ARLINGTON, Texas ‘€“ Josh Hamilton picked a bad time to reprise his role as unstoppable killing machine.

ARLINGTON, Texas ‘€“ Josh Hamilton picked a bad time to reprise his role as unstoppable killing machine.

Josh Hamilton and the Rangers took care of the Red Sox on Friday. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Josh Hamilton and the Rangers took care of the Red Sox on Friday. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

ARLINGTON, Texas ‘€“ Josh Hamilton reaffirmed on Friday night that he is a destroyer of Red Sox. Two winters ago, he considered joining them.

The Rangers slugger shared one meeting with general manager Ben Cherington at the 2012 winter meetings, and though the sides never exchanged proposals, he was more than intrigued.

It turns out he loves Fenway Park.

“It was just good to sit down and talk with them,” he said after slamming his first two homers of the season in a 7-4 victory. “You think about places you’d like to go and play, and you get an opportunity to meet with people, when you want to go somewhere like that, just to think about the history that’s been there, that’s what’s always intrigued me, since the first time I walked out of the clubhouse on the wooden pallets underneath the tunnel and I went to the field. That was the only place I ever got nervous, my first season, playing with the Rangers.”

Hamilton’s first at-bat in Fenway was against Daisuke Matsuzaka, in 2008.

“The first pitch, I fouled it down the right field line,” Hamilton said. “I ended up striking out, but I remember I stood in the box and I was just shaking. So I won’t ever forget that.”

Hamilton never drew serious interest from the Red Sox, who were looking to sign veterans to short-term deals. A three-year deal for Hamilton, an MVP coming off his fifth straight All-Star berth, might’ve started at $90 million.
He instead signed a five-year, $125 million deal with the Angels, which ended disastrously when he suffered a drug relapse before being traded this spring.

But back when he met with the Red Sox, he was on top of his game.

“It was just cool to meet them and talk with the guys,” he said. “It’s been such a prestigious organization throughout the years, a lot of good players come through there. They’ve won some championships of recent. It was basically an honor for me to sit in there and talk with them and think it could be a possibility. It was good. It didn’t work out, but it was good to talk to them.”

The Red Sox might’ve signed him just to keep him away from their pitching. With his two homers on Friday, Hamilton has now driven in 53 runs in 56 starts against them lifetime, with a .314 average and an OPS of over .950.

He’s had a number of impressive games against the Red Sox, including a towering home run in 2012 off Mark Melancon.

“That is the longest ball I’ve ever seen hit at Fenway,” said Rangers hitting coach Dave Magadan, who was with the Red Sox at the time. “Some guys asked me recently the longest home run I’ve ever seen hit, and I told them it was that one.”

Hamilton’s homers didn’t travel that far on Friday, but they still did damage.

“I don’t know why, but I’ve always played pretty well against them,” Hamilton said. “I don’t know if it’s because I like playing at Fenway, because I do. It’s one of my favorite places to play. I’ll think about it.”

Blog Author: 
John Tomase
Josh Hamilton and the Rangers took care of the Red Sox on Friday. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Josh Hamilton and the Rangers took care of the Red Sox on Friday. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

ARLINGTON, Texas ‘€“ Josh Hamilton picked a bad time to reprise his role as unstoppable killing machine.

Only two months after narrowly escaping a season-long suspension following a drug relapse with the Angels, Hamilton was up to his old tricks with the Rangers on Friday night, smashing a pair of home runs off knuckleballer Steven Wright that proved the difference in Boston’s 7-4 loss.

Hamilton used to destroy the Red Sox with regularity ‘€“ his 2012 home run in Fenway off of Mark Melancon still hasn’t come down ‘€“ but he only made his 2015 debut in Thursday’s series opener.

Two games are apparently all he needed to find the range, and his blasts were too much for the inconsistent Red Sox offense to overcome.

Fresh off a galvanizing 5-1 victory on Thursday in Eduardo Rodriguez’s debut, the Red Sox squandered any chance to build momentum by stranding XX runners and hitting into a pair of Rusney Castillo double plays.

That made a loser of Wright, who is fighting to maintain his spot in the rotation with the Red Sox carrying an extra starter through the next turn. He didn’t pitch horribly, limiting the Rangers to three hits in 5 2/3 innings, but two of them left the park, and that was enough.

Wright gave the Red Sox enough to win, but they were stymied by Rangers right-hander Yovani Gallardo, whom they stroked 10 hits against during a 4-3 win in Boston on May 19.

This time, Gallardo limited them to four hits and just one earned run in six innings, striking out five.

The killer inning was the fourth, when a single, walk, and error loaded the bases with no outs. Xander Bogaerts put a charge into one, but it went as a long sacrifice fly to deep right. Catcher Blake Swihart followed with a game-tying single to left that put runners on the corners, but Castillo grounded sharply into the first of his two double plays.

Hamilton then homered with two outs in the bottom of the frame, and that was the ballgame.

The Red Sox tried to mount a rally in the eighth, with Hanley Ramirez‘s two-run homer drawing them within a run, but the bullpen gave the two runs right back in the bottom of the frame.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Josh Hamilton entered the game a lifetime .309 hitter against the Red Sox with a eight homers and a .908 OPS, and he improved on all of those numbers with his two homers. He has now driven in 53 runs against the Red Sox in 56 career starts. Vote on the Rock Solid Performer of the week and enter to win a VIP Boston Baseball Experience at weei.com/rocksolid.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

‘€“ Catcher Blake Swihart continues to come along offensively. His opposite-field single tied the game in the fourth.

‘€“ Center fielder Mookie Betts stole his seventh base in eight tries in the eighth, and was also robbed of a hit by a leaping Leonys Martin against the center field fence.

‘€“ Shortstop Xander Bogaerts allowed everyone to breathe a sigh of relief by returning to the lineup one night after getting hit in the wrist.

‘€“ Left fielder Hanley Ramirez smashed his second home run in as many nights, a two-run opposite field blast in the eighth.

‘€“ At Triple A Pawtucket, left-hander Brian Johnson tossed six perfect innings in a 1-0 win against Louisville before being lifted for pitch count reasons at just 74 pitches. Like Rodriguez, Johnson could end up giving the rotation a boost before the season is through.

WHAT WENT WRONG

‘€“ Rusney Castillo grounded into a pair of inning-ending double plays to kill rallies.

‘€“ Asked to keep the deficit at 3-2, reliever Alexi Ogando allowed three hits and two runs. His night could’ve been even worse, but he picked Mitch Moreland off second after a leadoff double, a call that was only made after consulting the replay.

‘€“ Relievers Craig Breslow and Matt Barnes combined to allow four hits and two runs in the eighth after the Red Sox had pulled within a run.

‘€“ First baseman Mike Napoli and manager John Farrell were ejected after arguing balls and strikes with home plate ump Todd Tichenor, who also ejected Jason Varitek and Terry Francona in the same game in Minnesota in 2009.

Blog Author: 
John Tomase

ARLINGTON, Texas — Eduardo Rodriguez isn’t going anywhere.

Eduardo Rodriguez

Eduardo Rodriguez

ARLINGTON, Texas — Eduardo Rodriguez isn’t going anywhere.

One day after the rookie made a sensational big league debut with 7 2/3 shutout innings in a 5-1 victory over the Rangers, manager John Farrell announced that he’ll start against the Twins on Wednesday at Fenway Park as part of a six-man rotation.

The Sox will stick with the extra starter for just one turn, Farrell said, before deciding who gets bumped, but for one more start, anyway, Rodriguez is penciled in.

“He was very good,” Farrell said. “I think when the initial reasons, factors we brought in ‘€“ get his first start out of the way ‘€“ the poise he demonstrated and what we’ve come to know of him, a guy that in Eddie’s case is very self confident but in a respectful way. He carries himself like that, he pitched like that last night. He pitched very much at ease last night and was very impressive.”

The Red Sox initially turned to Rodriguez simply to build in an extra off day for the rest of the rotation during a busy 20-game stretch, but they also knew there was a chance he’d force their hand, which he did.

“We’re not thinking that we would go to a six-man rotation,” Farrell said. “I’m not a fan of it, but I know there are merits to it for short periods. Our goal is to get back to a five-man rotation and a full complement on the bench.”

Rodriguez gives the Red Sox rotation something it has lacked ‘€“ a power arm with command of secondary pitches. Right-hander Joe Kelly throws upwards of 100 mph, but his fastball is hittable. Rodriguez, conversely, produced defensive swings with his fastball and also showed a surprisingly effective slider that rendered his strong changeup his third pitch, at least for a night.

“What we saw early on was a slider that was maybe better than advertised,” Farrell said. “But then when he got deep in the game the changeup became a key pitch.”

With Clay Buchholz, Wade Miley, and Rick Porcello secure, the final two spots in the rotation are up for grabs between Rodriguez, Kelly, and knuckleballer Steven Wright, who was scheduled to start in Texas on Friday night.

Blog Author: 
John Tomase

For a second straight game, David Ortiz will start the game on the bench, with Hanley Ramirez serving as the Red Sox‘ starting designated hitter against Texas righty Yovani Gallardo Saturday night in Arlington, Texas.

For a second straight game, David Ortiz will start the game on the bench, with Hanley Ramirez serving as the Red Sox‘ starting designated hitter against Texas righty Yovani Gallardo Saturday night in Arlington, Texas.

Red Sox manager John Farrell had noted that the plan was to give Ortiz a couple of days off to work on his swing, with an expectation that he would be back in the starting lineup Sunday.

Also starting once again is Rusney Castillo, who mans right field and hits ninth.

Here is the rest of the Red Sox’ lineup with Steven Wright on the mound for the visitors:

Dustin Pedroia 2B
Mookie Betts CF
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Hanley Ramirez DH
Mike Napoli 1B
Brock Holt LF
Xander Bogaerts SS
Blake Swihart C
Rusney Castillo RF

For all the matchups, click here.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

David Ortiz has been here before.

David Ortiz has been here before.

In May of 2009, the Red Sox arrived in Seattle for a three-game series with Ortiz in tow, but he didn’t appear in a game. Instead, manager Terry Francona gave his struggling slugger the entire series off to work on his swing and try to fix what had been the worst start of his career.

Ortiz had just gone 0 for 7 in a 12-inning loss to the Angels to drop his average to .208. Even with the time off, it would get worse before it got better. Ortiz ended May hitting .185 before catching fire in June. He blasted 27 homers over the final four months to salvage an otherwise lost season.

Six years later, Ortiz is similarly struggling and manager John Farrell has delved into the playbook of Terry Francona by giving him time off during the team’s current series with the Rangers to sort out a slump that has Ortiz hitting .216.

“Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t,” Ortiz said on Thursday night. “For me, it worked once. I’ll try it again now and go from there. I’ve just been thinking too much and overdoing things. Sometimes that works and sometimes that doesn’t. I know this ballclub needs me, and now we have a long season ahead. I’m just going to try to pull the best out of this.”

For Ortiz, that might mean altering the formula that has made him successful.

“A guy like myself, I always have to be on top of my game because every night I see the best coming out of everyone,” he said. “So the minute I walk away from my game, this is exactly what happens. The pitcher be like, ‘just keep that monster down there sleeping. Don’t wake him up. Bury him.’ So in my case, I’ve got to figure out how to execute better. There’s always a Plan B. There is always a Plan B that you’ve got to put in play. Once the Plan B stops working, that means you don’t have it anymore, so that’s another step you’ve got to take. I’m just going to put in play the Plan B.”

And what might that be?

“Come back and rake,” he said.

Blog Author: 
John Tomase