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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: NFL executives blast ‘traitor’ Colin Kaepernick

Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

THURSDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NFL preseason: Patriots at Giants, 7 p.m. (WBZ-TV, NFL Network)
NFL preseason: Seahawks at Raiders, 10 p.m. (NFL Network)
College football: Charlotte at Louisville, 7 p.m. (FSN)
College football: Indiana at Florida International, 7:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
College football: South Carolina at Vanderbilt, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
College football: Rice at Western Kentucky, 8 p.m. (CBSSN)
College football: Oregon State at Minnesota, 9 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
MLB: Giants at Cubs, 8 p.m. (MLB Network)
WNBA: Liberty at Fever, 8 p.m. (NBA TV)
Tennis: U.S. Open, 1 p.m. (ESPN), 6 p.m. (ESPN2)

AROUND THE WEB:

Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick

— Criticism — and some support — continues to rain down on Colin Kaepernick, but the 49ers quarterback isn’t backing down regarding his national anthem protest. Kaepernick has said he will not stand during the song until police brutality against minorities stops.

On Wednesday it was revealed that Kaepernick has been wearing socks at practice the last couple of weeks that are decorated with cartoons of pigs heads adorned with police hats.

Even before that information came out, seven anonymous NFL executives interviewed by Bleacher Report said Kaepernick is not likely to be signed should the 49ers decided to cut him (he lost his starting job to Blaine Gabbert last year and was on the trade block during the offseason).

One executive labeled Kaepernick “a traitor,” saying: “I don’t want him anywhere near my team.”

Another sample comment: “He has no respect for our country. [Expletive] that guy.”

One official said Kaepernick is the most disliked player in the league since Rae Carruth, who remains in jail for plotting to murder his pregnant girlfriend in 1999 while playing receiver for the Panthers.

“In my career, I have never seen a guy so hated by front office guys as Kaepernick,” an exec said.

On the other side of the situation, a Twitter hashtag of #VeteransForKaepernick began trending Tuesday night and continued Wednesday, with many vets supporting the player’s right to speak his mind whether or not they agree with him.

Wrote one vet: You don’t fight for freedom of speech then criticize someone for actually using it.

— One day after detailing his battle with throat cancer during a Tuesday appearance on WEEI’s Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon, Chris Mortensen announced that he plans to play a part in ESPN’s NFL coverage as the start of this season.

“I received very encouraging news last week from my oncologist team of doctors at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center that now enables me to completely focus on recovery rather than treatment,” Mortensen said in a statement. “The Stage IV throat [oropharyngel] cancer that was diagnosed in early January and treated with intensive chemotherapy and radiation has been virtually reduced to zero detection of the disease through the latest scans and exams.

“I do have scheduled exams and scans during the next three months to monitor my status but my oncologists have directed me to recover and rehab from the treatments that have resulted in lengthy hospitalization, significant weight loss, strength, endurance and related health issues. I am following instructions to overcome these challenges.

“My return-to-work status has variables with no definitive target date but I anticipate being able to participate in NFL coverage on a limited basis as the 2016 season gets underway.”

Mortensen was diagnosed in January and took a leave of absence while he sough treatment.

“It has been a long and difficult road for Mort since he was diagnosed, so hearing his positive news is very encouraging,” ESPN senior coordinating producer Seth Markman said. “As we have said all along, when Mort is able to return, his chair on our set will be waiting. He is a beloved member of our ESPN team, and we have really missed him these past few months.”

— Angels All-Star center fielder Mike Trout is OK after being involved in a serious car accident Wednesday night in Tustin, California, following his team’s home game in nearby Anaheim.

According to reports out of Southern California, Trout was trying to avoid an accident on the 55 freeway when his brakes locked up on his Mercedes sedan and he hit another vehicle. He was not injured, but a woman in the car he struck had to be rescued. Two people were sent to area hospitals after the two accidents. Videos and photos from the scene show Trout standing and talking to an official while checking his cell phone.

Angels general manager Billy Eppler said Trout, who is hitting .319 with 25 home runs and 84 RBIs, “feels fine” and was planning to travel with the team to Seattle on Thursday.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Sept. 1, 1987, in separate transactions, the Red Sox traded away which two players who performed key roles on the 1986 American League championship team for players to be named later?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I’m going out there with the mindset, ‘I’m the starter.’ It’s a great opportunity to get these first four games. We’ll see where it goes from there. You never know what’s going to happen. It’s a crazy league, and anything’s possible, really.” — Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, during his Wednesday appearance on Kirk & Callahan

STAT OF THE DAY: .463 — Dustin Pedroia’s batting average since moving into the leadoff spot on Aug. 10, following his three-hit effort in the Red Sox’ 8-6 victory over the Rays on Wednesday

‘NET RESULTS: Tyler Collins hits a sacrifice fly to short left field in the ninth inning that scores JaCoby Jones as the Tigers get a walk-off win against the White Sox.

Cubs shortstop Addison Russell races toward the foul line and makes an impressive sliding catch against the Pirates to end a bases-loaded threat.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Dave Henderson to the Giants (for Randy Kutcher), and Don Baylor to the Twins (for minor leaguer Enrique Rios)

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Barry Gibb, the eldest Gibb brother of the Bee Gees, was born on this day in 1946. He’s on the left in this video.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar

What you should know about Yoan Moncada and his promotion

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

Remember when Yoan Moncada stated at his introductory press conference he wanted to be in the major leagues within a year? Turns out he wasn’t that far off.

It took 537 days. Not bad. (The Red Sox announced they would be promoting Moncada Friday.)

Along the way, there was questions about his position, his switch-hitting, and even his cars. But here we are, getting ready to see Moncada in a Red Sox uniform when they begin their three-game series in Oakland against the A’s.

You know the Red Sox allocated $63 million to win the services of the infielder, and that Moncada has been deemed the organization’s top prospect. But there is so much more to soak in when it comes to one of the most anticipated promotions of this Major League Baseball season.

(To read about the Red Sox’ pursuit of Moncada, click here.)

Why now?

It was difficult to read between the lines in the last few weeks when trying to decipher the Red Sox’ intentions in terms of bringing up Moncada. The doubt about a Sept. promotion only grew when the infielder suffered a sprained ankle while playing for Double-A Portland.

But what became evident was the need on the major league club for a jolt, particularly at third base, where Travis Shaw and Aaron Hill had slumped badly in August. As Red Sox manager John Farrell stated Wednesday morning, one could draw a “direct comparison” to what Moncada might do for the 2016 season and the boost given to the ’07 club by Jacoby Ellsbury and Xander Bogaerts’ impact in ’13.

“The one thing for those who have been around this team for a number of years, teams that have had success have always had an injection of young players late in the season that have helped carry the team to the postseason,” Farrell said. “I think Yoan would be in a similar category for when Pedey [Dustin Pedroia] and Jake came to the big leagues. When Bogey came to the big leagues. And [Andrew] Benintendi is obviously already here. I wouldn’t separate him out from that comparison at all. In fact, he’s a direct comparison.”

(To read more of Farrell’s comments, click here.)

The Red Sox could have waited for the conclusion of the minor league season, which ends Monday, but then they would be risking injuring a player they suddenly have postseason plans for.

What will he be doing?

As Farrell said, this isn’t going to be just a pinch-running excursion for Moncada. (Although he figures to be doing plenty of that over the next month.)

Moncada will play a good amount of third base. How much? Truthfully, that will depend on how hot he gets. It would be easy to just say he will get a bunch of at-bats vs. right-handed pitching considering the switch-hitter managed a .314 batting average from the left side, compared to .171 when hitting righty.

But if he gets hot, he will play a lot. That’s what happened with Andrew Benintendi, and Farrell noted such a scenario is in play for Moncada.

What should we be wary of?

The issues hitting from the right side are very real. Not only are the numbers not good when going up against southpaws, but those who watched Moncada on a regular basis warn of his struggles hitting off-speed stuff as a righty hitter. (Ironically, he did manage his signature moment to date by hitting a changeup over the Petco Field fence from the right side during the Futures Game.)

How his base-stealing translates to the majors should also be interesting. So much was made of him swiping 94 bases in 109 minor-league attempts. But many of those steals came using his raw speed at the lower levels. At Portland, Moncada was thrown out four times in 13 tries.

Still, despite his inexperience and continued education on the basepaths, Moncada remains far and away the Red Sox’ best available late-inning opportunity to impact on the bases.

“His first step is unbelievable on the bases and defensively,” Portland manager Carlos Febles told WEEI.com. “He’s a beast.”

He will be eligible for the postseason

Under MLB’s new rules, a player just needs to be in the organization in order to have an opportunity to play in the postseason. They don’t have to be called up to the big leagues prior to Sept. 1.

He’s really big

This social media gem was recently passed around the Red Sox’ clubhouse.

Can he play third base?

The Red Sox took their time switching Moncada off second base, a move everybody knew was inevitable. But, judging by reports from Portland, playing third base hasn’t been an issue. “Right now, it’s like riding a bike,” Moncada told WEEI.com in early August when asked about playing third. Added his Sea Dogs teammate Mauricio Dubon, “He’s a natural. He’s a baseball player. He does it all.”

And this was what Febles — the man Moncada worked with at the new position — had to say about the transition: “It’s been going pretty good,” the Portland manager said. “He’s familiar with the position. He’s played there before. He told me he played mostly center field and third base in Cuba, so he’s very familiar with the position. So he’s working on little details about having a wide base and it’s fast, where if you’re playing second base you have the luxury of staying back on the baseball. At third base you’ve got to be a little more aggressive, and react because you don’t have much time. Stuff like that. The transition is going to be easier for him because he’s done it before. But it’s going well. He’s putting in the time and working extremely hard at it. He said, ‘Whatever they want me to do. If they want me to play third base, I’ll play third base. If they want me to play the outfield, I’ll play the outfield.’ He’s a baseball player and he really wants to play in the big leagues. Whatever it takes to get there.”

He has a logo and $500,000 in cars

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

What you should know about Yoan Moncada and his promotion

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

Remember when Yoan Moncada stated at his introductory press conference he wanted to be in the major leagues within a year? Turns out he wasn’t that far off.

It took 537 days. Not bad. (The Red Sox announced they would be promoting Moncada Friday.)

Along the way, there was questions about his position, his switch-hitting, and even his cars. But here we are, getting ready to see Moncada in a Red Sox uniform when they begin their three-game series in Oakland against the A’s.

You know the Red Sox allocated $63 million to win the services of the infielder, and that Moncada has been deemed the organization’s top prospect. But there is so much more to soak in when it comes to one of the most anticipated promotions of this Major League Baseball season.

(To read about the Red Sox’ pursuit of Moncada, click here.)

Why now?

It was difficult to read between the lines in the last few weeks when trying to decipher the Red Sox’ intentions in terms of bringing up Moncada. The doubt about a Sept. promotion only grew when the infielder suffered a sprained ankle while playing for Double-A Portland.

But what became evident was the need on the major league club for a jolt, particularly at third base, where Travis Shaw and Aaron Hill had slumped badly in August. As Red Sox manager John Farrell stated Wednesday morning, one could draw a “direct comparison” to what Moncada might do for the 2016 season and the boost given to the ’07 club by Jacoby Ellsbury and Xander Bogaerts’ impact in ’13.

“The one thing for those who have been around this team for a number of years, teams that have had success have always had an injection of young players late in the season that have helped carry the team to the postseason,” Farrell said. “I think Yoan would be in a similar category for when Pedey [Dustin Pedroia] and Jake came to the big leagues. When Bogey came to the big leagues. And [Andrew] Benintendi is obviously already here. I wouldn’t separate him out from that comparison at all. In fact, he’s a direct comparison.”

(To read more of Farrell’s comments, click here.)

The Red Sox could have waited for the conclusion of the minor league season, which ends Monday, but then they would be risking injuring a player they suddenly have postseason plans for.

What will he be doing?

As Farrell said, this isn’t going to be just a pinch-running excursion for Moncada. (Although he figures to be doing plenty of that over the next month.)

Moncada will play a good amount of third base. How much? Truthfully, that will depend on how hot he gets. It would be easy to just say he will get a bunch of at-bats vs. right-handed pitching considering the switch-hitter managed a .314 batting average from the left side, compared to .171 when hitting righty.

But if he gets hot, he will play a lot. That’s what happened with Andrew Benintendi, and Farrell noted such a scenario is in play for Moncada.

What should we be wary of?

The issues hitting from the right side are very real. Not only are the numbers not good when going up against southpaws, but those who watched Moncada on a regular basis warn of his struggles hitting off-speed stuff as a righty hitter. (Ironically, he did manage his signature moment to date by hitting a changeup over the Petco Field fence from the right side during the Futures Game.)

How his base-stealing translates to the majors should also be interesting. So much was made of him swiping 94 bases in 109 minor-league attempts. But many of those steals came using his raw speed at the lower levels. At Portland, Moncada was thrown out four times in 13 tries.

Still, despite his inexperience and continued education on the basepaths, Moncada remains far and away the Red Sox’ best available late-inning opportunity to impact on the bases.

“His first step is unbelievable on the bases and defensively,” Portland manager Carlos Febles told WEEI.com. “He’s a beast.”

He will be eligible for the postseason

Under MLB’s new rules, a player just needs to be in the organization in order to have an opportunity to play in the postseason. They don’t have to be called up to the big leagues prior to Sept. 1.

He’s really big

This social media gem was recently passed around the Red Sox’ clubhouse.

Can he play third base?

The Red Sox took their time switching Moncada off second base, a move everybody knew was inevitable. But, judging by reports from Portland, playing third base hasn’t been an issue. “Right now, it’s like riding a bike,” Moncada told WEEI.com in early August when asked about playing third. Added his Sea Dogs teammate Mauricio Dubon, “He’s a natural. He’s a baseball player. He does it all.”

And this was what Febles — the man Moncada worked with at the new position — had to say about the transition: “It’s been going pretty good,” the Portland manager said. “He’s familiar with the position. He’s played there before. He told me he played mostly center field and third base in Cuba, so he’s very familiar with the position. So he’s working on little details about having a wide base and it’s fast, where if you’re playing second base you have the luxury of staying back on the baseball. At third base you’ve got to be a little more aggressive, and react because you don’t have much time. Stuff like that. The transition is going to be easier for him because he’s done it before. But it’s going well. He’s putting in the time and working extremely hard at it. He said, ‘Whatever they want me to do. If they want me to play third base, I’ll play third base. If they want me to play the outfield, I’ll play the outfield.’ He’s a baseball player and he really wants to play in the big leagues. Whatever it takes to get there.”

He has a logo and $500,000 in cars

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Red Sox announce Yoan Moncada joining big league club

John Farrell hinted at it Wednesday morning. Eleven hours later, the Red Sox made it official.

The Sox announced that they will be adding Yoan Moncada to the active major league roster Friday, one day after rosters can expand. The infielder will still have to be added to the 40-man roster, which currently stands at 39.

Farrell said during his pregame media briefing Wednesday that Moncada’s role would not be strictly as a pinch-runner, with the 21-year-old slated to get regular time at third base. He has been manning the position with Double-A Portland for the past few weeks, having also played the spot for two years in Cuba.

(To read all of Farrell’s comments from Wednesday morning, click here.)

Moncada entered Wednesday hitting .295 with a .935 OPS in 44 games with Double-A Portland.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Celtics waive shooting guard John Holland

The Celtics announced Wednesday afternoon that they waived shooting guard John Holland. Above all else, it was more of a courtesy to the 6-foot-5 Holland, who was very much at the bottom of the C’s totem pole and highly unlikely to make the final roster.

A source told Celticsblog that the 27-year-old has offers in both the United States and Europe.

From The Bronx, the swingman played at Boston University, then going overseas before making a return to the United States, signing with the Canton Charge of the D-League on December 23, 2015. He signed a non-guaranteed two-year deal with the Celtics in April, and appeared in just one game: the second game of the Celtics playoff series against the Hawks, in which he played for less than a minute.

From a development standpoint, the decision makes plenty of sense. Even with a solid camp, Holland would still likely be deep on the bench had he even made the NBA roster. That, in turn, would steal a roster spot from the likes of Ben Bentil, R.J. Hunter or James Young — individuals the Celtics have invested much more in.

Blog Author: 
Logan Mullen

Bill Belichick on D&H: Playing in preseason ‘an important part’ of Tom Brady’s preparation for Week 5

Bill Belichick

Bill Belichick

Patriots coach Bill Belichick joined Dale & Holley with Thornton on Wednesday (taped on Monday) to discuss the quarterback situation among other things heading into the fourth and final preseason game. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Tom Brady played four series’ in the third preseason game against Carolina last week and reportedly made the trip to New Jersey for the final game Thursday night. Even though he won’t play in a real game until Oct. 9 against the Browns, Belichick explained the value of Brady playing in preseason games.

“Well, I think it’s obvious playing in games is different than practicing,” Belichick said. “Your backup quarterback, I mean, your backup quarterback can play in the preseason. I mean who knows when he is going to play again, but whenever he does it’s going to be very important. We know when Tom is going to play next. That’s going to be important and I think these games even though they are not right on the doorstep, they are still an important part of his preparation and the team’s preparation with him at quarterback. That’s what we did.”

Also in last Friday’s game, third string quarterback Jacoby Brissett went 9-for-9. While the numbers were outstanding, Belichick said he still has things to work on and noted the competition in the second half of games isn’t the same as the first half when first and second-team players are in.

“Well, Jacoby definitely did some good things in the game and there’s some things that came up that he needs to work on,” Belichick said. “He knows that. I think he recognized probably before the coaches did, but anytime you go 9-for-9 that’s a good start with no turnovers. He’s protected the ball pretty well. He’s shown that he can handle the offense. There are a lot of things that he still needs to learn. There are a lot of things he hasn’t seen.

“In all honestly, some of the things that have come up in the second half of these preseason games from a scheme standpoint would be a lot more challenging in the regular season, or possibly some of the earlier parts in the game. He’s handled [things] well. He will need to see a lot more. He will need to handle a lot more, but he’s making progress. He works hard. He spends a lot of extra time going over things and obviously has some talent. That is the kind of guy you want to work with — somebody who can throw the ball accurate, got some size and ability to maneuver in the pocket a little bit. He has a lot to work on, too.”

On a different subject matter, Belichick is 64 years old and the second oldest coach in the league. He isn’t showing any signs of retiring either.

“I enjoy it,” Belichick said of why he keeps coaching. “I enjoy all the aspects of it — the team-building in the spring, the new guys that come in and the rookies that come in in the summer and training camp and working with them. The competition of the season, working with the most experienced, best players arguably ever in the game, or amongst the best. There are parts of it that are challenging. Every week is a challenge against the good teams, good players, good coaches, other good organizations. It beats working.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Steven Wright after rough start: ‘There are still some lingering effects definitely going on’

Steven Wright

Steven Wright

This wasn’t the Steven Wright followers of the Red Sox had come to expect this season.

Prior to injuring his right shoulder in a baserunning incident at Dodger Stadium Aug. 5, Wright was 13-5 with a 3.01 ERA, having come off a complete game shutout.

Now, after struggling through four innings against the Rays Wednesday afternoon in which he allowed four runs on seven hits with three walks, Wright is offering a completely different image. Making it worse was this presented a step back from the last outing, in which he gave up five runs in the first inning and then settled down for the next five.

It has left the knuckleballer searching for answers.

“The team battled today. For me, it was really hard,” said Wright after the Red Sox’ 6-4 win. “The last couple outings, I’ve been really trying since I got hurt to get back to my rhythm and my timing. It’s just been off. It was hard for me to throw a pitch with conviction. A little bit is trusting the arm to make sure that it’s good. It feels OK. Our guys really battled. The bullpen came in and did a great job. The defense saved me.”

Wright added, “Taking three weeks off in the middle of the season is not easy for anybody. For me, it was the first time I’ve had anything go wrong with my shoulder. The biggest thing is just trusting that it’s strong and healthy. The big mental thing for me is just trying to get over the fact that I can go through my five-day routine trusting that it’s good. There are still some lingering effects definitely going on. It’s been tough, both mentally and physically to go out there on a day-to-day basis to try to perform. That’s kind of what went on. The last game, I got lucky those last five innings, where the Royals put a lot of balls in play and the defense did a great job. Today, same thing. I just feel like I didn’t have my best stuff. It was hard for me to get the same life and the same action that I had pre-injury. I’m just trying to get back to where I was.”

Wright’s knuckleball was noticeably not up to par Wednesday, with Red Sox manager John Farrell taking him out after throwing 84 pitches even with a depleted bullpen.

Now the recently-turned 32 year old will spend the off day driving to Santa Cruz with his wife and daughter before trying to figure things out heading into his next start, Tuesday in San Diego.

“It feels fine most of the time, but with any injury, there’s going to be lingering,” Wright said. “It’s the fact that you’ve got to trust that it’s good and just let it get back to where you were before. It’s the first time I’ve ever had anything with my shoulder, so I’ve just got to get over that mental hump and trust that it’s good.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

John Farrell explains thinking behind not using Craig Kimbrel for four outs

Junichi Tazawa ran into trouble in the eighth inning Wednesday. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Junichi Tazawa ran into trouble in the eighth inning Wednesday. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The Red Sox boarded the bus for their West Coast road trip the owners of an 8-6 win over the Rays Wednesday afternoon.

But it was an eighth-inning decision by John Farrell, to bring in Junichi Tazawa with the bases loaded, two outs and the Sox leading by a pair in the eighth inning, that was a major topic of conversation following the victory.

With Brad Ziegler not with the team due to Type A influenza, and Clay Buchholz having pitched in three of the last four days, Farrell was presented with the choice of either bringing in the struggling Tazawa, or use closer Craig Kimbrel for a four-out save.

The manager turned to Tazawa, who had allowed two hits in the seven previous at-bats against Rays’ righty hitter Logan Forsythe. It was far from the ideal situation considering the struggles of the reliever, who had allowed at least one baserunner in each of his last five outings, and owned a 10.00 ERA, and .341 batting average against, for August.

The move backfired with Tazawa jumping out to an 0-2 count, just missing on his third pitch, and then allowing a two-run, game-tying single to Forsythe.

“I was aiming to the outside, a little bit high,” Tazawa said through a translator. “But the pitch before was called a ball so I was thinking a little bit inside. I caught too much of the plate.”

So, why not Kimbrel for four outs?

The problem was that the closer had thrown 22 pitches in the Red Sox’ 4-3 loss to the Rays Tuesday night. Prior to that he hadn’t pitched since Aug. 24.

“After we got him an inning of work last night because he had not pitched in six days, was not going to go with a quick turnaround and look to get four outs from him,” Farrell explained.

The manager then elaborated on the use of the closer with a deficit the night before. “Being his sixth day without getting on the mound, that was part of the plan to get him to the mound [Tuesday] night,” Farrell said. “Knowing it was a day game following a night game, that was still taken into account. But with the off-day following, he was not going to throw more than two days consecutively.”

“You take every day individually. The fact is that Craig needed to get to the mound [Tuesday] night. I can’t say that he would’ve been as sharp today having pitched on his seventh day rather than an inning [Tuesday] night.”

Kimbrel went on to pitch a perfect ninth inning in picking up his 24th save of the season. But after the game suggested

“Today felt like a day game after a night game,” the closer said with a smirk when asked how he felt during Wednesday’s outing. “After getting out there, this far into this season, I was warming up and things like that, just wasn’t getting into games during that stretch. But, yeah, it was good to get in there [Tuesday] night and obviously it was good to get in there today as well, especially with a victory.”

Would he have been hesitant to come in for the extra out? The closer had gone more than inning four times this season.

“No, not at all,” Kimbrel said. “If I have to come in the eighth inning and help somebody out, that’s happened to me many times this year. We always got each other’s backs. If there are situations, obviously it depends on workload, but if I need to come in in the eighth, I’ll be ready in the eighth.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Afternoon Delight: Winona Ryder ‘Stranger Things’ lightbulb ad

I would have ended the day on the Earth shaking news that Netflix has dropped a teaser trailer for Season Two of “Stranger Things.” But it’s really nothing more than the opening title card with some random phrases that are probably the names of episodes or something. So instead, I’ll pivot to this Winona Ryder spoof from Funny or Die. While I object to the idea she overacted in Season One – she was amazing and if she doesn’t get an Emmy they should just stop giving them away – this is still pretty funny. Hopefully the show runners will get the new season out quickly without sacrificing quality because my alphabet wall with all the Christmas lights is almost ready.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Thornton

Closing Time: Hanley Ramirez, Aaron Hill rescue Red Sox in win over Rays after Steven Wright, bullpen, falter

Hanley Ramirez (right) is congratulated by Dustin Pedroia after a grand slam on Wednesday vs. the Rays. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Hanley Ramirez (right) is congratulated by Dustin Pedroia after a grand slam on Wednesday vs. the Rays. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

With one swing, Hanley Ramirez seemingly sent the Red Sox to the West Coast on a high, at least until the bullpen struck again in the eighth inning.

But Aaron Hill picked a good time to snap an 0-for-20 slump with a tie-breaking single in the eighth as the Red Sox overcame blowing a 6-4 lead to pull out an 8-6 victory over the Rays.

In danger of losing for the fourth time in sixth games before embarking on a lengthy road trip, the Red Sox erased a 4-1 deficit on Ramirez’s fifth-inning grand slam. They appeared ready to cruise to victory before Fernando Abad loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth and manager John Farrell opened himself to a massive second guess by turning to Junichi Tazawa for the final out of the frame instead of closer Craig Kimbrel for a four-out save.

Tazawa allowed the tying two-run single to Logan Forsythe, but the Red Sox rallied in the bottom of the frame on a Hanley Ramirez walk, Sandy Leon sacrifice, and Brock Holt single before Hill untied the game with a sharp single to left.

Kimbrel blew away the Rays in the ninth for his 24th save.

Ramirez’s blast came off of Rays starter Drew Smyly, who cruised into the fifth before faltering. Jackie Bradley led off with a single. Red-hot Dustin Pedroia followed with another single, and after Xander Bogaerts (strikeout) and David Ortiz (fly-out) left Smyly on the verge of avoiding damage, Mookie Betts worked a long walk before Ramirez jumped on a first-pitch fastball and blasted it into the Monster seats.

That hit took knuckleballer Steven Wright off the hook. Wright allowed two home runs in only four innings before being lifted. He was rocked for seven hits and also walked three.

The damage could’ve been worse, but the Red Sox defense made a number of stellar plays behind Wright and the bullpen. Catcher Sandy Leon picked Brad Miller off first in the third, outfielder Mookie Betts cut down Kevin Kiermaier at second base trying to stretch a double before a run could score in the fourth, and Aaron Hill made a diving play to end the sixth.

Xander Bogaerts put the Red Sox on the board in the first with his 17th homer.

Closing Time note

The grand slam was the seventh of Ramirez’s career and his first since Opening Day last season in Philadelphia.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

— Ramirez remained hot. He entered the game hitting .367 since Aug. 14 and has three homers and 14 RBIs in his last 14 games.

— After the bullpen blew another lead in the eighth, Kimbrel closed it out with a perfect ninth.

— Center fielder Jackie Bradley looked more like himself at the plate, going 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs.

— Tim Beckham helped the Red Sox immensely by trotting home on Kiermaier’s single to right in the fourth. Assuming it would be a double, he slowed down as he approached the plate, and when Betts recorded the out at second, Beckham’s run didn’t count.

WHAT WENT WRONG

— So good at keeping the ball in the park all year, Wright allowed multiple homers for the second straight start. He hadn’t allowed more than a homer in any game until these last two outings.

— Given a chance to provide a four-out bridge to Kimbrel, Fernando Abad faltered. He loaded the bases in the eighth before Tazawa allowed the game-tying single.

— Farrell opened himself to a very fair second guess by giving Tazawa another chance in a high-leverage situation. Tazawa instead allowed his 13th of his last 15 inherited runners to score.

Blog Author: 
John Tomase