Joe and Dave talk with Red Sox super utility man Brock Holt, who hit the game winning 3 run home run that propelled the Red Sox over the Baltimore Orioles, and played some stellar defense to seal the win.

Through the first 16 games of the season, the Red Sox have made it a habit to capitalize on their opponents mistakes.

Brock Holt

Brock Holt

Through the first 16 games of the season the Red Sox have made it a habit to capitalize on their opponents mistakes.

Friday was no different, as the Red Sox were given an extra out on a Manny Machado error with two outs in the eighth inning and the next batter, Brock Holt made him pay with a three-run home run, which snapped a 4-4 tie and gave the Red Sox an eventual 7-5 win over the Orioles.

Pablo Sandoval worked a two-out walk and then pinch-hitter Allen Craig’s grounder got by Machado at third, which was ruled an error. Holt then stepped in and belted a three-run home run over the wall in right. It was his first homer of the season.

With a three-run lead, Junichi Tazawa allowed a solo home run to Chris Davis in the eighth, but fortunately it was just a solo home run and then Koji Uehara came on for a scoreless ninth to pick up the save.

It was an up-and-down outing for Red Sox starter Rick Porcello, who made it into the seventh inning, but couldn’t record an out. He allowed the first two batters to reach and was pulled in favor of Craig Breslow. Breslow allowed one of the inherited runners to score, which tied the game at four.

Porcello went six-plus innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on six hits. He walked two and struck out seven. For the first time this season he didn’t eclipse the 100-pitch mark, as he was removed after throwing 91 pitches. He was given a two-run lead in the fifth, but allowed single runs in the fifth and sixth innings to take a no-decision.

The Red Sox have now won all six series openers this season.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Holt. His home run snapped the four-all tie in the eighth inning. He finished the game 2-for-4 and is now hitting .424 on the year.

Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox win:

WHAT WENT RIGHT

— Porcello had a tremendous start to the game, not allowing a hit until the fourth inning when Machado singled up the middle. The right-hander struck out six of the first seven hitters he faced.

David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez hit back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning. With two outs, Mookie Betts walked and Dustin Pedroia singled setting the stage for Ortiz, who hit a towering home run that barely cleared the wall in right-center. Ramirez then belted his sixth home run of the year to give the Red Sox a 4-2 lead at the time.

— Alexi Ugando got a huge strikeout in the seventh inning in relief of Breslow to keep the game tied with the go-ahead run at third base.

— Betts reached base four times — two singles and two walks. He came into the game 2-for-11 on the road trip.

— Sandoval went 2-for-3 with a walk in the win. He came into the game just 2-for-12 on the road trip.

WHAT WENT WRONG

— The home run ball continues to be an issue to open the year for Porcello, as Jimmy Paredes ripped a two-run home run to right field in the fourth inning, the second Orioles hit of the game. He’s allowed six home runs in just four starts this year, the most in the majors.

— It wasn’t exactly sound defense for the Red Sox. Ramirez continues to have issues in left, as he missed a routine fly ball in the fifth inning. The play was ruled a double. Sandoval also committed a throwing error in the sixth, his third of the season.

Mike Napoli went 0-for-5 in the game and his average is now down to .143 on the year.

— Ramirez left the game in the top of the ninth inning after fouling a pitch off his foot.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

If you thought the Jim Palmer-David Ortiz drama of the past week was over, think again.

If you thought the Jim Palmer-David Ortiz drama of the past week was over, think again.

The former Orioles pitcher and member of the Baseball Hall of Fame made a few comments about Ortiz last weekend, and now with the Red Sox being in Baltimore this weekend and Palmer broadcasting the games for MASN, he spoke on the matter again.

Speaking with the Baltimore Sun, Palmer didn’t regret what he said last weekend when he called Ortiz out for being ejected from last Sunday’s game against the Orioles, and thus being suspended for a game.

“I can understand that, but on the other hand I am an analyst,” Palmer said to the paper. “That’€™s what I was doing. I watch baseball and I looked at it from that angle. To put this to rest, all David Ortiz has to do in this three-game series is watch the way Adam Jones plays the game. If he hits a home run, he puts his head down, runs around the bases, doesn’€™t show anybody up. To me, that’€™s the way you play the game.

“He’€™s entitled to do it any way he wants, but when he throws his whole team under the bus, all the fans who came out to Fenway Park, it’€™s kind of like a puppy –€“ unconditional love –€“ but at the end of the day, if the puppy doesn’€™t do the right things, you need to housebreak him.”

Palmer also reportedly didn’t visit the Red Sox clubhouse prior to the game, like he usually does to opposing clubhouses before the game.

“It’€™s not about me,’€™’€™ Palmer said. “It’€™s about the Orioles starting to pitch better than they have and play defense and the Red Sox are not hitting with runners in scoring position. Those are the important things. I had an opinion on what David Ortiz does. I’€™m still waiting for somebody from Boston or David to come out and apologize for throwing his team under the bus, because that’€™s what he did that day.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

The Red Sox look to bounce back after losing their first series of the year, opening  a three-game set in Baltimore on Friday night with Rick Porcello opposing former Red So

The Red Sox look to bounce back after losing their first series of the year, opening  a three-game set in Baltimore on Friday night with Rick Porcello opposing former Red Sox farmhand Miguel Gonzalez.

The Sox lost two of three in Tampa to the Rays, including Thursday night’s walkoff defeat. For the third straight game, first baseman Mike Napoli will bat fifth and Pablo Sandoval sixth, in an effort to keep teams from bringing in a left-handed reliever to face David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez, and Sandoval.

Also, with Shane Victorino battling a sore hamstring, Daniel Nava gets the start in right field. Click here for a series preview, and also read up on why Porcello has been questioning his pitch selection of late. Here’s the lineup.

1. Mookie Betts, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Hanley Ramirez, LF
5. Mike Napoli, 1B
6. Pablo Sandoval, 3B
7. Daniel Nava, RF
8. Brock Holt, SS
9. Ryan Hanigan, C
Rick Porcello, RHP

Blog Author: 
WEEI

Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello

There’s a few things Rick Porcello would have done differently in his last start, a five-inning, 12-hit, eight-run outing against the Orioles last Sunday.

The list was made almost immediately made after the loss. And at the top of it — stop going away from his bread and butter, the two-seam, sinking fastball.

According to BrooksBaseball.net, Porcello only threw his go-to pitch 20 times, relying more on his cutter (30), changeup (16) and curveball (18). Compare that to the 62 sinkers he threw in his first game as a Red Sox.

And then there was the four-seamer.

Porcello has broken out the rising fastball at a much higher rate than usual, partially explaining his uptick in strikeouts (7.58 per nine innings) and home runs allowed (5 in 19 innings).

“I used it a lot to lefties. I think it’€™s one of those things where it’€™s a useful pitch but I’€™m not getting too far away from my identity as a pitcher, getting ground balls and being a sinkerballer,” he explained.

So, why did he feel the need to start relying on the four-seamer on a more regular basis?

“I started throwing it last year just to get guys off my sinker. There’€™s one of two reasons I’€™ll throw it,” Porcello said. “If I’€™m going to throw a fastball and I don’€™t want it to run back out over the middle of the plate to a right-handed hitter, or I don’€™t want a left-handed hitter to see my sinker I’€™ll use my four-seamer and then I still have my sinker, which they haven’€™t seen yet. Then it can be effective to throw a four-seamer and a sinker right after because they’€™re tracking the first one and it’€™s staying true, and then the next one isn’€™t. That is one reason to use it is to elevate in the strike zone, which is more effective to left-handed hitters. Some of the slap guys have a bat path where they stay on sinkers pretty well where a four-seam fastball kind of plays above the barrel. That’€™s the reasoning for it.”

Judging by Porcello’s comments throughout the week, in terms of pitch selection, Friday night might look a whole lot more like that first game in Philadelphia then what the Orioles faced at Fenway Park.

“There’s a balance and there’€™s a fine line between throwing it the right amount and throwing it too much, you can get away from what I do best and what my strength is, which is throwing the sinker,” Porcello noted. “The thing is I have the ability to throw a good four-seamer and generate some swings and misses. It’€™s just a matter of picking the right spots.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford
The Red Sox and Orioles split their four-game series last weekend at Fenway Park. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Red Sox and Orioles split their four-game series last weekend at Fenway Park. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Red Sox will make their first trip of 2015 to Camden Yards for a three-game weekend series with the Orioles starting Friday night. The two teams split their first series of the year at Fenway Park last weekend. Boston currently holds the top spot in the AL East, but the top and bottom spots in the division are separated by just two games.

Despite the division lead, the Sox have struggled on the mound and have not had the offensive consistency many expected at the beginning of the season. The pitching staff is ranked 24th in the league with a 4.44 ERA, 13th with a 1.26 WHIP, and 12th with a .242 batting average against. No Red Sox starter has an ERA below 4.00, and Joe Kelly (4.08) is the only starter with an ERA below 5.50.

Boston’s bats have been able to win some games for the team, but have yet to live up to what was expected of them. They are tied for sixth in baseball with 76 runs and tied for 10th with 15 home runs, but there have not been enough base runners to expect this productivity to continue. The Sox are ranked 19th with a .238 team average and 17th with a .689 OPS. Just two Red Sox hitters (Brock Holt and Xander Bogaerts) have averages over .271 and only four (Holt, Bogaerts, Ryan Hanigan, and Pablo Sandoval) have OBPs of at least .350. Over the last seven days, just Hanigan has an average over .250.

Hanley Ramirez is tied for second in the American League with five home runs.

Shane Victorino is listed as day-to-day with hamstring tightness.

The Orioles have had a unique schedule, as they have only faced divisional opponents to this point. Their first game outside of the AL East will by Monday against the White Sox. Baltimore currently sits at 7-8, two games behind Boston for first place.

Baltimore’s pitching staff has fared even worse than that of the Red Sox. It is ranked 28th in baseball with a 4.98 ERA, 22nd with a 1.36 WHIP, and 11th with a .241 batting average against. Part of the Orioles rotation has been strong, with three of its starters owning ERAs of 3.07 or lower. However, the remaining two starting pitchers, Chris Tillman and Bud Norris have ERAs of 5.52 and 17.42, respectively. The Red Sox will see Norris on Sunday.

Fortunately for the O’s, their bats have continued their strong play that got them to the postseason last year. They are seventh in the MLB with a .271 average, eighth with 70 runs, and fourth with an OPS of .790. Five members of the Orioles have averages above .300.

Outfielder Adam Jones is first in the AL in with a .418 batting average, second with 16 RBIs and tied for second with five home runs.

Three key members of the Orioles are on the disabled list: shortstop J.J. Hardy, catcher Matt Wieters and second baseman Jonathon Schoop. Reliever Wesley Wright is also on the DL.

Here are the pitching matchups for the series:

Friday: Rick Porcello (1-2, 6.63) vs. Miguel Gonzalez (2-1, 2.55)
Saturday: Justin Masterson (2-0, 5.74) vs. Wei-Yin Chen (0-1, 3.07)
Sunday: Wade Miley (1-1, 6.08) vs. Bud Norris (0-2, 17.42)

WHO’S HOT: RED SOX

— Holt has done everything for the Sox in the past week. He has played great defense at several different positions while going 4-for-14 in his last four games. In just 29 at-bats this season, he has 12 hits, two doubles, five RBIs, a walk, and a stolen base.

— Hanigan, the most productive Red Sox hitter over the past week, is five for his last 14 with a home run, a double and 2 RBIs. He owns a .395 OBP on the season.

— After starting the season on the DL, closer Koji Uehara has been almost perfect in his few times on the mound. He has made three appearances of one inning each, allowing just one hit and no walks while striking out four. The 40-year-old is 2-for-2 in save opportunities.

WHO’S HOT: ORIOLES

— Jones has reached base safely in nearly half of his 59 at bats this season. He has an OBP of .470. In the last seven games, he is 12-for-27 with a home run, three doubles and five RBIs.

— Infielder Ryan Flaherty is 7-for-17 in his last five games, which has brought his batting average up to .300 on the season. In that time, he has a home run, three doubles, and three RBIs.

— After starting out the year slowly, third baseman Manny Machado is hitting .292 in his last seven, and has hit two home runs for eight RBIs in that time. His average for the season is still on the rise and is currently at .218.

WHO’S NOT: RED SOX

— Mookie Betts is just 3-for-19 in his last six games. He started the year strong with eight RBIs in his first seven games, but has only driven in one in the next seven.

— Bogaerts has cooled off after his hot start, going two for his last 17. In that time, he has one RBI, two walks and five strike outs.

— Before being removed from Wednesday’s game with hamstring tightness, Victorino was hitting just .143 on the season. He has just five hits in 35 at bats, and has reached base safely only 11 times this season.

WHO’S NOT: ORIOLES

— In his last 15 at bats, outfielder Alejandro De Aza has just one hit and has not scored a run in four games played or tallied an RBI in six games.

— In his last start, Norris went just 2 1/3 innings against the Blue Jays and allowed nine runs on six hits and three walks while striking out two. He has only gone five innings once in three starts, and allowed eight, three, and nine runs in those outings.

— In his last seven games, shortstop Everth Cabrera is 5-for-26 with no RBIs and one run. He has no extra-base hits on the season and has only scored three runs and gotten three RBIs. He season average is .231.

Blog Author: 
Nik Beimler
Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello

Just days after they last saw them for the first time this season, the Red Sox are heading to Baltimore to face the Orioles at Camden Yards for another series with Baltimore. Boston will open with Rick Porcello on the mound against Miguel Gonzalez in a rematch of Sunday’s matinee at Fenway Park.

Porcello didn’t have to wait long before he was set to take on the team that put eight runs up on the board against him in his most recent start. Against the O’s, the righty lasted five innings, allowing 12 hits and surrendering three walks. Five of those 12 hits were for extra bases, including home runs from centerfielder Adam Jones, who had five RBI on the day, and second baseman Ryan Flaherty.

“I just didn’t execute pitches. I made a lot of mistakes and they hit pretty much every one of them,” Porcello said. “I left a lot of fastballs over the plate.”

The start bumped Porcello’s ERA from 3.86 to 6.63 on the year. Over the course of his career, he has a 5.13 mark exclusively against Baltimore in 10 starts for 59 2/3 innings. Porcello is also averaging 6.2 strikeouts per nine innings against the Orioles and has a WHIP of 1.475. His .313 opponent batting average against them is fourth-largest among teams who he’s played at least five times.

Miguel Gonzalez

Miguel Gonzalez

Gonzalez fared a little better than his Red Sox counterpart while in Boston, yielding three runs on five hits over as many innings. He walked four and struck out five in the win. Gonzalez isn’t a stranger to getting the better of the Sox, as he has a 5-1 record against them in seven starts, posting a 2.81 ERA in that time. The Red Sox hit a modest .254 against him, and they’ve struck out 31 times in 48 innings of play when he has the ball.

Each of Gonzalez’s three starts this year have come against AL East teams. His first outing, an April 8 game against the Rays, resulted in a loss despite the fourth-year pitcher only earning one run on three hits in 5 2/3 innings. Jake Odorizzi and Tampa Bay shut out the O’s to make Gonzalez’s lone earned run costly enough to give him the loss. On April 14, Gonzalez welcomed the Yankees to Oriole Park, and he led Baltimore to a 4-3 win, a game where he gave up just one run in seven innings of four-hit, 10-strikeout baseball. In his third start, he defeated the Red Sox.

His 2.55 ERA ranks him 36th among starting pitchers in that category while his opponent batting average of .190 is 22nd in the MLB.

Orioles vs. Porcello (RHP)

Alejandro De Aza (37 plate appearances): .206 AVG/.270 OBP/.235 SLG, 1 double, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts
Adam Jones (28): .250/.250/.393, 1 double, 1 home run, 5 RBI, 7 strikeouts
Delmon Young (28): .308/.357/.500, 2 doubles, 1 home run, 4 RBI, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts
Chris Davis (21): .286/.286/.762, 1 double, 3 home runs, 7 RBI, 6 strikeouts
Travis Snider (15): .154/.267/.154, 1 RBI, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts
Manny Machado (14): .333/.357/.333, 2 RBI, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts
Ryan Flaherty (8): .429/.500/.857, 1 home run, 1 RBI, 1 walk
David Lough (8): .286/.375/.429, 1 double, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Everth Cabrera (7): .286/.286/.286, 2 strikeouts
Jimmy Paredes (4): .750/.750/.750
Caleb Joseph (3): 1.000/1.000/1.000, 1 walk
Steve Pearce (3): .000/.000/.000

Red Sox vs. Gonzalez (RHP)

Daniel Nava (19 plate appearances): .313 AVG/.421 OBP/.375 SLG, 1 double, 2 RBI, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts
Dustin Pedroia (15): .214/.267/.214, 1 RBI
Mike Napoli (11): .200/.273/.200, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts
Xander Bogaerts (10): .100/.100/.100, 4 strikeouts
David Ortiz (10): .000/.300/.000, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts
Mookie Betts (9): .250/.333/.625, 1 home run, 1 RBI, 1 walk
Brock Holt (7): .286/.286/.286, 1 strikeout
Hanley Ramirez (3): .667/.667/1.667, 1 home run, 3 RBI
Pablo Sandoval (3): .000/.333/.000, 1 walk
Sandy Leon (2): .000/.500/.000, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Shane Victorino (2): 1.000/1.000/1.000, 1 walk

Blog Author: 
Judy Cohen