|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.
|Closing Time: Pleasure, pain for Red Sox in win over Tigers||08.07.15 at 11:03 pm ET|
Up until the last out of the Red Sox‘ 7-2 road win over the Tigers on Friday night, everything was going the visitors’ way.
David Ortiz hit another home run, this one coming off Tigers lefty starter Daniel Norris. Both Rusney Castillo and Xander Bogaerts notched three-hit games, helping the Sox offense total 13 hits for the night. And Red Sox starter Joe Kelly turned in one of his best outings in quite a while.
But with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth inning, Ian Kinsler hit a line drive back up the middle that struck Koji Uehara in the right forearm. While the closer managed to pick up the ball and fire it to first for the game’s final out, Uehara looked in excruciating pain while being escorted off the field by trainer Brad Pearson.
Following the game, Uehara confirmed to reporters he hadn’t suffered a break in his injured arm.
“I consider that my whole body is a glove once I release the ball. That happens,” Uehara told reporters through a translator. In regards to managing a throw for the final out, he said, “Once I released the ball, I didn’t have too much strength in my hand. It sort of caught me when I didn’t put too much muscle or too much strength in it. It wasn’t too much of pain.”
Earning the win was Kelly, who allowed two runs on seven hits over 5 1/3 innings, striking out seven and walking two. The righty’s first six outs all came on strikeouts.
|David Ortiz closing in on $11 million 2016 vesting option: ‘I earned it’||08.06.15 at 10:01 am ET|
After 10 more plate appearances, David Ortiz will guarantee himself another season in a Red Sox uniform.
While it it’s unlikely the Red Sox wouldn’t pick up his $10 million team option, he’s now just 10 plate appearances shy of the 425 needed to guarantee his $11 million vesting option for 2016. He could hit escalators that push next year’s salary to $16 million if he gets up to 600 plate appearances.
“I earned it,” he said to WEEI.com’s John Tomase Wednesday. “That’s why I’m playing next year. Because I earned it.”
“That’s the way we pretty much agreed to do things,” he said of Red Sox management. “You know me, I get greedy when it comes down to performance. I want to put up numbers. I agreed to do it that way, because if I don’t put up numbers, what would be the reason to continue playing?”
On June 9, Ortiz was batting just .219 with six home runs. But, he’s straightened things out and is now back to his career norm numbers. Going into play Thursday he’s batting .244 with 21 home runs and 60 RBIs.
“You know how it is with myself,” Ortiz said. “Whenever I have a slow start, or things aren’t going my way, people start criticizing and saying things. But I guess that’s how it’s going to be. I can put up with that.
“I know what I’m capable of doing. Could we end up a different way? People always think when you talk about contracts you’re getting greedy about it, but I’m the guy that’s always carried this ballclub and put up numbers, you know what I’m saying?
“I work hard. I get ready. Pitchers, they know that my jersey says ‘Ortiz’ on my back. People need to sit down before they start talking and just watch the game a little more closely. Pitchers don’t put them on a tee for me. I’ve got to go get it.”
Ortiz will turn 40 in November and he doesn’t see the end of the road for him coming any time soon.
“I’m confident in myself, because I have put a lot of dedication into it,” Ortiz said. “I try to stay in good shape. It’s all up in your mind. That’s what I say. If you take care of yourself and do what you have to do, you can play at the age of 50. Just ask Julio Franco.”
|Closing Time: Steven Wright dominant, David Ortiz homers as Red Sox defeat Yankees||08.05.15 at 10:00 pm ET|
NEW YORK — With the Red Sox trying to figure out exactly who’ll be pitching in their rotation next season, here’s one name that almost never comes up — Steven Wright.
It’s understandable. The 30-year-old knuckleballer can only be as consistent as the most unpredictable pitch in baseball. When things go bad, the results are borderline unwatchable. But when things go well, Wright can make even the most dangerous lineup look punchless.
Such was the case on Wednesday night, when Wright’s knuckler danced and the Yankees dropped like flies. All things considered, it might’ve been the best outing of Wright’s career.
For the second straight start, Wright was in complete control. Last week, he outclassed White Sox ace Chris Sale in a surprising victory over the white-hot White Sox. On Wednesday, he limited the Yankees to one run on a solo homer by Carlos Beltran, otherwise silencing them in a 2-1 victory.
With Yankees phenom Luis Severino throwing gas in his highly anticipated big-league debut, Wright began the game as little more than an afterthought, but by night’s end he was the story. He limited the Yankees to four hits in eight masterful innings, walking two and striking out a career-high nine that bested his previous mark of eight set in his last start.
Wright’s performances have progressively improved over his last four outings, from six hits and six runs against the Angels during the West Coast trip to nowhere, to four runs (2 earned) in a loss to the Tigers, to beating Sale, to Wednesday night.
The Red Sox have no idea who’s going to make up their starting five in 2016, but with more outings like Wednesday’s, Wright will least force himself into the conversation.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: No shock here. Steven Wright did it all to shut down the high-powered Yankees offense.
|Closing Time: Junichi Tazawa allows 2 runs in 8th inning as Red Sox can’t hold lead vs. Rays||08.02.15 at 4:45 pm ET|
Junichi Tazawa has been the Red Sox‘ most dependable reliever this season, but even he can have a bad day once in a while.
Unfortunately for the Red Sox and Wade Miley, Tazawa allowed two eighth-inning runs in the their 4-3 loss to the Rays, spoiling a good start from Miley.
With the Red Sox leading 3-2 in the eighth, Evan Longoria doubled to lead off the inning and scored on Asdrubal Cabrera’s ground-rule double. Cabrera scored on a single by James Loney for the game-winning run. Tazawa picked up his fourth loss of the season.
“Today you have five consecutive fastballs to Asdrubal [Cabrera], which is a little bit uncommon for him and the last one leaked over the plate,” manager John Farrell said. “Even against Longoria to lead off the inning — tried to go down and away, ball ends up back arm side and close to Evan on that particular pitch. It’s been fastball location that hasn’t been as sharp in those moments.”
Koji Uehara tossed a scoreless ninth inning.
Things didn’t get off to the best of starts for Miley. After allowing five first inning runs his last time out, Miley allowed a leadoff home run to Brandon Guyer to open the game, but quickly settled down.
The left-hander retired the next seven hitters, getting into a good groove. Miley finished going 6 2/3 innings allowing two runs on five hits, while walking a batter and striking out four. Robbie Ross entered with a runner on third and two outs and after hitting a batter and a walk, he struck out Joey Butler to get out of the jam.
“A very good assortment of all his pitches,” Farrell said of Miley. “I thought he blended his offspeed pitches in well against the heavy right-handed hitting lineup. The 3-2 fastball that Guyer runs into to get things started, but other than that he was in command for the time he was on the mound today.”
|Mike Napoli celebrates staying in Boston with game-winning HR: ‘I love my teammates’||07.31.15 at 11:30 pm ET|
Talk about irony.
Mike Napoli spent the week leading up to Friday’s 4 p.m. ET non-waiver trade deadline wondering. He was wondering if his hot streak of late meant his days (and games) in the city he’s grown to love were numbered. The Pirates were in need of a right-handed power bat and surely, they could swing a deal with the Red Sox for the power hitter with just two months left on a two-year, $32 million contract.
But 4 p.m. came and went Friday and Napoli never got that call into general manager Ben Cherington’s office.
The first baseman took a deep breath and prepared to play another game for the Red Sox. He went 1-for-2 and that one hit was certainly a memorable one. With the Red Sox trailing 5-4 in the bottom of the seventh and David Ortiz at first after working walk, Napoli swung at a two-strike 97 mph neck-high heater from Tampa Bay lefty reliever Jake McGee and lofted a rain-making fly ball to left that came down on the ledge of the Green Monster and bounced into the seats for a go-ahead two-run homer. The homer was the difference in a 7-5 win over the Rays at Fenway.
What a way to mark staying in Boston. The slugger now has a .326 average, three homers, nine RBIs and seven walks since July 12.
“I was just trying to stay short to the ball. He throws hard. I calmed down my leg kick and just tried to get my barrel to it,” Napoli said.
“You face guys in your division so much,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “McGee is a guy that likes to elevate his fastball looks to get some chase. Nap was sitting on a pitch up in the zone and did a fantastic job with it. Finally, we had a break go our way.”
Napoli, the guy who had trouble in the clutch all season, the guy who couldn’t seem to catch up to a high fastball all year, clubbed a fly ball that was only a home run because it came at Fenway Park.
“Playing at Fenway to get that homer,” Napoli smiled. “It was just reaction. Just tried to calm my leg kick down. He throws hard.”
As for the relief that comes with the passing of the trade deadline, Napoli said it was just another day.
“I wasn’t worried about it,” Napoli said. “Like I said before, I just came to the park to make myself better. It’s something I can’t control. If it happened, it happened. But I wanted to be a Red Sox. I signed here. I love my teammates and I definitely have fun playing with them on the field.
Friday night’s Red Sox-Rays game was a battle for the worst record in the majors over the month of July and it certainly looked that way, as it was a sloppy game with the teams combining for five errors and both teams blowing leads late.
In the end, the Red Sox rallied to beat the Rays 7-5 and will finish the month 10-15, while the Rays will finish 9-16.
With two outs in the seventh inning, David Ortiz and Rays reliever Jake McGee battled in an 11-pitch at-bat before the lefty slugger worked a walk to set the stage for Mike Napoli, who hit a towering home run to left field that just barely cleared the wall of the Green Monster. It was his second home run in three games and gave the Sox a 6-5 lead.
“Two fantastic at-bats in the seventh inning,” manager John Farrell said. “David with an outstanding at-bat. Just misses a double, able to work out the walk against probably a premium left-handed reliever and then Nap seemingly tomahawks a pitch that has just enough to get out of here. Sea-saw game back and forth. Great to see us respond with the two-run home run by Nap.”
Blake Swihart scored on a wild pitch in the eighth for an insurance run.
Junichi Tazawa got a double-play in the eighth to end a potential Rays rally and Koji Uehara pitched the ninth to close out the win.
The Red Sox grabbed a 4-3 lead in the fifth inning on Alejandro De Aza’s second RBI of the game, but the bullpen couldn’t hold it.
In the seventh inning Robbie Ross Jr. allowed a walk and hit another batter to set up runners on first and second with two outs before departing from the game. Tazawa couldn’t escape as he allowed a pinch-hit double to John Jaso, which scored two runs and gave the Rays the 5-4 lead.
Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez didn’t have the best command of his fastball, but made up for it with one of his better changeups of the season. The left-hander went five innings and allowed three runs on six hits, while striking out four. The issue was he walked four batters on the way to throwing a career-high 110 pitches.
“On a night where Eddie battled himself, never really got into much of a rhythm, but to his credit made some pitches with runners in scoring position to minimize the damage,” Farrell said.
The Red Sox scored three times in the first inning to take a 3-1 lead early on. De Aza singled home Xander Bogaerts and then Swihart came through with a two-run single to shallow left field.
Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ win:
|Closing Time: Joe Kelly, Red Sox relievers roughed up in loss to White Sox||07.27.15 at 11:06 pm ET|
It certainly wasn’t the best played game, but at least it provided some mild entertainment.
After three lead changes and three ties, the White Sox outlasted the Red Sox, 10-8 Monday night at Fenway Park. The Red Sox now haven’t won two straight games since their seven-game win streak ended July 8.
With the game tied at seven in the seventh, the White Sox scored two runs off Red Sox reliever Robbie Ross Jr. He had allowed a run in the sixth as well, as he finished allowing three runs over two innings of work to take the loss.
Tommy Layne allowed another White Sox run in the ninth. The Red Sox scored one run in the ninth — a Pablo Sandoval single — to make it a two-run game, but that was all they could get as they had the tying run on first base.
Chicago jumped out to a 4-0 lead before the Red Sox even stepped into the batters box. Joe Kelly allowed four first inning runs, as the first six batters of the reach reached base, including three extra-base hits (back-to-back triples) to open the game.
The Red Sox battled back and tied the game at four after two innings. David Ortiz hit another home run in the first inning, a two-run shot (his third in two games) and then Jemile Weeks and Mookie Betts each had RBI singles in the second.
Kelly allowed another run in the third inning, which would ultimately be his last, as the right-hander went 3 1/3 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on seven hits, while striking out two. It was the second time in his last three starts where he failed to make it out of the fourth inning.
“Rough outing,” manager John Farrell said. “A lot of elevated pitches in the strike zone. There were strikes, but the command within the strike zone was lacking. A lot of hard contact early. We come right back after a couple of innings and tie things up. We’re going through the third time and it was time to make a move to the bullpen. Bottom line in this game, we couldn’t put up enough zeros.”
But once again the Red Sox fought back, taking the lead in the fourth inning. Betts had an infield single and they scored another when third baseman Tyler Saladino booted a Hanley Ramirez grounder.
Craig Breslow allowed a run in his only inning of relief of Kelly, which allowed the White Sox to tie the game at six at the time. The teams then traded runs, as the Red Sox scored an unearned run in the fifth and the White Sox scored a run off Ross Jr. in the sixth making it a 7-7 game until Ross allowed the two seventh inning runs.
The two teams also combined for three errors.
Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ loss:
Back on May 27, David Ortiz was batting .216 with six home runs and 18 RBIs and the designated hitter was benched for the first two games of a series in Texas with the hope of finding his swing.
Even with some people in and around the game doubting him, Ortiz has figured things out and is looking like the player many expected to see going into the season.
Following the left-handed slugger’s 4-for-5, two homer, career-high seven-RBI performance against the Tigers Sunday night, his average is up to .243 and he’s hit 19 home runs and has 54 RBIs this season.
Since those two games down, he’s batting .269 with 13 home runs and 36 RBIs over 46 games.
Manager John Farrell had no doubt at the time Ortiz would return to his usual self.
“No, personally there was no doubt because while some might suggest — because of his age there were a lot of comments around decreased bat speed. We didn’t see that,” he said. “It was more timing and getting his front foot on the ground a little more consistently. He’s hit left-handers better of late as well, but no, there was no concern that he at the end of the year when you look back, his numbers would be close to where they’ve been year in and year out.”
While his numbers have gotten much better of late, Ortiz said he doesn’t put much stock in them. He says it’s all about winning.
“I don’t really worry about my numbers. I worry about winning,” Ortiz said. “I worry about being able to walk out with a ‘W.’ That doesn’t just go for me, it goes for everybody in this room. It doesn’t matter if I go deep every night. If we end up not winning, who cares? The one thing that we always look for is having somebody doing something different every night to win ball games. Hopefully this thing carries over to tomorrow and the couple months that we have left.”
|David Ortiz drives in 7, thanks Pedro Martinez: ‘The most unbelievable human being I have been around’||at 12:53 am ET|
Hours after the Red Sox pitching great was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, Ortiz, inspired by a 30-minute bilingual speech from Martinez, drove in a career-high seven runs, belted two three-run homers, scored three runs and went 4-for-5 in an 11-1 pasting of the Tigers at Fenway Park.
“I was very emotional today looking at the induction,” Ortiz said. “It’s something that was remarkable. You never know what is going to pop out. Pedro, I got tears coming out when I saw Pedro talking because I know the man. I know everything that he went through in his career. I used to see that with Pedro after games. He starts telling me stories about things. All the stories he used to tell me made me a better human being, made me a better player. He was good. He wrote a book about it.
“He let it fly during the speech because for a lot of people, I know some of the fans, fans that don’t follow him. They thought that Pedro was as crazy as he looks sometimes when he was pitching. Pedro was the most unbelievable human being I have been around. Pedro is a Christian man. He is a man that thanks God every single minute of his life. Just watching during the speech, there was no doubt about the human being that I know that was out there letting people know how the game gets to be played.”
The magnitude of the night wasn’t lost on Ortiz’s manager, John Farrell.
“Maybe it’s somewhat fitting for Boston baseball today, with Pedro’s induction and then David with the seven RBI’s as he climbs up higher on that [career] list,” Farrell said.
Ortiz has struggled this season, as has the team. But on a night like Sunday, Ortiz could only imagine what Martinez would be doing to him in the dugout.
“He’d be hugging me all night,” Ortiz said. “Pedro, man, I’m telling you, he’s special. He’s somebody I always love having around because Pedro is nothing but positive stuff coming out. I’m pretty sure everybody in New England enjoyed his induction today.”
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