Jenks looking for answers after another rough outing

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Jenks looking for answers after another rough outing

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON The good news is that Bobby Jenks now knows what the problem has been. The bad news is that he didnt figure it out until after Sundays game, a 3-2 Red Sox win over the Mariners at Fenway Park, featuring another Jenks meltdown.

This one came at the expense of a win by Tim Wakefield, who left with a 2-0 lead, two outs, and a runner on first in the sixth inning. Jenks, charged with getting just one out, faced five batters, giving up a single and three straight walks, allowing two runs to score before getting the final out.

Well, if there is a good note, I was looking at video and I am mechanically off, Jenks said. So, with this hopefully it's a quick fix, because everything's there. We're talking a few inches here and, obviously, it can make a big difference out on the field. I've always been a guy who's been known for throwing strikes and my walks have been low. So this is very uncharacteristic and we found the reason why.

The person who helped him figure it out?

Wakefield, Jenks said. He picked up on it right away, too.

On Friday night, Jenks allowed the Mariners to score two runs in the seventh inning, getting charged with a blown save, and a loss. Sunday, he was charged with another blown save, his second. His record now stands at 1-2 with a 9.35 ERA.

Sunday he wasnt throwing enough strikes, manager Terry Francona said. His velocity was better than weve seen. Balls coming out of his hand. I think he was getting mad, but he wasnt throwing enough strikes. Its kind of a trait I guess you appreciate in your players when theyre trying too hard a little bit. You see him and hes trying so hard. Hes grinding and we just need him to get a good inning and get back to relax, and thats a little easier said than done. But were not going run from him. Hes going to help us win a lot of games.

Jenks, likewise, has not run from the tough questions. Asked how he felt after losing the lead Wakefield had given him, Jenks replied:

Feel like expletive. What else can I say?

Pitching coach Curt Young has noticed the right-handers confidence waning.

Hes a guy whos been in situations as a closer with the White Sox and Im sure theres games that got away from him. Hes a guy that has that class to always bounce back, Young said.

I dont think its mechanics. Its just a feel every pitcher gets throwing a baseball and you do, you lose that touch on occasion and guys like him get it back in a hurry.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia was behind the plate for Jenks latest outing.

Its tough because Bobby, hes human, Saltalamacchia said. We all can lose confidence. So I think he might have lost a little bit. But hes not going to show it. Hes going to go out there and take the ball every time. I think he had six or seven days without seeing the mound so thats tough. Especially coming from when youre in there every game closing. So I think thats just tough for him. But I think hes just going to have to find a program where he can throw maybe between and not wear himself down, but something that hes comfortable with. But hell be fine.

Jenks acknowledges his confidence has taken some hits.

You know what? It got kicked in the pants a little bit, he said. I've done this long enough, I've had plenty of bad times in my career before that this is something I can bounce back from, because I've done it so many times.

And, now that hes figured out the problem, he can apply a fix -- to both his mechanics and his confidence.

It's just that I'm coming off the ball. But, it's in a way, where it's almost right after I release it. It doesn't feel like I am when I'm out there, but it's completely clear. It's big when you look at the video.

This is a new issue. I've always been very mechanically sound. It's a good thing. This is something that's only going to make me stronger and better for it. I'm going to be putting in work in the bullpen doing all the standard things I need to do to get better and we'll just go from there.

In his first season with the Red Sox, the erstwhile closer knows he has some work to do to win fans into his camp. He heard the boos they were hard to miss that rained down on him as he left the field Sunday.

You know what? The way I'd been pitching, I deserved it, he said. Face it, I stunk. There's no other way around it. There's only one way to go and that's up and that's what we're shooting
for.

Once I'm right, I know what type of pitcher I am and everybody else does, too. Obviously things aren't right right now and now that we've figured it out, we'll put in the extra time and just get things back on track and get 'em right.

It cant be soon enough for Jenks, his team, or his fans-in-waiting.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

Bogaerts' "maturity is clearly taking hold"

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Bogaerts' "maturity is clearly taking hold"

NEW YORK -- Xander Bogaerts enjoyed a terrific 2015, his second full season in the big leagues.

He finished second in the American League batting race, established himself as a solid defender at short and generally showed immense promise.

The only thing he didn't do was show much home run power, limited to just seven homers.

This past spring, both manager John Farrell and Chili Davis expressed confidence that the home runs would come, and that they would come organically.

And so they have. In Thursday night's loss to the New York Yankees, a solo homer in the fifth by Bogaerts represented the only Red Sox run of the night in a 5-1 loss. It also gave Bogaerts 21 homers for the year, exactly triple his output from a year ago.

"The maturity is clearly taking hold," said John Farrell of Bogaerts' growth. "You start to get a couple thousand at-bats at the major league level, you're starting to understand your swing, you're picking out certain counts in which to leverage a little bit more. He's been able to do that.

"Home runs are up across the board. But with Xander in particular, he's physically maturing and he's maturing as a major league player as well."

Bogaerts took the advise of Davis and others and didn't set out to try to hit more homers this year. He knew they would come in time.

"Maybe not this quick," he said of the big increase, "but probably in the future, yeah. That's what I did in the minor leagues, so it's kind of something that I thought might translate to the big leagues, too."

Bogaerts is hard-pressed to put his finger on any on factor to explain the big uptick. After all, he didn't change his swing or his stance.

Rather, the homers came as a result of him understanding himself better as a hitter and consistently taking the right approach at the plate.

"It's just (a matter of) taking good swings in good counts," he offered. "Sometimes, you're looking for one. But overall, it's just being a more mature hitter and looking for the right spots to pick and choose."

It hasn't hurt that he's surrounded by quality hitters in the Red Sox lineup, with Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia ahead of him earlier in the year, and now Pedrioa ahead of him and David Ortiz behind him.

In addition to seeing better pitches because of who's surrounding him, Bogaerts has also benefitted from listening to Ortiz, who watches his at-bats and offers advice when called for.

Still, most of the credit belongs to Bogaerts himself, who has grown into his power naturally -- just as his manager and hitting coach forecast.

Quotes, notes and stars: "It seems like everybody was happy that I'm leaving"

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Quotes, notes and stars: "It seems like everybody was happy that I'm leaving"

NEW YORK -- Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Red Sox' 5-1 loss to the Yankees:

QUOTES

* "It seems like everybody was happy that I'm leaving." David Ortiz, unaccustomed to ovations and cheering at Yankee Stadium.

* "I thought he threw a high number of strikes. There was good swing-and-miss to his changeup and he took the opportunity and showed well." John Farrell on Henry Owens.

* "It's just taking good swings in good counts. It's just being a more mature hitter and looking for the right spots to pick and choose." Xander Bogaerts, who has tripled his homer output since last year.

NOTES:

* With his fourth-inning homer, Xander Bogaerts tripled his home run total from last year, improving from seven to 21.

* The season series between the Red Sox and Yankees ended with the Sox winning 11 of the 18 games.

* The Boston bullpen has given up eight runs in the last two nights after allowing only seven this month before Wednesday night.

* The Sox suffered only their second sweep of the season. They were also swept by the Tigers in July.

* Jackie Bradley Jr. has reached base safely in his last 13 games.

* Junichi Tazawa has contributed seven straight scoreless outings.

* Robbie Ross Jr. allowed a season-high three walks -- all in the same inning.

* Henry Owens has a career ERA of 8.53 against the Yankees.

* David Ortiz went hitless (0-for-11) in his final series at Yankee Stadium.

STARS:

1) CC Sabathia

Sabathia turned back the clock and looked like a far younger version of himself, pitching into the eighth and allowed just a run on four hits while striking out eighth.

2) Jacoby Ellsbury

Ellsbury had a hand in the first Yankee run -- walk, stolen base, run scored -- and doubled home the second run in the fifth inning.

3) Xander Bogaerts

The Sox had little offense on the night, but Bogaerts smoked a solo homer in the fourth to account for their only run.