Sox pitchers get old-school advice from Jim Kaat

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Sox pitchers get old-school advice from Jim Kaat

FORT MYERS, Fla -- Jim Kaat, who pitched 25 years in the big leagues, was on hand Monday to talk to Red Sox pitchers and offer some ideas.

"I think he just brought some of his wisdom,'' said manager Bobby Valentine. "The guy had 283 wins and Hall of Fame credentials. I'm sure any time a pitcher can talk to a pitcher with those kind of kind of credentials, it's a good thing. I'm glad that he was here. Honored.

"If guys who have been through it and want to take the time to share some of their thoughts . . . You can't teach experience, but you can spread wisdom. It's a good thing. Having Luis Tiant around is a great resource, Jimmy Rice coming around. If he says one thing every once in a while, it's beneficial."

Kaat is friendly with Philip Morse, one of the Red Sox limited partners and he's also neighbors with new pitching coach Bob McClure.

"I watched the demise last September,'' said Kaat, "and I thought, 'Maybe they could use some old-school, simplified ideas to go along with all the modern technology that they have available.'

"Turns out, Ben Cherington listened to me do games and he liked my ideas on pitching and you add to that my relationship with Bob McClure and they said, 'Wanna come over for a couple of days and just tell them the things you learned from Warren Spahn, Eddie Lopat and Johnny Sain?' So, that's why I did.''

Kaat talked to the pitchers as a group Monday and emphasized the "mental part of pitching -- trust yourself, throw strikes and things that worked for me.

"It was more or less simple ideas. I got nice feedback from some of the pitchers to that effect. Sometimes, you're so bogged down with scouting reports that you forget to use your own strengths and let the hitters worry about the pitchers rather than worrying so much about them."

Kaat, who was known as one of the best fielding pitchers in the modern era, plans to address fielding the position and holding baserunners Tuesday.

"I'm honored that they wanted me to come over here and share,'' said Kaat. "As former players, we appreciate being able to share the things that guys before us helped with and maybe we can pass on something that can help them."

Weird umpire replay mistake helps Red Sox to record-tying 20 Ks

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Weird umpire replay mistake helps Red Sox to record-tying 20 Ks

New York’s mistake helped the Red Sox, and they weren’t playing the Yankees.

The Red Sox struck out 20 in a game for the third time in franchise history on Thursday night, and they were able to do so only after MLB’s replay team — based in Manhattan — gave Craig Kimbrel an extra batter to strike out in the ninth inning.

A 6-2 win over the Rangers featured 16 strikeouts for Red Sox pitching heading into the top of the ninth at Fenway Park. Kimbrel came on for a non-save situation because he had five days off previously.

There’s always that outside chance for a four-strikeout inning, and it happened. Even for a four-strikeout inning, however, this was bizarre.

The first batter, lefthanded hitting Nomar Mazara, swung and missed at a back-foot breaking ball for strike 3 — a literal back-foot breaking ball, because it hit him in that foot after he whiffed on the pitch.

On a swing and a miss with a pitch that hits the batter, the ball should be dead. He should not have been able to reach first base. But the umpires didn’t catch the ball hitting Mazara, and instead saw it as a wild pitch. 

Sox manager John Farrell asked for a review and the umpires went for one, but came back empty-handed. The crew was told, erroneously, that the play could not be looked at and the batter was awarded first base.

“It was just a swinging strike three, ball that go away and he obviously reached first base,” crew chief Alfonso Marquez told pool reporter Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. “The only thing that I can tell you, and the only thing I will say is, this was a replay issue. New York will come out with a statement.”

You could say it worked out just fine. Kimbrel went on to strike out the next three, and got the Sox to 20 Ks.

Kimbrel and Tim Wakefield are the only Red Sox pitchers to fan four batters in a single inning. Wakefield did it in the ninth inning on Aug. 10, 1999. 

Kimbrel did it once before as well, when he was with the Braves on Sept. 26, 2012.

No one has struck out five in a major league inning, although Kimbrel has as good a chance as anyone.

“The guy strikes out the world,” Matt Barnes said. “It’s ridiculous. … His fastball is seemingly unhittable. Complement that with the breaking ball he’s got, which comes right off that same plane, when he’s commanding it like he is, the numbers kind of speak for themselves. It’s kind of ridiculous. It’s fun to watch.”

The Sox have struck out 20 in a nine-inning game three times since 1913. Roger Clemens' two 20-strikeout games are the other two.