Sox take hard route, win in 14th, 9-8

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Sox take hard route, win in 14th, 9-8

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON The Red Sox certainly didnt make things easy on themselves, but a win is a win even if it takes 13 23 innings and 5 hours and 17 minutes to secure.

With two outs in the 14th, Carl Crawford doubled to left. Guillermo Moscoso then issued an intentional walk to Jed Lowrie, opting to face J.D. Drew, who was 1-for-6 with four straight strikeouts, matching a career high for the fifth time. But Drew lined a Moscoso pitch into center field, scoring Crawford for the 9-8 win.

Seemingly on their way to cruising into a nice, comfortable win what would have been their third straight over the As going back to their two-game set in Oakland in April -- the Sox instead went the challenging route.

Jonathan Papelbon blew a four-run lead in the ninth as he and catcher Jason Varitek were both ejected in the ninth, after each had heated discussions with homeplate umpire Tony Randazzo.

The As batted around in the ninth, scoring four runs to tie the game.

Papelbon faced six batters before being tossed. He need 21 pitchers before recording his first out, on his third batter. He gave up a lead-off single to Mark Ellis and a walk to Daric Barton before striking out Landon Powell. Dustin Pedroias third error of the season, on Coco Crisps grounder appearing to be a made-to-order game-ending double-play ball -- scored Ellis with the As first run of the inning. Cliff Penningtons double to left scored Barton.

It was then that Varitek and Randazzo exchanged words behind the plate, with Varitek getting run. It was the fifth ejection of his career, and the first since May 28, 2009, in Minnesota. Varitek was replaced by Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Pinch-hitter Conor Jackson singled to left, scoring Crisp and Pennington to tie the game, at which point Papelbon and Randazzo got into a heated exchange, with Papelbon getting his first career ejection.

With one out, Bobby Jenks entered, giving up a single to Ryan Sweeney, sending Jackson to third. But Josh Willingham struck out, his third of the game, for the second out of the inning, bringing Hideki Matsui to the plate. Matsui was in the midst of an 0-for-18 skid, the worst of his MLB career. On the fifth pitch of the at-bat, an 87-mph slider from Jenks, Matsui swung and missed. But as the ball skipped away from Saltalamacchia, Jackson crossed the plate. Saltalamacchia recovered in time, though, to throw Matsui out at first, ending the inning with the score tied, 7-7.

Alfredo Aceves, the Sox seventh pitcher of the game, went four innings, giving up one run on three hits and two walks with two strikeouts. He earned the win, improving to 3-1, with a 3.38 ERA.

Moscoso, who entered in the 14th, took the loss, falling to 2-1, with a 3.21 ERA.

One of the casualties of the game was Josh Becketts fifth win. He went six innings (plus two batters in the seventh), giving up three runs on four hits and three walks with four strikeouts, a wild pitch, and a hit batter. He threw 102 pitches, 58 for strikes. His ERA climbed from 1.80 to 2.01 in the outing. In 12 starts, he now has six no-decisions, despite nine quality starts.

The teams combined to use 16 pitchers.

With the win, the Sox improve to 7-3-1 in home series, 11-7-2 overall.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

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].”

Sandoval’s offseason transformation doesn't guarantee he's Sox starting third baseman

Sandoval’s offseason transformation doesn't guarantee he's Sox starting third baseman

BOSTON - The weight room, as much as Instagram, has been Pablo Sandoval’s home in the offseason leading up to the 2017 season.

His change in diet and routine have clearly led to visible results, at least in terms of appearance. His play is yet to be determined. But his manager and teammates have taken notice.

“Compliments to Pablo,” John Farrell told reporters before Thursday’s BBWAA dinner. “He’s done a great job with the work that he’s put in, the commitment he’s made. He’s reshaped himself, that’s apparent. He knows there’s work to be done to regain an everyday job at third base. So, we’ll see how that unfolds. We’re not looking for him to be someone he’s not been in the past. Return to that level of performance.”

Farrell noted that Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge are the other two players in contention for time at third base and while others, such as prospect Rafael Devers, may get time there in the spring, those are the only three expected to compete for the job.

“The beauty of last spring is that there’s a note of competition in camp,” Farrell said. “And that was born out of third base last year [when Travis Shaw beat out Sandoval at the third base]. That won’t change.”

Sandoval's 2016 season ended after shoulder surgery in April. 

While the manager has to be cautiously optimistic, Sandoval’s teammates can afford to get their hopes up.

“Pablo is definitely going to bounce back,” Xander Bogaerts told CSNNE.com “Especially with the weight he’s lost and the motivation he has to prove a lot of people wrong, to prove the fans wrong.

“He’s been a great player for his whole career. He’s not a bad player based on one year. Playing in Boston the first year is tough, so, hopefully this year he’ll be better.”

Prior to Sandoval’s abysmal 2015, his first season in Boston, when he hit .245 with 47 RBI in 126 games, the 2012 World Series MVP was a career .294 hitter who averaged 15 home runs and 66 RBI a year.

If Bogaerts is right and Sandoval can be that player again, that will be a huge lift in filling in the gap David Ortiz left in Boston’s offense.