Sox happy to earn much-needed win

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Sox happy to earn much-needed win

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen

BOSTON It was exactly what the Red Sox desperately needed: A decisive win over a bad team to give them just their fifth win of the month, splitting Mondays doubleheader.

In shellacking the Orioles, 18-9, in the nightcap at Fenway Park, the Sox banged out 20 hits, tying their season high in runs and hits, including three home runs.

And we kind of needed it, said manager Terry Francona. We stayed after them and got some big hits. Conor Jackson hit a grand slam, and we just had a lot of good at-bats. We had good at-bats the first game, just kept going in the second game.

Os starter Brian Matusz lasted just 1 23 innings, giving up six runs on six hits with two walks, no strikeouts and a home run.

Dustin Pedroia, Jed Lowrie and Conor Jackson each drove in four runs for the Sox, the fifth time since 1919 that they've gotten four or more RBI from three or more players in the same game. They last did it Aug. 21, 1986 in Cleveland, when Marty Barrett and Dwight Evans had four and Tony Armas.

Jacksons grand slam, the second of his career and third for the Sox this season, capped a seven-run seventh inning.

Jacoby Ellsbury went 3-for-6, including his first career inside-the-park home run leading off the seventh. It was the Sox first inside-the-park homer since Kevin Youkilis on May 28, 2007, against the Indians at Fenway. Jacobys drive caromed off the side wall of the Sox bullpen, ricocheting in center field.

When the ball caroms away like that, everybody sees the inside-the-park homer coming. Yeah, it was exciting, Francona said.

When I hit it, I was hoping it was going to get out, Ellsbury said of his 28th homer of the season. And once I saw it hit the wall I saw it carom and I thought I had a pretty good shot at getting an inside-the-park home run and I saw third base coach Tim Bogar waving me. I knew it could happen.

Its tiring. Id rather it just went over the fence but it was exciting. It was my first one and it was fun.

Lowrie had a three-run homer in the first, his first home run since Aug. 12 in Seattle, snapping an 89-at-bat homerless streak and a 0-for-16 skid.

The 18 runs match a season-high for the Sox, which they set against the Blue Jays on Sept. 13, the first game of this homestand. It was the third time this season the Sox had 20 hits, the first since Sept. 6 in Toronto.

The Sox have recorded 10 or more runs in four of their five wins this month, with a total of 66 runs. (In their 14 losses, though, they have scored just 41 runs.)

In their seven games against the Os this season at Fenway, and in 11 of 13 games overall, the Sox have double-digit hits. The Sox are batting .335 (160-for-477) against the Os this season, averaging 7.31 runs per game.

The Sox batted around twice, in the third inning, scoring five runs, and in the seventh, adding seven more runs. With two outs in the third, six consecutive batters recorded a hit, the Sox most since six straight batters got a hit in the fifth inning on May 20, 2009, against the Blue Jays.

Each of the Sox first six batters in the lineup had multiple hits, while the first four each had three.

All hitting aside, just getting the win was the most important thing.

It was a nice win, Ellsbury said. To put up that many runs on a long day like this says a lot about our team and we got a lot of contributions from a lot of different guys. Yeah its a nice win. We control our destiny at this point so we know if we play baseball like we can well be in good shape.

We need to win. We need to win every game we possibly can, Pedroia said. Thats basically it.

We swung the bats great. Got to continue to keep it going. Tomorrow were going to come out and play hard and hopefully we swing the bats just like we did tonight.

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

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

BOSTON -- Every year it seems like there are major issues or question marks to start spring training where the answers are up in the air.

In 2015, the Red Sox lacked an ace, had Hanley Ramirez moving to left field and Pablo Sandoval coming to town.

In 2016, Ramirez was moving back to the infield, but at a new position, and his bat was in question. Sandoval was coming off a year where he couldn’t hit his weight (he hit .245 and he last weighed in at 255 pounds). How would the starting rotation look after David Price?

This year, there seem to be three questions, but in a way, they’ve already been answered.

How will the Red Sox make up for David Ortiz’s absence?

Well, for one, the Red Sox have three Cy Young-caliber starting pitchers (Price, Chris Sale and Rick Porcello) in their rotation.

And two, Hanley Ramirez is coming off a career year with his highest career output in RBI (111) and second-highest home run total (30). And while Mitch Moreland isn’t the greatest hitter, he’s good for 20 or more home runs. Plus, it seems he’s holding a spot for a certain Red Sox prospect who’s bouncing back well from an injury.

 

Will Sandoval earn the starting third base job back?

The weight loss is a good sign, not only for the physical reasons, but it shows he’s mentally committed to being better.

However, that doesn’t guarantee he gets his job back.

“I’m not going to say [third base] resolved itself,” John Farrell told CSNNE.com, “but you know Panda’s done a very good job of committing to get himself in better shape and we’re looking forward to seeing that play to in spring training.”

Even if Panda can’t put it all together, Farrell told reporters before Thursday’s BBWAA dinner, both Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge would be competing for the job as well.

Holt as plan B -- in the infield? Who wouldn’t take that?

Who’s going to start at catcher?

Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart each have their pros an cons.

Leon did it all last year, but went from hitting .383 in his first 39 games to .242 in his last 39.

Vazquez has Ivan Rodriguez-esque abilities behind the plate, but couldn’t keep the staff under control last year and cannot hit.

Swihart, who turns 25 April 3, is the youngest of the three, has the most potential at the plate, but is far and away the worst of the three defensively at the most important defensive position -- excluding pitcher -- on the field.

They all have their drawbacks, but they’ve all shown at some point why they can be the Red Sox starting catcher in the present and future.

Everywhere else, the Red Sox seem to be in a comfortable position as pitchers and catchers reporting to camp draws ever nearer.

“I think the fact that we’ve got veteran players that have done a great job in staying healthy [and] young players that are getting more establishing in their return, we’re in a pretty good place in terms of the overall status of our position player group,” Farrell told CSNNE.com.

And it seems some players are confident in the team’s options as they ready for camp.

“We’re looking good in a lot of areas,” shortstop Xander Bogaerts told CSNNE.com. “Especially the pitching staff, [since] we just got Chris Sale one of the best in the game.”

“Pablo’s definitely going to bounce back, especially with the weight he’s lost."

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.