Red Sox handle Twins with ease, 11-2

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Red Sox handle Twins with ease, 11-2

MINNEAPOLIS -- No late-inning drama this time for the Red Sox -- just an old-fashioned, easy-to-enjoy lopsided win.

The Sox cranked out 18 hits and bashed the Minnesota Twins, 11-2, for their second straight win to open a seven-game road swing.

Six different Red Sox had multi-hit games, led by Mike Aviles with four hits Adrian Gonzalez and who had three hits. David Ortiz had three RBI, while Aviles and Gonzalez added two apiece.

Aviles had two doubles, a homer and a single while Ortiz singled in one run and belted a mammoth 429-foot homer in the fifth to drive in two more.

The Sox had multi-run innings in four of the first five frames.

Josh Beckett, who walked three in the first three in the first inning to walk in one run and clashed with home plate umpire Adrian Johnson in the first over the latter's strike zone, limited the Twins to just one more run over the next five innings.

Beckett, 2-2, finished with a flourish, striking out the side in the sixth, his final inning.

Scott Atchison then contributed two perfect innings of relief and Matt Albers finished up with a scoreless ninth.

STAR OF THE GAME: Mike Aviles
The shortstop enjoyed his sixth career four-hit game and drove in three runs and scoring three.

Since moving into the leadoff spot after the injury to Jacoby Ellsbury, Aviles has hit .395 with four doubles, three homers and nine runs scored.

HONORABLE MENTION: Josh Beckett
It wasn't pretty at the beginning, what with three straight walks leading to a run in the first inning, followed by a verbal confrontation with home plate umpire Adrian Johnson.

But after allowing a run in the first, Beckett allowed just one more over his final five innings and got his second win of the season

GOAT OF THE GAME: Nick Blackburn
Blackburn fell behind 3-0 before his teammates could come to the plate and it was all downhill from there. The Sox added two more off him in the third, meaning the Minnesota bullpen had to go six innings.

TURNING POINT: When Beckett left the mound after the first, he had some choice (and profane) words for Johnson. Whether it helped to blow off some steam, Beckett was different after that and didn't walk another batter the rest of the way.

BY THE NUMBERS: David Ortiz has 28 hits through the first 16 games of the season, the most in that span by a Red Sox lefthanded hitter in franchise history.

QUOTE OF NOTE: "He got a little frustrated, possibly, but it really turned up his competitive fluids. He was into it. I haven't seen Josh like that. It seemed like this was a game he really wanted.'' -Bobby Valentine after his starter jawed with home plate umpire Adrian Johnson over balls and strikes.

New photo surfaces of noticeably thinner Pablo Sandoval

New photo surfaces of noticeably thinner Pablo Sandoval

When it comes to Pablo Sandoval and his weight, a picture is worth a thousand words.

During spring training it wasn’t a good thing. Sandoval made headlines when a number of photos revealed significant weight gain for the Red Sox third baseman.

But the last two images have been more positive for Sandoval.

In October, a noticeably thinner Sandoval was photographed at an FC Barcelona game.

On Monday, Dan Roche of WBZ tweeted a more recent picture of the new-look Sandoval.

Sandoval, 30, is entering the third season of a five-year, $95 million contract. In his lone full season in Boston, 2015, Sandoval hit .245/.292/.366 with 10 homers and 47 RBI.

Red Sox taking stricter luxury tax penalties into consideration this offseason

Red Sox taking stricter luxury tax penalties into consideration this offseason

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The newly agreed upon Major League Baseball collective bargaining agreement features higher taxes and additional penalties for exceeding the competitive balance threshold -- and don't think the Red Sox haven't noticed.

The Red Sox went over the threshold in both 2015 and 2016, and should they do so again in 2017, they would face their highest tax rate yet at 50 percent. Additionally, there are provisions that could cost a team in such a situation to forfeit draft picks as well as a reduced pool of money to sign its picks.

None of which means that the Red Sox won't definitively stay under the $195 million threshold for the upcoming season. At the same time, however, it remains a consideration, acknowledged Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.

"You would always like to be under the CBT (competitive balance tax) if you could,'' offered Dombrowski. "And the reason why is that are penalties attached for going over, so nobody likes to (pay) penalties.

"However, the Red Sox, if you follow history, have been up-and-down, right around that number. We were over it last year and the year before that. So I would prefer (to be under in 2017). However, a little bit more driving force in that regard is that there are stricter penalties now attached to going over. And some of them involve, for the first time, differences in draft choices and sacrificing money to sign players and that type of thing. So there's a little bit more drive (to stay under).

"But I can't tell you where we're going to end up. Eventually, does it factor (in)? Yeah. But until we really get into the winter time and see where we are, will I make an unequivocal (statement about staying under the CBT)? Maybe we won't. But there are penalties that I would rather not be in position to incur.''

Dombrowski stressed that he's not under a "mandate'' from ownership to stay under the CBT.

"But I am under an awareness of the penalties,'' he said. "Last year, I would have preferred to be under, too, but it just worked for us to be above it, because we thought that would be the best way to win a championship at the time.''

He added: "I think we're going to have a good club either way.''

But it's clear that the CBT is part of the reason the Red Sox aren't being more aggressive toward some premium free agents such as first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnacion, who is said to be looking for at least a four-year deal at an annual average value of more than $20 million.

Currently, the Red Sox have nearly $150 million in guaranteed contracts for 2017, plus a handful of arbitration-eligible players, some of whom (Drew Pomeranz, Jackie Bradley Jr.) will see significant raises.

Together, with insurance premiums and others costs tallied, the Sox stand at nearly $180 million, just $15 million under the 2017 tax.

"I've said all along I've wanted to stay away from long-term contracts for hitters at this point,'' Dombrowski said of the current free agent class, "(especially) with some of the guys we have in our organization coming. I just haven't felt that that's a wise thing to do.''

The Sox saw two potential DHs come off the board over the weekend, with Carlos Beltran signing a one-year $16 million deal with Houston and Matt Holliday getting $13 million from the Yankees. Either could have filled the vacancy left by David Ortiz's retirement, but Dombrowski would also be taking on another another eight-figure salary, pushing the Sox well past the CBT.

"I figured we would wait to see what ends up taking place later on,'' said Dombrowski, "and see who's out there.''