Papelbon makes history in closer's role


Papelbon makes history in closer's role

By Maureen Mullen Follow @maureenamullen

BOSTON -- With his 30th save of the season in Fridays win over the Rays, Jonathan Papelbon became the first pitcher in baseball history to record 30 saves in his first six full big league seasons. A fact of which Francona was unaware.

I didnt even know that, Francona said. I didnt know it was 30 last night. My heart was in my throat hoping we would win.

Theres a lot of things to be impressed about. I think you guys have been around long enough to know I love sitting up here bragging about my guys. I think thats the way its supposed to be. The way hes come back. Hes always been good, but he set the bar so high his first couple of years, then when it wasnt quite the same, he came back this year with a vengeance. Hes been good, and hes been consistent and hes worked hard.

Hes carefree but hes a good kid. Everybody thats been around him knows he means well. When you give him that ball hes got one thing, he wants to beat the other team. Its kind of been nice, and especially nice when you see guys come through the organization and you see them grow up.

I can remember that time in Fort Lauderdale in spring training when he missed the bus, he thought the bus was going to swing by and pick him up. Now you look at a guy whos got 30 saves in six straight seasons. Its kind of funny.

There was a time, though, when Papelbon was set to join the rotation, before he decided in the middle of spring training his future would be as a closer.

It was difficult because organizationally I knew where we stood, Francona said. We had meetings and team-wise I was so uncomfortable going into the season without . . . I think I remember telling you guys the story former pitching coach John Farrell and I driving down Route 41 and talking about our staff. We both kept saying were not comfortable with where were at in the bullpen but organizationally were going to do whats right.

"Pap came up to me and it was just like time to, this is not an omen or a sign, but time to go to general manager Theo Epstein with this. Im glad we did.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen.

Pedroia leads Red Sox to 11th win in a row, 3-2 over Rays in 10


Pedroia leads Red Sox to 11th win in a row, 3-2 over Rays in 10

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Dustin Pedroia used nifty baserunning to score from first base on David Ortiz's double in the 10th inning and the AL East-leading Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 on Sunday for their 11th consecutive win.

Pedroia singled off Eddie Gamboa (0-1) to start the inning. The relay throw on Ortiz's hit to right center beat Pedroia to plate but he avoided Luke Maile's first tag. Pedroia's momentum carried him past the plate and when he went back to touch it, Maile was charged with an error when the ball dropped out his glove on another tag try.

Pedroia hit a solo homer and Mookie Betts extended his hitting streak to 11 games with an RBI single for the Red Sox, who secured at least an AL wild-card spot Saturday night. Boston's magic number to clinch the division title dropped to two.

Joe Kelly (4-0) went 2 2/3 scoreless innings for the win.

Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out a career-high 13 in 5 1/3 innings. The left-hander and Heath Hembree combined to strikeout 11 consecutive batters to establish a major league-record. The New York Mets held the previous mark when Tom Seaver struck out 10 in a row against San Diego on Apr. 22, 1970.

Boston also set a club record by striking out 21 through nine. Kelly added two more in the 10th.

There was a moment of silence before the game for Miami pitcher Jose Fernandez, who was killed in a boating accident early Sunday. Fernandez played high school baseball in nearby Tampa, Florida after defecting from Cuba.

The Rays planned to honor Ortiz before his final game at Tropicana Field but canceled the ceremony at Ortiz's request after Fernandez's death. He had three hits in five at-bats and moved past Frank Thomas for 107th place on the career list with 2,469 hits.

Ortiz has 35 homers and 90 RBIs at Tropicana Field, which is the most of any visiting player. Alex Rodriguez is next with 30 homers and 73 RBIs.


Rays 3B Evan Longoria and RHP Chris Archer informally presented Ortiz with an oil painting of his 500th home run, which he hit at Tropicana Field last season. Ortiz was also given 34 special handmade Diamond Crown Maximus cigars and $5,000 donations in his name to the Miracle League of St. Petersburg, Florida and the University of South Florida Latino scholarship program.


Red Sox: Ortiz will play at Yankee Stadium for the final time during a three-game series against New York that starts Tuesday night. "Playing baseball in New York is something that is very special," Ortiz said. LHP David Price (17-8) will start for the Red Sox Tuesday night.

Rays: LHP Drew Smyly (7-11) will face White Sox RHP James Shields (3-11) Monday night in the first of four games in Chicago.

© 2016 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.


Ortiz, Red Sox express shock, sadness over Fernandez's death


Ortiz, Red Sox express shock, sadness over Fernandez's death

Like the rest of the baseball world, the Red Sox expressed shock and sadness over the tragic death of Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, who was killed in a boating accident in Miami. 

David Ortiz tweeted his thoughts before the game Sunday in St. Petersburg, where the Red Sox played the Tampa Bay Rays.

There was a moment of silence for Fernandez - who attended high school in the Tampa area after defecting from Cuba at 15 - before the game at Tropicana Field, and before all major league games on Sunday. 

There was to be on-field ceremony for Ortiz before his last game at the Trop, part of his retirement farewell tour, but it was canceled at Ortiz's request. A video tribute to Ortiz was shown during the game and the Rays gave Ortiz his retirement gifts privately.

Ortiz wiped away tears during the moment of silence. He wrote Fernandez's intitals and his uniform number 16 on his cap.

Fernandez had joked about how he wanted to give up a home run to Ortiz when he faced him as an N.L. pitcher in the All-Star Game this past July. 

"I told him yesterday that I am going to throw him three fastballs down the middle. I want to watch him hit a home run," Fernandez had said. 

Ortiz ended up walking against Fernandez, prompting this response from Big Papi:

First baseman Hanley Ramirez, who played for the Marlins, as well as other Red Sox players, also tweeted their reactions after hearing the news of Fernandez's death Sunday morning.