Red Sox pound Royals behind Ortiz's slam, 12-5

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Red Sox pound Royals behind Ortiz's slam, 12-5

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON It was another night and another punishment of mediocre pitching by the Red Sox offense.

The Sox bats continued their torrid offensive display in the month of July by pounding lefty Bruce Chen and a host of relievers to the tune of 12 runs and 16 hits in a 12-5 thrashing at Fenway Park.

The victory marked the 11th straight game at Fenway Park with the Sox getting 10 or more hits the longest streak of its kind this season.

Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia launched back-to-back solo homers in the first inning to slap Chen around early in the ballgame, and then David Ortiz executed the death blow with his 10th career grand slam in the bottom of the fourth frame.

The big blast gave Ortiz his 10th consecutive season of 20 plus home runs and also represented his 1000th career RBI as a member of the Red Sox a plateau that only five other Sox players have crossed in franchise history.

Chen was rocked for 10 hits and 10 earned runs in four innings of work, and looked every bit the journeyman big leaguer hes become since pitching for Boston way back in the 2003 season.

The slamming Sox needed all the run support with John Lackey not quite at his best on the mound once again. Lackey was, however, gritty enough to get through 5 23 innings and maneuver through 11 hits allowed with only three earned runs when given plenty of run support.

It didnt make anybody believe Lackey can silence a quality lineup once the postseason gets going, but Lackey is still 4-0 with a 2.52 ERA in his last four starts while at least giving his club innings and a chance to win.

The Sox offense was clicking at such high efficiency that spare part players Darnell McDonald and Yamaico Navarro were able to collect two-hit nights along with the usual suspects at the top of the Boston batting attack.

Player of the Game: David Ortiz only went 1-for-4 on the evening, but his one contribution was a moon shot to right field in the fourth inning for his 10th career grand slam. The four RBIs also allowed Big Papi to reach 1,000 in his career with the Red Sox only the sixth player in franchise history to amass 1000 runs batted in while wearing the Red Stockings. Ortiz also now has 20 home runs for the 10th consecutive season in whats become a pretty amazing body of work in Boston considering the production and the clutch work in the postseason.

Honorable Mention: Dustin Pedroia collected three hits and extended his career-best hitting streak to 24 games while also raising his batting average to .308 and he did all of that while also moving back to the No. 2 hole from the clean-up spot that seems to agree with him so much.

The Goat: How is Bruce Chen still in the Major Leagues? He was given a three-run cushion in the top of the first inning and proceeded to choke on it in four innings of batting practice to the Red Sox. Chen gave up 10 hits and 10 runs in the four innings of work and was tagged for three home runs in another piece of evidence that the Red Sox absolutely murder mediocre pitching. Its been a long time since Chens cup of coffee with the Red Sox in 2003, but he certainly hasnt improved with time and age. It boggles the mind that Chen won 12 games for the Royals last season.

Turning Point: A little bad luck and a whole lot of power from Eric Hosmer conspired to put the Sox down by three runs after the top of the first inning, but the Sox answered back immediately in a big statement with their bats. Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia went back-to-back in the bottom of the first to lead things off become the first Sox players to do that leading off a game since Troy OLeary and John Valentin during the 1995 baseball season. From there the offense was off and running.

By the Numbers: 11 the number of consecutive home games that the Red Sox offense has reached double-digit hits, the longest streak of its kind in the Major Leagues this season.

Quote of Note: Ellsbury and Pedroia are making it tougher on everyone else. What theyre doing at the top of the lineup is ridiculous. You dont get that on a daily basis from your first and second-hole hitters. Sox designated hitter David Ortiz on what he thinks is making a difference during Bostons offensive surge in July thats seen them go 18-4 this month.

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

Betts not afraid of slumping in sophomore season

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Betts not afraid of slumping in sophomore season

Rookie seasons are no small task for players -- regardless if it’s a pitcher or hitter. It’s the major adjustment of facing guys who have better control with multiple pitches, or hitters who’ve seen just about everything.

However, if you ask some players, the real adjustment comes in the second full season, when organizations have developed extensive scouting reports on players.

The “sophomore slump” is something hitters deal with during that stretch. Numbers tend to drop because scouting reports expose flaws, something that minor league pitchers don’t often have access to.

Mookie Betts, however, doesn’t entirely agree with the notion that it calls for a major slump.

“I mean I don’t know if it’s necessarily a thing,” the sophomore right fielder said. “You hear about it and whatnot, but I think it’s just an adjustment period guys go through. Everybody’s done it. Some people just get out of it faster.”

Early on it appeared Betts was falling into the stages of a “sophomore slump,” going through a 1-for-19 rut after opening day, then 2-for-21 stretch through mid-April.

Since that last slump ended on April 20th, Betts has boasted a .321 clip with two home runs, two triples and three doubles. He’s knocked in eight runs in the process, scoring 14 times himself.

So -- needless to say -- he doesn’t think it was the aforementioned slump

“No, I think it was just adjustments,” Betts explained. “I pretty much think it was just more adjustments that I had to make. Fortunately I was able to make a couple of them. That’s all it is. They make a move and we’ve got to make a move back.”

The adjustments weren’t a mechanical issue either -- it was more related to his approach at the plate.

“It’s important for me to go be aggressive,” Betts said. “They’re not trying to walk me, they aren’t trying to walk anybody -- except David Ortiz.”

One thing Betts has done a better job of since his last slump was shoot pitches to right field. He has to do that if he hopes to hit well because most, if not all, pitchers know he’ll clear out any inside pitch to the Monster seats faster than they can blink.

“They still make mistakes, too,” he said on pitchers working away from him. “I think the part is being aggressive and being ready for those mistakes.”

Like most hitters, Betts doesn’t expect to go though a major slump in 2016, but he knows there are more factors in play than the contact he makes.

“It just depends,” Betts said. “A lot goes into balls falling. I think I’ve hit the ball well this year and haven’t gotten a lot to fall. But then again, I have gotten some to fall. I think I’ve done pretty well, even through the time I was struggling I thought I did all right. [It’s] just [about] trying to get out of those little slumps quickly.”

After dominant April, Porcello only cares about what's next

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After dominant April, Porcello only cares about what's next

Sinkerball pitchers are typically low-walk and low-strikeout pitchers. They want hitters to swing and pound that sinking fastball into the dirt.

Rick Porcello’s been a little different than most contact pitchers since he arrived last season.

In 2015 Porcello had his highest strikeout average in his career, nearly logging eight per nine innings pitched. That was in part because his fastball had bumped up from 2014 with Detroit, occasionally hitting 95 mph.

However, he’d gotten away from his bread and butter -- his movement. It wasn’t until his 15-day stint on the DL last August that he realized he needed to make an adjustment.

“I was really focused when I came off the DL last year on getting my sinker going again, be under control, locate. Get back to doing the things that I was doing the previous year that was working for me.”

After realizing he’d strayed from the pitcher he was, Porcello identified he needed to change the tempo of his delivery. It’s clear that taking a little off his delivery has been the pivotal adjustment since he came back from his late-season injury.

“I was making a conscious effort to slow things down, and locate the fastball, and go from there,” Porcello said.

However, Porcello’s back to striking hitters out again, almost averaging 10 K’s every nine innings.

But that hasn’t been a bad thing this time around. And he claims it isn’t completely deliberate -- and that he’s still trying to force contact.

“That’s really been my approach my entire career,” Porcello said. “I’ve never been a strikeout pitcher. When we get to two strikes then we’ll take our shots. It’s really more mixing speeds, changing eye levels and just trying to induce contact to get quick outs. That’s always been our focus and all we’re trying to do.”

While he’s enjoyed punching hitters out better than he ever as -- coupled with positive results -- he doesn’t expect the strikeout rate to maintain.

“Right now we’re happy to generate more strikeouts,” he explained. “But it’s not always going to be like that – that’s just the way it’s gone so far. So I try not to get caught up in that and focus on locating pitches. Whatever happens when I let go of the ball is out of my control. It’s kind of a product of what we’ve been doing thus far, but it hasn’t been our focus.”

John Farrell’s also made mention that the righty is in a good place mentally, and that focusing on the moment -- one pitch at a time -- has been huge.

Porcello explained that he’s always had that mental approach. He also noted that his mentality towards this season has been positive since the start -- and he plans to keep it that way.

“I’m confident and I felt like coming to the season I was in a good place,” Porcello said. “I was trying to ride that out and continue to do so. April’s behind us and there’s a lot of baseball to be played. I need to continue to get better and I need to continue to keep giving us a chance to win and throw the ball the way I’ve been throwing it.”