Red Sox continue to write happy endings

191542.jpg

Red Sox continue to write happy endings

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Theres certainly an easier way to win, but in the last three games, the Red Sox have saved their best for last.

Thursday against the Tigers at Fenway Park was no different. The Sox squandered a two-run lead in the eighth inning and needed Carl Crawfords third walk-off hit of the season to secure the 4-3 win.

I think Im glad were playing at home, said manager Terry Francona. Certainly, I know how we feel on the road sometimes. You get in games like this, if theres a mistake or something you go home. Thats the luxury of playing at home. And you can use your closer where you cant normally on the road.

With the Sox leading 3-1 going into the eighth, Daniel Bard gave up back-to-back home runs to Brennan Boesch and Miguel Cabrera, tying the game. It was just the second time in his career Bard has allowed two home runs in one game. The last time was Aug. 9, 2009, also back-to-back numbers to Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira in Yankee Stadium.

That merely set the stage for what is becoming a common scene at Fenway the Sox fourth walk-off win of the season, third in their last four games, and third straight win in their last at-bat.

In the bottom of the ninth, with Al Albuquerque replacing Tigers starter Justin Verlander, Kevin Youkilis led off with an eight-pitch walk. With Jose Iglesias pinch-running, David Ortiz singled to right field, moving Iglesias to third. Albuquerque intentionally walked J.D. Drew to load the bases for Jed Lowrie, who blooped a shot that landed just in front of left fielder Andy Dirks, the ball taking a slight bounce to Dirks right before he could snare it. Dirks came up firing home to catcher Alex Avila, cutting down Iglesias, who was caught at third, waiting to see if the ball would be caught. The result: a rare bases-loaded 7-2 force out.

With the bases still loaded Darnell McDonald in to run for Ortiz at third base Crawford came to the plate. He took Albuquerques third pitch, a 1-1, 93-mph fastball, driving it over the head of Austin Jackson in center field, scoring McDonald with the winning run.

Im just trying to get a pitch to hit, Crawford said. We had bases loaded, not trying to do too much but just make good contact.

You try to narrow your focus. Thats the main thing. Try not to swing at balls. You know hes trying to get you out with his pitches. So you just try to tell yourself to swing at your pitch and try not to go out of the zone.

Although Crawford continues to struggle at the plate -- he went 2-for-4 on Thursday bringing his average up to .212 -- hes been making the most of his ninth-inning plate appearances. Thursdays game-winning hit was his third this season, all in May.

Yeah, its weird, he said. But Ill take whatever I can get right now. So we won and thats the main thing. So Im happy about that.

You always want to get a hit in those situations. You know its going to win the game. Definitely dont want to go to extra innings. So you just try to tell yourself to focus a little harder and hope for the best.

Crawford also had game-winners on May 1 against Seattle and May 9 against Minnesota. The last Sox batter with three or more walk-off hits in a season was Ortiz, with five in 2006.

Yeah, thats got to be good for his confidence, Francona said. Thats a good time to hit. The infields playing in. the outfields playing in, and he stayed on the ball really well. Thats the one think you dont want to do is roll over or pull off and he stayed on it really well.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

First impressions: A good start for Rodriguez in 6-2 win

red_sox_eduardo_rodriguez_053116.jpg

First impressions: A good start for Rodriguez in 6-2 win

BALTIMORE -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 6-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles:

 

Eduardo Rodriguez's first start of the season was a good one.

Rodriguez, making his 2016 debut after a freak knee injury suffered at the beginning of spring training, tossed six innings and allowed two runs on five hits.

He flashed his trademark changeup on a number of occasions, getting a handful of swing-and-misses with it. His fastball velocity, which had been questionable in his rehab outings, was slightly improved.

He wasn't as efficient as the Red Sox would have liked, needing 89 pitches to get through six innings. But again, for his first start, there was little about which to complain.

 

Betts had a decent night at the plate.

Betts cracked three homers for five RBI, nearly single-handedly doing enough offensively to beat the Orioles.

He homered to center in the first, down the left field line in the second and, finally, to right field in the seventh to become the 27th player in Red Sox history to homer three times in one game.

Hitting at the top of the lineup, Betts is on pace to hit 36 homers and knock in more than a 120 runs. The power he generates from a relatively small frame is something to behold.

Betts is now second on the team in RBI -- again, from the top spot in the order, though that's been aided by the fact that Jackie Bradley Jr. has hit eighth or ninth for much of the season, providing Betts with plenty of RBI opportunities.

 

The Chris Young experiment in center worked well for the first night. With Jackie Bradley Jr. on paternity leave, the Sox will keep Mookie Betts in right and have Young play center.

Young was once a full-time center fielder earlier in his career, but in recent years, has been viewed by most as more of a corner outfielder, perhaps without the range to play center.

But Tuesday night, Young did a nice job chasing down a ball hit to the warning track by Adam Jones in the third, then capped it two batters later when he leaped above the wall in center and took away what was likely a two-run homer by Manny Machado.

 

Robbie Ross Jr. has been an overlooked part of the bullpen.

With improved velocity on his fastball, Ross has 24 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings.

Moreover, Ross has allowed just two earned runs over his last 12 games and since April 17 -- about six weeks ago -- he has an ERA of 1.23.

Thought of as a low-leverage long man early in the season, he's earned the trust of the Red Sox to be used in more high-leverage spots as the season has developed.

 

Tuesday's Red Sox-Orioles lineups: E-Rod makes 2016 debut

red-sox-eduardo-rodriguez.jpg

Tuesday's Red Sox-Orioles lineups: E-Rod makes 2016 debut

Eduardo Rodriguez makes his 2016 Red Sox debut tonight, and he'll have a different center fielder as he does so.

Jackie Bradley Jr. on paternity leave and Chris Young is taking his place in center. The rest of the lineup, however, remains intact as the Sox face the Orioles in their second game of their four-game series in Baltimore.

The lineups:

RED SOX:
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Travis Shaw 3B
Chris Young CF
Blake Swihart LF
Christian Vazquez C
---
Eduardo Rodriguez P

ORIOLES:
Adam Jones CF
Nolan Reimold LF
Manny Machado SS
Chris Davis 1B
Mark Trumbo DH
Matt Wieters C
Jonathan Schoop 2B
Joey Rickard RF
Paul Janish 3B
---
Kevin Gausman P

 

 

Bradley takes paternity leave; Red Sox recall Castillo

red_sox_jackie_bradley_051116.jpg

Bradley takes paternity leave; Red Sox recall Castillo

BALTIMORE -- The Red Sox will be without center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. for the next few days, as he is placed on the paternity-leave list to be with his wife for the birth of their first child.

Rusney Castillo, who was sent to Pawtucket in the second week of the season, has been recalled to take his roster spot. Castillo has a slash line of .241/.302/.317 with the PawSox, with 1 home run and 13 RBI in 37 games. 

Bradley is in the midst of a breakout season with the Red Sox, hitting .331/.409/.601 in 50 games with 9 homers and 37 RBI.