Notes: Sox again cross paths with Wily Mo

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Notes: Sox again cross paths with Wily Mo

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
SEATTLE Wily Mo Pena will always be the hulking reminder of a Theo Epstein trade that never quite panned out.

The 6-foot-4, 250-pound right-handed slugger was always something of a tease, given that his athletic combination of physical strength and speed were unrivaled in the big leagues when he first came up with the Cincinnati Reds system.

Epstein was intrigued by the prospects of Pena turning into a home-run hitting monster at Fenway Park, and dealt crooning right-hander Bronson Arroyo to the Reds in exchange for the pile of baseball potential.

Unfortunately, Pena never fully developed offensively -- he had, and has, exploitable weaknesses at the plate -- and his outfield defense wasis a disaster, making him a natural for the designated-hitter role. The problem in Boston, of course, is that David Ortiz is the DH.

So, after nearly two full seasons and just about 500 at-bats, Epstein admitted his mistake and sent Pena to the Washington Nationals in August 2007. Wily Mo has kicked around the big leagues ever sunce, getting playing time with the Nationals and Diamondbacks, and he popped up with Seattle on Saturday night after Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of a fractured nose suffered on a bad-hop ground ball Friday.

While Pena will be remembered more for untapped potential than anything else during his time in Boston, manager Terry Francona clearly remembers Pena's prodigious power.

Its silly . . . Wily Mos power is off the charts, said Francona. Oh, boy . . . some of the home runs he hit. He hit a ball in Baltimore . . . it won the game for us . . . It was a day when the wind was blowing and I couldn't imagine someone hitting a home run that day.

As always, Pena, now 29, put on a display during batting practice, and he exchanged hugs with Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and other members of the Sox that were around during his time in Boston.

But during the game he also looked like his normal self, showing an inability to consistently hit the breaking stuff while going 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts in Seattles 5-4 win at Safeco Field.

Josh Beckett has recorded at least one strikeout in each of his 272 career games, the longest active streak in the majors.

Red Sox 1986 postseason hero Dave Henderson made the rounds in the Safeco Field press box during Saturday nights game with his trademark smile and sense of humor. Henderson does television and radio for the Mariners, the team that traded him to Boston in the summer of '86.

Francona was ejected by home-plate umpire Mark Ripperger in the top of the fourth inning after the umpiring crew overturned a Jacoby Ellsbury play at the plate they originally called safe. A run was put on the board when Ripperger ruled that catcher Josh Bard didnt hang on to Ichiro Suzukis throw from right field as Ellsbury attempted to score, but, after a conference among the crew, they called Ellsbury out and took the run away.

Replays showed that Bard -- who caught a knee to the face in the collision with Ellsbury -- didn't drop the ball, but was transfering it from the glove to his bare hand to show he had possession. Ellsbury said after the game he thought he was out.

Francona, who said he knew hed be ejected the minute he stormed onto the field, never got an explanation as to why the call was changed.

I wasnt even really listening, said Francona, who seemed to know that replays showed Ellsbury was out. I think the umpire thought he was looking in the glove and the ball was in his hand. I just couldnt understand why the home-plate ump couldnt explain it to me. It was his call. Theyre so protective of the young guys. If the ump has an ability to make the call, then explain the call to me.

It was Franconas 33rd career ejection and his fourth this season.

It looked like Bard held onto the ball during the tag and he pulled out his bare hand to show it, said Ellsbury. From my angle it looked like the ump got the call right, you know?

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

First impressions of Red Sox’ 2-1 loss to Rays

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First impressions of Red Sox’ 2-1 loss to Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- First Impressions from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field:

 

* When the guy who was 0-for-34 produces the go-ahead RBI, it's probably not your day.

The Red Sox and Rays were tied 1-1 in the seventh when Steven Souza Jr. singled to lead off the inning. That brought Mikie Mahtook, hitless in his last 34 at-bats to the plate.

Naturally, Mahtook roped a line-drive double to left field, scoring Souza all the way from first base. It was that kind of day for the Red Sox, who were 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position and stranded five baserunners.

For a team that still leads the majors in runs scored, the Red Sox have shown an uncanny ability to go cold at the plate.

On Thursday afternoon, that happened again, while the most unlikely hero for Tampa Bay came through in an improbable spot.

 

* The Red Sox' struggles with the bases loaded is almost comical.

It happened again.

In the sixth inning, the Red Sox loaded the bases with no out. Mookie Betts then hit a sacrifice fly to left, scoring one run. Hanley Ramirez then walked, re-loading the bases, this time with one out.

But Jackie Bradley Jr. then swung at the first pitch and hit into an inning-ending, rally-killing 4-6-3 double play.

In two plate appearances with the bases loaded, the Sox failed to get a hit.

The Sox are hitting .216 with the bases loaded (24-for-111), ranking them 14th in the American League. Only Seattle and Detroit have had more bases-loaded opportunities, and yet the Red Sox rank in the second half in runs scored in such situations.

 

* Drew Pomeranz is showing no signs of innings fatigue

True, Pomeranz failed to provide a shutdown inning in the sixth after the Red Sox had gotten him a run in the top of the inning.

Still, Pomeranz pitched into the seventh and allowed just two runs while striking out a season-high 11 batters.

In his past five starts, he's compiled a 2.37 ERA, and both the power to his fastball and the sharpness to his curve offer no evidence that he's hit any sort of wall despite already establishing a career high at the major league level with five weeks remaining in the season.

     

 

 

Thursday’s Red Sox-Rays lineups: Benintendi (DL), Ortiz (day off) out

Thursday’s Red Sox-Rays lineups: Benintendi (DL), Ortiz (day off) out

David Ortiz and Andrew Benintendi are of of the lineup as the Red Sox close out their four-game series, and 11-game road trip, with a matinee (1:10 p.m.) against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.

Benintendi was placed on the 15-day disabled list Thursday. He sustained a sprained knee while running the bases in the seventh inning of an eventual 11-inning loss to the Rays on Wednesday night. He had MRI Thursday morning and the Red Sox medical staff will review the results when the team returns to Boston. 

It’s a day off for Ortiz, who will be replaced at DH by Hanley Ramirez, who had the night off Wednesday. Travis Shaw starts at first base.

With Benintendi out, Chris Young, who came off the DL on Monday, will start in left field. Left-hander Drew Pomeranz (10-9, 2.95 ERA) is on the mound for the Red Sox, who are trying to take three of four from the Rays to finish the trip 8-3. Right-hander Jake Odorizzi (8-5, 3.63) starts for the Rays. 

RED SOX

Dustin Pedroia 2B

Xander Bogaerts SS

Mookie Betts RF

Hanley Ramirez DH

Jackie Bradley Jr. CF

Chris Young LF

Aaron Hill 3B

Travis Shaw 1B

Bryan Holaday C

Drew Pomeranz LHP

 

RAYS

Logan Forsythe 2B

Kevin Kiermaier CF

Evan Longoria 3B

Brad Miller 1B

Matt Duffy SS

Logan Morrison DH

Scott Souza RF

Mike Mahtook LF

Luke Maile C

Jake Odorizzi RHP