Wakefield blown away by A's, 15-5

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Wakefield blown away by A's, 15-5

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON Tim Wakefields quest for career win No. 200 will have to wait for his seventh try, at least, after his sixth attempt proved futile, as the Red Sox fell to the As, 15-5, at Fenway Park Friday night.

Wakefield went four innings, giving up eight runs (four earned) on eight hits and two walks, with two strikeouts and a passed ball. His record fell to 6-6 while his ERA climbed to 5.10.

Wakefield gave up a season-high four runs in one inning with six runs in the fourth, when the As sent 10 batters to the plate. The As did all their damage with two outs, capped by two-run home runs by Scott Sizemore and Josh Willingham, and a two-run double by Hideki Matsui.

Gio Gonzalez got the win for the As, improving to 11-11.

The Sox got on the scoreboard first, when Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a double, stole third, and scored on Adrian Gonzalezs single in the first. They added two in the third on back-to-back home runs by Dustin Pedroia, his 17th of the season, tying a career high, and David Ortiz, his 26th. It was the eighth time the Sox have hit consecutive home runs this season.

The As added seven runs over the last three innings. Scott Atchison relieved Wakefield and gave up a run in the seventh, while Matt Albers allowed four in the eighth.

Darnell McDonald pitched the ninth inning, his first professional appearance on the mound. It was the first time a position player has pitched for the Red Sox since Bill Hall on May 28, 2010. McDonald allowed two runs.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Jemile Weeks
Weeks went 3-for-5, with two doubles, three runs scored, and a walk. With a strikeout-passed ball in the fourth inning and a ninth-inning walk, he reached base five times. His three hits match a career high for the ninth time. (He also had three hits against the Yankees on Thursday). His three runs scored tie a career high for the third time. This was his first career game with two doubles, although he has two other games with multiple extra-base hits, each with a double and a triple.

HONORABLE MENTION: Josh Willingham
Willingham went 2-for-5 with a double, a home run, two runs scored, and four RBI. He had one of two two-run homers against Tim Wakefield in the sixth-run fourth inning. It was Willinghams team-leading 23rd homer of the season and 10th in his last 26 games. He also had a two-run double in the ninth off Darnell McDonald for the As final two runs of the game. Willingham has 13 RBI in his last 10 games and a team-high 79 for the season. His eight home runs this month are the most in August since Eric Chavez hit nine in 2004.

THE GOAT: Tim Wakefield
In his sixth attempt for his 200th career win, Wakefield came up empty. He went four innings, his shortest start of the season and shortest outing since two innings against the Rangers on July 15, 2010, giving up eight runs (four earned) on eight hits and two walks with three strikeouts and a wild pitch. His record fell to 6-6, while his ERA climbed to 5.10.

Given a 1-0 lead in the first, Wakefield gave it back in the next inning, allowing two runs. From there, the As continued to add on. Wakefield allowed a season-high four runs in an inning, giving up six (two earned) in the fourth, passing his previous high of five in the fifth inning in Baltimore on July 18. It also matches a season high for any Sox pitcher in an inning this season. Wakefield has not earned a win since July 24 against the Mariners.

THE TURNING POINT
With the Sox trailing by just a run going into the fourth, the As scored six runs in the inning, sending 10 batters to the plate. The As scored all their runs in the inning with two outs. The hole was too deep for the Sox or Wakefield to climb out of. Wakefield was done after the inning.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1
In giving up 15 runs, Red Sox pitching fell one run short of its season high, behind only the 16 runs allowed to the Rays on April 11. Wakefield gave up eight runs (four earned) in four innings. Scott Atchison gave up one run in three innings. Matt Albers allowed four runs in one inning. And Darnell McDonald, pitching for the first time since high school, was responsible for two runs in one inning.

QUOTE OF NOTE:
I think the biggest disappointment is that I didnt get deep in the game. Ive got to take my personal numbers and throw them out the window right now. Were trying to hold onto a one-game lead in the East, and the biggest thing coming off a long road trip like that, is to try to win the game, for us, for the team, not for me personally. That 200th win will eventually happen, hopefully. But I think the thing I pride myself most in, is to try to give the club quality innings and get deep in the game, and not have to use the bullpen like we did tonight. -- Tim Wakefield, on the loss

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.