Red Sox win first, beating Yankees in home opener

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Red Sox win first, beating Yankees in home opener

ByArtMartone
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- Forsix games, they were the gang that couldn't shoot straight. On therare occasions when they hit, they couldn't pitch. When they pitched,they couldn't hit. Bad defense? Boneheaded plays? Check, andcheck.

Then they came home. And everythingchanged.

Oh, they still had some pitching problems-- John Lackey's six-runs-allowed-in-five-innings performance was ablast from the (recent) past -- but the Red Sox had little else tocomplain about in Friday's 9-6 victory over the Yankees in the FenwayPark opener.

They gotfour shutout relief innings from Alfredo Aceves, Bobby Jenks, DanielBard and Jonathan Papelbon. After going 1-for-14 with runners inscoring position on Wednesday and Thursday in Cleveland, they went6-for-9 on Friday . . . and most of the damage came with two outs.Dustin Pedroia led the 12-hit attack with a home run and two singles,and Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz, J.D. Drew and Jarrod Saltalamacchiaalso had multihit games.

And when it was over, theywere off the schneid. The Sox beat out the Rays in the race to avoidbeing baseball's last winless team.

Player of the Game: DustinPedroia

He'd been hard on himself for letting the team down inclutch situations recently, but that came to an end Friday. He hit afirst-inning home run, cutting the Yankee lead to 2-1. He delivered atwo-out, two-run single in the second, giving the Sox a 4-3 lead (andlater scored himself, sliding home at right on a single by AdrianGonzalez). And he added a third hit, another single, in the eighthinning.

His 3-for-5 performance lifted his averagefrom .227 to .296, and it helped his team lift its winning percentagefrom .000 to .143. Not much . . . but you have to startsomewhere.

Honorable mention: Jonathan Papelbon, AlfredoAceves, Bobby Jenks and DanielBard

Papelbon (left) finally got a savesituation, seven games into the season, and he ran with it: He struckout Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter and got Mark Teixeira on a lazy flyto center to end it.

But he wouldn't have had theopportunity were it not for his 'pen mates. Aceves came on in the sixthin relief of John Lackey with a 7-6 lead and held the Yanks scoreless(with the help of a double play). Jenks walked the leadoff hitter inthe seventh but got the next three batters. And Bard was theGood Bard, recording a 1-2-3 eighth.

Just like theydrew it up. Finally.

The goat: PhilHughes

The Yankee starterwas going up against a team that entered the game with a .181 battingaverage, 10 extra-base hits in 193 at-bats, and was averaging2.6 runs pergame. Against him, the Red Sox hit .636 (7-for-11) with six singles anda home run, and scored seven runs in two innings . . . which comes outto a 28-run-per-game pace. Which means that Hughes' 11.25 ERA went upduring the course of his brief -- but, for Boston, fruitful --appearance.

The turning point

The Red Soxhad gone 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position over their last twogames in Cleveland, and it looked like it would be more of the samewhen Carl Crawford -- batting in the second inning with runners atfirst and second, one out, and the Sox trailing, 3-2 -- grounded out toshortstop. That moved runners to second and third, but it also movedthe Yankees to within one out of getting out of the inning with thelead.

Instead, the Sox gotfour straight men on base -- via three hits and a walk -- and scoredfour runs. It started with Dustin Pedroia's two-runsingle, and it was followed by an RBI single from Adrian Gonzalez, awalk to Kevin Youkilis, and an RBI single from David Ortiz (right).

The 6-3 lead didn't hold, thanks to John Lackey(who allowed single runs in each of the next three innings to allow theYankees to tie the score), but the Boston offense had come alive.Jarrod Saltalamacchia's two-out RBI double in the fifth put the Soxahead to stay, and J.D. Drew delivered a pair of insurance runs in theeighth with a two-run single.

Stat of the Day: 6-for-9

Thatwas the Red Sox' average with runners in scoring position Friday, aftergoing 1-for-14 with RISP on Wednesday and Thursday and Cleveland.Dustin Pedroia had one of the biggest of the six hits, a two-run singlein the second (right) that gave the Sox a 4-3lead.

What's more, the Sox went 4-for-6 with RISPand two out, as five of their nine runs Friday were scored with twoout.

Quote of the day

"I never sawa team so happy to be 1-6.'' -- Terry Francona

Art Martone can be reached at amartone@comcastsportsnet.com

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

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Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

BOSTON -- At first, 2016 seemed like the “Year of Xander.” It turned out to be the “Year of Mookie,” with Bogaerts dropping off a little as the season progressed.

The Red Sox shortstop saw his average peak at .359 on June 12. At that point he’d played in 61 games, hit eight home runs, 20 doubles and knocked in 44 runs. Although Mookie Betts had six more home runs and three more RBI in that same span, Bogaerts had six more doubles and was hitting 69 points higher.

The two were already locks for the All-Star Game and Bogaerts still had the edge in early MVP talk.

Then things took a turn after the very day Bogaerts saw his average peak.

Over the next 61 games, Bogaerts still managed seven homers, but only had six doubles and 27 RBI, watching his average drop to .307 by the end of that stretch. At first glance, .307 doesn’t seem like an issue, but he dropped 52 points after hitting .253 in that span.

And in his remaining 35 games, Bogaerts only hit .248 -- although he did have six homers.

But throughout it all, Bogaerts never seemed fazed by it. With pitchers and catchers reporting in less than a month, Bogaerts still isn’t worried about the peaks and valleys.

“You go through it as a player, the only one’s who don’t go through that are the ones not playing,” Bogaerts told CSNNE.com before the Boston baseball writers' dinner Thursday. “I just gotta know you’re going to be playing good for sometime, you’re going to be playing bad for sometime.

“Just try to a lot more better times than bad times. It’s just a matter of trusting yourself, trusting your abilities and never doubting yourself. Obviously, you get a lot of doubts when you’re playing bad, but you just be even keeled with whatever situation is presented.”

Bogaerts level head is something often noted by coaches and his teammates, carrying through the days he finds himself lunging left and right for pitches. That’s also carried him through the offseason while maintaining the same preparation from past seasons -- along with putting on some weight.

“I don’t know how much I put on, but I feel strong,” Bogaerts said to CSNNE.com “I mean, I look strong in the mirror.

“Hopefully, I’m in a good position when the season comes because I know I’ll lose [the weight].”