'What We Learned': Sox' 9-4 win over the Diamondbacks
BOSTON -- Three things we learned from the Red Sox' 9-4 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks . . .
1) It says something about that both David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez returned immediately to the lineup after suffering minor injuries.
This time of year -- as players, manager and coaches are fond of saying -- no one is close to 100 percent. After more than two-thirds of the season, the accumulated bumps and bruises and pulls and tweaks have added up, resulting in a lot of sore bodies.
But Wednesday night, David Ortiz fouled a ball of his shin in his final at-bat and returned the next night. That was followed by Hanley Ramirez, who left Thursday's game with a sore back, declaring himself available for Friday's series opener.
Ortiz is the de facto team leader, and he knows that what he does is watched carefully within the Red Sox clubhouse. When he plays at far less than 100 percent, it sends a message about commitment to the team.
Ramirez, too, took his his cue from Ortiz. He vowed Thursday night to bench coach Torey Lovullo that he would be in the lineup for Friday, and then texted John Farrell Friday morning just that.
"I think I don't have to be 100 percent at this point of the season to be out there,'' said Ramirez. "We know where we are. We're right there. It's go time.''
That's quite a departure from his time in Miami and Los Angeles, when Ramirez was frequently criticized for not playing with a variety of minor injuries.
2) David Price is still giving up too many hits; that's bad. But he's been a workhorse lately; that's good.
Price has given up more hits than any starting pitcher in the game, a stat that would seem almost unbelievable given Price's talent. But he's too often been around the plate too much this season and has suffered the consequences.
Perhaps the 10 hits he gave up Friday night were the result of pitching to the scoreboard. Given an 8-2 lead after two innings, Price could afford to challenge the Diamondbacks. There was little need to nibble.
But even as he's given up hits, Price has been ramping up his innings. He went eight full Friday night and has now gone eight innings or more in seven of his last 13 starts.
That's valuable for a team at this point of the season, knowing that the bullpen can get caught up a little when the No. 1 starter goes.
At $31 million, Price should be more than an a mere innings eater. But there's value to logging those innings, even if the results haven't been what the Sox had hoped for.
3) For a change, the defense was up to the task.
Of late, the Sox have been uncharacteristically sloppy in the field, a point lamented by John Farrell pre-game. Thursday's loss to the Yankees was only the more recent example.
But the Sox rebounded Friday. After Jackie Bradley Jr. tripped on some outfield grass tracking down a ball hit by Jean Segura on the first pitch of the game -- playing the ball into a triple -- he immediately made amends on the next pitch, coming on the very next pitch to make a shoestring catch of a flyball and unloading a deadly accurate throw to the plate which, in turn, resulted in Segura being caught off third base.
There was more, too. Third baseman Travis Shaw made a nifty backhand play on a hard-hit ball by Paul Goldschmidt and Hanley nicely scooped a hard-hit grounder for the final out in the fourth.
That sort of crisp, clean defensive play had been lacking of late.