Manny Ramirez and Hanley Ramirez share more than just a last name. They have the same swing. (Getty Images)Their housing situation seems fitting.



Mookie Betts

Mookie Betts

Little by little, Mookie Betts can feel things turning back in his direction. And so, too, can his manager.

Statistically, it was a pretty rough first homestand for the young outfielder, collecting five hits in 25 official at-bats. This after he started like a house on fire in both the season opener and the home openers. Betts homered in Philadelphia on April 6 and against the Nationals on April 13.

On Monday against the Orioles, he singled to right field in his first at-bat. The impact on the rest of the team was immediate and positive. He stole second, advanced to third on a Ryan Lavarnway bad throw and scored on a David Ortiz sacrifice fly to right. His run, unearned, was what the Red Sox envisioned when they put him at the top of the order.

“It’s good. I feel like it’s not just the top,” Betts said. “A couple of games ago, it was the bottom that scored the runs. There’s no difference between the top and the bottom. It’s just a matter of who does it on any given day.”

On Sunday, he drove a ball hard to deep right field, only to have it caught just shy of the warning track. The balls to the opposite field are always a good sign but especially so when you consider teams have made an adjustment after getting burned on fastballs inside to Betts. On Sunday and Monday, it appeared Betts was the one making the adjustment.

“The last couple of days, Mookie’s swings have been a little bit more spring training-like in that there’s more rhythm at the plate,” Farrell noted. “He was getting pitched to for a couple or three games in a row where he might have been guessing a little bit, chasing some breaking balls out of the strike zone.

“He was more fluid. You could see the rhythm in his hands, much more free and easy. That usually results in better bat speed and better swings on his part.”

As Betts’ average was plummeting below the Mendoza line of .200 (falling to a low of .191 after an 0-for-4 Sunday), Farrell insisted on Saturday, when he gave Betts the day off, he had no concerns about his average.

The early-season confidence Farrell showed in Betts is paying dividends, at least in Betts’ approach at the plate.

“I felt like this for a while, hit some balls hard,” Betts said. “That’s pretty much my only concern now is just continuing to hit them hard and hopefully they fall.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
John Farrell speaks after a rain-shortened win over Baltimore on Patriot's Day. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

John Farrell speaks after a rain-shortened win over Baltimore on Patriot’s Day. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

From the moment Buck Showalter‘s Orioles shocked the Red Sox and helped complete the greatest collapse in baseball history in 2011, the Orioles and Red Sox have been at each other’s throats.

In 2012, the Orioles eliminated the Rangers in the AL wild card game, taking the Yankees to the limit in five games before bowing out in the ALDS.

In 2013, the Red Sox won the World Series. In 2014, the Orioles won the AL East and made it to the American League Championship Series before bowing out to the Royals.

Now, the two AL East rivals appeared poised to battle each other over the long course of the season for supremacy in their division. Entering Monday’s series finale, the two teams stood at 7-5 after the Orioles won two of the first three games.

The first three games featured equal parts gamesmanship and respect from Showalter and Red Sox skipper John Farrell. So, when the Red Sox pulled out a 7-1 rain-shortened win to split the series and head to Tampa Bay with some first-place momentum, Farrell was happy to provide some very early season perspective on the Orioles and the rest of the division.

“Big win? “Sure it is. They’re a good team,” Farrell said. “I would imagine we’re going to be neck-and-neck with most everybody in this division throughout. And anytime you can come away in the final game of a series to earn a split, whether it’s home or road, it sends us off on a positive note. We’re going to end up right back there at the end of this week, going up against them for three.

“Just like the way we rebounded after dropping the last couple.”

The Red Sox and Orioles will see each other 15 more times before the end of the season and there figures to be more gamesmanship between the teams and even from the broadcasters, as we saw from the grief that Jim Palmer gave David Ortiz for flipping his bat during Sunday’s ejection. The two teams will see each other for three dates, starting next Friday at Camden Yards and already the anticipation builds.

“Long four days,” Showalter said. “Four-game series are really tough, especially when you playing a team you’re going to play 19 times. It’s just the start of a long trek through the American League. We know we have to come here two more times. They’re going come see us and they’re going to be competitive. We’ve got to do the things to stay competitive. Nothing revealed itself here that we weren’t expecting.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
Justin Masterson allowed a run over five innings to pick up the win against the Orioles. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Justin Masterson allowed a run over five innings to pick up the win against the Orioles. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Although it was just one start, Justin Masterson did his part in turning around the Red Sox‘ starting rotation’s poor start to the year.

Going into Monday’s annual Patriots Day game, the Red Sox had a 6.24 starters ERA, the worst in baseball.

Masterson entered with an ERA of 7.59, but turned in his best start of the season going five innings, allowing one run on three hits, while striking out six in the Red Sox’ 7-1 rain-shortened win.

“€œIt is one of those where you start the season and are feeling great, so it started decently well for us,” said Masterson of the rotation. “The second one was a let down for quite a few. I think we’€™ll run back and pitch a few good ones. Clay [Buchholz] did great again, Rick [Porcello] got his out of the way, and this was my third time and I was able to settle down a little bit. You’€™ll have bumps and grinds, ups and down. That’€™s just the process. I think we’€™re going out understanding who we are and encouraging each other and hoping for warmer weather as we go. We are giving 100 percent and I think it is starting to come together.”

Masterson certainly hasn’t been blowing hitters away this season, with his fastball barely reaching the high-80s, but he had an exceptional slider in Monday’s game, which contributed a great deal to his success.

Over the first two games of the season, Masterson threw his slider 34 and 31 times respectively, getting three swing and misses on the pitch in each start. Monday, he threw the pitch 39 times for a total of six swing and misses, according to Brooksbaseball.net.

“The slider was working real good,” Masterson said. “That’€™s what helped me in 2013 and helped me to be a better pitcher. The best way to do that is to throw it for strikes in good counts. It will be beneficial for me just like it was when I had success.”

Masterson has been particularly good against right-handers this season, as Orioles righties went 0-for-6 Monday and are now hitting just .185 this season.

“He’s made very good adjustments,” manager John Farrell said afterwards. “His slider has been a true weapon against both lefties and righties. He’s been able to double and triple use of the pitch to keep hitters from guessing.”

The right-hander has pitched in Boston before and he knows how critical the town can be sometimes. He admits he’s heard and seen what’s been said after the last time through the rotation, but said it isn’t bothering him or the rest of the Red Sox starters.

“The expectations were that we weren’€™t going to be very good think, ‘€˜Oh look, that’€™s what we thought,'” Masterson said. “Are you excited to be happy or do you wish it was the other way? As you look at this staff, it’€™s a group of guys who know what they need to do. I don’€™t think it bothers us right now with our numbers. Does it bother me, no. I know know we have some great stuff and good things coming along. Those from the outside looking in, they are going to say you had a decent outing, but five innings. ‘€˜Only five inning?’€™ they are going to say.

“It is going to be out there the entire time and there will be scrutiny, but I think great things will be coming from us.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

David Ortiz has a bone to pick with Jim Palmer.

David Ortiz has a bone to pick with Jim Palmer.

The hall of fame pitcher and long time Orioles broadcaster criticized David Ortiz on Twitter Sunday after he flipped his bat and dropped it at the plate after a check-swing that was call strike two by third base umpire Jerry Meals.

Meals yelled at Ortiz long distance and Ortiz returned the favor. When home plate umpire John Tumpane (filling in for Paul Emmel) interceded, Ortiz got in Tumpane’s face and was ejected.

Palmer tweeted: “FINALLY Oritz gets tossed” with hashtags that included #ZipitOrtiz and #disrespectful. Then, early Monday, Palmer tweeted another no-so thinly veiled shot at Ortiz: “O’s fans: Marathon day in Boston. What’s the over under on Ortiz going 9?”

Ortiz, asked about Palmer by ESPN’s Gordon Edes after Monday’s rain-shortened 7-1 win, didn’t hold back.

“Actually, I thought he was one of my guys,” Ortiz said. “All of sudden, he’s killing me, huh? I guess anybody who want to get paid, make some noise and come to Papi, right? All right.”

Edes then attempted to provide some perspective and context to the tweet on behalf of Palmer, suggesting Palmer wasn’t hating on Ortiz.

“Oh no?,” Ortiz said, before offering some advice to Palmer, “I don’t need your help.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

It didn’t seem like a familiar sight, and, as it turned out, it wasn’t.

For the first time in almost three years Dustin Pedroia put down a sacrifice bunt, this time pushing a Wei-Yin Chen third-inning pitch down the first base line to move along Ryan Hanigan to third base and Mookie Betts to second.

After the bunt (which came with nobody out), David Ortiz popped out to shallow left before Chen issued walks to Allen Craig and Mike Napoli for the inning’s second run. The Red Sox four-run frame was capped when Betts and Craig came in after Baltimore third baseman Manny Machado couldn’t handle Shane Victorino‘s grounder.

The inning resulted in a 5-1 Red Sox lead heading into the fourth.

“Because it was negative-30 and raining,” said Pedroia when asked about the bunt, referencing weather conditions that ultimately ended the Red Sox 7-1 win after 6 1/2 innings.

The last time Pedroia executed such a play was June 19, 2012 game in Miami, his only sacrifice bunt of that season. In that case the second base moved over Mike Aviles from second base in the fifth inning of a tie game, leading to an Adrian Gonzalez sacrifice fly. It would prove to be the eventual game-winning run in a 7-5 Red Sox win.

Pedroia finished Monday’s win with two hits in his three at-bats, boosting his batting average to .280. He was coming a day off following the first two games of the Orioles’ series in which he went 0-for-7 with three strikeouts. The second baseman had gone 6-for-11 in the three games against Washington.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

The Red Sox lineup is dangerous with the standard three outs. Give them more than three outs is asking for disaster.

Justin Masterson allowed a run over five innings to pick up the win against the Orioles. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Justin Masterson allowed a run over five innings to pick up the win against the Orioles. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Red Sox lineup is dangerous with the standard three outs. Giving them more than three outs is asking for disaster.

Taking full advantage of getting extra outs, the Red Sox rolled to a 7-1 win over the Orioles on Patriots Day at Fenway Park. The game was stopped because of rain the the middle of the seventh inning at 1:25 p.m., and officially called at 3:08 p.m.

Baltimore committed three errors leading to five unearned runs.

The Red Sox batted around in the third inning, scoring five unearned runs, while only recording one hit in the frame. Orioles Starter Wei-Yin Chen misplayed a Mookie Betts come-backer allowing the first run to score, and then later in the inning with two outs, third baseman Manny Machado misplayed a Shane Victorino grounder down the line allowing two more runs to score.

Chen went 4 1/3 innings, allowing five runs (all unearned) on just three hits, but he walked five.

Red Sox starter Justin Masterson delivered his best start of the season, allowing one run over five innings, while picking up six strikeouts. His fastball averaged in the high-80’s, but he was able to have success with a good slider keeping the Orioles hitters off balance.

The Red Sox improved to 69-51 on Patriots Day and have won 11 of the last 15 since 2001.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Betts. The center fielder once again was a spark plug at the top of the order, giving the Red Sox momentum from the start, stealing second, taking third on an error and scoring the first run of the game in the bottom of the first. He went 1-for-4 overall, but reached base twice while scoring two runs.

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

WHAT WENT RIGHT

— Betts continues to make things happen on the bases. After leading off the bottom of the first with a single — snapping an 0-for-11 slide — he stole second base and when the throw from Ryan Lavarnway skipped away he took off for third. Betts would score on a David Ortiz sacrifice fly. In the third inning he reached on an error and also scored another run.

Mike Napoli picked up his first RBI of the season in the third inning. It came on a bases loaded walk, his eighth walk of the season, which is tied for the team-lead.

Dustin Pedroia went 2-for-3 in the game with an RBI double in the sixth inning, scoring Ryan Hanigan all the way from first. He finished the homestand 8-for-21 (.381).

— Hanigan reached base three times in the win — a single and two hit by pitches. He also scored two runs.

— Allen Craig snapped an 0-for-13 skid with an RBI single in the sixth inning. He also walked in his first plate appearance of the game.

— Junichi Tazawa pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief of Masterson, while Robbie Ross Jr. induced a double play against the only batter he faced.

WHAT WENT WRONG

— Pedroia continues to struggle with runners in scoring position, as he struck out with Betts on third in the first inning. He’s now 1-for-14 on the year with runners in scoring position with four strikeouts.

Hanley Ramirez left the game prior to the top of the third due to illness. Craig replaced him in left field.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

The Red Sox-Orioles game Monday was stopped in the middle of the seventh inning for a rain delay with the Red Sox leading 7-1.