Red Sox Notes: Mookie Betts’ Energy Already Paying Dividends For Boston

Mookie Betts, Alexei RamirezBOSTON — The Red Sox someday might look back — even if it’s not this season — at July 9, 2014, as a key date in team history.

The Red Sox started five rookies Wednesday against the Chicago White Sox at Fenway Park. The youngsters provided energy as Boston came back from a four-run deficit in the eighth inning to earn a 5-4, walk-off win.

The Red Sox still sit 11 games below .500 (40-51), but Wednesday showed the club could be exciting to watch down the stretch.

Let’s go over Wednesday’s busy day at the yard.

– The Red Sox designated veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski for assignment and called up catching prospect Christian Vazquez.

Manager John Farrell and general manager Ben Cherington each made it clear the Red Sox are invested in younger players moving forward.

– Vazquez, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts and Brock Holt comprised the five rookies who started Wednesday.

It marked the earliest date the Red Sox started five rookies since July 6, 1952, when Dick Gernert, Dick Lepcio, George Schmees, Faye Throneberry and Sammy White all suited up.

– Rubby De La Rosa technically isn’t a rookie. But he’s still considered a big part of the Red Sox’s future, and the 25-year-old got the nod against Chris Sale.

De La Rosa allowed three earned runs on six hits over five innings. He struck out three, didn’t walk anyone and threw 84 pitches (54 strikes) in a start that was shortened because he pitched an inning Sunday with Triple-A Pawtucket.

– Sale shut down the Red Sox’s offense for the better part of 7 2/3 innings. He allowed one run on four hits while striking out six.

Very Sale-like, basically.

– Although the Red Sox received contributions from several players over the final two innings, it was Betts who provided the biggest spark of all in the eighth inning.

Betts led off with a ground ball to the left side. He beat out a bang-bang play at first base but immediately turned his attention to a vacant second base. Betts took off running and wound up with an infield double — a play Betts said he executed a few times in the minors.

“You look back on the last couple of innings, and Mookie Betts stands out,” Farrell said. “An aggressive baserunning move, but yet he gets himself into scoring position and ends up scoring at least the first run for us.”

Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Jonny Gomes each knocked in a run in Boston’s three-run eighth.

– Betts also scored the tying run in the ninth inning. He got hit by a pitch and scored when Daniel Nava, pinch-hitting for Vazquez, lined a double into the left-center field gap.

Nava became the first Red Sox player with a game-tying, pinch-hit RBI in the ninth inning or later since Rocco Baldelli on July 1, 2009.

– Holt delivered a walk-off single that plated Nava.

It was Holt’s first career walk-off hit.

– Holt made his first career start at shortstop, making him the second Red Sox player ever to start at first base, third base, shortstop, left field, center field and right field in the same season.

Jack Rothrock bounced around the diamond in 1928.

– Bradley made a ridiculous diving catch in the right-center field gap in the second inning.

– Cherington described the Red Sox before the game as being in an “unusual” situation with the trade deadline approaching. He also shouldered the blame for not making better personnel decisions over the offseason.

– Shane Victorino was with the Red Sox for the entire game Wednesday and could be seen cheering his teammates from the dugout with plenty of energy. Victorino is slated to start a rehab assignment Thursday with Single-A Lowell.

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