Lester keeps Sox rolling, 4-3

191542.jpg

Lester keeps Sox rolling, 4-3

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The offense is still in stuck in first gear, but the Red Sox' starting pitching continues to hum along quite nicely.

Jon Lester tossed six shutout innings as the Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 4-3, Friday night, for their third consecutive victory.

Since last Saturday, the Sox are 6-1. In that span, the starters have a collective 1.17 ERA, with no starter allowing more than two runs in an outing.

The Red Sox had just five hits on the night, but bunched together a few and got some help from the Angels' porous defense.

Jacoby Ellsbury doubled home Jarrod Saltalamachia in the third for the first run. A fly ball that dropped between Torii Hunter and Peter Bourjos produced two more in the fourth.

Vernon Wells boxed around Jed Lowrie's leadoff double in the seventh, sending Lowrie to third, from where he scored on J.D. Drew's single to center.

The Angels broke through off Matt Albers in the seventh with a run on two broken-bat hits, then scored twice off Bobby Jenks in the eighth, with Saltalamacchia allowing a passed ball that enabled Bobby Abreu to score all the way from second.

Jonathan Papelbon settled things down in the ninth for his fifth save.

STAR OF THE GAME: Jon Lester.

Lester wasn't particularly efficient (111 pitches in just six innings), but there's no arguing with the results. He allowed just four hits and walked two while fanning eight.

After a rough start on Opening Day, Lester has now allowed just four earned runs in his last four starts.

Now 2-1 with an ERA of 2.59 and just one start this month remaining, it's safe to say that Lester's April troubles are over.

HONORABLE MENTION: J.D. Drew

Drew, who has hit leadoff the previous two games, was returned to the middle of the order (sixth) and responded with a double in the fourth that helped key the two-run inning, then added a run-scoring single in the sixth.

In four plate appearances, Drew reached base three times with a run scored and an RBI.

GOAT OF THE GAME: Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Saltalamachia had another rough night behind the plate as the Angels swiped three bases and Red Sox pitchers were charged with two wild pitches on balls that Saltalamacchia got his glove on.

Worse, Saltalamachia allowed a 2-seamer from Bobby Jenks to go between his legs in the eighth inning, then couldn't find the ball, allowing Bobby Abreu to score all the way from second base.

TURNING POINT: In the second inning, with the Angels threatening (first and second, one out), second baseman Dustin Pedroia made a terrific double play by swiping a tag on baserunner Alberto Callaspo, then firing to first for an inning-ending rally-killer.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1.17 -- the ERA of Red Sox starters since Saturday, during which they've gone 6-1.

QUOTE OF NOTE: "A little bit. I think that's fair to say,'' -- Terry Francona on whether catcher Jarrod Saltalamachia is fighting himself behind the plate.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Red Sox’ quotes, notes and stars from 2-1 loss to Rays

boston-red-sox-drew-pomeranz-rays-082516.jpg

Red Sox’ quotes, notes and stars from 2-1 loss to Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Notes, quotes and stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Rays:

QUOTES:

* "There's not much I can do about it now. It's kind of a waiting game and hopefully, the tests come back clean.'' -Andrew Benintendi, on the uncertainty surrounding his knee injury.

* "Sometimes, I like that, sometimes I don't because I'd kind of take a couple of quick outs in place of those to get a couple of more innings out there.'' -Drew Pomeranz on his career high 11 strikeouts.

* "That's probably the spot that looms the largest. Jackie's become more aggressive early in the count, but at the same time, that aggressiveness can work against you.'' -Farrell on Jackie Bradley Jr. swinging at the first pitch following a walk with the bases loaded.

NOTES:

* Drew Pomeranz recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts

 * Since moving to the leadoff spot, Dustin Pedroia has a slash line of .397/.418/.460 in 16 games.

* Pomeranz has yielded two runs or fewer in five consecutive starts.

* On the just-completed road trip, the Red Sox led in all but one game.

* Thursday's loss was the fourth this season in which the Sox allowed two runs or fewer.

 * The past 18 Red Sox losses have come by a combined 37 runs.

* Until Thursday, the Red Sox had won 20 of their past 31 day games.

* The bottom third of the makeshift Red Sox lineup combined to go 2-for-12.

* The Sox missed out on a chance to have an eight-win road trip, which would have been their first since 2011.

STARS:

1) Jake Odorizzi

The Rays started, facing a depleted Red Sox lineup, limited the Sox to a single run over seven innings, allowing just five hits and getting out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam by allowing just one run.

2) Mikie Mahtook

Mahtook was 0-for-34 when facing Drew Pomeranz in the seventh inning, but that didn't stop him from doubling home Steven Souza Jr with what proved to be the winning run.

3) Dustin Pedroia

The Sox couldn't generate much of anything at all offensively, but don't blame Pedroia. The leadoff hitter had three hits and a walk and was on base four times for the Sox.

Benintendi's MRI inconclusive; will undergo more tests Friday in Boston

Benintendi's MRI inconclusive; will undergo more tests Friday in Boston

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Andrew Benintendi saga will continue for at least one more day, as an MRI taken here Thursday morning was, in the words of John Farrell, "inconclusive" and the rookie left fielder will undergo more tests Friday in Boston.

"Our doctors want to get him back to a full exam with (team orthopedist) Dr. [Peter] Asnis," Farrell said after the 2-1 loss to the Rays, which concluded the team's 11-game road trip. "Hopefully, when I speak to you all [Friday] afternoon (at Fenway Park, prior to the team's game against Royals), there will be a little more information on this."

Farrell said Friday's tests "will include some other imaging".

The Sox placed Benintendi on the 15-day disabled list after he injured his left night while running the bases Wednesday night. 

"We're going to do some more tests tomorrow and take it day-by-day," he said. "There's not much I can do about it now. It's kind of a waiting game and hopefully the tests come back clean.''
 
Benintendi found one sliver of hope:
 
"The more I walk on it, the better it feels. I'm going to stay as positive as I can.'' 

Branch reinstated by Patriots after week-long suspension

branch.jpg

Branch reinstated by Patriots after week-long suspension

Alan Branch has been reinstated by the Patriots after the team suspended him prior to last week's preseason game with the Bears, according to Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran. 

When Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked about Branch's absence last week, he replied, "It's a club matter."

What got Branch suspended by the team is still unknown, but he is expected to be a contributing player on the interior of the Patriots defensive line in 2016. He started in 17 games last season, including both playoff games, often lining up alongside fellow defensive tackle Malcom Brown. 

Through training camp the Patriots have also used Terrance Knighton, Vincent Valentine, Anthony Johnson and Joe Vellano on the interior of their defensive front. Branch, however, has consistently been used with the team's first defensive grouping. It's unclear how a week away from the team might impact his spot on the depth chart. 

Field Yates of ESPN was the first to report the news that Branch had been reinstated.