The Boston Red Sox’s offense was due for a loud game at the plate.
After squeaking out a 2-1 win in the series opener against the Seattle Mariners, Boston’s bats endured a 17-inning scoreless streak spanning over the following two games (both losses) and the start of Sunday’s series finale at Safeco Field.
That drought came to an end in the third inning, however, as the Sox posted five runs in the frame en route to a 9-3 win to ensure a series split.
After the game, Mitch Moreland caught up with NESN’s Guerin Austin to explain how the offense broke out of its mini-slump. To hear from Moreland, check out the video above from “Red Sox Extra Innings,” presented by W.B. Mason.
Thumbnail photo via Jennifer Buchanan/USA TODAY Sports
Photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images
It’s been a little over two weeks since the Boston Red Sox released Hanley Ramirez, but the slugging first baseman remains on the free agent market.
That comes as a surprise to many, including the man responsible for Ramirez’s release.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora recommended the team cut ties with the 34-year-old, but that doesn’t mean he believes Ramirez is washed up. In fact, Cora expected Ramirez to have a new home by now.
“I mean, I’ve got my job here, I’m the manager of the Red Sox, so I can’t, like, relate to the other GMs or the managers,” Cora recently told the Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato. “It’s the nature of the game. There’s a lot of guys that, last year they played and they’re not playing this year or they’re in Triple-A. So, I don’t know. I don’t know what to think.
“Like I said, he’s healthy and willing to work with a good attitude. I thought it was going to happen earlier, but now, it’s a little bit of a surprise. But it’s just the way it is.”
Ramirez’s days as a consistent, middle-of-the-order force likely are behind him. He was batting just .254 with seven homers through 44 games before his release, an uninspiring encore to his .242, 23-homer performance last season.
Still, Ramirez is a proven postseason performer, and one who has a reputation for hitting good pitching, so it likely won’t be much longer before a contender snatches him up.
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What looked to be an impressive comeback for the Boston Red Sox ended up being just the opposite.
The Red Sox blew a three-run lead Friday night in a 7-6 loss to the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.
Trailing 3-0 in the third, Boston tallied six runs to give themselves a comfortable advantage. It slowly slipped away in the ensuing innings, however, capped off by Denard Span’s two-run double in the eighth to put Seattle up by the decisive margin.
The Red Sox fall to 48-23 with the loss, while the Mariners climb to 45-25 with the win.
Here’s how it all went down:
GAME IN A WORD
Each team had their own impressive turnaround, with both sides eliminating three-run deficits.
ON THE BUMP
— Rick Porcello’s night got off to a bumpy start, but after the Red Sox gave him some run support he managed to preserve the lead. He finished his six innings of work having allowed four runs on seven hits with one walk and nine strikeouts.
It didn’t take long for the righty to put the Sox in a hole, surrendering a solo shot to Jean Segura with one out in the first inning.
The Sox deficit grew the following frame, with Seattle plating two more runs. After Kyle Seager doubled and Ryon Healy singled to lead off the inning, Ben Gamel grounded out, scoring Seager in the process. Then with two outs, Mike Zunino drove in Healy to make it 3-0 after the catcher’s grounder caught the bag at third base and went over Rafael Devers. Porcello then got the next out to end the stanza.
After 1-2-3 third and fourth innings, the 29-year-old got himself back into trouble in the fifth. With the Sox ahead 6-3, the Mariners put runners on first and second with two outs, and Mitch Haniger drove a run in on a single to left to make it 6-4. After Porcello walked Nelson Cruz the next at-bat to load the bases, he induced a grounder from Seager to end the inning.
Porcello pitched a 1-2-3 sixth in his final inning of work.
— Heath Hembree entered with a clean seventh and surrendered a solo home run to Zunino, the first batter he faced, cutting Boston’s advantage to one run. He walked a batter with two outs, but got Cruz to fly out to end the inning.
— Matt Barnes was responsible for the blown lead, allowing runners to reach first and second with one out with the Sox ahead 6-5. After getting pinch-hitter Span into a 2-2 count, the outfielder ripped a ball down the right field line, scoring both runners. The reliever got the next two batters out to end the inning.
IN THE BATTER’S BOX
— It was a wild third inning for the Sox, as they erased a three-run deficit by plating six runs of their own. With Jackie Bradley Jr. on third and Mookie Betts on first with one out, Brock Holt drove in Bradley Jr. with a single to left to cut the lead to two.
After J.D. Martinez loaded the bases with a single of his own, Mitch Moreland brought in a pair more to tie the game after Seager misplayed the the first baseman’s broken-bat chopper.
That’s when Bogaerts stepped in and came through with a huge three-run shot to make it 6-3.
— The Red Sox had a chance to add insurance in the eighth, putting runners on first and second with no outs, then loading the bases with two down, but were unable to cash in.
— The Red Sox put runners on first and second in the ninth with one out, but couldn’t find an equalizer.
— Betts, Martinez and Devers led Boston with two hits apiece. Holt, Bogaerts and Bradley Jr. each had one, while all other Red Sox went hitless.
TWEET OF THE NIGHT
Two dingers in as many nights for the shortstop.
The two sides will continue their four-game set Saturday night, with first pitch from Safeco Field set for 8:15 p.m. ET. Steven Wright is expected to get the ball for Boston and will be opposed by Wade LeBlanc.
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Alex Cora is a big fan of Xander Bogaerts.
Can you blame him? The Boston Red Sox shortstop has been reliable for his team this season with 10 home runs, 36 RBIs and a .281 batting average. He blasted the game-winning home run in Thursday night’s victory over the Seattle Mariners and assisted in the game-ending double play.
But Cora enjoyed Bogaerts’ play well before he became the manager of the Red Sox.
“I was a big fan watching from afar,” Cora told The Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham.
He was such a big fan, in fact, that he once compared Bogaerts to Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado while working for ESPN, and told Abraham he got “crushed” on Twitter.
But now, it doesn’t seem like such a far-fetched comparison with Bogaerts being the owner of the fourth-best OPS (.845) among American League shortstops.
But as good as the 25-year-old has been, Cora believes he can be even better.
“There’s more in there,” Cora told Abraham. “Right now he has 10 home runs, he’s hitting (.281), he’s playing good defense. But I do feel at 25 there’s more there. It’ll be fun to watch.
“There’s a process. He’s accepting the process, we’ll see how it ends up. I’m happy that I’m managing him and helping him out. He’s a good player.”
Cora clearly knows what he’s talking about, as Bogaerts blasted his 11th home run of the season during the third inning of Friday’s game against the Mariners.
Manager Alex Cora said he’s leaving Betts in the leadoff spot, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reports.
Cora addressed the notion of having Betts drop down in the batting order so that he could be given more at-bats with runners on base. He’s among the league leaders with 18 home runs, but there are 35 players with more than Betts’ 38 RBI. The manager is sticking by his decision to have Betts atop the order, an entirely defensible position, as Boston’s offense is second only to the Yankees with 5.13 runs per game. Cora also said he’s not going to shake up the weak bottom part of the order, so Betts’ RBI total will continue to be less than it would be if he were in the middle of the order.