McAdam: Sox go from bad to worse

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McAdam: Sox go from bad to worse

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

CLEVELAND -- Slumping teams need to catch a break occasionally. But the way the Red Sox are going in the first week of 2011, they seem incapable of either making their own good luck, or knowing what to do with it when they get some.

Case in point: the sixth inning of Wednesday's 8-4 debacle at Progressive Field.

It was bad enough that Dennys Reyes, making his fourth appearance in the first five games, couldn't find the strike zone. He threw 12 pitches, and 11 for were balls. Of the three hitters he faced, two were hit by pitch and the third was walked.

Walked while he was trying to get a bunt down. Walked while he was trying to, quite literally, give the Red Sox an out.

Then, things went from bad to downright bizarre.

Dan Wheeler, on in relief of Reyes, got Michael Brantley to hit a liner right at -- more or less -- third baseman Kevin Youkils.

That's when the craziness began.

"It's one of those plays where, if you catch the ball, it's bases loaded still," recounted Youkilis. "You try that play a lot of times where you drop the ball on purpose. Sometimes it works. Usually they call it a dead ball. But right there, we almost had it worked out."

Like teammate J.D. Drew, who last year couldn't quite make up his mind on whether to catch a ball in foul territory or let it drop with a runner on third, Youkilis seemed to be indecisive.

At first, Youkilis thought he would drop the liner intentionally. But as the ball began to tail to his glove side as it got closer, Youkilis was caught in between. The ball -- intentionally or not -- fell out of his glove, creating chaos everywhere.

Youkilis scooped up the ball a few feet away and stepped on third base, creating a force play on Matt LaPorta, advancing to third. He then fired home to Jason Varitek, who was waiting to make a play on Travis Buck, the Cleveland runner breaking from third.

One problem: Varitek didn't see that Youkilis had stepped on the third-base bag, thus taking the force off a home. When Youkilis's throw arrived, Varitek merely stepped on home plate, thinking he had recorded an out.

In fact, he hadn't. Buck continued and crossed the plate, giving the Indians a two-run cushion.

"I didn't yell to Varitek to tag Buck," said Youkilis. "I guess Adrian Gonzalez was yelling at him from first base, but it was loud and all that, because the play was kind of crazy. It was just one of those things where it didn't work out."

"Obviously, I had no idea Youkilis had stepped on third," said Varitek. "I'm still trying to learn that one right now. I should have gone ahead and tagged him also. We were trying to secure an out and get the one out at the plate, but the way the ball richoched and where it was, I just never saw it. It was totally my fault.

"It's probably the weirdest play I've ever been a part of. I'm trying to learn what what I could have done different, besides, obviously, tagging him. But I didn't actually see the play."

Things then snowballed. Wheeler threw a sinker to Asdrubal Cabrera, about where he wanted it, but Cabrera went down and drove it out to right for a back-breaking, morale-sapping three run homer.

From down by a run when the inning began, the Sox were suddenly trailing by five, with another loss as their pennance.

"We've had a lot of different things happen," said Varitek in a bit of understatement.

Indeed, starting pitching was the culprit in the first two losses, with the punchless offense to blame for the next two.

Wednesday night, it was poor bullpen work and an uncharacteristic flubby one of the team's most fundamentally sound players.

One bad inning, one more bad loss. One they could hardly afford.

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

Shaughnessy: Red Sox have a chance to flip this around

Shaughnessy: Red Sox have a chance to flip this around

Mike Felger and Dan Shaughnessy discuss the Boston Red Sox bouncing back from their slump with a win over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Quotes, notes and stars: Fourth inning 'a grind' for Porcello

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Quotes, notes and stars: Fourth inning 'a grind' for Porcello

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 8-2 win over Tampa Bay

 

QUOTES

"I can't say enough about the way our position players have continued to grind away. . . Tonight was just another example of that.'' - John Farrell.

"He's been everything that we could have hoped. You look to a starting pitcher to go out and be consistent every fifth day -- he's been a model of that for us.'' - Farrell on Rick Porcello.

"It's nice to come back with a statement game tonight. The past couple of week haven't been good for us, so it was nice to get back on the right track tonight.'' - Travis Shaw.

"Preventing them from scoring first was big and then limiting the big inning. The fourth inning was a grind. I dug myself a hole and had to find a way out of it.'' - Rick Porcello.

 

NOTES

* Rick Porcello became the first Red Sox starter to record a win since David Price beat Seattle on Jume 19.

* Porcello is unbeaten over his last eight starts, going 3-0 with five no-decisions.

* Porcello had gone 19 straight starts without allowing more than two walks, the longest such streak for a Red Sox starter since Curt Schilling went 33 in a row.

* The Red Sox snapped a three-game losing streak and are one of two teams (Cleveland is the other) to not have lost four straight this season.

* Boston has a major league-leading 22 games in which it has scored eight or more runs.

* The first six hitters in the Red Sox lineup were 11-for-24, while the bottom three were a combined 0-for-13.

* Travis Shaw's home run was measured at 449 feet, the second-longest homer by a Red Sox player this season.

* In one night, Travis Shaw had more RBI (five) than he had in his previous 27 games (four).

* David Ortiz tied Frank Thomas in career RBI (1,704); both are in 23rd place.

 

STARS

1) Travis Shaw

Shaw belted out three hits -- including his first homer in the month of June -- and knocked in five RBI, tying a career high.

2) Rick Porcello

In a perfect world, Porcello would have gone a little deeper, but kept the Rays off the scoreboard early and helped set the tone for the night.

3) Hanley Ramirez

Ramirez reached base five times with two hits -- both singles -- and three walks - one intentional - and seemed to be in the middle of every Red Sox rally.