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Closing Time: David Ortiz hits 2-run homer in 7th inning to snap tie, give Red Sox win over Blue Jays

09.30.16 at 11:00 pm ET
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David Ortiz's two-run homer in the seventh inning proved to be the game-winner in the Red Sox' win over the Jays (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

David Ortiz’s two-run homer in the seventh inning proved to be the game-winner in the Red Sox’ win over the Jays (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

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.

Closing Time note

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:

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Read More: David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, rick porcello,

What is David Ortiz’s favorite Fenway Park at-bat of all-time?

09.30.16 at 6:42 pm ET
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David Ortiz

David Ortiz

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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David Ortiz discusses Hall of Fame chances: ‘I’m super proud of what I have done’

09.30.16 at 6:24 pm ET
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David Ortiz said he hasn't given his Hall of Fame chances much thought. (Dan Hamilton/USA Today Sports)

David Ortiz said more Dominican Republic players will get into the Hall of Fame in coming years. (Dan Hamilton/USA Today Sports)

Although his career isn’t completely over, it’s getting time to start seriously thinking about David Ortiz’s chances of making the Hall of Fame.

As it stands now, there is one designated hitter — Frank Thomas — and two players from Dominican Republic — Pedro Martinez and Juan Marichal — in Cooperstown, but Ortiz acknowledges that soon will be changing, especially when it comes to Dominican Republic players.

“We’ve got plenty coming. We’ve got plenty,” Ortiz said. “We’ve got Adrian Beltre. I think that guy should be in the Hall of Fame once he’s done with his career. We’ve got Albert Pujols. If he retired tomorrow, he’d be in the Hall of Fame. We’ve got Vladi [Vladimir Guerrero]. He’s going to be in the voting next year, ’17. That guy has Hall of Fame numbers. We’ve got a lot of guys coming. Things are going to change with time. We have been able to progress when it comes down to that, no question about that. The Dominican Republic is developing so many great talents. It has become a masterpiece when it comes down to what we do right here.

“I’m very excited about it. I am one of the guys that, I look up to those guys. We always had conversations. We have a great relationship. I think we are in pretty good shape to have a few more Dominicans at some point, probably 5-10 years from now, 15 years from now, in the Hall of Fame. In my case, I always tell you guys, all I can do is keep on doing what I’m doing on the field right now.

“When it comes down to voting five years from now, I’ll probably start thinking about it a little more, sitting at home, not worrying about all those things I’m thinking about right now. All I want to do is just what I’ve been doing throughout my career, send the right message to everybody and try to do the right thing. It’s going to be up to them.”

Ortiz did admit he’s proud of his career, as he will enter the weekend with a career average of .286 with 540 home runs and 1,765 RBIs over his 20 seasons. He also noted his career story, as he came from seemingly no where.

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David Ortiz admits pregame ceremonies have been distracting, looking forward to postseason

09.30.16 at 6:03 pm ET
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David Ortiz has appreciated all the pregame ceremonies this year. (Anthony Gruppuso/USA Today Sports)

David Ortiz has appreciated all the pregame ceremonies this year. (Anthony Gruppuso/USA Today Sports)

While all the pregame ceremonies to honor David Ortiz for his final season have been nice tributes, the Red Sox’ designated hitter admitted they have been a bit distracting at times, especially in his first at-bats of games which have come mere minutes after the ceremonies.

“It has, I’m not going to lie to you,” Ortiz said. “The good thing is that we’re already in the playoffs so for the next three days I don’t really have to worry about it. The best thing about it is that once we go into the playoffs there’s not going to be all these distractions. I like to be focused when I play, especially when I play for a reason. We worked extremely hard in the regular season to get to the playoffs and I don’t want to blow that off.

“It’s not easy going through all these things and playing baseball at the same time. It can cause distraction … I am going to try to enjoy these next three days and be ready to play in the playoffs.”

Ortiz said he’s been so busy to even think about this being his last season, but admitted he never expected things to go like they have with seemingly every away team honoring him this year.

“I was telling Junior in Spanish, he asked me how I feel about everything that has been happening. Everything happened so fast, and I’m like in it, so I haven’t really had the time to drop knowledge on things,” he said. “I never expected everything to be this way. We play during the season, we get involved in everything we’ve got to do. I don’t expect anything ever, but everything is so beautiful, what has been going on.”

Added Ortiz: “Looking forward to the regular season being over with. I know we’re going to have three busy days. It is what it is. Just trying to get prepared for the playoffs and be part of what we’re trying to do during the regular season. I really appreciate all those in the organization taking their time to honor me and make me feel good about what my career has been.

“I think it was super nice what the Yankees did last night, very professional. After this weekend, we’re just going to get prepared for the playoffs.”

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Red Sox notebook: Steven Wright ruled out of first round of playoffs, John Farrell explains decision to drop Xander Bogaerts in order

09.30.16 at 5:48 pm ET
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Steven Wright

Steven Wright

It’s now official: when the division series starts next week, Steven Wright won’t be a part of it.

The knuckleballer threw another bullpen on Friday afternoon before the Red Sox opened their final series of the regular season against the Blue Jays, but he won’t throw again until Monday, and manager John Farrell said there’s no longer time to get him ready for the start of the playoffs.

“He wouldn’t be eligible for the first round,” Farrell said. “No, he would not.”

Wright is still recovering from a shoulder injury he suffered in August running the bases against the Dodgers. Farrell said Friday’s bullpen was at roughly 70 percent effort.

“Now it’s just a matter of continuing to build some repetition,” Farrell said. “It’s likely he throws two more bullpens, the next being Monday, before we would look to alter his program. In other words, starting to see hitters or anything along those lines. A step in the right direction for Steven.”

In other pregame news, Farrell explained the decision to drop shortstop Xander Bogaerts to sixth in the batting order.

“I just feel like, and this isn’t centered around Xander, even though he’s the one moving down a little bit,” Farrell said. “This is to try to create a little bit of a spark for us offensively because we’ve been grinding a little bit and also to create a little balance up and down the lineup a little bit more. We’re soon to get out of an expanded roster. So maybe to create a little more balance, that’s where today’s lineup is reflective of it.”

Bogaerts has scuffled in the second half. He’s hitting .227 since Aug. 1, but he went 5-for-14 vs. the Yankees with more of his typical right-field approach.

“I think what he’s shown in the New York series has been the goal of getting him back to that approach,” Farrell said. “And when you see the line drive approach into the right-center field gap, that all-field approach is what he’s working extremely hard to get back to. He’s been pitched to extensively. I want to make it clear, Bogey being in the six-hole isn’t reflective of the second half.”

Read More: John Farrell, Red Sox Notes, steven wright, xander bogaerts

Red Sox lineup: Xander Bogaerts batting 6th, David Ortiz 4th in series opener vs. Blue Jays

09.30.16 at 3:50 pm ET
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Xander Bogaerts

Xander Bogaerts

With Xander Bogaerts hitting just .235 in September, manager John Farrell has moved him down in the order. Bogaerts is batting sixth in the series opener against the Blue Jays on Friday night.

Third baseman Brock Holt, who has been hitting well of late, will bat second as the Red Sox go up against right-hander Marco Estrada. Also, Mookie Betts and David Ortiz have switched, so Ortiz will bat fourth and Betts third.

Sandy Leon will catch Red Sox starter Rick Porcello, who is making his final start of the year before the postseason.

Here is the complete Red Sox lineup:

Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Brock Holt, 3B
Mookie Betts, RF
David Ortiz, DH
Hanley Ramirez, 1B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Sandy Leon, C
Andrew Benintendi, LF
Rick Porcello, RHP

For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.

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Friday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Rick Porcello vs. Marco Estrada

09.30.16 at 9:41 am ET
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Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello

The Red Sox open their final series of the regular season Friday by welcoming the Blue Jays to Fenway for a three-game set. Rick Porcelllo will cap off the best regular season of his career with a final start against Marco Estrada.

Porcello is 22-4 with a 3.11 ERA and a 0.991 WHIP in 32 starts. In his last start on Saturday, he threw 6 1/3 innings, allowing three runs, eight hits and one walk with nine strikeouts in a 6-4 win over the Rays.

“I feel like I had good stuff. I definitely made a lot of mistakes, especially early on in the game and the inning when they scored those runs,” Porcello said (via MLB.com). “I had to settle back down and start executing my pitches better, but definitely had a better four-seam fastball, and it had some more life on it today than in some previous starts.”

Since June 28, the right-hander has gone more than six innings in every outing, which has contributed to him going 14-2 with a 2.49 ERA in his last 16 starts.

Against the Blue Jays, Porcello is 7-7 with a 5.07 ERA and a 1.224 WHIP in 16 games (15 starts). This season against the Jays, he is 3-0 with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.000 WHIP in four starts. His last outing against Toronto was on Sept. 9. He threw seven innings, surrendering just two runs, six hits and one walks with seven strikeouts in a 13-3 Sox win.

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Closing Time: Red Sox offense goes cold in David Ortiz’s final game in Yankee Stadium

09.29.16 at 10:26 pm ET
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Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz is greeted by former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera on Thursday. (Anthony Gruppuso/USA Today Sports)

Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz is greeted by former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera on Thursday. (Anthony Gruppuso/USA Today Sports)

On the heels of their second AL East crown in four years, the Red Sox called off the dogs.

With Henry Owens making just his fifth start of the year and a host of regulars resting, the Red Sox dropped a 5-1 decision to the Yankees on Thursday that completed New York’s sweep.

One night after the Red Sox clinched the division, Owens allowed four hits and two runs in 4 2/3 innings, walking two and striking out six. It was a serviceable effort, all things considered, from a pitcher who hadn’t made an appearance in three weeks.

It didn’t take long for the Yankees to jump on the 24-year-old, however, as cleanup hitter Starlin Castro doubled to plate Jacoby Ellsbury in the first inning. In the fifth, Ellsbury smacked an RBI double of his own to put the Yankees back up 2-1.

The Red Sox offense made C.C. Sabathia look like he was in his mid-2000’s form, managing four hits and a run off the lefty over seven innings while striking out eight times. Xander Bogaerts served as one of the few sources of offense, driving his 21st home run of the season in the fourth inning.

David Ortiz struck out and walked in his final game against the Yankees before being replaced by Brock Holt. Ortiz was honored before the game by former opponent Mariano Rivera, as well as with a book full of testimonials from Yankees greats.

Closing Time note

David Ortiz’s eight strikeouts at Yankee Stadium this season are the most of any ballpark outside of Fenway.

WHAT WENT WRONG

— The bullpen didn’t do its part in the game in the sixth. After Heath Hembree allowed a walk and single, Robby Scott loaded the bases and proceeded to walk in a run and let another in on a passed ball.

— The battery of Owens and Ryan Hanigan had trouble catching baserunners, allowing a pair of stolen bases.

— The Red Sox grounded into a pair of double plays.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

— Bogaerts tied the game with a solo shot in the fourth inning. The 21st dinger for the 23-year-old keeps him fifth on the team in home runs.

— After allowing a single to start the inning, Junichi Tazawa shut down the rest of the Yankees batters in the seventh, including a strikeout of slugger Gary Sanchez.

Read More: henry owens, Red Sox, xander bogaerts, Yankees

When it comes to preparing for starts, Rick Porcello changed things up this season

09.29.16 at 7:08 pm ET
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Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello

NEW YORK — John Farrell has called Rick Porcello one of the best prepared pitchers he’s ever been around.

This season, however, the pitcher explained that the preparation took a fairly dramatic turn.

“I stopped watching video of myself,” Porcello said while appearing on the Bradfo Show podcast. (To listen to the podcast, click here.)

“I watched a lot of video of my mechanics and all of my games last year, and it really kind of consumed me when I was on the mound. I wasn’t feeling my adjustments very well. It was almost like I was living the pitches through the video I had just watched. I just didn’t have an acute feel for the situations in the game of what was going on as far as why I’m not executing pitches and those sort of things. I got away from watching myself and I felt like I know what my delivery is and I have my checkpoints. If I get out of whack I’ll be able to feel it out there and be able to correct it. Not just watch a good start that I have and relive that through the video. Each game is different. I just want to try and treat it like that.

“Every game is going to be a challenge and you have to find different ways to get out of jams and pitch deep into games and that’s just the reality of it. It’s never going to be the same, so what’s the point of watching something that has happened in the past when it’s not going to be the same the next time I take the ball. I just focused my video work more on my opponents. I looked at more numbers this year and went a little more in-depth as far as off-speed locations and what side of the plate certain pitches were going to work on. That’s sort of a supplemental thing where if I get in a situation where I get a guy who is really fighting me hard or has gotten a couple of hits off of me, is there a different spot I can go to that I don’t do very often but it might work against him.”

Porcello has seen his new approach work in part because of his support system, and a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t.

“I was looking at video last year every day,” he said. “Now, if I throw a couple of pitches here or there that I want to see what happened I’ll got take a look a those and it takes a matter of 30 seconds and that’s it and I clean that up. But another contributing factor that I’ve been able to eliminate that part is that I’ve been working with Carl, Dana and our bullpen catcher Mani for almost two years and them being able to learn me and kind of see when I get out of whack, they’ve’ been a huge support group. When I play catch with Mani he’ll give me a nod of the head if my arm angle looks right or if it doesn’t he’ll kind of shake his head. That helps me make the adjustment quick and feel it. They’ve been really, really big for me as far as kind of limiting that, taking it out there and physically feeling the adjustments and doing in on my own.”

Porcello is slated to start the first game of the American League Division Series, Thursday.

THE BRADFO SHOW, WITH RICK PORCELLO

Glimpse into how Fenway Park is going to honor David Ortiz this weekend

09.29.16 at 6:03 pm ET
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While David Ortiz was playing his last game at Yankee Stadium, the finishing touches were being put on Fenway Park’s weekend-long tribute to the retiring designated hitter.

(Note that along with the Ortiz items in the outfield and outside the park, the Red Sox have already put up the banner commemorating the 2016 American League East title.)

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