|Closing Time: David Ortiz hits career home run No. 495, Mookie Betts also goes deep to lift Red Sox past Yankees||08.31.15 at 10:55 pm ET|
With the season over from a standings perspective, the Red Sox are left with three reasons to play out the schedule ‘ seeing how young players develop, determining who should be here in 2016, and watching David Ortiz‘s chase for 500 home runs.
Monday night’s 4-3 victory over the Yankees hit on all three categories.
Youngsters Mookie Betts (2-run homer), Jackie Bradley (3 hits, runner thrown out at plate), and even starter Eduardo Rodriguez (5-plus 2-run innings despite subpar command) gave the Red Sox something to feel good about for the present and future. Beleaguered reliever Junichi Tazawa started a beautiful 1-6-3 double play to end the eighth. And Ortiz blasted career homer No. 495.
Add it all together, and not a bad night for a team going nowhere.
Let’s actually start with Ortiz. Forget about 500. At this rate, three years from now we’re going to be talking about homer No. 600.
Continuing a second-half surge that has restored his place among the most feared sluggers in the game, Ortiz’s solo homer to left proved the winner and left him just five long balls shy of becoming the 27th player in history to reach 500. His 29th homer of 2015 also left him one shy of his ninth 30-homer season, which would break a tie with Ted Williams for most in Red Sox history.
“It’s exciting for every once of us,” said interim manager Torey Lovullo. “He’s downplaying it in his typical David humble way to not make a distraction. He doesn’t want to make it about himself. He wants to make it about the team and how we’re playing right now, but it’s exciting for all of us to walk in every day. It’s bigger than a lot of things that are happening right now, and it’ll be fun if he gets that 500th.”
Ortiz’s homer made a winner of Rodriguez, who was lifted after allowing a leadoff single in the sixth. He allowed seven hits and three walks in his five innings, but he continually managed to avoid massive innings.
It helps that he erased one run at the plate on a comebacker, and that Bradley cut down another with yet another tremendous throw, this time from left field on a would-be sacrifice fly to erase Greg Bird at home.
|Closing Time: David Ortiz hits career home run No. 494, but Red Sox lose to Mets||08.30.15 at 4:09 pm ET|
Six to go.
Ortiz blasted No. 494 — a two-run shot off Noah Syndergaard that gave the Red Sox a 2-1 lead in the sixth — to move within six homers of the magic 500 mark for his career.
In the process, he broke a tie for 27th on the all-time list with Yankees Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig and former All-Star slugger Fred McGriff, who are at 493.
Ortiz’s 28th homer of the year left him two shy of his ninth 30-homer season. He is bidding to become the 27th member of the 500 club, joining contemporaries like Gary Sheffield, Albert Pujols, and Manny Ramirez. The next name on the list for him is Hall of Famer Eddie Murray (504).
Sunday’s homer actually meant something within the context of the game, too, because it represented the first damage the Red Sox could manage against Syndergaard, who mowed them down for five innings before Ortiz ripped a low 97 mph pitch into the right-field seats on a line.
The lead proved short-lived, however, because Juan Uribe responded in the bottom of the frame with a two-run double to dead center off of starter Wade Miley (6 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 6 Ks), who had virtually matched Syndergaard pitch for pitch until that moment.
|Closing Time: Red Sox can’t complete late rally, fall to Royals ending 4-game win streak||08.22.15 at 10:39 pm ET|
A night after scoring seven runs off Johnny Cueto, the Red Sox couldn’t keep the offensive momentum going.
Royals starter Yordano Ventura was able to keep the Red Sox in check as he limited the Sox to one run over six innings, as the Royals topped the Red Sox, 6-3.
The loss snapped the Red Sox’ season-high four-game win streak.
The Sox’ offense finally was able to get on the board in the sixth on a Travis Shaw fielder’s choice, which scored Xander Bogaerts. Mookie Betts added a solo home run in the seventh inning, which cleared everything in left field and then Bogaerts added an RBI-single in the ninth.
Although they finished with just three runs, they had their chances.
In the first inning Shaw flew out to left field with runners on first and second with two outs. Then in the fourth, Jackie Bradley Jr. struck out with runners on first and second to end the frame. Also, in the eighth Blake Swihart popped out to second base with runners on second and third to end the threat. Finally, Shaw ended the game with the bases loaded and the tying run at first base. The team left 11 runners in base.
Matt Barnes pitched well until he got to the sixth inning when he allowed a three-run home run to Salvador Perez to break the game open and give the Royals a 5-0 lead. Barnes finished the game going 5 1/3 innings, allowing five runs on eight hits, while walking a batter and striking out two.
Barnes allowed the other two runs in the first inning on a two-run double by Kendrys Morales.
Kansas City added another run in the eighth, which was charged to Heath Hembree.
Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ loss:
|Red Sox-Royals series preview||08.20.15 at 9:15 am ET|
With Wednesday’s victory over the Indians, the Red Sox have won three of their last four series and scored an overwhelming 8.36 runs per game in that time. However, that doesn’t mean it’s all smooth sailing, as the Sox have given up 5.81 runs per game in that same period.
The roster isn’t fixed by any means, and there’s no one suggesting that it might be. But changes are being made in Fenway Park, namely the ushering in of the Dave Dombrowski era and the end of the Ben Cherington era. The newly named president of baseball operations was released by the Tigers on Aug. 4 and officially introduced as a member of the Red Sox organization on Wednesday afternoon.
“You look at the ball club, it’s a situation where there’s a lot of great young talent breaking in at the major league level at this time,” Dombrowski said during his introduction. “The minor league system has a lot of talent also. When you start looking at opportunities that come around, there aren’t many opportunities like this that exist. … It’s a great opportunity.”
When the Royals roll into Boston for a four-game series beginning Thursday, the Sox will have a tougher test than what they faced against their most recent opponents in the Indians, Mariners, Marlins and Tigers. Among those four teams, none have records above .500. Kansas City, on the other hand, has the best record in the American League and second only to the Cardinals in all of the majors.
Riding a five-game winning streak, the longest active streak in the majors, the Royals are just all-around good. They’re a top-five club in terms of team batting average (.269, third), hits (1094, fifth), doubles (214, fourth), triples (31, fifth), stolen bases (82, fifth), team ERA (3.51, fifth), hits allowed (974, fourth), runs allowed (440, fourth) and earned runs allowed (415, fifth).
|David Ortiz: Ben Cherington did ‘remarkable job,’ but understands why shakeup was needed||08.18.15 at 11:47 pm ET|
With the Red Sox headed towards their second last place finish in the AL East in as many years and third in the last four, it’s not surprising a shakeup took place with the team hiring long-time executive Dave Dombrowski as president of baseball operations Tuesday night.
Current general manager Ben Cherington will not return after the transition process.
“Like I said, you see this happening in baseball over and over and over,” Ortiz said following Tuesday’s game. “When organizations struggle or whatever they just shake it up. I’m not saying that this is the best way to go and do things because like I said even in a couple of years, the way we had been, Ben won a World Series as a GM. So you don’t forget about that that quick.”
Playing for an organization like the Red Sox, winning is what is most important, so although the move was surprising, it isn’t all that surprising at the same time.
“Like I said, it’s always moves in an organization like this one,” Ortiz said. “We weren’t expecting it to happen, but it happened. Now we have to move on and continue trying to be an organization, team that can compete next year and I guess that’s what they’re looking for.”
A few of the players who spoke in the clubhouse following the game said it wasn’t Cherington’s fault for the poor performances in recent years and ultimately it came down to them as players on the field.
Ortiz was posed the same question and after a bit of hesitation said the same thing.
|Torey Lovullo details emotional day, how he will communicate with John Farrell||08.15.15 at 12:10 am ET|
It was a difficult game for everyone in the Red Sox organization.
Although the Red Sox blew out the Mariners 15-1 Friday night, that wasn’t the story — the story was their manager John Farrell announcing to the team and the world that he has stage one lymphoma and he will not manage the rest of the season.
Bench coach Torey Lovullo will take over.
Lovullo, one of Farrell’s closest friends, was misty-eyed when he spoke for the first time following the game.
“We as group have been walking around with a heavy heart today,” Lovullo said. “Our leader, our friend and our manager shared some pretty devastating news with us today. We had just about every emotion you possibly can. It was capped off with a lot of excitement in the dugout. These guys did that for John. They went out played hard and with a ton of energy for John.”
The 50-year-old said Farrell told him Thursday night and was able to help him process the news. Lovullo said he didn’t sleep much Thursday night and then Farrell told the team on Friday. His overriding message was he will take care of his business and the team should take care of theirs on the field.
“Something that I’ll never forget. You hear those words — those three words and they shock you for a moment,” Lovullo said. “Seem to put everything in perspective. You set aside the wins and losses. Like I said, my friend, our manager, our leader is struggling. You can never get used to hearing those words. He stood up before the guys, composed himself and said, ‘This is my story. I don’t want to be the story. I don’t want to be a distraction.’ That’s just a classic John Farrell moment — make it about the guys.
“That’s kind of what his message was today. You got and do this — I’ll take care of my business, you take care of your’s. That was the basic idea.”
|Closing Time: Red Sox offense catches fire in rout of Mariners||08.14.15 at 10:43 pm ET|
After averaging 5.9 runs a game during their last homestand, the Red Sox offense picked up where they left off — and then some.
Led by the middle of their order, the Red Sox rolled to a 15-1 win over the Mariners. The win snapped a two-game losing streak and the 15 runs were a season-high.
The Red Sox scored early and often, led by a six-run third inning to take a 9-1 lead at the time.
Rusney Castillo hit a two-run home run in the first inning and Travis Shaw hit a two-run home run in the third inning as the two big hits to get things started.
Shaw would later add a solo homer to lead off the eighth for his second multi-homer game of the season — his last coming August 1.
Brock Holt had a two-run triple in the third plating the eighth and ninth runs, while Mookie Betts added an RBI triple in the fifth. As a team they had 11 extra-base hits and 21 hits overall, which are also a season-high.
Jackie Bradley Jr. had three hits and has now hit safely in four straight games. Pablo Sandoval also had a three-hit night, including two doubles.
Red Sox starter Joe Kelly struggled early on, allowing a run while throwing 31 pitches in the first inning, but settled down nicely and even made it through six innings.
The right-hander went six innings allowing one run on four hits, while walking two and striking out six. He’s now won three games in a row for the first time since the very end of last season.
Craig Breslow tossed a scoreless seventh and eighth before Jean Machi threw a scoreless ninth.
Betts also made a tremendous leaping catch against the Green Monster in left-center to end the third inning robbing Robinson Cano of extra bases.
Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ win:
|David Ortiz on Red Sox manager John Farrell being diagnosed with lymphoma: ‘We’re going to ride through this with him’||at 5:18 pm ET|
Ortiz said on Friday the clubhouse was in shock with the news that Farrell has been diagnosed with stage 1 lymphoma. And he also vowed the players’ support.
“I’ve been around John for a long time,” Ortiz said. “He first was a pitching coach, and the past couple of years he’s been our manager. John is an incredible human being. In our situation, you’ve got 25 men in the room, and he’s got to put up with each one of us, every situation. I think it’s time for us to give him back that support and that much love that he gives to all of us. We’re going to ride through this with him. We’re going to always ask God for a blessing, you know, and make sure he comes through this in the best way possible.”
As Farrell noted, Ortiz believes his manager got extremely lucky. Had he not undergone surgery to repair a hernia in Detroit earlier this week, doctors wouldn’t have found the cancer.
“In his case, one out of a million times, the cancer that he has, it gives you no sickness until it’s pretty much all over the place, from what I heard,” Ortiz said. “He got very, very lucky that he went to get that hernia taken care of and all of a sudden they find out about this.
“It’s not the news you want to hear about, but when it comes down to what it was and the way they found out, I think we should all be happy about it, because now he knows. Otherwise, if he doesn’t get that surgery, then the news would’ve been different. Like he said, he had no symptoms. There’s no way he can tell about that cancer without having that surgery. It seems to me like pretty much everything worked for the best in this case, and hopefully he gets through it. Like I said, we’re going to give him all the support like he gives to us, always.”
Ortiz said he heard the news from a crying Hanley Ramirez, who came to him in the training room.
“Pretty much all of us were in shock,” Ortiz said. “When they mention the word cancer, it’s something that doesn’t matter what it comes from, it’s going to impact you. We’re going to give John the support that we can give him so he can get through this and be back next year, back to normal.
“Hopefully everything goes well for him. We’ve got a big family around here and definitely when it comes down to health issues, you want to make sure that everything goes OK. The organization has taken a lot of responsibility on that, to make sure that John gets through it, the way it’s supposed to be.”
|Red Sox-Mariners series preview||at 11:40 am ET|
The Sox remain in the cellar of the American League East and the entire AL, owning a 50-64 record and .439 win percentage. The Blue Jays are winners of 11 straight and are new division leaders, sitting 13 games ahead of the Sox.
The Red Sox have been better while playing in the friendly confines of Fenway, where the team owns a more mediocre 27-28 record. On the season in full, the Sox have a minus-75 run differential, which is the worst in the AL and third worst in all of baseball.
The Red Sox are not the only team to yield disappointing on-field results this season. The signing of slugger Nelson Cruz (among other offseason moves) looked to put the Mariners in a position to contend. Instead, the tea M’s have fallen flat in a manner not unlike the team on Yawkey Way.
Seattle has a 54-61 record, placing it fourth in the AL West. The Mariners are eight games behind the division-leading Astros and have won seven of their last 10 contests, including a Hisashi Iwakuma no-hitter on Wednesday.
Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon was cautiously optimistic about the team’s momentum and the rest of the Mariners’ season after Iwakuma’s no-no.
“If you look at this club since the All-Star Break we’re playing real good baseball,” McClendon said. “Probably should have won three out of four in Minnesota. Took the series in Colorado and we won our last three series in a row. So we’re starting to pick it up. This type of game only helps.”
|Closing Time: Junichi Tazawa’s troubles continue in Red Sox’ loss to Tigers||08.08.15 at 10:19 pm ET|
With all the talk about how the Red Sox need to fix their starting rotation for next season, an equally as daunting task may be rebuilding the team’s bullpen.
The latest example of how far the Red Sox relievers have fallen came with two outs in the seventh inning Saturday night, with Junichi Tazawa facing Detroit’s Victor Martinez while trying to preserve a one-run lead.
As has been the case of late, the outcome was not good for Tazawa or the Red Sox.
The Red Sox reliever hung a split-fingered fastball to Martinez, who launched a go-ahead two-run blast into the right field seats. The hit would be the decisive blow in the Tigers’ 7-6 win over the Sox.
With the home run, Red Sox relievers had allowed opponents a .623 slugging percentage for August. Tazawa continues to exemplify the bullpen’s downturn, coming into the game having allowed a .382 batting average and 1.059 OPS against since the All-Star break.
Heading into Saturday, Red Sox relievers’ batting average against was .308 in August, with the bullpen’s ERA standing at 5.40 for the month.
The loss was made even more frustrating for the Red Sox considering they had come from behind earlier in the seventh, with David Ortiz‘s two-run single giving the visitors a lead. It was Ortiz’s third hit of the night, as he doubled in the first inning and hit his 23rd homer in the sixth.
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