Red Sox Notes: Mookie Betts’ Power Throws Royals Pitcher For A Loop


June 21, 2015

The Boston Red Sox checked out at halftime.

For 4 1/2 innings Saturday, the Red Sox looked like a legitimate threat capable of riding a strong series against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium toward bigger and better things. Then, reality struck in the form of a Rick Porcello collapse and a 7-4 loss to the defending American League champs.

The Red Sox blew a 4-1 lead en route to their 40th defeat of the season. They also lost both third baseman Pablo Sandoval and catcher Blake Swihart to injuries amid their meltdown, which fittingly was capped by David Ortiz being ejected in the seventh inning after arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman.

The Red Sox have a habit of flashing potential, only to snatch it right back in favor of another crushing loss. So in that respect, Saturday marked another day at the office for Boston.

Let?s run down some notes.

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— Red Sox manager John Farrell said there?s been no talk of removing Porcello from the rotation despite the right-hander?s abysmal stretch and inability to provide shutdown innings. It appears, at least for the time being, the Red Sox are willing to ride out the storm.

And really, what choice do they have?

The Red Sox could send Porcello to the disabled list, like they did with Justin Masterson amid his struggles, but Farrell said flat-out after Saturday?s loss that nothing physically is wrong with Porcello, making that route more unlikely than it already was.

Either way, the Red Sox have to be concerned about the way things have gone with Porcello. The 26-year-old is 4-13 with a 5.57 ERA and 1.47 WHIP in his last 20 starts dating back to last season, which is a rather substantial sample size. Plus, the eyeball test speaks volumes.

— There are a few guys who just seem to ?get it? this season. Swihart and Mookie Betts are two such players.

Swihart legged out an infield single on a ground ball to first base in the fifth inning. How many catchers are capable of doing that?

And Betts, who led off the game with a home run, hustled around from second base to score in the fifth on a ball hit about five feet in front of home plate by Dustin Pedroia.

?I saw the catcher go for it and his back was turned toward me,? Betts said of his aggressive baserunning play. ?I pretty much rolled the dice.?

Betts, who batted leadoff for the first time since May 22, is hitting .640 (16-for-25) with two homers, six RBIs and six runs scored over his last seven games. His power, which has resulted in seven homers this season, even shocked Royals starter Edinson Volquez.

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— Both Sandoval (left ankle sprain) and Swihart (left foot sprain) were considered ?day to day? immediately following the game. However, Farrell said it?s unclear if a roster move will be necessary, and reports indicate Sandoval left the clubhouse in Kansas City in a walking boot without comment.

Swihart told reporters his foot was sore but that he expects to be fine.

— If Sandoval misses time, Brock Holt likely will see plenty of opportunities at third base, alleviating the logjam in front of Rusney Castillo to some extent. Castillo has started only one of the last six games.

But even if Holt sees an uptick in playing time in the infield, rather than the outfield, it looks at this point like Alejandro De Aza still will be leaned on against right-handed starters. After all, Castillo hasn?t exactly performed up to expectations so far.

— Ortiz ranted about his ejection. He had a point in the sense that Dreckman?s calls during his seventh-inning at-bat were questionable. But things get dicey beyond that.

While Major League Baseball?s expanding strike zone is impacting some players, like Ortiz, it hasn?t been much of an issue for others, meaning the ability to adjust is paramount. Complaints are understandable, especially for someone who?s been in the league for 18 years, but they don?t do anything to rectify the situation. It?s also a bad look to complain about the strike zone amid Boston’s many other problems.

Thumbnail photo via Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports Images

Boston Red Sox pitcher Rick Porcello
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