Andrew cashner

Mookie Betts' home run rescues Red Sox in 15th in 7-6 win over Angels

Mookie Betts' home run rescues Red Sox in 15th in 7-6 win over Angels

Mookie Betts got it started and, more than 5 hours later, he finished it.

His 15th-inning home run rescued the Red Sox from another bullpen meltdown and gave them a 7-6 victory over the Angels early Saturday morning in Anaheim to keep Boston's long-shot, wild-card bid on track.

The win - which began with a leadoff Betts' home run in the first - kept the Sox 5 1/2 out of the second AL wild-card spot with 27 games left. A daunting task indeed but a 5-1 start to their trip out West has Alex Cora's team playing with a sense of urgency they've lacked at times in the up-and-down defense of their World Series title.

"It's going to be hard to pull this off, but we have to get locked in. We have to keep going," Cora said.

Betts' 23rd homer in the wee hours was made necessary by another bullpen meltdown in the ninth inning. Recently minted closer Brandon Workman, called on in the eighth for a four-out save, was protecting a 6-4 lead when he opened the ninth with back-to-back walks, then a one-out hit by Albert Pujols got past J.D. Martinez in left for an error and the Angels had tied it.

The Red Sox' AL-leading 25th blown save was a reminder of why their scrambling to make a last-ditch effort to even reach the playoffs. Still, in addition to Betts' bailout of the pen, there were four no-hit extra innings of relief from Andrew Cashner (11-7), the trade acquisition who flopped as a starter but has found new life in the bullpen (one run allowed in 10 innings over his past six outings). 

After the marathon, Betts, who sent the first pitch he saw from Trevor Cahill over the wall in left with two outs in the 15th, was reminded he had started things off with a first-inning homer, too. 

"It felt like yesterday," he told the Boston Globe. "I guess it kind of was yesterday."

Betts and Martinez (two-run homer, RBI double) provided most of the Sox offense as they look to take advantage of the free-falling Angels, who've lost eight of 10, in the three-game weekend series and make up wild-card ground.

"It's a long game, every win is important though and we had to pull ourselves together," Betts told reporters after the game. "I was just trying to put a good swing on a pitch. Fortunately, it went over. I just did whatever I could."

 

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Andrew Cashner can't remember last time he did this after a game, but he'll take it

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AP Images

Andrew Cashner can't remember last time he did this after a game, but he'll take it

CLEVELAND -- Andrew Cashner had just been demoted to the bullpen after posting an ERA of 8.01 in six starts. But before making the move, manager Alex Cora assured Cashner he could still contribute.

On Tuesday night, he proved it.

With the bullpen thin and experienced arms unavailable, Cashner got the call to close out a nail-biting, 7-6 victory over the Indians. And damn if he didn't deliver, mixing 97-mph fastballs with an outstanding changeup to nail down the victory and earn not only the first save of his career, but his first at any level since he pitched for Texas Christian University in 2008.

"My adrenaline hadn't been that high in a while," he said. "It reminded me of being back in college, closing games out, it was fun."

It even afforded him an opportunity he couldn't remember experiencing in his starting career.

"It's been a long time since I've had a shower after the game, so it was cool," he said.

Manager Alex Cora had few alternatives after closer Brandon Workman blew the save in the ninth. He planned to go to Cashner in the 10th no matter what, but when Jackie Bradley Jr. homered in the top of the frame, there was suddenly a save on the line.

"That was outstanding," Cora said. "The split or the changeup played like a split today. Fastball obviously was good. The only guy that got on was a jam shot. We talked a little bit two days ago and he felt like I haven't contributed. I said, hey man, be ready. We've still got a month and a half for this to happen and you're going to be a big part of it and he got the save today."

Cora to would've opened himself to criticism if Cashner had blown it.

"I really don't care about that," Cora said. "That's the way I manage. There's probably some plays that people are second-guessing. . . That's the way it is. That's the way I manage. I prepare myself before games, we go over situations, and you make decisions. This is part of the job. I understand that. I did it last year, I'm doing it this year, no big deal."

With Cashner now in the bullpen, he's determined to make the most of it.

"Short-term memory," he said. "I know I've got a chance to be back in there tomorrow. Just keep doing what I do and see where it ends up."
 

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Red Sox to move Andrew Cashner to the bullpen

Red Sox to move Andrew Cashner to the bullpen

When Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox traded for Andrew Cashner before the trade deadline, they hoped a fifth starter would help relieve the stress on the struggling, worn-out bullpen.

That plan, evidently, has not panned out. 

In six starts with the Red Sox, Cashner has recorded an 8.01 ERA after notching a 3.83 ERA with the Orioles for the first half of the season. Manager Alex Cora announced on Monday that we may not see Cashner in a starting role again for a while, as the Sox plan to use him out of the bullpen going forward. 

The apparent last straw for manager Alex Cora may have been Sunday's 1.2 innings, five-walk and three-run start against the Angels.

Cashner's poor performance may not be the only reason for the move to the 'pen. There is a clause in Cashner's contract that could potentially cost the Red Sox $10 million if he reaches the 340 inning threshold. Using Cashner in relief could put the 340-inning mark out of reach for the righty. 

"He understands," Cora said of Cashner accepting the reliever role. 

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