Notes: McDonald hopes homer gets him going


Notes: McDonald hopes homer gets him going

By Sean McAdam Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
HOUSTON -- Last year was magical for Darnell McDonald.

This year has been more like a nightmare.

McDonald hasn't gotten a lot of playing opportunities, and when he has, he hasn't done much with them. Coming into Saturday's game, he was hitting a paltry .115 with an equally low slugging percentage of .192.

One swing isn't going to turn his season around, but the three-run homer McDonald cranked in the Red Sox' four-run seventh may at least be a start.

"It felt real good,'' said McDonald after the Red Sox bashed Houston 10-4. "I know things are going to turn around for me. I've been working hard and I've been feeling good at the plate. I just haven't been getting results. It feels good to get rewarded with the home run.

"But the main thing is getting something positive going and keeping the same approach -- trying to go up there and give my team a quality at-bat. It's a long season and it's a humbling game. Hopefully, this will get me going.''

Before the game, Terry Francona said he thought about going with the much hotter Josh Reddick, but ultimately decided on McDonald because he hits righthanded -- the Astros started lefty J.A. Happ -- and because "I want to get Darnell hot. He spent all that time behind (Mike Cameron) and didn't get at-bats. Then he goes and gets his rehab at Triple A and swung the bat great. Then he came back here and looked like he was going to swing the bat great and kind of went the other way. I want to get him going a little bit... I really do want Mac to face some of these lefties because of what he can do and it gives us some balance on our bench."

Now that Mike Cameron has been designated for assignment, McDonald is currently the only righthanded-hitting outfielder the Sox have. Now would be a good time to make his claim for more playing time.

"That's the same swing Darnell had last year,'' said Francona.

McDonald has been taking extra hitting with hitting coach Dave Magadan and trying to improve his timing, especially on fastballs.

"I want to use today as something to build on,' said McDonald.

Andrew Miller's third start since being promoted was another good one: six innings, seven hits allowed, two runs against.

Miller had something of a rocky first inning with the Astros bashing out three hits right off the top, but he limited the damage to a single run and made adjustments.

"It was a tough first inning,'' said Francona. "It looked like he didn't have a ton of velocity and they hit some balls hard. But we got out of it with one and pitched.''

"The way things started,'' said Miller, "it was certainly nice to escape with limited damage and be able to get on a roll after that.''

In six innings, Miller got three double-play balls, including two to end innings.

"I kept the ball down and mixed it up,'' said Miller. "I think we got one on a changeup, some on the fastball. I think keeping the hitters off-balance is important and were were able to do that today.''

Sean McAdam can be reached at Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Wednesday's Red Sox-Rockies lineup: Ramirez back at first base


Wednesday's Red Sox-Rockies lineup: Ramirez back at first base

BOSTON -- Hanley Ramirez had to come out of Tuesday night's game after getting hit in the foot with a pitch, but fears that he'd be sidelined for a while were unfounded.

Ramirez is back in the lineup tonight, at first base and batting fifth as always, as the Red Sox host the Rockies in the second game of a three-game series. In addition, Travis Shaw -- who was held out of Tuesday's starting lineup because of a minor hand injury but who came in as Ramirez's replacement after the HBP -- is back at third base, hitting seventh.

Jackie Bradley Jr. has been moved up to sixth as John Farrell continues to search for ways to make sure Bradley isn't pitched around. Bradley will be attempting to extend his hitting streak to 29 tonight.

The lineups:

Charlie Blackmon CF
DJ LeMahieu 2B
Nolan Arenado 3B
Carlos Gonzalez RF
Mark Reynolds 1B
Gerardo Parra LF
Ryan Raburn DH
Tony Wolters C
Cristhian Adames SS
Chat Bettis P

Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Travis Shaw 3B
Ryan Hanigan C
Blake Swihart LF
Steven Wright P

McAdam: Just like old times for Red Sox at Fenway


McAdam: Just like old times for Red Sox at Fenway

BOSTON -- The last two seasons, tourists weren't the only ones eager to visit Fenway Park. Opponents, too, couldn't wait to get to the old ballpark.

In 2015, the Red Sox barely finished above .500 at home (43-38). In 2014, their performance at Fenway was truly troubling -- 34-47, worse than they were away from home.

The days of juggling rotations to avoid unfavorable matchups against the Red Sox in Boston were a distant memory. It didn't much matter who pitched at Fenway. The Red Sox weren't much to worry about.

That's not the case in 2016, however. Overall, the Sox are 17-9 at home this season. Since April 24, they're 12-2.

And they're not just winning at home; they're bludgeoning other clubs into submission. Since the start of the season, the Red Sox are averaging 6.73 runs per game at Fenway Park . . . and over the last 18 games, they've pumped that average up to exactly eight runs per outing.

In 11 of their last 13 home games, they've scored at least six runs and pounded out 11 or more hits.

So it was, again, Tuesday that the Red Sox kicked off a three-game set with the Colorado Rockies with another eight-run performance.

A decade after the PED era crested, the Red Sox are putting up late 1990s/early 2000s offensive numbers at home.

"Our roster, our personnel has changed,'' said John Farrell after the 8-3 win over the Rockies in explaining the surge in Fenway offense. "We've added young, energetic, athletic guys that are able to go first-to-third, which is key in this ballpark because a man at second base in not always a guaranteed run on a base hit, particularly to the left side of the field.

"It's an all-field approach. That's the other thing. This has historically been a great doubles ballpark. Our hitting approach plays to that. The combination of those two things is the reason why.''

Indeed, the numbers bear all of that out. When it comes to their numbers at home, the Red Sox lead the league in runs scored, doubles, hits, total bases, batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage and OPS.

They've scored 175 runs at home; that's 59 more than the next-best team (Texas) has scored in its home ballpark.

Why, the Red Sox even lead the league in home triples (seven), evidence of how much more athletic they've become.

Farrell's right to point out the improved athleticism. Once more on Tuesday night, Xander Bogaerts scored from first base on a double by David Ortiz, something Bogaerts has seemingly done several times a week at Fenway this season.

The ability to take an extra base or two extends big innings and puts further pressure on an opponent.

When slow-footed catcher Christian Vazquez is rifling a ball to the triangle and ending up on third with a triple -- as was the case Tuesday -- then you know that things have changed at Fenway.

Chili Davis, the Red Sox hitting instructor, has been preaching the importance of using the entire field, and hitters are listening. On Tuesday, Ortiz slapped a single through the shortstop hole against the shift in the first for a two-run single.

Then, two innings later, Ortiz pulled a ball into the right-field corner for two more runs.

It's like that night after night, game after game for the Red Sox. The hits and runs pile up, and the wins follow.

The Sox are advised to take full advantage now of a schedule that is decidedly home-friendly in the first half of the season. In August and September, they'll will play the vast majority of their games on the road.

For now, though, there are plenty of games lined up at Fenway . . . an opportunity to keep the offensive numbers surging and the opponents cowering.

Bill "Spaceman" Lee is running for governor in Vermont


Bill "Spaceman" Lee is running for governor in Vermont

BURLINGTON, Vt. — A former Major League Baseball player is running for governor in Vermont as a member of the Liberty Union party, which bills itself as nonviolent and socialist.

Bill "Spaceman" Lee tells WCAX-TV voters will "need umbrellas" if he's elected, because "it's going to be raining dollars," referring to money trickling down from the wealthy.

Lee pitched for the Boston Red Sox from 1969 to 1978. He was inducted into the team's Hall of Fame in 2008.

Lee says he's a "pragmatic, conservative, forward thinker." He supports legalizing marijuana, a single-payer health care system and paid family leave.