Low-powered Laser

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Low-powered Laser

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

Tuesday was supposed to be the night Dustin Pedroia saved the Red Sox.

That looks and sounds incredibly dramatic, given that the game was being played in mid-August against the struggling Los Angeles of Anaheim "No, seriously, Callaspo's hitting third" Angels, but drama was real.

Pedroia's return marked the start of Boston's last chance to make a run. The idea was that injecting him back into the mix might be the last-gasp-kick-in-the-ass the Sox needed. Pedroia would invoke change in the clubhouse, and in turn, the Sox would see some change in the standings.

And because he's Dustin Pedroia, everyone expected him to rise to the occasion. Honestly, would you have been remotely surprised if hed gone 3-for-5 and with a three-run homer? Doesnt that just seem like the Pedroia thing to do?

I was having visions of Nomar coming back in 2001, and hitting a homer and the game-winning single against the White Sox. Or Manny clearing waivers in 2005 and hitting a walk-off, pinch-hit single up the middle to beat the Twins.

The Pedroia storyline felt perfect. Hell, it was even his birthday!

He'd come up big, the fans would take over, and the energy and momentum would carry the Sox into their beyond crucial trip to Tampa at the end of the month. Mark it, dude.

But, sadly, on Tuesday night, the stars ultimately werent aligned for a historic return.
He hit a Laser Show on the first pitch he saw, but swung too early. He had a great chance to collect his first post-injury Web Gem in the second, but couldn't stab the grounder. He even tried going Manny and Nomar with a bullet up the middle, except Jered Weaver closed his eyes, threw out his glove and sent Pedey back to the bench. Oh well. So much for the memories.

But at this point in the season, and with the Yankees and Rays showing no signs of slowing down, it doesn't matter how the Sox win.

Whether Pedroia went 3-for-5 or 0-for-4, the Sox kicked off their unofficial "Last chance to make a run" with momentum building, 6-0 victory.

And the season lives to see another day.

OK, that was too dramatic.

Some random SoxAngels thoughts:

The Sox are the Celtics.

Hopefully this comparison carries into the playoffs, but for now, I'm talking about the fact that no Sox lead ever feels safe.

The fact they can have a six-run lead in the seventh inning, and you feel uneasy because Felix Dobrount's the only guy warming up in the bullpen.

The fact that sometimes you're more surprised when they don't blow a big lead.

Is Fenway still pretending to have a sellout streak?

Since turning 30 in the winter, I come across at least one thing every day that makes me feel depressingly old. I'll be driving to work and hear Stone Temple Pilots on a classic rock station. Ill be wasting time on Wikipedia and discover Bo Jackson's about to turn 48. Always something. It never fails.

Anyway, yesterdays moment came courtesy of Don Orsillo:

"Torii Hunter has been moved to right field for the Angels."

Damn.

If you're interested, here are my three most crushing "sign of the times" moments of the baseball season.

1. Griffey retires
2. Hunter loses center field
3. A-Rod enters menopause

Is the music in those Boston.com ads straight from The Departed? Either that or its a situation where they changed the song just enough to not have to pay the rights. Anyway, all I can think about during the commercial is that movie. I keep waiting for Gasper to be whacked at center court.

Loved watching Darnell MacDonald crash that windshield (although I guess theres probably one guy out there who'd disagree), but at the same time, I'm wildly disappointed that Adrian Beltre didnt do it first.

Can you imagine the aftermath of car getting bombed by one of AB's blasts? I'm not sure the whole parking lot wouldn't explode?

On a related note, who would have thought that Adrian Beltre would become the most lovable personality on the 2010 Red Sox?

I always figured he'd be competing with J.D. Drew in the robot division.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

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.