|10.01.16 at 10:38 pm ET|
Welcome to October baseball.
Although it isn’t officially the postseason, the Red Sox and Blue Jays battled in what felt like a playoff game with the Jays eventually coming on top, 4-3.
As he has for much of the season, Craig Kimbrel struggled in a tie game once again.
The closer entered in the top of the ninth and walked the lead off batter Jose Bautista. Pinch-runner Dalton Pompey advanced to second on a sac bunt, third on a wild pitch and then scored on a sacrifice fly for the game-winning run.
“I think it’s frustrating to struggle at any time,” Kimbrel said. “It doesn’t matter when it is in the season, but we have one more game tomorrow then we have a few days off going into the series. Hopefully in the next few days we’ll get it worked out then get a little rest and I’ll be good to go.”
The Red Sox’ magic number for homefield advantage in the ALDS over Cleveland remains at two.
Trailing 3-2 in the eighth, the Red Sox were able to tie the game in surprising fashion. The Sox had runners on first and second with no outs, but then a 4-6-3 double play set up a runner on third with two outs for Jackie Bradley Jr., but closer Roberto Osuma balked, giving Bradley Jr. home.
Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez was at 102 pitches after the fifth inning and his night could have been done there, but he was brought back out for the sixth where he walked the lead off batter and was pulled from the game, but that run did hurt as Russell Martin scored on Kevin Pillar’s single up the middle to snap a 2-2 tie at the time.
Like they did Friday, the Red Sox wasted no time scoring as they scored two runs in the bottom of the first. Jays starter J.A. Happ walked three batters in the inning to load the bases with two outs and Chris Young came through with a two-out, two-RBI single to center field.
The Red Sox couldn’t hold the lead for long as Rodriguez promptly walked the first three batters of the second inning and the Jays got two runs on a Pillar two-RBI single to tie the game at two.
In his final game before the postseason, Rodriguez went five-plus innings, allowing three runs on three hits, but walked five batters and struck out nine.
Dustin Pedroia snapped a 30-game hit streak against the Blue Jays. It was the longest ever against the club.
Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ loss:
|10.01.16 at 6:02 pm ET|
When David Ortiz announced on Player’s Tribune last offseason that he would be retiring at the end of the 2016 season, his father, Enrique “Leo” Ortiz, wasn’t aware of the news, having eventually gotten word while back in the Dominican Republic.
But now, looking back, Leo admitted Saturday that he would have pushed his son toward a different approach.
“I was in the Dominican Republic when he announced here in the States but if I was here, I would have told him not to announce his retirement, just because there are so many things that can happen in a season or you might have a change of heart after the season,” the elder Ortiz said. “If I were here, I would have told him to kind of stay neutral so that his options were more open so I wouldn’t have told him to retire.”
But, as ELeo explained it, once the decision was made by his son, there has been no attempt to get Ortiz to change his mind, despite what has been a historic season for the 40 year old.
“I haven’t told him anything like that about why he’s retiring because I know it’s coming from him and it’s his decision,” Leo said. “When I look back to 2013, I remember coming here to the field and I see him what looks like two casts on his feet. I said, what’s happening to my boy? Did he get into an accident or something? What he told me was this is how your son is making this money doing all this stuff before games. It’s not a surprise to me.”
As far as the moment Leo was most proud of his son on a baseball field, that was something Ortiz’s father wasn’t ready to narrow down.
“This guy has given me so much to be proud of over the years,” he said. “I remember when he was coming up in the league, I would try to correct him still even when he was in the big leagues and he told me, ‘Dad, I got it, I’m ready, I’m ready to play in the big leagues.'”
There was, however, that 2007 World Series ring Leo was wearing while talking to the media in the clubhouse prior to Saturday night’s game. Yet, he had a perfectly good explanation while it was that ring he chose to don heading into the Red Sox’ current postseason run.
“This is the ring that called the 2013 championship, so this is the one I’m going to wear because it’s the one that brings good luck and hopefully it brings another ring for 2016,” Leo said.
“He gives me the rings after every championship. I have all of the rings because he knows what’s up. The second thing I want to say publicly is that when he signed the five-year contract, I told the Red Sox he was going to earn every cent of that contract and he was going to earn it day by day, through hard work and told him, ‘I know you’re worth more than that amount of money, but I want you to earn every single cent of that contract.’ The next day he hit two home runs and a double.”
|10.01.16 at 5:36 pm ET|
Apparently, it was just a one-game thing.
A night after being dropped in the order to No. 6, Xander Bogaerts is back to batting second in the second game of a three-game series with the Blue Jays.
The Red Sox are looking to wrap up the No. 2 seed in the American League as their magic number is two with getting homefield advantage in the ALDS over the Indians.
With the Red Sox going up against Jays left-hander J.A. Happ, Aaron Hill will start at third base and Chris Young will start in left field.
Christian Vazquez will catch Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez.
Here is the complete Red Sox lineup:
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
Mookie Betts, RF
David Ortiz, DH
Hanley Ramirez, 1B
Chris Young, LF
Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Aaron Hill, 3B
Christian Vazquez, C
Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP
For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.
|10.01.16 at 5:29 pm ET|
Going into Saturday, the Indians have stolen 132 bases this season as a team, which are the most in the American League and it’s been noticed by the Red Sox — the team they will face in the ALDS starting Thursday.
The Red Sox’ second catcher position backing up Sandy Leon remains up for grabs with it coming down to Ryan Hanigan and Christian Vazquez.
Vazquez is starting Saturday catching Eduardo Rodriguez, which may be a sign he could have the inside track for the spot.
Red Sox manager John Farrell was asked if he’s looking for anything in particular when it comes to deciding on a second catcher?
“Just making sure that everybody has recent game activity more than anything,” Farrell said. “We do know this, with Cleveland their running game is a major component to their offense. Controlling that is what we’ll get into more as a team as we prepare for that first round. All things being considered, the defensive capabilities of the guy behind the plate, which we’re confident in all three, you start to weigh that a little bit more heavily.”
Hanigan has started just one game since Sept. 13 and that was Thursday in New York when Henry Owens got the start the night after the Red Sox clinched the AL East. While Vazquez has started just once in the month of September, it’s worth noting it was Rodriguez’s last start against Tampa — a sign Farrell could be looking to get the two on the same page for the postseason.
Additionally, if Farrell does go by which catcher can control the running game better, it’s clearly Vazquez, who is most known for his defensive ability. This season Vazquez has thrown out 36.4 percent (8-of-22) of runners trying to steal against him, while Hanigan has thrown out 28 percent (7-of-25). For their careers, Vazquez has thrown out 45 percent of potential base stealer’s, while Hanigan has thrown out 37 percent of them.
Both players are below average at the plate with Vazquez hitting .225 this season and Hanigan .171, so it’s not like offense is a major factor for either of them.
Playoff baseball is all about the little things, which is why it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Vazquez make the playoff roster over Hanigan.
|10.01.16 at 3:19 pm ET|
For the penultimate game of the regular season, the Red Sox will send out Eduardo Rodriguez to face Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ.
Rodriguez is 3-7 with a 4.68 ERA and a 1.284 WHIP in 19 starts. He has yet to win a game at Fenway this season, but since being recalled from Pawtucket in July the 23-year-old Venezuelan has posted a 3.10 ERA in 13 starts. Rodriguez last pitched on Sunday, throwing 5 1/3 innings and allowing one run, three hits and two walks with an astonishing 13 strikeouts, which tied a career high, in a 3-2 win over the Rays.
Against Toronto, Rodriguez is 1-3 with a 6.85 ERA and a 1.343 WHIP in four starts. This season against the Jays he is 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA and a 1.114 WHIP in two starts. The southpaw last saw the Blue Jays on Sept. 10. He went six innings, giving up three runs (two earned), four hits and two walks with five strikeouts in Boston’s 3-2 loss.
|10.01.16 at 12:25 am ET|
We would love to say the emotion of the moment lifted the ball out over the right field fence. That this was David Ortiz’s tip of the chapeau to all the fans who came to kick off the three-day Papipalooza.
If Ortiz was to sit out the final two regular season games, the designated hitter offered plenty of regular season punctuation thanks to his game-winning, eighth inning two-run homer to lead the Red Sox to their 5-3 win over the Blue Jays.
But what this at-bat against Brett Cecil should have reminded us of is one of the chief reasons these sort of things have always followed around the 40-year-old.
His production is a product of his preparation.
“Sometimes on 0-0 he’ll just stand there with the bat on his shoulder and never have even thought about swinging, and then he’ll swing. He does a really good job of knowing what that pitcher is trying to do with him depending on the situation, the count, whoever is on base, whoever is behind him,” said Red Sox pitcher David Price. “As good as he is swinging the baseball bat, he’s probably even more intelligent than that.”
This time, it was Cecil who Ortiz dissected.
After three straight curveballs, the Sox’ designated hitter sold out on Cecil’s front-door sinker. The front leg took was sent toward the right field line, clearing out his hips just in time to lay into the lefty’s 92 mph sinker.
“He was just saying, ‘Hey, I’m looking for one pitch, I got it, and I didn’t miss it. That guy gives me a pitch to hit every time and I miss it. I didn’t miss it this time,'” said Red Sox hitting coach Chili Davis.
“Last time I faced him, he was throwing me breaking ball, breaking ball and then finishing me off hard,” Ortiz said. “Cecil has a lot of that good breaking ball and that good fastball at 94. You can’t just be thinking of both. He’s got to give me something and he threw me a good fastball.”
The two were no strangers to each other, with Ortiz having just 6 hits in 31 at-bats (.194) against Cecil. But the DH was due, having not managed a hit against Toronto lefty pitchers in any of his last five at-bats.
“That’s what good hitters do,” Davis said. “Good hitters are stubborn hitters, and you understand one thing when you go up to the plate — I’ve got an idea of what I want to do up there. I know what you’re going to try to do, but I have an idea of what I want to do. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong. If I’m right, it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m looking in an area. If you come in that area — fastball, curveball, whatever — with the right pitch height, I’m going to put an A-swing on it. That’s all you really ask for as a good hitter — a pitch in your areas, pre-two strikes, and put an A-swing on it.”
And Ortiz put on that “A-swing,” he now has 38 homers with 127 RBIs, while adding another example of what has allowed for outfield portraits, light tower banners and three-day celebrations.
“I’m not amazed by how well he hits,” Davis said. “I’m a little saddened in the fact that he’s retiring. He’s such a good hitter, such a smart hitter, that you wonder, when you put up those kind of numbers, he’s got to really be ready to go. To go out the way he’s going out is special, and it’s special to be around. I’m glad to be here to see it. He’s a superb hitter. I forgot who he said he was talking to, it might have been the catcher, who said, ‘Why are you so good?’ He looked at him and said, ‘I used to be better when I was younger.’ That’s the type of player he is. He’ll probably hit when he’s 80 years old, sad to say. He might make a comeback when he’s 80.”
|10.01.16 at 12:15 am ET|
It’s been a grind for 40-year-old David Ortiz.
As his final regular season comes to a close, the designated hitter has been asked to do a lot away from the field starting with all the pregame ceremonies honoring him, which he admitted prior to Friday’s game have taken their toll on him, but time and time he’s produced on the field.
With the game tied at three in the seventh inning against the Blue Jays and going up against left-hander Brett Cecil, Ortiz hit a two-run home run down the right field, which proved to be the game-winner in the Red Sox’ 5-3 win over the Blue Jays.
The Sox entered the seventh inning trailing 3-1 and the win also snapped a three-game losing streak.
Friday marked the first game of a weekend-long celebration of Ortiz at Fenway Park for his career with the Red Sox and the home run couldn’t have come at a better time.
“On a night that begins a weekend celebration, I don’t think you could write a script any better for what David did here tonight offensively,” manager John Farrell said.
“In a 2-1 count against Cecil, who had some decent success against him, turned this place upside down given the time of the game, what was needed,” Farrell added. “Almost a storybook night for David Ortiz.”
The home run was Ortiz’s 38th of the season and his 16th go-ahead homer of the year. It was also his 39th career go-ahead home run in the seventh inning or later.
“Nights like tonight, it almost leaves you speechless,” Farrell said. “Given the career he’s had, the number of home runs hit from the seventh inning on in ballgames in big moments, tonight was right there with them.”
Despite all the great moments Ortiz has provided in his last season, he hasn’t yet had time to marvel at what he’s doing.
“It is what it is,” Ortiz said. “You work extremely hard every day to get better. It’s working out pretty good.”
The designated hitter has 33 go-ahead RBIs this season, which are the most by a Red Sox hitter since he drove in 40 such runs in 2006. His 127 RBIs are also the most by a Red Sox player since that 2006 season.
Ortiz is now just two home runs away from hitting 40 home runs at the age of 40.
“What can I tell you, pretty good season,” Ortiz said. “If it happens, it happens. It’s all gravy.”
|09.30.16 at 11:40 pm ET|
It’s official, the Red Sox and Indians will meet in the ALDS.
With the Rangers’ win over the Rays Friday night (as they win all tiebreakers), they have clinched the No. 1 overall seed in the American League, which means the Red Sox and Indians will play eachother and is now just a matter of who will have home field advantage.
Going into Saturday, the Red Sox have a half-game lead with a 93-67 record and two games to play, while the Indians are 92-67 with two games against the Royals this weekend and a makeup game Monday in Detroit. The Red Sox would win the tiebreaker as they won the season series, 4-2.
“We kind of anticipated this might be the way it shakes out,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “Obviously a very good team. We’ll have time to review them more in-depth as typically the case when we get ready for postseason. Still, we’re looking forward to these final two games here.”
“We’ve just got to play well,” said David Ortiz. “They’ve got a good ball club and when you’re in the playoffs, that means you did something special in the regular season. You’ve got to play.”
The ALDS schedule is as follows, with the times and places still to be determined.
Game 1 Thurs. October 6
Game 2 Fri. October 7
Game 3 Sun. October 9
Game 4 Mon. October 10*
Game 5 Wed. October 12*
For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.
|09.30.16 at 11:00 pm ET|
You couldn’t have scripted it any better.
In the first game of the final series of the regular season dedicated to honoring David Ortiz in his final season, he hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning to snap a 3-3 tie and give the Red Sox a 5-3 win over the Blue Jays snapping a four-game losing streak in the process.
With the win, the Red Sox remain half a game ahead of the Indians for the No. 2 seed in the American League and hold the tiebreaker as well.
For Ortiz, it marked the 39th time he’s hit a go-ahead home run in the seventh inning or later with 36 of them coming with the Red Sox.
“On a night that begins a weekend celebration, I don’t think you could write a script any better for what David did here tonight offensively,” manager John Farrell said. “A long at-bat in the first inning and takes a pitch on the outside of the plate from [Marco] Estrada for a RBI single. And then in a 2-1 count against Cecil, who had some decent success against him, turned this place upside down given the time of the game, what was needed. Almost a storybook night for David Ortiz.”
Trailing 3-1 in the seventh, the Red Sox scored four times to take the lead. Andrew Benintendi led the inning off with a double and then scored on a Dustin Pedroia tapper in front of the plate as Russell Martin’s throw got past first baseman Justin Smoak and stuck in the tarp.
After a Brock Holt ground out, Mookie Betts tied the game with a RBI single up the middle. The Blue Jays then brought in left-hander Brett Cecil to face Ortiz and he made them pay.
“Focus man,” Ortiz said. “Just want to go out there and do something when I step up to the plate. Be patient and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”
Toronto threatened against Koji Uehara in the eighth with runners on second and third with one out, but he was able to get out of it, retiring Josh Donaldson for the final out of the frame. After his tough outing in New York Wednesday night, it wasn’t the smoothest of ninth innings after walking two, but he got the save.
With his scoreless seventh inning, Brad Ziegler picked up the win.
The Red Sox led 1-0 until the fifth inning and things unraveled a bit for starter Rick Porcello. It started with a Devon Travis double off the Monster then an infield single and a Donaldson sacrifice fly to tie the game at one. Porcello was one out from getting out of the inning, but Jose Bautista crushed a two-run home run over the Monster into a stiff wind and mist.
Porcello wasn’t at his best as he went six innings and allowed three runs on eight hits, while walking two and striking out six. For anyone else this would be considered a decent start, but the right-hander came into the game with a 13-1 record at Fenway Park this year and a 2.88 ERA.
“I thought he’s been throwing the ball as he’s been so many times out for us,” Farrell said.
Ortiz also got the Red Sox on the board with a two-out RBI single to left field in the first inning.
By going 3-for-5, Pedroia now has 201 hits on the season. It is his second career 200-hit season, the other being his MVP year in 2008.
Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ win:
|09.30.16 at 6:42 pm ET|
David Ortiz has had a lot of at-bats at Fenway Park over the years — 3,654 in the regular season going into the weekend to be exact.
Before Friday’s game, Ortiz was asked what his favorite was and it wasn’t even one of the 3,654, as it came in the postseason.
“I have a lot of good at-bats here at Fenway, I’m not going to lie to you,” Ortiz said with a smile. “But I definitely got to go back to 2004, man, those walk-offs. That put us back on track. We used the opportunity to go back to New York and finish them off over there and win that World Series that everybody was expecting for the past 86 years at the time.”
The game-winning home run in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS off Paul Quantrill was brought up and Ortiz said that was one of the ones he will never forget.
“I always look at that at-bat like it was yesterday,” Ortiz said. “When I saw Quantrill coming in, I’m like, he’s coming with a front-door sinker. He threw it to me, and I was ready. Your mindset — when it comes down to his game, you can’t just play this game with an empty mind. I feel, as a player, whatever you do on the field, when you do it not thinking about it, the only advantage we have as a player is those two seconds to think about things before they happen. After that, you’re on your own. If your mind is not in it, whoever is watching from the outside, you can tell. Me, I can tell most of the time when a player wasn’t ready for whatever happened.
“But you also can tell when the players was ready, too. You can’t play the game thinking about something else. You’ve got to be 100 percent in it, otherwise you’re not going to see the results, and I have been able to keep up with it.”
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