Red Sox notes: Albers bites bullet without Bard

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Red Sox notes: Albers bites bullet without Bard

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com

BOSTON - It wasnt a matter of choice, but rather of necessity.

As Matt Albers stood on the mound while the Chicago Cubs scored five runs in the eighth inning (six were attributed to him by the time the inning was over), he knew he had to work his way out of the jam.

Usually a pitcher would have been pulled by that point, but the Boston Red Sox didnt have that option on Saturday night against the Cubs.

Prior to the game, Terry Francona had made the decision to rest Daniel Bard for the second straight night - Weve been leaning on him a lot, he said after the game - leaving only newcomer Franklin Morales and Jonathan Papelbon left behind Albers.

That meant Albers had to keep on throwing.

I knew with Bard down tonight I was probably going to have that inning and worked out great, we had the lead to that point, said Albers following the Red Sox 9-3 loss. I just didnt do my job.

Albers entered the game with a 3-1 lead, but gave up five earned runs, three hits, and two walks over 31 pitches. Morales eventually replaced Albers, but by then the damage was done. The inning - which included eight runs, five hits, and three errors in total - changed the course of a game which the Red Sox had maintained a lead the majority of the night.

It didnt go good, said Albers. I had a few guys two strikes, just wasnt able to put them away. They had a couple tough at bats and a couple back-to-back walks there hurt me. Obviously just didnt get the results I was looking for.

The Red Sox built a lead early on with Alfredo Aceves making his first start as a member of the Red Sox. Aceves threw 86 pitches over five innings, giving up only one earned run. Francona was pleased by the length of the outing.

I thought he did a really good job, Francona said. Probably gave us a little bit more than we could have asked for. Again, without being terribly stretched out - I think he threw 74 pitches in a Triple-A start - but he did pretty well. And again, he gave us a good chance to win the game.

Aceves said he thought he could pitch into the sixth inning and hopes to do so in his next outing. He was happy with his overall performance, but noted room for improvement. Aceves hit two batters, including hitting Marlon Byrd in the face in the second inning. (Byrd left the game and was hospitalized for further examination.)

Nothing intentional, obviously, said Aceves. I asked a couple of guys from here if he had an MRI or something if hes ok. Im concerned, hes a Major League player.

Dan Wheeler relieved Aceves and along with Rich Hill pitched two scoreless innings. Enter Albers, and exit the Red Sox win.

I dont think he pitched as bad as the lines going to show, said Francona. His command wasnt as good as its been with his two-seamer. They had a couple good at-bats. (Aramis) Ramirezs 10-pitch at-bat was a really good one, a couple of the breaking balls were left over the middle. Because of the score of the game, they get the first couple of hits and then the walk, and then all of a sudden youre pitching to the scoreboard and then it really unraveled. We dropped balls, we threw them away, just got a little bit ugly.

As the Red Sox watched their lead turn into a loss, Bard sat anxiously, knowing there was nothing he could do to help. While it was difficult to do, he knows it will help him in the long run.

I wanted to be in there bad, he said. Just competitive nature and also just wanting to help the team. But we set that up before the game and they stuck to it.

Noted Francona, We made the decision before the game to give him yesterday and today. And thats why we do it before the game, because your emotions get the best of you during a game and you want to use him. Weve been leaning on him a lot and itll do him a world of good. It didnt do us a world of good tonight, but its something we needed to do.

The Red Sox snapped a seven-game winning streak and lost for the first time since May 11. They also lost for the first time at Fenway Park since May 6.

David Ortiz hit his 300th career homerun as a member of the Red Sox in the fourth inning. He became only the fifth player to do so, joining Ted Williams (521), Carl Yastrzemski (452), Jim Rice (382), and Dwight Evans (379).

Its an honor for me to be mentioned in that category with those guys that played here for a long time and through the years were putting up great numbers, he said.

Ortiz also tied Manny Ramirez for sixth on the all-time list of most homeruns hit at Fenway Park (142). When asked what he liked most about hitting at Fenway, he laughed, I think Fenway has taken a lot of homers away from me, thats what I think.

Kevin Youkilis also set a Red Sox mark, only this isnt exactly a list players strive to be at the top of. Youkilis became the Red Sox all-time leader in hits by pitches (72), passing Mo Vaughn.

The Red Sox' three errors were the most committed by the team since August 4, 2010 against the Cleveland Indians. They committed three in a single inning for the first time since June 3, 2009 against the Detroit Tigers made by Dustin Pedroia, Nick Green, and Mike Lowell (also in the eighth inning).

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcameratonba.

Sox may have finally found their everyday third baseman for the postseason

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Sox may have finally found their everyday third baseman for the postseason

BOSTON — As has been well-documented, the Red Sox have tried any number of solutions at third base this season, with eight different players getting starts at the position.

Travis Shaw has the most starts of anyone, with 99. But with three games left in the season, it's become apparent that Brock Holt is being viewed as the likely starter in the post-season.

Holt started all three games in the recent series in New York and was the starter Friday night against Toronto, too.

"You look at the consistent quality to the at-bats," said John Farrell, "and they've been there for him. That's not to say the other guys aren't important to us. But this is the time of year where you're looking to put the best, current lineup on the field and his versatility has shown up a number of ways. He's a confident defender at third base and his skill set is a little bit different from the other guys.

"So against righthanded pitching, that could be the guy we're going with."

Holt came into Friday hitting .319 (22-for-69) in the last 24 games.

Shaw, meanwhile, has been streaky to a fault. In the second half of the season, Shaw has posted a slash line of .195/.260/.362.

"We've seen (the streakiness both ways) in short spurts," Farrell said. "He does have the ability to carry us. But we're trying to get there and we're at a point in the year where every game is meaningful. That's not to say you turn your back on what he did earlier in the season. But we're looking for sparks somewhere."

What's more, Farrell had Holt hitting second in the lineup, in an effort to produce more offense. The Sox were limited to just eight runs in the three-game series at Yankee Stadium, and over the last 11 games, scored more than five runs just once.

Holt hit second, with Xander Bogaerts dropped to sixth.

"This is to create a little bit of a spark for us offensively," explained Farrell. "We've been grinding a little bit. And also, (we want) to create a little more (left-right) balance up and down the lineup."

TIME TO PLAY

As the final few regular season games of his career wind down, David Ortiz acknowledged that it's becoming increasing difficult to focus on the games with all the tributes and ceremonies going on.

In the final 11 days of the season, Ortiz will have had five pre-game ceremonies held in his honor -- and it would have been six had not Ortiz asked the Tampa Bay Rays to cancel the ceremony they had planned in the aftermath of the death that morning of pitcher Jose Fernandez.

On Thursday night, Ortiz has his family on the field for a pre-game celebration hosted by the New York Yankees.

Minutes later, he had to step in to the batter's box against CC Sabathia. Sometimes, it's hard to flip that switch and be emotionally ready to compete.

"I'm not going to lie to you -- it has (gotten harder)," said Ortiz. "We're already in the playoffs, so for the next three days, I don't really have to worry about it. But the best thing about it is that once we get into the playoffs, there's not going to be all these distractions.

"I like to mentally focus when we play, especially when I'm playing for a reason. We work extremely hard during the regular season to get into the playoffs and once we get there, I don't want to blow that off. It's not easy to (do all the ceremonies) and play baseball at the same time. It can be a distraction."

Friday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays lineups: Porcello goes for win No. 23

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Friday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays lineups: Porcello goes for win No. 23

The A.L. East-champion Red Sox, still fighting for playoff position, field their usual lineup as they open David Ortiz's final regular-season series tonight (7:10) against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox (92-67) are two games behind the Texas Rangers (94-65) in the race for the best record in the A.L., with the Cleveland Indians (91-67) a half-game behind Boston.

Rick Porcello (22-4, 3.11 ERA), the likely Game 1 starter in the ALDS, will try to add to his Cy Young Award resume tonight. He’ll be opposed by right-hander Marco Estrada (9-9, 3.53).

The Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles (both 87-72) are tied for the A.L. wild-card lead with the Detroit Tigers (85-73) 1 1/2 games back.

It’s the final regular season series for Oritz, with ceremonies planned to honor the retiring Red Sox DH prior to each of the final three game this weekend. 

The lineups:

RED SOX

Dustin Pedroia 2B

Brock Holt 3B

Mookie Betts RF

David Ortiz DH

Hanely Ramirez 1B

Xander Bogaerts SS

Jackie Bradley CF

Sandy Leon C

Andrew Benintendi LF

Rick Porcello P

 

BLUE JAYS

Eziquiel Carrera LF

Josh Donaldson 3B

Edwin Encarnacion DH

Jose Bautista RF

Russell Martin C

Troy Tulowitzki SS

Justin Smoak 1B

Kevin Pillar CF

Devon Travis 2B

Marco Estrada RHP