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Closing Time: Astros plate 4 runs in 10th inning to beat Red Sox in back-and-forth affair 07.03.15 at 11:34 pm ET
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The Astros got the last laugh in Friday's wild 9-8 win over the Red Sox. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The Astros got the last laugh in Friday’s wild 9-8 win over the Red Sox. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

While it wasn’t quite the Fourth of July (just yet), the Red Sox and Astros provided some fireworks in a wild game, which saw two lead changes and the game tied another three times, along with some bizarre plays over the four- hour and 23 minute affair.

In the tenth inning with Noe Ramirez making his major league debut, he allowed four runs (two unearned courtesy of Mike Napoli‘s error) as the Astros were able to get the last laugh in a back-and-forth game, winning 12-8 Friday night at Fenway Park.

In the eighth inning, Astros shortstop Carlos Correa hit a towering solo home run off Craig Breslow to leadoff the frame giving the Astros an 8-7 lead, but that was short-lived as the Red Sox would again tie the game in the bottom half of the inning on a David Ortiz opposite field double. The double could have given the Red Sox the lead, but Mookie Betts was thrown out trying to steal third base for the second out of the inning.

“Our offense did a great job tonight,” manager John Farrell said. “Three times we battled back by being down. A number of good swings. David obviously with a big one, the eighth inning to tie it. We continue to battle back. Our offense is swinging the bat well, we’re scoring a good number of runs. The larger concern is just getting deeper into the games that are starting out the ballgame.”

In the top of the seventh inning, Matt Barnes loaded the bases, but struck out Alex Presley for the second out of the inning, but the next batter, Jose Altuve, singled up the middle, giving the Astros a 7-5 lead.

Once again, the Red Sox would come right back in the bottom half of the inning to tie the game at seven. Pablo Sandoval singled with the bases loaded scoring a run and then Alejandro De Aza’s fielders choice plated the tying run at the time.

Trailing 5-2 entering the bottom of the fifth, the Red Sox scored three times to tie the game at five. Ortiz singled home Brock Holt and then Xander Bogaerts scored on a fielder choice when Ortiz broke up a potential double play by taking the ball off the helmet sliding into second base. Hanley Ramirez advanced to second on the play and then scored on a two-out RBI single by Sandoval, against lefty reliever Tony Sipp.

Red Sox starter Justin Masterson allowed five runs on seven hits in the fourth inning, not even finishing the inning as he was removed after 3 2/3 innings. The right-hander didn’t allow a hit the first time through the Astros order, but Houston lit him up the second time around.

“First three innings he was solid and then in the matter of 13 pitches there’s three runs on the board and seven hits in the fourth inning, so they went early in the count,” Farrell said. “When he did try and alternate with a first pitch slider was a ball and they would fight back in the count, but they were aggressive and took him the other way. I thought he came out early, I thought he had good life to his stuff, but to close out the fourth inning, couldn’t happen.”

The Red Sox did play some spotty defense in the fourth, particularly in the left field as Ramirez appeared to have some trouble fielding two balls hit off the wall and getting the ball back in to the infield.

Ramirez gave the Red Sox a 1-0 lead with a towering homer in the second inning and then the Sox scored another on a Betts single.

Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ win:

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Read More: David Ortiz, hanley ramirez, justin masterson, matt barnes
David Ortiz on All-Star voting: ‘We need to take this more serious’ at 11:57 am ET
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David Ortiz has been an American League All-Star nine times, so he’€™s intimately familiar with the selection process and the game itself.

That’€™s why he doesn’€™t like what he’€™s witnessed this year.

“We need to take this more serious when it comes to picking guys for the All-Star Game,” the Red Sox designated hitter said.

Like the rest of baseball, Ortiz has witnessed how fan voting (which closed Thursday night) has unfolded, with Royals players either leading, or close to leading, virtually every position on the AL roster.

According to the most recent results, second baseman Omar Infante (.231 batting average, .547 OPS) and Alcides Escobar (.273, .664) of the Royals would be starters if the game was played today.

Other KC players garnering enough votes to start at last glance are outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon, and catcher Salvador Perez. In second place at their positions are DH Kendrys Morales, first baseman Eric Hosmer and third baseman Mike Moustakas.

Ortiz joins the voices saying enough is enough.

“I know that MLB always wants to get the fans involved in this because as a fan you want to see your favorite players. But the reality is the way I know All-Star Games are for whomever is playing the best in the first half. Now you see all these things that’s happening with Kansas City and their players. I saw that coming. I saw that coming a long time ago. I knew it was going to happen,” the DH said.

“I think the reality is that they need to go back to the old days and choose the players who are playing the best in the first half. Even us as players are like, ‘These guys are making the All-Star Game with these numbers?’ It’s questionable. I don’€™t think it’€™s fair to some of the players.”

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Read More: All-Star Game, David Ortiz, Red Sox, royals
Red Sox-Astros series preview at 9:27 am ET
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The Red Sox won't have to face George Springer in this series, as the Astros outfielder was placed on the disabled list after suffering a fractured wrist when he was hit by a pitch Wednesday against the Royals. (Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

The Red Sox won’t have to face George Springer in this series, as the Astros outfielder was placed on the disabled list after suffering a fractured wrist when he was hit by a pitch Wednesday against the Royals. (Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

After a solid road trip that kept at least a sliver of hope for the 2015 season alive, the Red Sox return home for a weekend series against the Astros.

Despite a reassuring week, the Red Sox remain in last place in the American League East with a record of 37-44. They sit six games behind the Yankees and Orioles, who are tied for first place, and five back of Tampa Bay and Toronto. The clutter and parity of the division means that the Sox would have to overcome four teams to take the lead, but also that no team is far superior to the others.

Boston went 5-2 in the past week, winning series against division opponents Tampa Bay and Toronto. The team has won six of its last 10 and nine of 14. Designated hitter David Ortiz has been encouraged by the club’s progress of late.

“It’s good, man,” said Oritz after Thursday’s 11-2 rout of Toronto. “We haven’t been able to play consistently good, you know? If we finish the first half of the season playing the way we have lately, it’ll give you hope for the second half, especially when you’re in a division where there’s not too many games apart. We played the worst the first couple months of the season and we’re still six, seven games away. If we start playing better, it’ll give you hope.”

While the Sox have surprised many with their struggles this season, their weekend foes are just the opposite. The Astros have been shockingly good and hold a solid lead on the rest of the AL West.

Houston has gone 47-34 this season, boasting the highest winning percentage and most wins in the American League and second in all of baseball behind the Cardinals. They are in the driver’s seat in the division, holding a five-game lead over the Angels and a 5 1/2-game lead on the Rangers.

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Read More: Dallas Keuchel, David Ortiz,
Closing Time: Jackie Bradley Jr., David Ortiz homer in Red Sox’ third straight win 06.30.15 at 10:11 pm ET
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David Ortiz hit his 13th home run of the year in the Red Sox' win over the Blue Jays. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

David Ortiz hit his 13th home run of the year in the Red Sox‘ win over the Blue Jays. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Is it too soon to say the Red Sox may be building some momentum and turning a corner?

For just the third time all season (79 games) the Red Sox have won three games in a row as they held on to beat the Blue Jays, 4-3 Tuesday night in Toronto. It was also their ninth win in their last 14 games.

The Red Sox scored two runs in the first inning without even recording a hit against Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada. The right-hander walked four, including two with the bases loaded as the Sox grabbed a 2-0 lead before the Blue Jays even stepped to the plate.

Jackie Bradley Jr. and David Ortiz each hit solo home runs in the second and third innings respectively to force Estrada from the game after just 2 1/3 innings. Ortiz’s was absolutely crushed — 468 feet to right field for his 13th home run of the season.

Eduardo Rodriguez faced the Blue Jays just over two weeks ago and allowed nine runs in 4 2/3 innings, but Tuesday the left-hander got some revenge. The rookie went six innings allowing one run on four hits, while walking two and striking out four. He threw 97 pitches with a season-high nine swing and misses.

Rodriguez improved to 4-2 with a 3.92 ERA on the year.

Tommy Layne relieved Rodriguez for the seventh inning and allowed a two-run homer to Jose Reyes, which cut the Red Sox lead to one at 4-3, but the Red Sox bullpen was able to hold on. Koji Uehara earned his 18th save with a perfect ninth inning. It was his third appearance in the last three days.

The Red Sox have now took the first two games of the four-game series.

Here’s what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ win:

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Read More: David Ortiz, eduardo rodriguez, jackie bradley jr.,
Closing Time: Red Sox win overshadowed by injuries to Hanley Ramirez, Dustin Pedroia 06.24.15 at 9:48 pm ET
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Hanley Ramirez (pictured) along with Dustin Pedroia both left Wednesday's game with injuries (Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Hanley Ramirez (pictured) along with Dustin Pedroia both left Wednesday’s game with injuries. (Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

While the Red Sox showed some grit, coming back from a 1-0 deficit following a tough loss Tuesday night, the win was overshadowed by two injuries occurring during the game.

Hanley Ramirez and Dustin Pedroia both left the game in the Red Sox‘ 5-1 win over the Orioles Wednesday at Fenway Park, as the Sox scored five times in the sixth inning taking advantage of two Baltimore errors.

Ramirez left the game following the bottom of the fifth when he was struck on the left wrist by a line drive from Xander Bogaerts on a hit-and-run play when Ramirez was running to second base. It was announced as a left hand contusion. He saw the ball, but couldn’t get out of the way.

Pedroia left the game following a single in the sixth, when it appeared he suffered the injury rounding first base. The team announced the injury as right hamstring tightness.

“We’re still in the process of gathering all the information,” manager John Farrell said. “There’s advanced imaging going on for both Pedey and Hanley. The injuries are what everyone saw, but we don’t have full information yet.”

After the Orioles scored the first run of the game in the top of the sixth, the Red Sox came right back in the bottom half of the inning thanks to some sloppy Orioles defense.

Following two errors, Mookie Betts made them pay with a sharp single to right scoring Alejandro De Aza, who had reached on an error to leadoff the frame. Following a Brock Holt ground out to advance two runners, Pedroia came through with a two-run single to left (the play he was injured on) to put the Red Sox on top, 3-1 at the time.

The next batter David Ortiz then crushed a Bud Norris offering over the center field wall for a two-run homer to give the Red Sox the 5-1 lead. None of the runs in the inning were earned.

Clay Buchholz was once again solid for the Red Sox. The right-hander went seven innings allowing one run on eight hits while walking one and striking seven. The Red Sox have won four of his last five starts and his ERA has now fallen to 3.68 on the season.

“Lot of strikes and a constant mix of all his pitches,” Farrell said. “There wasn’t any one sequence that he would repeat. Started a number of guys off with a number of different pitches and again just with a constant change of speed for him tonight. He’s been very dependable for us and seven strong innings tonight. Good to see him go out and put up a zero after we scored the five. But led the way for us tonight.”

Junichi Tazawa struck out the side in the eighth inning and Koji Uehara tossed a scoreless ninth to close out the win.

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Read More: Clay Buchholz, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, hanley ramirez
Closing Time: Red Sox lose seventh straight as Braves pick up 4-2 win over Sox 06.15.15 at 10:05 pm ET
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The Red Sox lost their seventh straight game Monday night. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The Red Sox lost their seventh straight game Monday night. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Are there anymore adjectives to describe the 2015 Red Sox?

Following yet another team meeting before the game, the Red Sox managed just two runs against the Braves, as they fell 4-2 Monday night at a damp Fenway Park. It was the team’s seventh straight loss.

The Braves scored three times in the fourth inning against Red Sox starter Rick Porcello. Atlanta started the inning off with three straight singles scoring one run, before adding another on a wild pitch and their third on an A.J. Pierzynski RBI single that got past the dive of Mike Napoli at first base.

They added another in the seventh when they loaded the bases against Porcello before Robbie Ross Jr. entered and allowed an RBI single to Jace Peterson, making it a 4-0 game. Ross got a double play on the next batter to escape any further damage.

“They bunched some singles together,” manager John Farrell said. “There was a curveball that checks up right behind the plate that eludes Leon for another run. Not really any hard hit balls, just base hits they were able to bunch up.”

Porcello lost his fifth straight straight start, going 6 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on six hits, while walking one and striking out five. His last win came on May 16. He didn’t pitch bad, it was just a 29-pitch fourth inning that did him in.

“I’m mad that I felt good,” Porcello said. “I ended up loading the bases with one out. I mean,  that’s not good. In any situation you have bases loaded with one out it’s a tough situation to get out of. I was pissed off that we were in that spot to begin with.”

Ross pitched a scoreless 1 2/3 innings of relief, before Alexi Ogando recorded all three outs in the ninth after Ross allowed a leadoff single.

The Red Sox offense was shutout out by starter-turned-reliever Williams Perez, as the right-hander went six innings, not allowing a run on five hits. They scored their lone run in the seventh inning on a Xander Bogaerts homer to dead-center field off reliever Dana Eveland.

They scored a run in the ninth off closer Jason Grilli on an RBI single by Mookie Betts.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Perez. Six shutout innings against a desperate Red Sox team was more than enough to give the Braves the win. He’s 3-0 on the year. Vote on the Rock Solid Performer of the week and enter to win a VIP Boston Baseball Experience at weei.com/rocksolid.

Here’s what went (wrong) and right in the Red Sox loss:

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Read More: David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, rick porcello, xander bogaerts
Red Sox-Braves series preview at 11:01 am ET
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Freddie Freeman (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Freddie Freeman has been the Braves‘ top hitter this season, checking in at .306/.376/.533 with 12 home runs and 40 RBIs. (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

According to manager John Farrell, the Red Sox are “not in a good place right now as a team.” They’re 10 games under .500, have lost six straight following consecutive sweeps and are eight games back of first place in the division and the wild card spot.

“No one expected us to be in this situation, but that’s a reality right now,” Xander Bogaerts said after Sunday’s 13-5 loss to the Blue Jays.

The Sox have a chance to snap their skid when the Braves roll into town Monday for the first of four games between the teams. The first two contests will be played at Fenway Park, while the latter two will take place in Atlanta.

The Braves may have a losing record in their last 10 games (4-6) and on the season (30-33), but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been performing well. Of their players with at least 15 at-bats in the last week, only one player has a batting average under .320. In addition, during the month of June the Braves have scored the most runs of any National League team with 68 and are second to just the Blue Jays (88) in terms of league-wide scoring. They also have the most hits (145) of any team in the majors during June and the highest on-base percentage at .367, and their team average (.303) is second overall to the Jays, who are just .001 ahead of them.

Atlanta’s issue has been its pitching, but more its relievers than the rotation. The Braves as a whole have the sixth-worst ERA in the league at 4.23. Their starters have a middle of the road, 13th-best ERA of 4.02, but the bullpen has a second-worst 4.64 mark. Atlanta’s relief arms have given up the third-most runs (101) and earned runs (96) in the league and have surrendered the fourth-most home runs to opponents, allowing batters to slug at a third-highest rate of .412, above just Red Sox and Rangers relievers. In its last 20 games alone, the bullpen has an ERA of 5.89 and on the year, no team has allowed more runs (109) or earned runs (100) or posted a higher ERA (5.00) in the seventh inning or later than Atlanta.

“Every aspect of our [offensive] game has been pretty solid,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “We’ve just got to figure out how to keep the opposition from scoring runs.”

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Read More: Atlanta Braves, blake swihart, David Ortiz, Freddie Freeman
Closing Time: Poor defense, 6-run fourth inning leads to sixth straight Red Sox loss 06.14.15 at 4:49 pm ET
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Eduardo Rodriguez suffered his first major league loss Sunday against the Blue Jays. (Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Eduardo Rodriguez suffered his first major league loss Sunday against the Blue Jays. (Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

The nightmare continued for the Red Sox on Sunday.

This time it was bad defense, allowing six runs in the fourth inning and another four runs in the fifth, as the Blue Jays jumped out to a 10-0 lead, before the Red Sox clawed back to make it a 13-5 final.

The Red Sox have now dropped six straight games and the Blue Jays tied a franchise-high with 11 straight wins.

It was the second straight series the Red Sox have been swept, both by AL East opponents following a mid-week sweep by the Orioles. In the three games this weekend, the Red Sox allowed 31 runs. By way of comparison, it took the first 17 games in the month of May for the Red Sox to score their 31st run of the month.

Toronto sent nine men to the plate in the fourth against Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez. Right fielder Alejandro De Aza took two poor routes to fly balls and Dustin Pedroia lost a ball in the sun, seeing it fall at his feet in shallow right, contributing to the six runs scored.

The big blow came with two outs when No. 9 hitter Ryan Goins lined a three-run home run into the Blue Jays bullpen, making it 6-0. For Rodriguez, the inning marked the first time he allowed a hit with runners in scoring position, as he entered the frame retiring 12 straight betters he faced with runners in scoring position to begin his major league career.

The Blue Jays added four more runs in the fifth, all with two outs. The Red Sox could have got out of the inning on a Chris Colabello pop up to shallow right center, but four Red Sox players converged and saw the ball drop in between them — the sun playing a factor again. Russell Martin then singled ending Rodriguez’s day.

“We get a ball in the following inning after the six runs that’s an aggressive call off by De Aza coming in from right field where Xander is camped under it,” manager John Farrell said. “It opens up the door for a couple more consecutive hits and a four-run inning. It’s a 10-run hole that we’re in.”

In came knuckleballer Steven Wright who was greeted by a towering, two-run home run by Danny Valencia, making it a 10-0 game.

Rodriguez suffered his first major league loss, going 4 2/3 innings, allowing nine runs on eight hits and walking three. Most of the damage was not entirely his fault with the bad defense behind him.

“I don’t know know if it was necessarily an overall lack of command from Eddie,” Farrell said. “He’s going up against a hot lineup right now. Like I said, they fouled off some decent pitches until the big three-run home run.”

Even being down 10-0, the Red Sox didn’t roll over and quit, scoring five times in the fifth inning, led by David Ortiz‘s three-run homer, his second in as many days.

Toronto added three more in the seventh on back-to-back doubles by Goins and Jose Reyes, both against Tommy Layne, who came in for Wright in the middle of the frame.

Sunday marks the 17th straight day the Red Sox have not gained ground in the AL East.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Might as well make it three straight for Martin. He killed the Red Sox this weekend, as he finished Sunday going 3-for-4 with two RBIs and three runs scored. Vote on the Rock Solid Performer of the week and enter to win a VIP Boston Baseball Experience at weei.com/rocksolid.

Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ loss:

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Read More: Alejandro De Aza, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, eduardo rodriguez
Red Sox pregame notes: How long will Xander Bogaerts hit third?; Craig Breslow on paternity leave 06.12.15 at 5:42 pm ET
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Xander Bogaerts

Xander Bogaerts

For the first time in his major league career, Xander Bogaerts got to the park and saw his name penciled in as the Red Sox‘ No. 3 hitter.

With Hanley Ramirez getting a day off dealing with a left hamstring issue from Thursday and fouling a pitch off his knee Tuesday, Bogaerts will take his place in the batting order.

Bogaerts is currently on a seven-game hit streak, but manager John Farrell said Ramirez is the team’s No. 3 hitter.

“Hanley is probably our three hole hitter, for the time being,” he said. “But, [Bogaerts] has been swinging the bat well, he’s had a number of quality at-bats for a period of time now. With Hanley out, Bogey I think the obvious choice to settled into that spot. Where we go going forward when we have a full complement of players, Bogey has been in the middle of a lot of our scoring opportunities.”

Bogaerts hasn’t hit higher than fifth in the order this season. Currently he’s batting .295, the third-best on the team behind Dustin Pedroia and Brock Holt.

“I would like to think the spot in the order doesn’t dictate what the hitter is going to do,” Farrell said. “Yes, we’d like to find combinations that work in tandem if possible. Once you get past the first time through the order, whether you’re in the three hole or the eight hole, that becomes a little irrelevant to be honest with you. Yeah, the higher up you’re going to get an additional at-bat each night. Bogey has done an excellent job of gradually coming along and being a steady performer to the point of a .300 hitter. He’s going to get added responsibility.”

Craig Breslow has been placed on paternity leave, as he’s expecting twins. Heath Hembree has been recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket to take his place.

— Farrell said Justin Masterson (right shoulder tendinitis) is physically able to pitch on Monday, but it is unclear where that will be. He said the two would meet before Friday’s game to map out a plan.

— Ryan Hanigan (fractured right hand) will take batting practice on the field Saturday for the first time. He’s on the 60-day disabled list and should be able to return right around the All-Star break.

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Read More: Craig Breslow, David Ortiz, hanley ramirez, justin masterson
Mike Lowell on pinch-hitting for David Ortiz: ‘I felt terrible for him’ 06.11.15 at 12:57 pm ET
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David Ortiz and Mike Lowell experienced an awkward pinch-hitting moment five years ago. (Elsa/Getty Images)

David Ortiz and Mike Lowell experienced an awkward pinch-hitting moment five years ago. (Elsa/Getty Images)

BALTIMORE — It was just a seventh inning at-bat in an April 20 game five years ago. But the moment is routinely remembered, particularly these days.

The Red Sox‘ matchup in Toronto against the Blue Jays was memorable because it marked the last time David Ortiz was pinch-hit for in a significant spot. It’s certainly something the man who subbed in for him, Mike Lowell, hasn’t forgotten.

“I felt terrible for him. I wasn’€™t delighted,” the former Red Sox third baseman by phone Thursday afternoon. “I was the type of person who loved to hit. I loved to get in there. But that was really one moment in my career I preferred not hitting.”

At the time, Ortiz was hitting just .146 (6-for-41) through 11 games, and 1-for-9 vs. lefties. Meanwhile, then-Red Sox manager Terry Francona was attempting to find at-bats for Lowell, who had gone 4-for-12 in limited duty in his role sharing time with third baseman Adrian Beltre and Ortiz.

As Lowell remembered it, the awkwardness of the moment wasn’t hard to find.

“The first thing I remember is thinking I was hoping this wouldn’€™t happen, not because I wanted anyone to make an out in front of me, but because, first, nobody likes to be pinch-hit for, and secondly, you don’€™t want to be the person who goes in for the other person, especially in the situation I was in,” he said. “First, he is a very good friend of mine, and, two, you feel for him because you knew he was struggling and you know he’€™s thinking how is he going to get out of this and start hitting lefties if he doesn’€™t face lefties anymore.

“It felt like we were going down a weird road because I wasn’€™t playing. How much are you gaining? I don’€™t know. But I do think you could be really demoralizing the hitter being pinch-hit for if you expect to lean on him during the season.

“Did I want to do something well? Yes. Did it work out? I guess in the short-term because I got on base. But I didn’€™t think we won in the long range of setting up a pattern or this was going to help David.”

Ortiz slowly walked back to the Red Sox dugout after being called back, telling WEEI.com in the days that followed, “It was just embarrassing.”

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Read More: David Ortiz, mike lowell, Red Sox,
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