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Mike Shalin's Working Press: Red Sox are better than this

By MIKE SHALIN
May 19. 2018 9:36PM
Boston Red Sox pitcher Rick Porcello walks off the mound in the rain during the sixth inning of Saturday's game against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)



It's a Sunday of baseball notes and quotes:

. They have not one, but two MVP candidates through the season's first quarter in Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez. They have one of the few pitchers in the league not on the Astros who is an early Cy Young candidate in Chris Sale. The starters, as a group, have been above average, with David Price rebounding his last two times out. Craig Kimbrel has been mostly Craig Kimbrel. They LIKE their manager, who isn't the guy who led them to the last two division titles. They are healthy, except for the still-missing Dustin Pedroia. The shortstop, Xander Bogaerts, is hitting for more power.

Then why were the Red Sox, 17-2 out of the gate, 13-13 in their last 26 games as they faced the Orioles at Fenway Park Saturday night?

Think about that. It can't be all Jackie Bradley Jr.'s fault. Or the lack of offense from the catchers. Or Blake Swihart, the new Michael Bishop (remember that Pats backup quarterback everyone loved?) not getting enough playing time.

In short, it's perplexing.

. Are you ready to give up on Drew Pomeranz and bring Steven Wright back into the rotation? Not so fast. Pomeranz was a 17-game winner last season and was injured this spring training. Give the lefty some time.

. Alex Cobb finally got his first win as an Oriole Friday night - and didn't hide his enthusiasm.

"I know the win is overrated and it's kind of not looked that way anymore, but when you see a goose egg next to your name in the win column, it just kind of turns your stomach the wrong way," he said. "It's ugly. Baseball is a crazy game and you could have won some of those games, but I believe that when you have the ball in your hand, you have the ability to win a ballgame.

"I love the win. I love that column next to your name when you feel like you really show that you put your team in a position to win multiple nights."

. Betts through Friday, from the Red Sox post-game notes: "No player since 1908 has had as many games with 3+ XBH through this point in his career (549 games)...Tied Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx for the most such games at the age of 25 or younger in that time."

. From our pal Christopher Smith of MassLive: "Jalen Beeks, who's on the 40-man roster, has dominated at Triple-A Pawtucket with a 1.93 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, .191 batting average, 59 strikeouts and 10 walks in seven starts (37 1/3 innings)."

. From @StatsByStats Thursday: "David Price of the @RedSox needed just 95 pitches to finish his complete game against Baltimore tonight. The only other time in the last 25 years a lefty threw a CG in under 100 pitches at Fenway Park: Price on 7/24/2013 as a member of the Rays.

. Twenty years after his perfect game for the Yankees, David Wells again talked about being hung over after a night of partying with Saturday Night Live cast members, telling Yahoo Sports, "It was a rough night and that's probably why it happened. I think I overdid it. Thank God for coffee and water. You would never think in a million years that you're going out, hung over as (expletive) and throw a perfect game."

. While people have tossed Betts into the best in baseball mix with fellow outfielders Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, don't sleep on Manny Machado and Nolan Arenado. Through Friday, Machado was hitting .347, with 14 homers, 42 RBIs and a 1.093 OPS, Arenado was at .324 with 8/23 and a .991 OPS. Both, like the outfielders, are brilliant fielders.

. Jason Heyward came off the seven-day concussion disabled list Friday following his first concussion. "It made a believer out of me," he said. "Not that I wasn't a believer before. You feel for anyone that goes through it. That stuff is scary. You don't feel like yourself, and you don't see anything wrong with you physically, but there is something that's not right."

. K.C. catcher Drew Butera dyed his hair PINK - after making a promise to a 7-year-old boy who beat cancer. "He was in the hospital battling cancer and going through chemo," Butera said of Dagan Lingenfelter. "I made a promise to him, he had his hair dyed, that when he beats cancer he could dye my hair. So today, cancer free and we're dying some hair."

. Former teammate Mark Teixeira, interviewed on ESPNNY Radio Thursday, was asked about Robinson Cano's drug suspension. "Yeah, I don't really want to get into too much detail. I love Robbie. I'm just not surprised," said Teixeira, a baseball analyst for ESPN since retiring after the 2016 season. "I don't really want to go too much further, but I think a lot of people are kind of saying the same thing."

. Bartolo Colon, he of the BobbleBelly giveaway, stopped a 102 mph line drive with his bobble belly last Wednesday. "It hit me more on the side than in the middle," Colon said. "I have a lot of big belly, so I can take it." By the way, at 45, he has a 2.82 ERA in nine starts.

. The Yankees failed to play a game to completion in Washington, a two-day stay between two off days, then couldn't get out of D.C. Wednesday night, some of them sleeping in Dulles Airport and the rest sleeping on the plane, with the AC running. Luckily for them, they had an off day Thursday before losing Friday night.

. The Cubs are said to be seeking Machado as their top trade deadline priority, apparently willing to go all in like they did when they acquired Aroldis Chapman two years ago and ran him into the ground to finally win a World Series.

. Didi Gregorius, the AL player of the month for April, was 1-for-45 through Friday night as his average had dropped from .372 to .248. "I'm not happy with the at-bats," he said, "because I'm not helping the team."

. Count this guy as one who hopes Wade Boggs will get to throw his knuckleball, said to be nasty when he was playing catch during his playing days, in next Sunday's alumni game at Fenway.

. The Blue Jays did something this week they had never done before: win a game in Flushing. After losing the first game of a two-game series, they made it 1-12 at the two Queens stadiums (0-9 at Shea Stadium, 0-3 at Citi Field) with a win. In that victory, JA Happ became the first Jays pitcher ever to reach base three times in the same game.

. Buck Showalter raised eyebrows the other night when he crossed the third base line to remove his pitcher - before Bogaerts completed his home run trot. Then, after the game, Showalter criticized home plate umpire Tony Randazzo for making Kevin Gausman's night difficult with his balls and strikes calls. But Friday, the manager, after watching the tape, said, "I was wrong, he was good. That was one of the better games we've had this year."

. Oakland's Daniel Mengden pitched well and beat the Red Sox last week. The next day, he broke down pitching to the Boston hitters to our pal Dave Laurila from FanGraphs. Good stuff. Here's the link: https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/daniel-mengden-on-pitching-to-red-sox-hitters/.

. If you didn't feel great for Stephen Piscotty hitting that home run at Fenway this week after returning from his mother's funeral . well, you're a heartless partisan fan.

. Last year, AJ Hinch had to take one of the leads when Houston was devastated by hurricane. Friday, the 'Stros manager had to manage a home game after the latest school shooting occurred in his backyard, Hinch again took the lead (along with the Texans' JJ Watt, who is paying for the funerals). Among the things he said were, "There's no reason for our schools to be combat zones" and "Thoughts and prayers are great, they're not fixing the problem."

. The Indians were 21-22 through Friday night - and were still in first place in the miserable AL Central, a game and a half ahead of the 20-24 Tigers.

. The flailing Dodgers,17-26 through Friday, lost six straight games to the REDS and MARLINS before winning in Miami in the series finale. You don't think Don Mattingly was happy to go 4-2 against his former team, do you?

. More milestones for Justin Verlander as he rolls merrily along toward the Hall of Fame. This week, he became the 33rd pitcher ever with 2,500 strikeouts, and did it in a shutout that lowered his ERA to 1.05. He then tweeted, "Thank you to everyone for the congratulatory tweets on 2,500 K's. So honored to be able to play this game and compete against the best in the world for as long as I have. #thankyou". Verlander, in response to the Cano suspension, also tweeted, ""Aaaand excuse coming in 3... 2.. 1.."

. Jordan Lyles pitched 7 1/3 perfect innings against the Rockies, his old team, this week, but a single and walk ended his day. It came in the Padres' 7,857th game without a no-hitter.

. Entering the weekend after a Friday rainout in Washington, the Dodgers had hit 14 straight solo home runs.

. After a long career as a catcher and even a third baseman, Russell Martin got to play an inning at shortstop in a blowout game this week.

. From the Red Sox' post-game notes Friday night, Martinez: "Leads active hitters at Fenway with a .390 AVG, .686 SLG, and 1.112 OPS (min. 100 PA).

. And Bogaerts: "Since 2015, his 318 hits at home rank second to Mookie Betts (320) for the most in the AL ... Is a career .308 hitter at the venue (389-for-1,262)."

. Kudos to buddy Dan Roche, who tweeted, "Today's #WBZ 70th anniversary flashback - On this day in 1951, Ted Williams hit his 300th career home run. It was the same year Curt Gowdy began broadcasting Red Sox games on WBZ-TV. Mr. Gowdy gave me my first job in this business back in 1984 at WCCM/WCGY in Lawrence, MA"

. Also, from Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register: "Just when you thought you'd seen all of the stories about the amazing feats of Shohei Ohtani, a reader just pointed out to me that he's the only one who spits his sunflower seeds into a cup instead of on the floor."

. Finally, I will be joining Steve Babineau signing our new book, The Hometown Team, at the Manchester Barnes & Noble next Saturday at 1. Come see us - and if you miss us there we'll be at the Salem store on June 1.

Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is shalinmike@yahoo.com.


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