Sox rally to end four-game slide, 8-6

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Sox rally to end four-game slide, 8-6

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Carl Crawford entered Friday nights game against the As batting just .106 against left-handed pitchers. As reliever lefty Brian Fuentes entered the game allowing lefties a .269 average this season.

With the Red Sox trailing by a run in the seventh inning, bases loaded, two outs, and a 3-2 count, Crawford delivered a 91-mph sinker into center field, scoring Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis, giving the Sox the lead.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia's home run to lead off the eighth, on Michael Wuertzs first pitch of the game, completed the Sox scoring, for an 8-6 win.

It was not an easy win, though, for the Sox, who have struggled through this six-game homestand.

Clay Buchholz lasted just 4 23 innings against the As at Fenway Park Friday night. It was his shortest outing of the season since going just 3 23 innings in an April 9 loss to the Yankees.

He allowed the light-hitting and light-scoring As six runs (five earned) on eight hits with two walks and five strikeouts. The As entered the game 12th in the American League in both team batting average and runs scored. They had 11 total hits against the Red Sox. Their season high is 15.

Buchholz faced eight batters in the first inning, giving up four runs on five hits, matching an Oakland season-high for hits in an inning.

By the third inning, the Sox had taken the lead, 5-4, driving Oakland starter Josh Outman from the game. But Buchholz allowed single runs in the fourth and fifth innings, letting the As get ahead. After Daric Bartons two-out single scored Josh Willingham in the fifth, Buchholz was done.

In three starts since throwing a career-high 127 pitches against the Tigers on May 18, Buchholz has gone a combined 18 innings pitched, giving up 10 earned runs for a 5.00 ERA with three no-decisions, while the Red Sox have gone 2-1 in those games. In the three starts before that, including May 18, he threw a combined 19 innings giving up two earned runs (0.95 ERA). The Sox were 3-0 in those games.

Bobby Jenks got the win, pitching a scoreless seventh, allowing a hit and a walk with one strikeout and a balk. He improves to 2-2 with a 7.59 ERA. Jonathan Papelbon earned his 11th save with a scoreless ninth inning.

Joey Devine, who started the seventh inning before Fuentes entered, was charged with the loss, going two-third of an inning, giving up two runs the first runs he has allowed this season -- on a hit and walk. His record falls to 0-1 with a 2.45 ERA.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Carl Crawford
His two-run single off Brian Fuentes in the seventh inning, with the Sox trailing by a run, bases loaded, and two outs, gave the Sox the lead. Crawford entered the at-bat hitting .106 against left-handed pitchers this season. In his career, he was 1-for-5 with two RBI against Fuentes.

Crawford, whose deep drive to right earlier in the game would have been a home run in most parks, entered the at-bat 0-for-3. The go-ahead single was his only hit of the game.

It was his fifth game-winning RBI of the season. In his last nine games he has nine RBI.
HONORABLE MENTION: David Ortiz
Ortiz went 2-for-3 with a run scored, two RBI, and a double. His second RBI of the night, tied the game in the third inning, before the As regained the lead.

He has hit safely in 13 of his last 15 games, batting .414 with 14 extra-base hits and 10 multi-hit games in that span.
THE GOAT: Brian Fuentes
While Joey Devine (0-1, 2.45) was charged with the loss, Fuentes suffered his third blown save. Fuentes is among the league leaders in saves, with 11. While it was a difficult situation in which to enter with the bases loaded, two outs, his team ahead by one tenuous run, facing Carl Crawford, who is still struggling but always dangerous it was a situation his team needed him to handle. He didnt.

THE TURNING POINT
It was a struggle for both teams throughout the game.But with the As ahead by one run in the seventh, Joey Devine, who started the inning, got Dustin Pedroia to ground out before allowing the next three batters to reach -- Adrian Gonzalez on a double, hitting Kevin Youkilis with a pitch, and walking David Ortiz before getting Jed Lowrie to fly out. At that point As manager Bob Geren called for his closer, Brian Fuentes, to face Carl Crawford. On a 3-2 pitch, Crawford delivered a single to center field, with Gonzalez and Youkilis scoring, giving the Sox the lead, which they would not relinquish.
STAT OF THE DAY: .297
The As entered the game hitting .240, 12th in the American League. Against the Sox Friday night they went a combined 11-for-37, batting .297. They matched their season-high for hits in an inning with five in the first. The 11 hits, which they compiled through the first six innings, were shy of their season high, 15.

QUOTE OF NOTE:
Love of the game. I wouldnt have gone through the stuff I went through and
kept rolling if I didn't want to be here and have a goal of being a big league
pitcher. I think thats what drove me every day.

-Red Sox left-hander Tommy Hottovy -- who made his big league debut Friday, retiring David DeJesus, the only batter he faced -- on what has kept him motivated over the last few years. Hottovy has been in the Sox system since being drafted in 2004, spending parts of the last six seasons in Double-A Portland, and having Tommy John surgery in 2008.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Porcello following Belichick’s lead, moving 'on to 2017'

Porcello following Belichick’s lead, moving 'on to 2017'

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- Flashback to January 2016, it’s the first night of Red Sox Winter Weekend, where fans welcome Rick Porcello with a vanilla reception -- no different than that of any one of the coaches. The right-hander is coming off a disappointing 2015, where he’d been given a four-year extension before throwing a regular season pitch and didn’t exactly perform to the level he’d hoped.

Now flash foward to Friday night, same event, just a year later. Porcello is introduced at the Town Hall event at Foxwoods to kick off the weekend and receives a welcome truly rivaled only by the AL MVP runner-up, Mookie Betts.

“You know, they were both pretty similar,” Porcello joked with reporters when comparing his 2016 reception to Friday’s.

Makes sense. Winning a Cy Young Award can change public perception.

But after his dominant 22-4 regular season, Porcello -- along with the rest of the starting rotation -- couldn’t deliver in the postseason. While he was visibly upset during and after his lone 2016 postseason start, Porcello is taking the Bill Belichick approach and says he's moving on from the outing -- and his memorable regular season, too.

“Just like any other start, you’ve gotta find ways to get over that stuff,” Porcello said. “It doesn’t feel good to go out there and not win Game 1, but I’m on to 2017 now -- and really everything that’s happened in 2016 is behind me. The season that I had, the postseason I had and we’re on to this year and what we can accomplish this year.”

“Moving on” from struggling times and great successes tends to bode well for athletes and players in this town. Maybe that’s what made all the difference for Porcello in making the jump from 2015 to 2016.

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."