Six months later, David Ortiz comes through again

By Ryan Hannable

BOSTON — Certainly Game 2 of the ALCS is a lot different than the ninth game of the regular season, but just like he did six months ago in October, David Ortiz hit a clutch home run in the eighth inning when his team desperately needed a lift.

There’s no denying the Red Sox were in a funk to open the year, dropping five of their first eight games and looking all kinds of out of sorts at the plate, failing to get a clutch hit with runners in scoring position and hitting into double plays at inopportune times.

The Red Sox had just allowed a run in the seventh and a run in the eighth to spoil a terrific outing from Jake Peavy and trailed 2-1. With two runners on and one out, the Rangers went to their bullpen for left-hander Neal Cotts, who had owned Ortiz in the past, as in five at bats Ortiz had struck out five times. That didn’t matter as Ortiz crushed an inside fastball into the twilight sky and over Pesky’s Pole in right field to give the Red Sox a much-needed, 4-2 win.

“Huge hit. Hopefully this gives us a little bit of momentum finishing out a series win here and with a long road trip hopefully this is a jump start for us,” manager John Farrell said. “So many times has he bailed us out and no different today, particularly against a match up that was way in favor of [Neal] Cotts, you know five at bats previous, five strikeouts and this time David got him.”

Granted it’s only April 9 and only 5.5 percent into the season, but the Red Sox badly needed the win. The Red Sox had won just one of their first five home games, including being swept by the Brewers last weekend and if they would’ve lost Wednesday they would have lost their second consecutive series.

As a team, they’ve put up some pretty rough numbers offensively. They’ve grounded into 17 double plays as a team through the first nine games, which well and beyond leads the majors as going into Wednesday, Colorado was second with 13. They’ve also struggled to hit with runners in scoring position as currently they are hitting just .215 (7-for-79). as a team. It’s been frustrating for the team as they’ve recorded double-digit hit totals in four games to open the year, but don’t have the run or win totals to show for it.

Often times in baseball one swing can change everything as demonstrated last October when Ortiz’s home run in Game 2 of the ALCS carried them from what looked like going down 0-2 back to Detroit to face Justin Verlander in Game 3, to a Game 2 win and all the momentum they needed to reach the World Series and ultimately win the World Series. Ortiz’s game-winner Thursday could be that same type of hit to get the team on a hot streak like they were on for so much of last season.

“I’m the kind of hitter that I’ve always believed, one at bat, good or bad can get momentum going, especially when things aren’t going that well,” Ortiz said. “It’s early in the season, nine games. We just have to keep playing good so we can get into the playoffs this year.”

Unlike many other superstars to play the game Ortiz has the ability to change the overall mood of a team with just one swing of the bat and is on completely different level than anyone else playing the game when it comes to getting hits in the clutch.

Jonny Gomes decribed it perfectly: “We’re just here to win a ballgame and he’s here to add his to his Hall of Fame resume.”

How badly did the Red Sox need David Ortiz’s heroics? Leave your thoughts in the comment section or on Twitter @Hannable84.

 

“Huge hit. Hopefully this gives us a little bit of momentum finishing out a series win here and with a long road trip hopefully this is a jump start for us,” manager John Farrell said. “So many times has he bailed us out and no different today, particularly against a match up that was way in favor of [Neal] Cotts, you know five at bats previous, five strikeouts and this time David got him. – See more at: http://www.metro.us/boston/sports/mlb/2014/04/09/david-ortizs-three-run-homer-lifts-red-sox-rangers/#sthash.2uQX66Bg.dpuf
“Huge hit. Hopefully this gives us a little bit of momentum finishing out a series win here and with a long road trip hopefully this is a jump start for us,” manager John Farrell said. “So many times has he bailed us out and no different today, particularly against a match up that was way in favor of [Neal] Cotts, you know five at bats previous, five strikeouts and this time David got him. – See more at: http://www.metro.us/boston/sports/mlb/2014/04/09/david-ortizs-three-run-homer-lifts-red-sox-rangers/#sthash.2uQX66Bg.dpuf

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Too early to look at numbers in Red Sox’ 3-5 start

By Ryan Hannable

BOSTON — Some of the numbers aren’t pretty, some of the numbers don’t even make much sense, but at the end of the day the Red Sox are just eight games into the season and at this point don’t even matter that much.

“I don’t think we’re scuffling, I don’t think we’ve started,” outfielder Jonny Gomes said. “I think it’s too early in the season offensively, defensively, pitching to say we’re scuffling.”

The Red Sox lead the American League in hits with 75, but only have 4.38 runs per game to show for it. Coming into Tuesday they were tied for 10th in the AL in runs scored per game. There are two explanations for this — their inability to get hits with runners in scoring position and the number of double plays they have hit into.

Through eight games the Red Sox are hitting .211 (15-71) with runners in scoring position and that number looks even worse when you take out Jackie Bradley Jr. as without him they are just .156 (10-for-64). Also after eight games, the club has grounded into 15 double plays, including five in Tuesday’s loss, which was one shy of the franchise record in a game. The 15 double plays are by far the most in the majors, which isn’t all that surprising as they were fourth in the AL last year, but it is how many they’ve grounded into so far being worrisome as currently they are on pace for over 300 on the season. The most all time by the Red Sox was 174 in 1990.

“It’s early in the season you want to look at the positive sides of things and we hit into five double plays, but scored seven runs,” Gomes said. “I’m sure that’s pretty rare too. Like I said before, I like where we’re at. If we can score seven runs with five double plays I think we’re scratching the surface for things on the positive side.”

In addition to the lack of hitting with runners in scoring position and number of double plays hit into, the Red Sox have a few of their leaders struggling at the plate. Dating back to Sunday, David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia are 2 for their last 25, while Daniel Nava has been struggling since the outset, posting a .138/.219/.172 slash line in seven games.

All this being said, in the grand scheme of things eight games is just five percent of the entire season and things in baseball usually have a way of evening themselves out.

“Just when you get off to a little bit of a slow start people start panicking because you look up and see the numbers, but at the end of the year the numbers are going to be where they need to be,” said catcher A.J. Pierzynski.

What are your thoughts on the Red Sox offense thus far? Voice your thoughts in the comment section or on Twitter @Hannable84.

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Brandon Workman to be sent down to Pawtucket, Craig Breslow recalled

By Ryan Hannable

BOSTON — Although nothing has been made official by the club, Craig Breslow will be recalled Wednesday and Brandon Workman will be sent back down to Pawtucket.

“Breslow is coming back and Breslow obviously deserves a spot so that’s the way it goes,” a dejected Workman said at his locker following the game Tuesday.

Breslow, who started the year on the 15-day DL, like he did last year, has now pitched in three rehab games with Pawtucket and is ready to return. Although it may not be what the Red Sox want to do, it was really their only option with none of their other relievers having options.

“Obviously it’s not ideal, but I understand what they are doing,” he said.

The ironic thing was Workman was the Red Sox’ best pitcher Tuesday night as he went four innings allowing just one run on two hits and struck out three, pitching the final four innings of the game.

“I felt good, I felt like I commanded my pitches and got ahead of most of the hitters,” said Workman. “I was able to make pitches later in the count and get some outs.”

The Red Sox will now look to stretch the 25-year-old out and possibly get him into starting games in a few weeks. It seems the overall plan for him is to have him be a starter and likely the No. 6 starter for this year’s club.

“They said they want to get me stretched out and stuff so it’s just the way it goes,” he said.

Workman emerged last year as one of the Red Sox’ key relievers in their World Series run, appearing in seven postseason games without allowing an earned run.

With the talent the right-hander possesses, he will be back in Boston sooner than later.

For up-to-the-minute Red Sox news, follow Ryan Hannable on Twitter @Hannable84.

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Red Sox pregame notes: Exploring the leadoff position

By Ryan Hannable

BOSTON — Through the first seven games of the season the Red Sox have used three different players in the lead off spot, without a great deal of success. It is a spot in the lineup hitting just .143/.273/.179 on the year. Daniel Nava has started five games there, while Jonny Gomes and Grady Sizemore each have one. Gomes will be back there tonight against the left-hander Martin Perez.

“The one thing we prioritize is getting on base,” manager John Farrell said. “We’re still trying to generate that. We’re still trying to mix and match the best we can with the guys currently available. We’re going to see Jonny (Gomes) and Daniel (Nava) in that spot. There might be a time or two where we put Grady (Sizemore) in the lead off spot. We don’t have that pro-typical guy right now and I like Dustin (Pedroia) in the two hole and it creates the middle of the order contunuity for the rest of the guys that are there. We’re looking to take advantage of the strengths that our current roster has to offer.”

Once Shane Victorino returns from the disabled list it’s likely he would bat lead off against left-handers, while Nava or Sizemore against right-handers.

Other Red Sox notes:

- Will Middlebrooks and Victorino, both on the 15-day DL, will likely resume baseball activities at the end of the week. Victorino was placed on the disabled list the first day of the regular season, March 31, while Middlebrooks was last Sunday, April 6, backdated to April 5.

- Craig Breslow pitched a 1-2-3 inning Monday night in Pawtucket, his third rehab assignment, and Farrell said he would likely be activated on Wednesday. The Red Sox would need to make a corresponding roster move, which would in all likelihood will be Brandon Workman, as he was the player who made the roster once it was determined Breslow would not be ready to open the year.

For up-to-the-minute Red Sox news follow Ryan Hannable on Twitter @Hannable84.

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Jackie Bradley Jr.’s defense even more important than his offense

By Ryan Hannable

BOSTON — Going 3-for-4 with two RBI in the Red Sox’ 5-1 win over the Rangers Monday night, you might think Jackie Bradley Jr.’s offense was his biggest contribution, but it was his defense in right field, which was more important in giving the team a defensive spark, something they’ve lacked in the first week of the season.

“The one that he slid in on, that ball was in the lights and he was able to take an angle where he was able to get underneath it well enough so he could pick it up out of the lights and the ball off of [J.P.] Arencebia to the track, he made a good running catch,” manager John Farrell said. “It’s just good to see him getting in the flow of things and in the mix. It’s been a different first ten days of the year for him, but I think you talk so many times about the importance of right field here and the defense out there. Tonight he was very good.”

With starting right fielder Shane Victorino on the disabled list to open the year and Jacoby Ellsbury departing in free agency, the defense in the outfield has been a bit lackluster to open the year with three errors in the first seven games and seven overall as a team. Having only started in four of the seven games, when he’s been out there he’s proven he may be the best defensive outfielder the Red Sox have. Now that the Sox have returned home to Fenway Park, covering the large ground in right field has become even more important, as displayed on his running catch on the warning track in the third inning taking an extra base hit away from Arencibia.

“That was one of those plays that I try and work on during BP, one of those balls that was hit over my head,” Bradley Jr. said. “I just take my off of it and kind of guess where the ball is going to be and I happen to run a pretty good route and there it was waiting for me.”

It would seem Bradley. Jr. would be the odd man out to go back down to Pawtucket once Victorino comes back, but a 3-for-4 night, along with a few nice defensive plays in right field, would make it awfully difficult to send the left-handed hitting outfielder back down to Pawtucket, especially if it continues over the next week or so.

No matter what happens with his humble personality the 23-year-old will it in stride and the thought won’t even cross his mind of possibly going back to Pawtucket. The only thing on his mind is the next day and what he can do to improve himself as a baseball player.

“It’s a start, it’s definitely a work in progress and I am continuing to try and get better every single day,” Bradley Jr. said.

What would you do with Bradley Jr. once Victorino returns? Leave your answers in the comment section or on Twitter @Hannable84.

“The one that he slid in on, that ball was in the lights and he was able to take an angle where he was able to get underneath it well enough so he could pick it up out of the lights and the ball off of [J.P.] Arencebia to the track, he made a good running catch. It’s just good to see him getting in the flow of things and in the mix. It’s been a different first ten days of the year for him, but I think you talk so many times about the importance of right field here and the defense out there. Tonight he was very good.” – See more at: http://www.metro.us/boston/sports/mlb/2014/04/07/bottom-order-lackey-lead-red-sox-win-snapping-three-game-skid/#sthash.QZTj9Zq2.dpuf
“The one that he slid in on, that ball was in the lights and he was able to take an angle where he was able to get underneath it well enough so he could pick it up out of the lights and the ball off of [J.P.] Arencebia to the track, he made a good running catch. It’s just good to see him getting in the flow of things and in the mix. It’s been a different first ten days of the year for him, but I think you talk so many times about the importance of right field here and the defense out there. Tonight he was very good.” – See more at: http://www.metro.us/boston/sports/mlb/2014/04/07/bottom-order-lackey-lead-red-sox-win-snapping-three-game-skid/#sthash.QZTj9Zq2.dpuf
“The one that he slid in on, that ball was in the lights and he was able to take an angle where he was able to get underneath it well enough so he could pick it up out of the lights and the ball off of [J.P.] Arencebia to the track, he made a good running catch. It’s just good to see him getting in the flow of things and in the mix. It’s been a different first ten days of the year for him, but I think you talk so many times about the importance of right field here and the defense out there. Tonight he was very good.” – See more at: http://www.metro.us/boston/sports/mlb/2014/04/07/bottom-order-lackey-lead-red-sox-win-snapping-three-game-skid/#sthash.QZTj9Zq2.dpuf
“The one that he slid in on, that ball was in the lights and he was able to take an angle where he was able to get underneath it well enough so he could pick it up out of the lights and the ball off of [J.P.] Arencebia to the track, he made a good running catch. It’s just good to see him getting in the flow of things and in the mix. It’s been a different first ten days of the year for him, but I think you talk so many times about the importance of right field here and the defense out there. Tonight he was very good.” – See more at: http://www.metro.us/boston/sports/mlb/2014/04/07/bottom-order-lackey-lead-red-sox-win-snapping-three-game-skid/#sthash.QZTj9Zq2.dpuf
“The one that he slid in on, that ball was in the lights and he was able to take an angle where he was able to get underneath it well enough so he could pick it up out of the lights and the ball off of [J.P.] Arencebia to the track, he made a good running catch. It’s just good to see him getting in the flow of things and in the mix. It’s been a different first ten days of the year for him, but I think you talk so many times about the importance of right field here and the defense out there. Tonight he was very good.” – See more at: http://www.metro.us/boston/sports/mlb/2014/04/07/bottom-order-lackey-lead-red-sox-win-snapping-three-game-skid/#sthash.QZTj9Zq2.dpuf

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