Pedroia finishes what Saltalamacchia starts in 7th inning

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Pedroia finishes what Saltalamacchia starts in 7th inning

BOSTON -- The difference in Tuesday night's 5-1 Red Sox win over the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park came with two outs in the bottom of the seventh.

The rally started with Jarrod Saltalamacchia. And it ended with Dustin Pedroia.

With two outs in the seventh, the Red Sox trailed 1-0 and had only three hits against the Blue Jays.

Then Saltalamacchia ripped a 1-0 fastball the other way, off Jason Frasor, and it ended up in the Monster Seats, tying the game at 1-1.

"He's playing a confident brand of baseball, because he believes in himself," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine after the win. "And he's a talented player. I haven't seen him get down on himself -- I just told him during the game -- I haven't seen him get down on a pitcher. Some things that might have haunted his past, seem to be gone. And he's just playing the game of baseball. He looks good doing it."

It was the beginning of a two-out rally that helped the Red Sox to their eighth win in the last 10 games. The finishing touches of that rally came four batters later, when Pedroia broke a 1-1 tie by ripping an 0-1 sinker -- with bases loaded -- up the middle that scored the eventual game-winning runs, and gave Boston a 3-1 lead after seven innings.

"I think it means a lot, the way we did it," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine after the win. "With Dustin getting the two RBI's with the bases loaded. It seems like it's been so long since he's been in that opportunity late in the game, where he could win the game. And it presented itself, and he drove the runs in. That really gives us strength."

Since returning from a thumb injury for which he was given a day off last Friday, Pedroia seems to be getting back to his usual self.

"Obviously in baseball there's times when you're going to come through and there's times when you're not going to come through," said Pedroia afterwards. "When I dont, I dont get too upset. When I do, I dont get too happy."

Pedroia's teammates were pleased to see him come through in the clutch once again.

"Dustin, you know when he comes to the plate, he can do some damage," said Red Sox shortstop Mike Aviles. "He's shown that over the course of his career. And it just so happens, this year we have a lot of guys doing it as well. So i think every night you never know who's going to be the hero. And that makes the game intriguing for us. You never know who's going to be that guy that's going to step up and get the big hit. We know Pedey's done it so many times. And he's going to do it a lot more times from now until the end of the year. So is Papi, so is Gonzo. I mean, it just makes it fun."

Saltalamacchia and Pedroia weren't the only ones doing all the work in that seventh-inning rally that won the Red Sox Tuesday night's game. After Saltalamacchia's solo home run that tied it up, both Ryan Kalish and Daniel Nava pinch hit with two outs.

Kalish -- the lefty -- kept the rally alive with a double to right field on an 0-2 slider -- against the left-handed Luis Perez.

"I told Kalish before the game, when he wasn't playing, that he's saves all his hits for the big opportunities," said Valentine. "So when the inning started, I lined him up that way. Of course, with two outs, I'm also thinking that Daniel Nava's going to be able to lead off the next inning, if Kalish makes an out. So it's not like I was praying for it. But, I wasn't afraid."

Kalish doubled, and then the pinch-hitting Nava was hit by a pitch. Then they loaded the bases after a Mike Aviles walk.

"Kalish battling with two strikes against a left-hander in a pinch-hit opportunity, and he got a double," said Valentine. "Those are big plays.

"Mike Aviles' at-bat to walk, to get Dustin up to the plate, is a big play," he added. "It's not one of his forte's, in case you haven't noticed."

"It was pretty fun," said Aviles. "I was looking for a pitch, something that I could drive into the outfield. And I took two terrible swings. I just told myself that, make sure his sinker starts at the belt, because anything below the belt, it was just going to fall down."

After falling behind 1-2, Aviles took three-straight balls to set Pedroia up for the clutch hit.

The Red Sox added two more in the eighth on an Adrian Gonzalez RBI double and a Will Middlebrooks RBI sac fly, but the seventh inning battle with two outs will be what stands out on this night.

"Everyone stepped in and played great," said Pedroia. "Weve had some injuries but guys have stepped in and theyre producing like the guys that got hurt. So its big for us."

Need a reminder all prospects don’t hit? Happy anniversary, Andy Marte trade

Need a reminder all prospects don’t hit? Happy anniversary, Andy Marte trade

In a week that has seen the Red Sox trade arguably the best prospect in baseball, Thursday can serve as a reminder that not all prospects -- even the great ones -- end up hitting. 

Eleven years ago today, the Red Sox traded Edgar Renteria to the Braves, and in eating some of the veteran shortstop’s contract, got Atlanta to give them third baseman Andy Marte. 

Andy freaking Marte. Those stupid, stupid Braves.

If you were a baseball fan at the time, you were flummoxed at the notion that the Braves, who were a factory for developing good, young players, would trade the No. 9 prospect in all of baseball from 2005, according to Baseball America. At 22 years old, he was coming off seasons that saw him hit 23 homers in Double-A and 20 in Triple-A. 

“There’s nothing not to like about Andy Marte. He’s and outstanding defender with a chance to be an impact player offensively,” an opposing Double-A manager said of him, per Baseball America. 

Some of the other guys in the top 10 that year? Joe Mauer, Felix Hernandez and Scott Kazmir. Sitting one spot behind Marte on the list? Hanley Ramirez. 

And when the Red Sox got Marte, he immediately shot up to No. 1 on the Baseball America’s list of Boston’s prospects. Look at the rest of this list. Hell, there’s a combined 10 All-Star nods between Nos. 2 and 3 alone, and that’s not to mention the American League MVP sitting at No. 5. 

So what did Marte do for the Red Sox? Well, he got them Coco Crisp. After Theo Epstein returned from his hiatus, he shipped Marte, the recently acquired Guillermo Mota (dude got traded three times in six months), Kelly Shoppach, a player to be named later and cash for Crisp, Josh Bard and David Riske. 

Crisp didn’t exactly rip it up in Boston, but Epstein’s (and then-Braves general manager John Schuerholz’) foresight to trade Marte proved wise. Marte spent six seasons in Cleveland, seemingly given every chance to break out, but never played more than 81 games. He was designated for assignment in 2009 and cleared waivers, allowing him to stay with the organization as a Triple-A player. The next season was his final one in Cleveland, and he left a six-season stint in with the organization having averaged just 50 games, three homers and 16 RBI at the Major League level. 

Marte would bounce around a bit in the Pittsburgh and Angels organizations, but he didn’t make it back up to the bigs until 2014 on a July 31 callup with the Diamondbacks. He’s now playing in Korea. 

Great prospects often become great players, and the Red Sox’ roster is proof of that. Strikeout concerns aside, there’s not much to suggest Yoan Moncada won’t be an absolute stud. Fans looking for silver lining to losing a top-tier prospect (other than the fact that you could Chris Sale for the guy), can look back 11 years and hope for the best. A lot of people were wrong about Andy Marte.

Report: Chapman, Yanks reach agreement on five-year, $86 million deal

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Report: Chapman, Yanks reach agreement on five-year, $86 million deal

OXON HILL, Md. - Aroldis Chapman found a spot in a most familiar bullpen - a very rich spot, too.

The hard-throwing closer reached agreement to return to the New York Yankees on Wednesday night with the highest-priced contract ever for a relief pitcher, an $86 million deal for five years.

A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that the contract was pending a physical. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was not yet complete.

Once it's done, the 28-year-old lefty whose fastballs routinely top 100 mph would shatter the previous richest contract for a reliever - that was the $62 million, four-year deal Mark Melancon signed with San Francisco just a couple days ago during the winter meetings.

Chapman was acquired by New York from the Cincinnati Reds last offseason, then missed the first 29 games of the season due to a domestic violence suspension from Major League Baseball. The Cuban was traded to the Chicago Cubs in late July and helped them win the World Series, becoming a free agent when it was over.

Chapman went 4-1 with 36 saves and a 1.55 ERA in a combined 59 games for the Yankees and Cubs. He struggled some in the postseason as the Cubs beat Cleveland for their first championship since 1908.

With the Yankees this season, Chapman teamed with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances in one of the most dominant bullpens in baseball history. Miller was later traded to Cleveland, but Betances is still with New York.

Earlier this week, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said the team was interested in both Chapman and fellow free agent closer Kenley Jansen. The Yankees had already made one deal at these meetings, signing slugger Matt Holliday, before paying a lot more to bring Chapman back to the Bronx.

Fox Sports first reported the agreement.