Red Sox

Sox squeeze past Tigers, 4-3


Sox squeeze past Tigers, 4-3

By MaureenMullen

DETROIT In the first game of their rain-induced, split day-night doubleheader, the Red Sox beat the Tigers, 4-3, on David Ortizs ninth-inning pinch-hit home run off Jose Valverde.

Ortiz went to the plate for the 97th pinch-hit plate appearance of his career and just his second time facing Valverde. In his only other time facing the Tigers closer Ortiz hit a grand slam.

Both starting pitchers threw quality starts but were not involved in the decision, departing after six innings with the scored tied, 3-3.

Clay Buchholz gave up three runs on six hits and a walk with three strikeouts and two home runs. He threw 98 pitches, 63 for strikes. Including his 127-pitch outing May 18 against the Tigers at Fenway Park, Buchholz has three straight no-decisions, but quality starts for all three. Before this game, Buchholz had not given up more than one home run in an outing since his first start of the season 1st start, a loss April 3 in Texas, when he allowed four.

Left-hander Andy Oliver, making his first start of the season after being called up on Saturday, went six innings, giving up three runs on five this and three walks, with three strikeouts, two home runs, a hit batter, and a wild pitch.

The Sox put singe runs up in each of the first three innings. In the first, Jacoby Ellsbury led off with double, stole third for his 19th steal of the season, and scored on Adrian Gonzalez sacrifice fly to center.

Mike Camerons solo home run to left field with one out in the second put the Sox ahead, 2-0, and Dusting Pedroia led off the third with his fourth homer of the season.

But staked to a three-run lead, Buchholz could not hold on. He gave up a lead-off homer to Andy Dirks in the fourth for the Tigers first run. With one out in the sixth, he gave up a solo homer to Brennan Boesch, followed by a double to Miguel Cabrera. Victor Martinezs groundout to Gonzalez at first moved Cabrera to third. Jhonny Peraltas single to center scored Cabrera, tying the game.

Reliever Matt Albers threw two scoreless innings to earn the win for Boston, as well as his first win as a member of the Red Sox. He is now 1-2 with a 3.54 ERA.

Jonathan Papelbon pitched a perfect ninth inning to preserve the Sox fifth straight win and his 10th save of the season. The Sox are now 5-1 on the seven-game road trip.

Ortiz had faced Jose Valverde just once before in his career. On July 30, 2010, at Fenway Park, with one out in the ninth inning, Ortiz blasted a grand slam off Valverde. In the first game of the Sox doubleheader Sunday, Ortiz hit a pinch-hit, one-out, ninth-inning solo homer to give the Sox a 4-3 win. Two plate appearances, two home runs, five RBI. The only difference: Ortizs home run today provided the difference in the Red Sox win. Last year, it merely gave the Sox a one-run loss.

The homer was also Ortizs fourth career pinch-hit home run and first since April 27, 2003 his first home run with the Red Sox, in Anaheim. It was Ortizs 11th homer of the season, eighth in May and second through six games of the seven-game road trip.

Oliver, called up Saturday to make his first start of the season, gave the Tigers what their previous two starters Max Scherzer on Thursday and Rick Porcello on Friday were unable to give them: a quality start. Oliver went six innings, giving up three runs on five hits and three walks with three strikeouts, two home runs, a hit batter, and a wild pitch. It was his first career appearance against the Red Sox.

He was shaky in his first inning, facing six batters in the first, giving up a lead-off double to Jacoby Ellsbury, a walk to Dustin Pedroia, a sacrifice fly to Adrian Gonzalez, and hitting Kevin Youkilis with a pitch. But he held the Sox to just one run in the inning. He gave up single runs in the second and third, on solo homers by Mike Cameron and Pedroia, respectively, but appeared to settle down as the game went on.
THE GOAT: Jose Valverde
Valverde did not learn his lesson on July 30, 2010 the only other time he faced David Ortiz. On that day, he challenged Ortiz in the ninth inning with one out and three on base. Ortiz blasted a grand slam. On that day, though, Valverde escaped, as the Tigers won, 6-5.

On Sunday he would not be so fortunate. With one out in the ninth inning, he again challenged Ortiz, this time with a 3-2, 95-mph fastball. Ortiz did not miss his chance, blasting the pitch into the centerfield seats, giving the Sox a 4-3 lead.

Although the Sox failed to extend their lead against Oliver -- who was called up to make this start going 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position, Ortiz took care of that in the ninth inning. With one out, facing Jose Valverde for just the second time in his career, Ortiz bashed a 3-2, 95-mph fastball into the centerfield seats, giving the Sox a 4-3 lead, and ultimately, their fifth straight win, going 5-1 in their first six games of the seven-game road trip.

Going 2-for-2 in his career against Valverde, Ortiz has a slugging percentage of 4.000 against the Tigers closer, with five RBI, and an on-base percentage of 1.000.

Just go to the cage, get some swings, and make sure youre loose, make sure youre ready to go. -- David Ortiz, on being prepared to pinch-hit

MaureenMullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

HOFer Joe Morgan's letter urges voters to keep steroid users out of Hall


HOFer Joe Morgan's letter urges voters to keep steroid users out of Hall

Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan is urging voters to keep “known steroid users” out of Cooperstown.

A day after the Hall revealed its 33-man ballot for the 2018 class, the 74-year-old Morgan argued against the inclusion of players implicated during baseball’s steroid era in a letter to voters with the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The letter from the vice chairman of the Hall’s board of directors was sent Tuesday using a Hall email address.

Read the full text of Morgan's letter here. 

“Steroid users don’t belong here,” Morgan wrote. “What they did shouldn’t be accepted. Times shouldn’t change for the worse.”

Hall voters have been wrestling with the issue of performance-enhancing drugs for several years. Baseball held a survey drug test in 2003 and the sport began testing for banned steroids the following year with penalties. Accusations connected to some of the candidates for the Hall vary in strength from allegations with no evidence to positive tests that caused suspensions.

About 430 ballots are being sent to voters, who must have been members of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years, and a player needs at least 75 percent for election. Ballots are due by Dec. 31 and results will be announced Jan. 24.

Writers who had not been covering the game for more than a decade were eliminated from the rolls in 2015, creating a younger electorate that has shown more willingness to vote for players tainted by accusations of steroid use. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens each received a majority of votes for the first time in 2017 in their fifth year on the ballot.

Morgan said he isn’t speaking for every Hall of Famer, but many of them feel the same way that he does.

“Players who failed drug tests, admitted using steroids, or were identified as users in Major League Baseball’s investigation into steroid abuse, known as the Mitchell Report, should not get in,” Morgan wrote. “Those are the three criteria that many of the players and I think are right.”

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez were inducted into the Hall of Fame in July. They were joined by former Commissioner Bud Selig and retired Kansas City and Atlanta executive John Schuerholz, who were voted in by a veterans committee.

Some baseball writers said the election of Selig, who presided over the steroids era, influenced their view of whether tainted stars should gain entry to the Hall.

Morgan praised BBWAA voters and acknowledged they are facing a “tricky issue,” but he also warned some Hall of Famers might not make the trip to Cooperstown if steroid users are elected.

“The cheating that tainted an era now risks tainting the Hall of Fame too,” he wrote. “The Hall of Fame means too much to us to ever see that happen. If steroid users get in, it will divide and diminish the Hall, something we couldn’t bear.”

© 2017 by The Associated Press

MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement


MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Major League Baseball will change rules to speed games next year with or without an agreement with the players' association.

Management proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, allow one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher each inning and raise the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. The union didn't agree, and clubs have the right to impose those changes unilaterally for 2018.

Players and MLB have held initial bargaining since summer, and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said this week he would like an agreement by mid-January.

"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can't get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other," baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners' meeting.

Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the regular season and 3:29 during the postseason.