Aviles, Saltalamacchia stay hot in Philadelphia

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Aviles, Saltalamacchia stay hot in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA -- A week ago, both were slumping badly. Now, it seems, no one can get Mike Aviles or Jarrod Saltalamacchia out.

Aviles homered for the third straight game Sunday, and led off the game with a homer for the second day in a row, becoming the first Red Sox player in almost a century to accomplish that feat.

For the series, Aviles had five hits and four RBI.

Saltalamacchia, meanwhile, belted a three-run homer well over 400 feet to straightaway center, for his second homer in as many games. Over his last six games, he has three homers and nine RBI.

Together, they accounted for all five runs the Red Sox scored Sunday in a 5-1 win over the Philadlephia Phillies.

"It's the Mike and Salty show, back-to-back days," said Bobby Valentine. "Pretty good to see."

Not since Harry Hooper had anyone homered to lead of two straight Red Sox games, though Aviles said that was hardly his goal.

"It was definitely fun," he said. "I just went up there, trying to set the tone and get on base and fortunate to get a ball to run into the good part of the bat and get one up in the air."

"To do that two nights in a row," said Valentine, "relaxes the offense a little and lets the pitchers know at least (they) have one run when they go out there."

Aviles was struggling not long ago, and his on-base percentage had dipped well below .300, causing Valentine to take a look at Ryan Sweeney as possible options to lead off.

But Sunday, Valentine seemed to commit to Aviles as his permanent leadoff choice -- at least until either Carl Crawford or Jacoby Ellsbury return to good health.

"I see him as the guy, who, if we need a leadoff hitter, he's going to lead off and set a very aggressive pace for our team," said Valentine. "I think we need that."

"It's fine," shrugged Aviles of the assignment. "It's no different than hitting ninth, second, seventh...wherever it is, it's thew same thing. I try to take the same approach - try to get on base and let the guys behind me do the damage.

"If I get on base enough, we have enough guys on this team who can hit the ball in the gap and I know I can run a little bit. I just try to get on base and whatever happens from there, happens."

Meanwhile, Saltalamacchia has also rebounded from a recent slump. After going 0-for-5 against the Indians on May 11, Saltalamacchia had dipped to .221.

Since then, over his last six starts, he's hitting .480 (12-for-26) with three homers and nine RBI.

He also homered in each of the last two games here, a feat made all the more remarkable given that he went to the hospital Friday night after suffering a laceration of the left ear that required a dozen stitches.

The Sox already led 2-0 in the third when Saltalamacchia came up with runners on second and third and one out against Cliff Lee.

"I just made good contact on a 2-0 changeup," said Saltalamacchia, "and I was able to put good wood on it. My only thought was, man on third, I needed to get him in, any way I can and it just worked in my favor."

While emphasizing that he views his catching responsibilities as his top priority, Saltamacchia is enjoying his current hot streak at the plate.

"I feel good," he said. "I'm trying to have a good approach and put good plate appearances together."

Quotes, notes and stars: Wright "today was tough"

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Quotes, notes and stars: Wright "today was tough"

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 10-3 loss to the Rangers:

 

QUOTES

* “On a night when he didn’t have the consistency to the knuckleball that we’ve seen from many of his starts, he went to his fastball a little bit more. [Against] a good fastball hitting team . . . He’s typically made good adjustments staying over the rubber to get his release point out front -- that wasn’t the case [tonight].” John Farrell said about Steven Wright struggling with his knuckleball in his 4.2 inning outing.

* “The ball was spinning a lot out of my hand. It was a little bit hard to grip the ball because the humidity. But it was the opposite -- it was real sticky. That’s the first time I’ve had that ever. But I still felt like I should have figured that out. It was one of those things where I think I started trying to hard . . . I was trying to the throw the kitchen sink at them but it wasn’t working.” Steven Wright said about struggling to find his knuckleball in the 10-3 loss.

* “It’s hard for me because you want to go out there and try and go as deep as you can to try to help the bullpen, but, you know, today was tough, a tough day for me.” Wright said on his disappointment with only going 4.2 innings.

 

 

NOTES

 

* Hanley Ramirez laced his fourth homerun in his last 11 games. In his nine career games at Texas, Ramirez has six homeruns.

* David Ortiz went hitless for the first time since June 12th. Boston’s designated hitter also hasn’t hit a home run since June 17th -- his third longest homerless spell of 2016.

* Xander Bogaerts scored his 57th run of the season, putting him one run behind Ian Kinsler -- the fourth highest total in the majors.

 

 

STARS

 

1) Adrian Beltre

The ex-Red Sox third baseman finished 2-for-4 with an RBI, a walk -- scoring the team high three runs.

 

2) Ian Desmond

Desmond laced his 13th homer of the season in his second at-bat of the game, sparking Texas’ offense with its first run of the game.

 

3) Elvis Andrus

Andrus ended Steven Wright’s day quickly with a three-run triple in the fifth inning, finishing 1-for-2 with two walks and a run.

First impressions from Red Sox' 10-3 loss to Texas

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First impressions from Red Sox' 10-3 loss to Texas

First impressions of the Red Sox 10-3 loss to Texas:

 

Steven Wright can’t be stellar every night.

Although it’s seemed like it lately, it’s just not possible -- especially with a knuckleball.

He wasn’t even that bad Saturday night. He just didn’t get any help from his defense in the fifth frame.

But there’s no denying he didn’t have his best stuff. But whatever the reason, he couldn’t find consistent command or movement from his knuckler and he gave up some hard hits as a result.

Did he receive a fate worse than he pitched? Yes. But what Boston saw from Wright in his Saturday start is there will be times his go-to pitch is off -- and there’s really no way to work around that.

 

Hanley Ramirez’s “timing issue” seems to be coming around.

Although he hasn’t necessarily caught fire, Ramirez hit another home run -- once again to right field.

He’s shown more patience at the plate, and not trying to pull every ball out of the yard.

Ramirez doesn’t have everything completely figured out, but his homeruns have been plenty valuable at this point.

 

Ian Desmond is no joke.

The newly converted centerfielder is 5-for-10 against Boston pitching this series with a run and two RBI.

The ex-Nationals shortstop has good pop and good speed still. He seems to be a lot more comfortable in his new home after hitting .233 for Washington last year with 19 homeruns -- hitting his 13th Saturday night.

 

For all the criticisms Boston’s bullpen has received, the Rangers’ is definitely worse.

Although there wasn’t the same miraculous comeback witnessed Friday night -- and Boston’s pen wasn’t particularly stellar in the loss -- the Ranger relievers did not look good in the second game of the series.

They put themselves into deep counts right away -- and was lucky Boston’s offense was off.

Boston’s bullpen has its faults -- no question -- but it’s not nearly as bad as the one in Texas.

 

The Red Sox unfortunately have to rely on Clay Buchholz Sunday.

The bullpen is beaten down once again. The righty is still fighting for his job, so this would be the best time for him to pitch competitively into the sixth inning -- and maybe even longer.

Saturday's Red Sox-Rangers lineups: Wright tries to stay on roll

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Saturday's Red Sox-Rangers lineups: Wright tries to stay on roll

Knuckleballer Steven Wright will try to stay on a roll, as will the Red Sox, as they continue their three-game series tonight (9:20) against the Rangers in Arlington, Texas.

Wright (8-4, American League-leading 2.01 ERA) faces Rangers right-hander A.J. Griffin (3-0, 2.94), in his first start since coming off the 15-day disabled list.

The Red Sox rallied to win the series opener 8-7 with a four-run ninth inning.

The lineups:

RED SOX
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Travis Shaw 3B
Bryce Brentz LF
Christian Vazquez C
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Steven Wright RHP

RANGERS
Shin-Soo Choo RF
Ian Desmond CF
Nomar Mazara LF
Adrian Beltre 3B
Prince Fielder DH
Roughned Odor 2B
Elvis Andrus SS
Mitch Moreland 1B
Robinson Chirinos C
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A.J. Griffin RHP