Notes: Francona 'honored' by Sox video tribute

Notes: Francona 'honored' by Sox video tribute
May 24, 2013, 2:00 am
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BOSTON — Terry Francona couldn't avoid the spotlight when the second inning came around at Fenway Park on Thursday night.

Up until that point in the game, and leading up to things hours before it started, Francona did anything and everything to try to turn the attention away from him.

But in the top of the second inning, a tribute played over the HD video board around Fenway Park.

As music blasted over the speakers, highlights flashed of former Red Sox players now with the Indians, and then came the fitting tribute to Francona that ended with a long, loud standing ovation from the Fenway crowd.

"You know what, I tried really hard, as we talked before the game, I didn't want to make it harder on our players. I thought that was unfair. I tried to keep my emotions inside," Francona said. "When they did that thing after the first inning, I was honored, and I was also thrilled that they showed Cashy [Kevin Cash], Mike Aviles, Matt [Albers], Rich Hill, and then Millsy [Brad Mills, third base coach] standing next to me who's probably my best friend in life. So to share that was pretty awesome."

Francona couldn't help but show his emotion at that point, and patted his heart on his chest out towards the fans.

"I appreciate it, it was very heartfelt. But again, you don't want to be the main focus, you want to let the players play. But it felt good, and I hope they realize that."

He also sent out personal message after the tribute.

"Then I waved to Pedey [Dustin Pedroia], just because I couldn't help it. [He's] so special that I couldn't help it," Francona said.

Francona was greeted by numerous Red Sox personnel before the game, and David Ortiz walked into the visitors dugout to hug him, too.

And one perhaps unlikely candidate for a warm embrace prior to the game was Red Sox President and CEO Larry Lucchino.

"Yeah, he was very kind," Francona said, also sharing that they've exchanged texts since 2011. "Again, there's an enormous amount of respect. Again, not to dig up old- I didn't like the way things ended, but that doesn't- he went out of his way at the anniversary to talk to me and I probably wasn't the most pleasant. And tonight he came down to say hello, and I appreciated it."

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The Indians arrived in Boston in the wee hours of the morning, after two rain delays on Wednesday against the Tigers turned their game into a five-and-a-half hour marathon.

Francona said he slept on the plane, but was pretty grumpy upon getting off and going to his hotel. But despite the long night and short turnaround, the Indians showed up more than ready to play Thursday night.

"We got in late, and again you never make excuses, but I was thrilled the way we came out with energy and grinded out at-bats," Francona said. "We made Dempster work hard and got him out and got into the bullpen. And in a four-game series, you help yourself out by doing that."

The Indians scored 12 runs on 16 hits for their first win of the season against the Sox. It's the most runs they've scored at Fenway Park since scoring 12 back on June 26, 2005. It's the most hits since May 30, 2007.

But it wasn't all hitting. Thursday was the 20th time out of the last 25 games that Indians starting pitchers held the opponent to three runs or less. They've posted a 3.63 ERA in those games and are 19-6.

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Jarrod Saltalamacchia walked in the 2nd inning to extend his on-base streak to a career-high 13 games with a plate appearance since May 6. He's batting .326 (14-for-43) with six walks in that span.

Asked what the Sox can do to be more consistent and kick their recent up-and-down play, Saltalamacchia said the goal is to focus on one game at a time.

"We're still right up there. We're still a half-game out. So as far as I'm concerned, it's the same thing I've said every night. We get this game and move on to tomorrow," he said.

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Jacoby Ellsbury hit his first bunt single since Sept. 27, 2009 at New York Yankees. He had eight bunt singles that season.

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Andrew Miller pitched a scoreless 9th inning for the Red Sox, striking out two batters in the inning. He has recorded 16 of his last 24 outs by way of the K.

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Scott Barnes, a native of Springfield, MA, tossed 3.0 scoreless innings of relief to earn his 1st ML save in his debut at Fenway Park.