Red Sox

Drellich: Commend Eduardo Nunez for how he stood up to CC Sabathia

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Drellich: Commend Eduardo Nunez for how he stood up to CC Sabathia

NEW YORK — In a year where the Red Sox have had a few public kerfuffles, Eduardo Nunez handled the latest with as much backbone and aplomb as anyone. 

Not bad for a guy who’s been on the team for a month.

Nunez attempted to bunt in the first inning against Sabathia on Thursday night, when the Sox dropped the opener of a four-game series against the Yankees, 6-2. 

CC Sabathia, who has a bum knee, didn’t take kindly to dropping one down and ripped the Sox in his postgame comments at Yankee Stadium.

“I'm an old man,” Sabathia told reporters, including MLB.com's Bryan Hoch. “They should want to go out and kick my butt. I just feel like they took the weak road."

Baseball purists who dislike the game’s hazy codes can spend all the time they want on this subject. But for the Red Sox, Sabathia’s comments are not about unwritten rules.

A pitcher who has dominated the Sox this year suggested his prey is weak. Sabathia, whether intending to or not, engaged on a psychological level, and publicly. He's also 4-0 with a 1.04 ERA against the Sox this season.

But Nunez held his ground.

“If I have to do it twice, I have to do it,” Nunez said. “And if I have to bunt four times in a row, I’ll do it. I don’t care if he’s mad.”

Nunez said he did apologize to Sabathia, but that wasn’t exactly an admission of guilt. The apology seemed more of a clarification: he’s not trying to get Sabathia hurt. He’s trying to win a baseball game.

“I cannot change my game,” Nunez said. “We know he has a bad knee. That’s not my problem.”

He's right.

The best volley the Sox have now would be to hold first place. But there’s something to be said for not letting other people push you around in the public arena. 

David Price seems to have some appreciation for that general concept, making it his task to be a media enforcer this year — even if his approach has been misguided.

But between Price and the Baltimore beanballs, the Sox haven't come away looking great in these moments this year. Dustin Pedroia said he loved Manny Machado. It didn’t take long for Machado to curse out every member of the Red Sox and say he has no respect for the team.

Sabathia, once told of Nunez’s respond on Thursday night, doubled down. 

“I’m out there early every day,” Sabathia said, via Newsday’s Erik Boland. “If they have something to say, we can meet in center field.”

Nunez already had something to say. There isn’t much more he should need to say. The Yankees already got into a huge fight with the Tigers recently. No one needs that. 

What the Red Sox needed was a firm, reasonable message. For once, in a public exchange of words, they got that.

Fiers, Tigers blank Red Sox 5-0

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File Photo

Fiers, Tigers blank Red Sox 5-0

Jose Iglesias homered and drove in four runs, and Mike Fiers pitched impressively into the seventh inning to lead the Detroit Tigers over the Boston Red Sox 5-0 on Saturday night.

The major league-leading Red Sox lost for just the second time in 15 games, and their AL East lead over the New York Yankees slipped to 4 1/2 games.

Fiers (7-6) worked his first scoreless outing since his Tigers debut April 8, when he beat the Chicago White Sox 1-0 for Detroit's only other shutout this season. This time, he allowed seven hits and three walks in 6 1/3 innings, striking out six.

Brian Johnson (1-3) gave up two unearned runs and five hits in five innings for Boston. He struck out five.

Detroit took the lead in the second after Victor Martinez reached on an error by third baseman Rafael Devers, playing his first game since being reinstated from the disabled list. Devers fielded Martinez's grounder well behind third and his throw went past first, enabling Martinez to arrive safely.

That miscue proved costly when Iglesias came up with two outs and hit a two-run double, giving the Tigers a 2-0 lead.

Fiers threw only two balls through the first two innings, and he allowed three runs or fewer for the ninth time in his last 10 starts. He struck out Xander Bogaerts for the third out of the fifth with runners on first and third.

Boston threatened again in the sixth, but with two on JaCoby Jones was able to run down Jackie Bradley Jr.'s drive at the warning track in left field. In the bottom of the inning, Jeimer Candelario hit a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0, and Iglesias added a two-run homer.

Fiers exited with runners at the corners in the seventh. Alex Wilson got Bogaerts to ground into a double play, ending the inning.

Boston star Mookie Betts had two hits, raising his big league-leading average to .355. He also made a superb catch in right field in the third, reaching above the wall to catch Leonys Martin's drive.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: Devers (left shoulder inflammation) went 1 for 4. ... 2B Brock Holt, who left Friday's game with a bruised knee, was out of the lineup. Manager Alex Cora said he'd like to give Holt the weekend off. ... DH-OF J.D. Martinez had the day off after running into the wall while making a catch Friday. "These guys that make the All-Star Game, they really don't have an All-Star break," Cora said. "He's getting the day off because he ran into the wall, but I think it's a good day off for him anyway."

UP NEXT

Boston ace Chris Sale (10-4) starts the series finale Sunday against Blaine Hardy (3-2). Sale is 5-1 with a 0.94 ERA in his last seven starts.

J.D. Martinez out of lineup, sore after crashing into wall

J.D. Martinez out of lineup, sore after crashing into wall

A night after crashing into the right-field wall making a catch in the third inning of their 1-0 victory in Detroit, J.D. Martinez is out of the Red Sox lineup.

Here's a look at the catch: 

The news of Martinez getting the night off prompted this exchange with reporters, via The Boston Globe's Peter Abraham.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora said the "general soreness" won't make him reluctant from using Martinez, second in the majors in homers with 29 and tops in RBI with 80, in the outfield, where he's played 39 games in his first season in Boston, compared to 54 at DH.

Mookie Betts is back in right Saturday, with Jackie Bradley Jr. in center and Andrew Benintendi in right.

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