Sox: Ump's blown call had huge impact on game

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Sox: Ump's blown call had huge impact on game

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Getting three outs in an inning is difficult enough. When a team is forced to get six outs, its almost a guarantee the opponent is going to put runs on the scoreboard.

Such was the case in the top of the fifth inning in the Red Sox 7-4 loss Wednesday afternoon, completing the White Sox three-game sweep at Fenway Park.

The White Sox entered their half of the inning trailing the Red Sox, 3-1. By the time the inning was over, six batters had gone to the plate and Bostons two-run advantage was wiped out.

Ramon Castro, the White Sox No. 8 hitter, led off with a walk and advanced to second when Dustin Pedroia couldnt handle Gordon Beckhams pop-up into shallow right field, racing toward the foul line.

Hes on a dead run, said manager Terry Francona. Thats a tough play, a lot tougher play than you think. In that corner, that triangle. If he makes that play, thats a lot more difficult than it looks.

Beckham was erased on Juan Pierres fielders choice, as shortstop Jed Lowrie and Pedroia were unable to turn a double play. With Alexi Ramirez batting, Pierre broke for second. Caught in a rundown, it appeared Pedroia slapped a tag on Pierres back. Second base umpire Marty Foster, though, signaled safe, drawing the ire of Pedroia, Francona, and Wakefield, all to no avail.

Go ask the umpire, man, Pedroia said. Im not going to talk for him. Those guys got to be held responsible for that because I tagged Juan right in the back. So if he doesnt want to ask for help, thats unfortunate because they got two runs out of it and it was a big part of the game.

I asked him to ask everybody and he said, Thats enough or Im going to throw you out of the game. I said OK. And then Tito talked to him. So I dont know.

I didn't ask Foster anything, Francona said. I just wanted to get it right. It was my opinion that you're allowed to do that. I know thats right. He wouldnt do it. Said it was his call. If thats the case, I wish hed have got it right.

For Wakefield, that play could have been the difference in the game.

Its huge, Wakefield said. It cost us two runs. Pretty much probably cost us the game.

Ramirez grounded out to Lowrie, scoring Castro with Chicagos first run of the inning. Carlos Quentins shot down the left field line scored Pierre, tying the game, before Paul Konerko flied out to right.

Wakefield threw 24 pitches in the inning, more than any of the previous innings 14 in the first, 10 in the second, 11 in the third, and 21 in the fourth. When a call doesnt go his teams way, he know knows he has to compose himself, return to the mound, and get his team out of the inning.

Tito calls a pitch-out there and we get the Pierre caught up in a rundown, Wakefield said. Thats a huge out for us. Unfortunately, the call didnt go our way there and now its second and third no outs. Try to minimize the damage as much as possible and I thought I was able to do that until two outs and they scored another run.

It happens once in a while. You try to compose yourself and get out of the inning as best you can. I had two outs there and given up one run. Unfortunately, Quentin hit a good pitch, double down the line and tied the game.

Each team scored single runs in the sixth, but Chicago put up a run in the seventh and two more in the ninth to complete the three-game sweep, handing the Red Sox their fourth straight loss.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

New photo surfaces of noticeably thinner Pablo Sandoval

New photo surfaces of noticeably thinner Pablo Sandoval

When it comes to Pablo Sandoval and his weight, a picture is worth a thousand words.

During spring training it wasn’t a good thing. Sandoval made headlines when a number of photos revealed significant weight gain for the Red Sox third baseman.

But the last two images have been more positive for Sandoval.

In October, a noticeably thinner Sandoval was photographed at an FC Barcelona game.

On Monday, Dan Roche of WBZ tweeted a more recent picture of the new-look Sandoval.

Sandoval, 30, is entering the third season of a five-year, $95 million contract. In his lone full season in Boston, 2015, Sandoval hit .245/.292/.366 with 10 homers and 47 RBI.

Red Sox taking stricter luxury tax penalties into consideration this offseason

Red Sox taking stricter luxury tax penalties into consideration this offseason

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The newly agreed upon Major League Baseball collective bargaining agreement features higher taxes and additional penalties for exceeding the competitive balance threshold -- and don't think the Red Sox haven't noticed.

The Red Sox went over the threshold in both 2015 and 2016, and should they do so again in 2017, they would face their highest tax rate yet at 50 percent. Additionally, there are provisions that could cost a team in such a situation to forfeit draft picks as well as a reduced pool of money to sign its picks.

None of which means that the Red Sox won't definitively stay under the $195 million threshold for the upcoming season. At the same time, however, it remains a consideration, acknowledged Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.

"You would always like to be under the CBT (competitive balance tax) if you could,'' offered Dombrowski. "And the reason why is that are penalties attached for going over, so nobody likes to (pay) penalties.

"However, the Red Sox, if you follow history, have been up-and-down, right around that number. We were over it last year and the year before that. So I would prefer (to be under in 2017). However, a little bit more driving force in that regard is that there are stricter penalties now attached to going over. And some of them involve, for the first time, differences in draft choices and sacrificing money to sign players and that type of thing. So there's a little bit more drive (to stay under).

"But I can't tell you where we're going to end up. Eventually, does it factor (in)? Yeah. But until we really get into the winter time and see where we are, will I make an unequivocal (statement about staying under the CBT)? Maybe we won't. But there are penalties that I would rather not be in position to incur.''

Dombrowski stressed that he's not under a "mandate'' from ownership to stay under the CBT.

"But I am under an awareness of the penalties,'' he said. "Last year, I would have preferred to be under, too, but it just worked for us to be above it, because we thought that would be the best way to win a championship at the time.''

He added: "I think we're going to have a good club either way.''

But it's clear that the CBT is part of the reason the Red Sox aren't being more aggressive toward some premium free agents such as first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnacion, who is said to be looking for at least a four-year deal at an annual average value of more than $20 million.

Currently, the Red Sox have nearly $150 million in guaranteed contracts for 2017, plus a handful of arbitration-eligible players, some of whom (Drew Pomeranz, Jackie Bradley Jr.) will see significant raises.

Together, with insurance premiums and others costs tallied, the Sox stand at nearly $180 million, just $15 million under the 2017 tax.

"I've said all along I've wanted to stay away from long-term contracts for hitters at this point,'' Dombrowski said of the current free agent class, "(especially) with some of the guys we have in our organization coming. I just haven't felt that that's a wise thing to do.''

The Sox saw two potential DHs come off the board over the weekend, with Carlos Beltran signing a one-year $16 million deal with Houston and Matt Holliday getting $13 million from the Yankees. Either could have filled the vacancy left by David Ortiz's retirement, but Dombrowski would also be taking on another another eight-figure salary, pushing the Sox well past the CBT.

"I figured we would wait to see what ends up taking place later on,'' said Dombrowski, "and see who's out there.''