Bats carry Sox to fourth straight win

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Bats carry Sox to fourth straight win

CHICAGO - A four-game road winning streak at their backs, the Red Sox are bashing teams into submission of late.
The Sox erupted for 10 runs Thursday night in the first game of a four-game series against the Chicago White Sox and have scored 34 runs in the last four games, an average of 8.5 runs per contest.
What's more, the Red Sox are scoring early. They've scored first in all four games on the trip, and in three of the games, they've scored in the first inning.
Thursday, en route to a 10-3 win, the Sox had a 7-1 lead by the third inning. The long ball accounted for seven of the 10 runs they scored.
What's more, they're getting contributions from two players -- Kevin Youkilis and Jarrod Saltalamacchia -- who weren't providing much at the plate through the first two or so weeks of the season.
Youkilis had a three-hit night, featuring the second grand slam of his career. Over the four games on the trip, he has six hits.
"I'm having better at-bats and doing little things here and there,'' said Youkilis. "I always look at it like it's a long season and you're going to go through stuff. Hopefully, the bad at-bats are a thing of the past and I can keep making strides going forward.''
Bobby Valentine, who was critical of Youkilis's performance two weeks ago, said it was a good sign that Youkilis's grand slam in the third went to the opposite field, a sign, the manager said, that he's starting to get locked in at the plate.
"Anytime I hit a home run is a good sign,'' said Youkilis. "I don't know if it's 'oppo,' or left field -- just taking goodswings and having good at-bats is the key to success. If you have good at-bats as many times as you can, good things will happen. Hitting to right field, left-center... I don't think that's a big deal as much as having great at-bats and putting them together.''
Saltalamacchia, who was hitting under .100 on the last homestand, hit two homers Thursday, giving him three in his last three games.
Over his last five games, the catcher is hitting .476 with two doubles, three homers and seven RBI over his last five games while lifting his average to a more respectable .261.
"Right now,'' said Saltalamacchia, "I'm just trying to put good wood on the ball and stay consistent with my approach. I feel good at the plate. My main focus is obviously trying to work with the pitchers and get us through the games. Those guys are working so hard that I want to be able to help them out as much as I can behind the plate and whatever I can do offensively helps.''

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

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Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

BOSTON -- At first, 2016 seemed like the “Year of Xander.” It turned out to be the “Year of Mookie,” with Bogaerts dropping off a little as the season progressed.

The Red Sox shortstop saw his average peak at .359 on June 12. At that point he’d played in 61 games, hit eight home runs, 20 doubles and knocked in 44 runs. Although Mookie Betts had six more home runs and three more RBI in that same span, Bogaerts had six more doubles and was hitting 69 points higher.

The two were already locks for the All-Star Game and Bogaerts still had the edge in early MVP talk.

Then things took a turn after the very day Bogaerts saw his average peak.

Over the next 61 games, Bogaerts still managed seven homers, but only had six doubles and 27 RBI, watching his average drop to .307 by the end of that stretch. At first glance, .307 doesn’t seem like an issue, but he dropped 52 points after hitting .253 in that span.

And in his remaining 35 games, Bogaerts only hit .248 -- although he did have six homers.

But throughout it all, Bogaerts never seemed fazed by it. With pitchers and catchers reporting in less than a month, Bogaerts still isn’t worried about the peaks and valleys.

“You go through it as a player, the only one’s who don’t go through that are the ones not playing,” Bogaerts told CSNNE.com before the Boston baseball writers' dinner Thursday. “I just gotta know you’re going to be playing good for sometime, you’re going to be playing bad for sometime.

“Just try to a lot more better times than bad times. It’s just a matter of trusting yourself, trusting your abilities and never doubting yourself. Obviously, you get a lot of doubts when you’re playing bad, but you just be even keeled with whatever situation is presented.”

Bogaerts level head is something often noted by coaches and his teammates, carrying through the days he finds himself lunging left and right for pitches. That’s also carried him through the offseason while maintaining the same preparation from past seasons -- along with putting on some weight.

“I don’t know how much I put on, but I feel strong,” Bogaerts said to CSNNE.com “I mean, I look strong in the mirror.

“Hopefully, I’m in a good position when the season comes because I know I’ll lose [the weight].”