Red Sox bullpen rounding into form

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Red Sox bullpen rounding into form

BOSTON -- When the Red Sox tripped over themselves en route to a 1-5 start to their season, the bullpen was a big part of the problem.

So perhaps it shouldn't come as a major surprise that the same bullpen has been part of the solution now that the team is on a modest three-game winning streak.

With Sox starters doing a better job taking the team deeper into games -- Josh Beckett gave them eight in the home opener Monday and Clay Buchholz righted things after a shaky first on Saturday to get through the seventh -- the bullpen has had a lighter workload and pitched far better.

In the last three wins, Boston relievers have thrown seven innings and allowed just one run. And that run was a meaningless solo homer off Mark Melancon Friday when the Sox enjoyed an 11-run cushion.

On Sunday, Felix Doubront seemed to hit a wall of sorts in the fifth, tagged for three runs. Somewhat surprisingly, Doubront came back out for the sixth and immediately gave up a solo homer to Luke Scott, tying the game.

That's where the bullpen stepped in. Scott Atchison allowed an infield single and walk before recording a strikeout of Chris Gimenez, creating a mess of sorts for Vicente Padilla.

But Padilla responded, striking out Desmond Jennings and retiring Carlos Pena for the final out, stranding both inherited runners.

"It was a good situation (to get out of)," said Padilla. "I used my pitches and used my fastball to get ahead of hitters. I felt good."

Padilla then came back and contributed another scoreless inning before handing things over to Franklin Morales (one inning, two hits allowed) and Alfredo Aceves (perfect ninth).

When the Sox went ahead in the bottom of the sixth on David Ortiz's run-scoring double, Padilla had himself his first win in relief in more than a decade, dating back to June 15, 2001.

Over his last two outings, Padilla has five strikeouts in his last 5 23 innings and seems to have settled into a multi-inning middle man role.

"They're putting me in big situations," said Padilla, "and it feels good to help the team win."

Morales has been the team's most reliable reliever since the start of the season and is unscored upon over four appearances. In the past, Morales has struggled with his control at times, but in 4 23 innings to date, he has yet to issue a walk this year.

Aceves, who was on the mound when the Tigers scored the winning run on Opening Day then was guilty of a blown save two days later, has found himself of late.

In his last three appearances, he has two saves and and four strikeouts in his last four innings and has not alloweed a baserunner in that span.

"I'm confident in the guys that are coming out of the bullpen," said Bobby Valentine. "They're pitching great. Vicente, Morales and Aceves look like they're setting up pretty nicely...I like what I see."

Quotes, notes and stars: Ortiz goes 0-for-5 in loss to Yankees

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Quotes, notes and stars: Ortiz goes 0-for-5 in loss to Yankees

NEW YORK -- Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 6-4 loss to the Yankees:

 

QUOTES:

"I went 0-for-5 today, so I ain't got (anything) to talk about.'' - David Ortiz after turning around and seeing a small army of reporters waiting for him in front of his locker.

"To have a chance to clinch the division for us here (and come up sort), it's not acceptable. If my offense scores me four runs, I feel like I should be able to go out there and win.'' - David Price.

"The bottom line story to this one was (Price) mislocating within the strike zone.'' - John Farrell.

 

NOTES:

* Boston's season-best 11-game win streak was snapped with the loss.

* David Price took his first loss since Aug. 7.

* Price is 1-3 with a 7.89 ERA against the Yankees this season.

* Aaron Hill contributed his first pinch-hit homer in his career.

* Mookie Betts saw his streak of reaching base in 38 straight road games stopped.

* Dustin Pedroia posted his third straight multi-hit game.

* For the 20th time this season, Xander Bogaerts enjoyed a three-hit game.

* In his last 12 games, Andrew Benintendi has eight extra-base hits.

* Hill's pinch-hit homer was the third by the Red Sox this month.

 

STARS:

1) Tyler Austin

The rookie first baseman snapped a 4-4 tie in the seventh with a two-run homer and also added two more hits in three at-bats.

2) Gary Sanchez

The first-year catcher continues to amaze, hitting his 20th homer in only his 51st game, sending the Yanks out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning.

3) Luis Cessa

Cessa took a big step forward from his last start against the Red Sox by keeping them scoreless through the first five innings before allowing two runs in the sixth.

 

First impressions: Yankees power their way past Price, Red Sox

First impressions: Yankees power their way past Price, Red Sox

NEW YORK -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 6-4 loss to the Yankees.

 

* As the postseason gets closer, David Price needs to do a better job of keeping the ball in the ballpark.

Price gave up three homers Tuesday night -- a two-run shoot to rookie sensation Gary Sanchez in the first; a solo shot to Didi Gregorius in the sixth; and another two-run belt in the seventh to Tyler Austin.

That's six homers in the last three outings and 29 for the season. It's also the sixth time this season that he's given up multiple homers in the same start, with the three on Tuesday representing a season-high.

Prior to this year, Price had never allowed more than 25 homers in a season. Last season, splitting time between the cavernous Comerica Park in Detroit and the hitter-friendly Rogers Centre, he yielded just 17.

Worse, twice Tuesday the homers came at inauspicious times. In the sixth, the Sox had just closed to within one at 3-2; in the seventh, the Sox had worked t tie the game at 4-4.

 

* For all of the offensive brilliance shown by Mookie Betts, it's easy to forget how good he's been in right field.

Anyone who plays in the same outfield with Jackie Bradley Jr. runs the risk of having his defensive play overshadowed and that's likely the case with Betts.

He's played a Gold Glove-caliber right field, showing good range and instincts -- especially for someone who never played the outfield professionally until about 2 1/2 years ago.

And while Bradley has the stronger arm, Betts has 14 assists, including one Tuesday night.

That took place on a ball in which Betts was initially fooled. With one on, Chase Headley lined a ball to right that Betts seemed to lose in the lights. He went to his knees, fighting the lights, and managed to reach back to make the catch, sprawling. He then had the presence of mind to set himself and fire a throw to first, doubling up Starlin Castro for a mind-blowing double play.

 

* Expanded rosters make a mockery of the game.

In the eighth inning, Joe Girardi and John Farrell combined to burn through six players for one plate appearance.

Righty Blake Parker was set to face Aaron Hill, but Farrell had lefty Travis Shaw announced. Girardi then countered by bringing in lefty Richard Bleier to face Shaw.

Of course, Farrell countered by having righty Chris Young hit for Shaw. Young reached on a fielder's choice, and because Young can't play third, Farrell had insert Deven Marrero at third in the bottom of the inning.

Four position players and two pitchers in one spot. That couldn't be done in any other month during the season.

So why is it allowed in September?