Red Sox

Red Sox fans let Astros fans take over Fenway

Red Sox fans let Astros fans take over Fenway

The Red Sox 'pen looked better than the Red Sox fans on Friday night.

Maybe it’s the effect of winning a World Series, for both fan bases. Clearly, the shine has worn off a bit in Boston after three titles this millennium — and that's just the Red Sox. Astros fans, meanwhile, are still basking in the glow of an amazing 2017. 

Certainly, some of Fenway Park’s atmosphere was due to the fact the Texans are in Foxboro on Sunday. A weekend trip to Boston is cheaper for Houstonians if you’re seeing not one, but two teams: the Texans may be the big ticket, and the Astros the bonus. Or perhaps it’s the other way around.

Whatever the cause, the scene was strange on Friday night at Fenway Park, when Astros fans were so much more raucous than their Sox counterparts. The Texans (the people, not the team) were loud and overpowering, the Bostonians stunned, or at least subdued.

Except, of course, when Sweet Caroline played in the eighth inning.

“Dude, that was a trip man,” Astros starter Gerrit Cole said on Friday night. “I couldn’t believe everyone was out there, they’re probably going to the Patriots game, going to double dip. That’s all right. I was talking to the guy at the hotel and he was like, ‘Oh my Gosh, I was over at the park earlier and you guys have so many fans. I’ve never seen anything like this. The Yankees don’t even pull this.’

“He dropped the 'I’ve been working here for 15 years’ kind of thing, so I guess it’s a big deal for Houston fans to be here. It was great to have the support, especially around the bullpen and especially around the dugout.”

Yankees fans do still draw well. But usually, Sox fans give it right back to them. The natural give and take. The Astros fans were everywhere, and maybe they were simply unexpected. They crawled the Green Monster. They were hooting and hollering as they left the park. Orange shirts were pooling in different pockets throughout the night.

Do Red Sox fans not feel the sense of animosity toward the Astros that they should? Did last year’s playoffs not leave a memorable bruise? Everyone saw the American League Division Series, right?

During the game “Let’s Go Astros,” wasn’t some small interruption. Anyone in the park could hear it — coordinated, fluid. Loud. Just odd.

Maybe the noise balance was an aberration. Maybe it was just an off night for the Sox fans in a great season. You know, like the Sox bullpen in a 6-3 loss. 

It was very hot in Boston this week. People may have been tired. Back to school, all that. It doesn’t get too hot in Houston, remember.

Either way, Sox fans can do better. They almost always do. They should rediscover their voice for Saturday. Practice a bit. Tom Brady deserves a lot of love on Sunday, but so does the best team in baseball by record.

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Emotional Alex Cora blasts corruption that has led to massive protests in Puerto Rico: 'It's embarrassing'

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Emotional Alex Cora blasts corruption that has led to massive protests in Puerto Rico: 'It's embarrassing'

BOSTON -- It's no coincidence that Red Sox manager Alex Cora wore a t-shirt emblazoned with the Puerto Rican flag to the podium on Tuesday. He aches for his homeland.

The island commonwealth found itself engulfed in scandal this weekend, with protesters marching to denounce Gov. Ricardo Rossello and demand his resignation in the wake of leaked messages that showed him deriding both political foes and allies, and giving another black eye to a bankrupt island that has spent the last 12 years in a recession and still faces criticism for its cleanup efforts after Hurricane Maria.

"It's not easy to watch what is going on," Cora said. "I am disappointed, mad. Sometimes I wonder like, 'Where are we going?' I got my kids who I am not planning on moving from there, but you see what is going on and you're like, 'What is going to happen?' At the same time, we've been through this before as a country. The only thing I can tell the people back home and the people who live in the states is to stay together."

The leaked messages came on the heels of a corruption scandal that led to indictments last week against two former Puerto Rican officials for steering more than $15 million of hurricane aid to unqualified cronies.

Anger boiled over this weekend, with thousands of protesters marching on the governor's mansion to demand Rossello's resignation before police in riot gear fired tear gas and rubber bullets.

"It's kind of sad that I feel more worried now than when Maria went by because when Maria went by the only one that had control over it was God," Cora said. "Now, it's tough to understand that we're in this situation when the people that put us in the situation was the people who were elected by our country. It's embarrassing, too. I am a proud Puerto Rican. We're going to be fine. It just sucks to watch and see what is going on."

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Chris Sale's bullpen draws an unusual crowd as Red Sox try to fix struggling LHP

Chris Sale's bullpen draws an unusual crowd as Red Sox try to fix struggling LHP

BOSTON -- A between-starts bullpen doesn't generally require the attendance of the entire pitching staff, but this was no ordinary pitcher.

When Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale took the mound hours before Tuesday's game against the Blue Jays in advance of Thursday's start vs. them, he was greeted by a dozen teammates pressed against the bullpen fence to watch him throw, including virtually every pitcher on the roster and both catchers.

They were there to see if they could pick up something that pitching coach Dana LeVangie, manager Alex Cora, or bullpen coach Craig Bjornson had missed, but also to provide encouragement to the most important member of the staff during his most trying season.

"It was teammates being teammates. Just being there and watching," Cora said. "Everybody knows about the game and obviously pitchers know about mechanics and usage and all that, but I think for them to be there it means a lot. It means a lot where we're at as a team and you never know, someone might pick something up that me, Dana or CB hasn't seen. It was good. Sandy (Leon) and Christian (Vazquez) were there too, so you don't see that often. I think that was good for the team to let him know, 'Hey, we're here for you.'"

This has been anything but a typical season for Sale, who is 3-9 with a career-worst 4.27 ERA. He has been particularly bad in his last four starts, going 0-2 with a 7.59 ERA and 29 hits in 21.1 innings.

Sale has repeatedly excoriated himself for feeling lost and being a liability, but the Red Sox believe they can unlock whatever is holding him back.

"You watch, you watch games, and you try to go through the opposition thought process, what they look for, what they did," Cora said. "I think the Dodgers did an outstanding job over the weekend of getting that pitch count up with our starters. Eddie (Rodriguez) did a good job avoiding that, but with David (Price) and Chris, there were a lot of foul balls. That's something that's been happening a lot, especially with those two guys, but we do feel we can make adjustments."

The Blue Jays aren't necessarily the best team for Sale to see. He's 0-3 against them with a 7.98 ERA this season and has allowed four home runs in 14.2 innings.

"It's been tough," Cora said. "He started here the home opener with the foul balls and the ground balls and all of that. We'll see how he does Thursday. I think we have a good idea where we have to go to make this better and he knows it. We're looking forward to Thursday and seeing if we can actually execute the plan and give us a good outing."

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