark just assumed this one might have a chance to be ended right there,'' said John Farrell. "He's been so big for us that everybody in the dugout felt the same way -- confident that the stage was set for him to come through with another dramatic moment.''

Instead, Ortiz rolled over a ground ball to second, and with the Twins infield drawn in, it was enough to turn a 4-2-3 double play that took the starch out of the inning for the Sox.

If anything, though, the inning revealed how remarkable Ortiz has been so often. It's not easy to come through even most times, and it's certainly far from automatic.

"The pitcher (closer Brandon Kintzler) made good pitches,'' said Ortiz. "That's the name of the game. I'm always looking forward to something happening. It just doesn't work out all the time.''

2) Eduardo Rodriguez has his slider back.

When Rodriguez endured a rough stretch in late May and June, he seemed to all but abandon his slider, relying almost exclusively on his two-seam fastball and changeup.

But since returning from a stint in Pawtucket, Rodriguez has flashed the slider that made him so effective as a rookie last season.

"Since he's come back,'' said Farrell, "he's added much more depth. He's able to get to the back foot of some righthanders for some swing-and-miss. He was on the plate with three quality pitches for strikes tonight.''

"I feel like I can locate it better, where I want it,'' confirmed Rodriguez. "Outside, inside corner...I'm getting more confident in it. I think I got out of my mind the tipping (pitches) stuff and all that stuff and I'm just working to throw the ball right where I want it.''

It's almost impossible for a starter in the big leagues to survive with just two pitches, as Rodriguez was attempting to do earlier this season. And it seems foolish to even try, given that Rodriguez's slider can be a plus-pitch for him at times.

3) If Mookie Betts has to miss some time, the Red Sox have options in right field.

Farrell said Betts has been dealing with soreness and stiffness in his right knee since after the All-Star break and has been undergoing treatment.

There's no evidence that this is serious, and he's considered day-to-day. But even if Betts needs some time off, or in a worse-case scenario, has to go on the DL, the Sox can do some things with their outfield.

Michael Martinez's best outfield position is right, as he demonstrated Friday night after taking over for Betts in the top of the fifth. Martinez ran a long way to grab a ball in foul territory for the final out in the sixth, then turned in a fine, tumbling catch in the eighth to take extra bases away from Adam Grossman.

Bryce Brentz, who's been in a platoon of sorts in left with Brock Holt, has played a lot of right field in the minors and has the arm strength to play there.

Finally, there's the matter of Andrew Benintendi. The Sox raised some eyebrows with the news that they were having Benintendi move over to left field at Double A Portland, perhaps in anticipation of playing the position for Boston at some point later this year.

Benintendi is a natural center fielder and even though he doesn't much experience in right, if you're athletic enough to play center, you can usually move to either corner spot.

Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

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Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Twins

Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Boston Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins:

QUOTES:

"I think everybody in the ballpark just assumed this one had a chance to be ended right there.'' - John Farrell on David Ortiz's at-bat with no out and the bases loaded in the ninth inning.

"I feel like I can locate it better - outside, inside corner -- so it's given me more confidence.'' - Eduardo Rodriguez on the improvement with his slider.

"I always look forward to something (good) happening; it just doesn't work out all the time.'' - David Ortiz on his ninth-inning at-bat.

NOTES:

* The Red Sox saw a seven-game winning streak at Fenway -- their longest of the season -- snapped.

* Boston has homered in 13 consecutive games.

* The Red Sox bullpen has posted a 1.17 ERA since July 6.

* Mookie Betts became the first Red Sox hitter to hit 20 homers in a season before he turns 24 since Nomar Garciaparra.

* Dustin Pedroia has reached base in 30 straight games.

* The eight strikeouts posted by Eduardo Rodriguez were a season high and one shy of his career high.

* The loss was only the 15th this season in games in which the Red Sox score first.

* Rodriguez has not allowed an opposing baserunner to steal a base since July 5, 2015.

STARS:

1) Kyle Gibson

Don't let the 5.12 ERA he had coming in fool you. Gibson worked out a little jam in the first, then completely shut the Red Sox down the rest of the way, allowing just one hit and one walk after the first.

2) Brian Dozier

Dozier homered in the second to tie the game, singled in the fourth, walked in the sixth and singled again in the eighth -- reaching base in all four plate appearances.

3) Miguel Sano

Sano invited trouble when he dropped a routine pop-up to allow the Red Sox to put the potential tying run on base in the eighth. But he had three base hits on the night, including a run-scoring double that put the Twins ahead to stay in the sixth.

Sean McAdam can be followed on Twitter: @Sean_McAdam