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Friday, September 23, 2016

John Farrell reveals secret to Red Sox surge: Bill Belichick

"Warm up Koji in the seventh."

A month ago columnists, talk-show hosts and fans were calling for his head. Now John Farrell looks like a genius and the Red Sox are the hottest team in baseball -- winning the close games they couldn't earlier in the year due (said the naysayers) to his weak in-game managing.

Asked after last night's eighth straight win to explain the turnaround, Farrell dropped a bombshell:  Bill Belichick has been making Boston's strategic moves before, after, and even during games. Phone calls in dugouts, clubhouses, and hotel rooms have kept the two in touch and moved the Red Sox to the verge of the postseason.

It was the Patriots coach, Farrell says, who made the decision to immediately put Koji Uehara into the eighth-inning role -- where he has thrived -- after he came off the disabled list.

Shaw got mad -- and hot -- thanks to Belichick.

To start over-his-head rookie Yoan Mancada over Travis Shaw at third base for a few games, lighting a fire under Shaw -- and a resurgence at the plate.

To stay behind slumping Clay Buchholz, trying him in various spots and keeping his confidence up, so he'd be ready to move back into the starting rotation when needed .

To rest David Ortiz just the right amount so that his feet would hold up and he'd put up the best farewell numbers in MLB history.

A rested Ortiz continues to rake.

To convince Hanley Ramirez to cut down on his home-run swing -- thus leading to more home runs and fewer helmet-flying strikeouts.

To move Dustin Pedroia into the lead-off spot, against the second baseman's wishes, sparking a Laser Show batting spree reminiscent of 2008.

"It's particularly tough when we have games at the same time, like last night, but Bill is such a mastermind that he can make out our lineup at the same time he's going over plays with a rookie quarterback making his first start," says Farrell. "I mean, the guy is a genius."

I wish Bill would call.

Farrell says he decided to come clean about the arrangement because he wanted the world to know just how brilliant a tactician Belichick is -- even if it costs him his job.

"I've been around baseball for 40 years," he says, "but Bill is in a league all by himself."

Make that two leagues.

Friday Fun from Fenway Reflections