|09.19.14 at 11:54 pm ET|
BALTIMORE — Decades from now, assuming that baseball does not hurtle towards a clockless extinction, David Ortiz will remain a reference point in Red Sox history, a necessary landmark and point of comparison for any slugger in the team’s uniform.
Ortiz slammed a pair of homers — the 33rd and 34th of his season — while driving in three runs, not only propelling his team to a 5-3 victory over the Orioles in 10 innings but also eclipsing 100 RBIs, in the process, crossing the 30-100 threshold for the eighth time in his Red Sox career. He now stands alone in team history for the most such seasons in Sox history, leaving behind Ted Williams, who had seven in his illustrious career.
The volume of seasons Ortiz has produced while reaching recognizable slugging plateaus is impressive enough in its own right. The fact that he is still producing at this level as a 38-year-old qualifies as astonishing and historic. Ortiz became the sixth player in big league history at the age of 38 (or older) to reach 30 homers and 100 RBIs, joining Babe Ruth, Fred McGriff, Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro and Frank Thomas.
“They call me Super Papi,” Ortiz grinned. “That’s right. Put it down like that.”
|09.19.14 at 10:49 pm ET|
(For the final month of the regular season, ‘Closing Time’ will be called ‘Why you should have cared,’ looking beyond the final score ‘ at a time when losses are arguably more valuable to the Sox than wins (for draft and waiver position) ‘ for either meaningful signs for 2015 or simple aesthetic considerations.)
BALTIMORE — Reality check: The Red Sox offense has been little better than atrocious this year. The team entered Friday with the fewest runs (583) and runs per game (3.81) of any club in the American League. And so, when a player proves capable of delivering run production within that group, it commands notice.
In an otherwise forgettable year, David Ortiz has commanded plenty of notice. The slugger continued to do just that in the Sox’ 5-3, 10-inning victory over the Orioles on Friday night, slamming a pair of homers — his 34th and 35th of the year — and driving in three runs — his 100th, 101st and 102nd of 2014 — to further distinguish his place in Red Sox history.
He now has eight 30/100 seasons with the Red Sox, breaking a tie with Ted Williams for the most such years in franchise history. He is the sixth player ever to produce a 30/100 season at the age of 38 or later (joining Frank Thomas, Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, Fred McGriff and Babe Ruth) His 34 homers are his most since hitting 35 in 2007. He is in the top five in the American League in both homers and RBIs.
On a team that has had a shortage of even average performances to buttress him, Ortiz has remained elite.
OTHER REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD HAVE CARED ABOUT FRIDAY’S GAME
Mookie Betts, in his first exposure to the big leagues, has proven capable of delivering excitement. Friday night at Camden Yards offered a glimpse of what increasingly looks like a player with game-changing offensive abilities.
Against a pitcher considered one of the top young talents in the game in Orioles starter Kevin Gausman, Betts had three tremendous at-bats in an eventual 2-for-5 game. He drilled a 2-1 fastball for a long flyout to the warning track, about 400 feet from home plate, to open the game, spit on a pair of sliders before smoking a 95 mph 2-0 fastball up the middle for a single in the third and then navigated an 11-pitch at-bat that included six two-strike foul balls (three on splitters, three on fastballs) before ripping a liner up the middle for a single. Read the rest of this entry »
|09.19.14 at 6:57 pm ET|
BALTIMORE — Jackie Bradley Jr. is hitting .203 with a .271 OBP and .272 slugging mark this year. Christian Vazquez is hitting .217/.278/.268.
Yet whereas Bradley’s offensive performance in 414 plate appearances has raised questions about his future big league role, the Sox have a more optimistic view of Vazquez’s offensive performance.
“He’s handled different types of pitching well. The batting average, I recognize what it is. He’s squared up a number of balls. Sometimes they haven’t fallen. I think he’s doing a very good job for us in all phases and I wouldn’t be, I guess the best way to say it … his batting average, that doesn’t concern me right now.”
Asked if he viewed Vazquez as a big league-caliber hitter right now, Farrell didn’t hesitate to answer in the affirmative. He cited Vazquez’s ability to execute in the details of the game, primarily by getting the bat on the ball (whether for sacrifice bunts or situational hitting), in explaining his view. (Worth noting: Bradley has struck out in 28.3 percent of plate appearances this year; Vazquez has struck out in just 16.2 percent of plate appearances.)
“Setting aside the batting average, there’s the ability to handle a bat. He can execute the small game. He can hit to the situation. He’s a very good situational hitter, including being able to sacrifice with great consistency,” said Farrell. “He’s probably one of the more, I would say he’s one of the more complete hitters that has come to us, setting aside the batting average.”
Farrell said that he could envision Vazquez as his Opening Day catcher — though he noted that having him in such a role in 2015 might depend on the shape of the rest of the roster.
“I think he’s ready and capable of handling that [Opening Day starting] role. I think what will be as important is who is paired up with him,” said Farrell. “That’s not to eliminate anyone that’s here. That’s not to suggest who that might be. Christian is, I think, in short order, has gained a reputation around the league to be somewhat of a shutdown thrower with the aggressiveness of his picks, of his throws to bags. Like we said, he’s a focal point for a team when they’re on offense, to have to contend with behind the plate.” Read the rest of this entry »
|09.19.14 at 5:58 pm ET|
BALTIMORE — While some members of the Red Sox are contemplating the end of their season, Rusney Castillo’s baseball season remains in its early stages, a notion made official by Sox manager John Farrell on Friday.
Farrell said that Castillo, who made his major league debut on Wednesday in Pittsburgh and is back in the Red Sox lineup on Friday against the Orioles, will continue his season by heading to the Arizona Fall League and the Puerto Rico Winter League. The goal, Farrell said, is to get Castillo (who has a total of 50 plate appearances thus far between the minors and the big leagues) up to roughly 200 plate appearances for the year. He will do so by playing with the Surprise Saguaros in the AFL and then the Caguas Criollos (run by former Red Sox Alex Cora) in Puerto Rico.
The Sox expect that Castillo’s baseball season will conclude by roughly mid-November, at which point he’ll be in position to spend several months building up to his first big league spring training in 2015.
|09.19.14 at 3:31 pm ET|
BALTIMORE — The list of Red Sox firsts continues to expand, as new outfielder Rusney Castillo will get his first start against an American League East opponent while third baseman Garin Cecchini will get his first big league start. Castillo went 1-for-4 in his Wednesday debut, while Cecchini is 2-for-3 and has been hit by a pitch in four games this year.
RED SOX LINEUP
Mookie Betts, 2B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
David Ortiz, DH
Yoenis Cespedes, LF
Daniel Nava, RF
Allen Craig, 1B
Rusney Castillo, CF
Garin Cecchini, 3B
Christian Vazquez, C
Allen Webster, RHP
|09.19.14 at 8:40 am ET|
The Red Sox open up a weekend series Friday night against the Orioles at Camden Yards. Allen Webster will pitch against Kevin Gausman.
In his previous outing last Friday, Webster (4-3, 6.02 ERA) had one of his finer outings of the season. He threw six innings, allowing just two runs in a winning effort against the Royals. Part of the reason for his success against Kansas City was improved control. After walking at least two batters in each of his previous eight starts, Webster walked just one Royals hitter. Manager John Farrell said he liked what he saw from Webster last time out.
“We know this is an aggressive swinging team, and if you pitch to quality locations early in the count, chances are it can work in your favor,” Farrell said after the game.
Webster has pitched into the sixth inning in his last two starts after not making it out of the fifth frame in two prior appearances. Webster has faced the American League East four times this season, but not the Orioles so far in 2014. Against division foes, he’s allowed 15 runs in 17 1/3 innings, leading to a 1-2 record.
The right-hander previously faced the Orioles during the last game of the season in 2013, also at Camden Yards. Over three innings in a shortened start, Webster did not allow a run, struck out two and walked three. Farrell was happy with how Webster responded after a tough beginning of the game.
“It was good to see Webby come out and settle down after a rocky beginning of the first inning. He threw the ball very well,” Farrell said.
No current Orioles player has a hit against Webster.
|09.18.14 at 10:01 pm ET|
With their 3-2 loss to the Pirates Thursday night, the Sox are now the fifth-worst team in baseball. That would mean — because of the Astros’ compensatory pick due to not signing Brady Aiken — John Farrell‘s club would be drafting No. 6 overall.
That, in case you forgot, is one spot higher than the disastrous 2012 season yielded. (The Red Sox tabbed high school left-hander Trey Ball with that selection. Ball went 5-10 with a 4.68 ERA in 22 starts in Single-A Greenville this season.)
The Red Sox (66-89) will still have a chance to move up in the order with nine games to play, sitting one-half game in front of Minnesota. There is also the scenario where teams could leapfrog them with supbar final weeks, with the Astros (67-85), Cubs (68-94) and White Sox (69-83) all within striking distance.
How important is getting a pick a few spots closer to the top of the heap? The Pirates’ starter Thursday night should have offered that reminder.
Gerrit Cole — who finished his seven-inning stint allowing two runs while striking out seven and not walking a batter — was the first overall pick taken in the 2011 draft. The No. 6 pick that year? That would be Anthony Rendon, who went to the Nationals. Rendon has been arguably the Nats’ best position player en route to their NL East crown this year. Read the rest of this entry »
Latest from Bleacher Report
- Staff Top 40 Rankings, 2014: Ian Cundall
- Staff Top 40 Rankings, 2014: Matt Huegel
- Sox have seventh pick in draft
- Staff Top 40 Rankings, 2014: Chris Hatfield
- SoxProspects.com 2014 season-end award winners
- SoxProspects.com Podcast #64: Playing Out the Stretch
- Weekly Notes: Prospects flock to Boston
- 2014 SoxProspects.com All-Stars
- 2014 Fall Instructional League rosters and schedule
- Cup of Coffee: PawSox fall late in Gildan Championship Game