Red Sox seeing production with Aviles in leadoff spot

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Red Sox seeing production with Aviles in leadoff spot

MINNEAPOLIS -- When the Red Sox moved Mike Aviles into the leadoff spot following Jacoby Ellsbury's shoulder injury, they were unsure of what they were going to get.

Aviles' lifetime .318 on-base percentage did not exactly suggest that he was born to hit first, and since moving into the top spot, Aviles has drawn just two walks in those eight games.

But when it comes to hitting, the Red Sox can't complain. Aviles had a four-hit game Tuesday night, knocking in three runs and scoring three runs and is hitting .395 (15-for-38) since being moved to leadoff.

"Michael's been a God-send," said Bobby Valentine. "With Jacoby going down and all of the questions surrounding our squad, to fill that void as seamlessly as he has with outstanding at-bats and production is a tribute to his athleticism and his competitiveness. He's a good player."

Valentine was careful not to have Aviles change his approach in the leadoff spot.

"I told him not to change a thing," said Valentine. "It doesn't matter where he hits in the order. If he stays aggressive, he'll take pitches and he'll also hit them pretty hard when he gets his pitch to hit and that's what he's been doing. I didn't want to take any of his aggressiveness away from him because that's not his style of play."

"In all honesty," said Aviles, "it doesn't matter to me (where I hit). I'm just reaping the benefits right now because I have good guys coming behind me. If I'm hitting ninth, first . . . it doesn't matter. I'm just trying to have good at-bats and get on base because I know if we keep the chain moving, with the guys we have on this team, the offense can explode."

And explode it has. At times, at least. Since Aviles went to leadoff position, the Red Sox have scored six or more runs on five occasions.

"I've been more aggressive in the zone," he said, "I kind of go up there trying to be aggressive until I realize a pitch is going to be a ball. If I go up there trying to take balls, then I find myself behind more often."

Aviles learned from experience last season while with the Kansas City Royals the perils of being too patient in the leadoff spot.

"I tried to do the whole 'see more pitches' (approach)," he said, "and I felt like I put myself in a hole more and it took away from the whole reason of them putting me in that spot. They put me in that spot because of the hitter I was and I didn't want to change that."

Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox 'capable of more' vs. lefties

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Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox 'capable of more' vs. lefties

CHICAGO -- Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Red Sox' 4-1 loss to Chicago:

 

QUOTES:

"He's rarely in the middle of the plate. He pitches to the edge very effectively. He's got a number of different looks he can give you.'' - John Farrell on White Sox starter Jose Quintana.

"We have such a heavily righthand-hitting lineup, you would think that our guys would be able to handle the off-side pitching coming at them. . . We're capable of more.'' - Farrell on the Sox 0-3 record against lefty starters.

"He's done everything that we could have asked, to get deep into games and low run situations -- and not just this year. This goes back to when he was in the rotation last year.'' - Farrell on tough-luck loser Steven Wright.

"That's what I'm working for every time.'' - Carson Smith on his scoreless inning in his Red Sox debut.

"It is what it is. Keep working and try to be ready on whatever opportunities come. That's all I can say about that.'' - Chris Young, on the infrequency of lefty starters.

"A little frustrated with the walks. I gave them the second run with the walks. When I'm out there throwing 20 pitches an inning, it's hard to get into a rhythm.'' - Steven Wright.

 

NOTES

* The Red Sox have faced three lefty starters this season and are 0-3. They've managed two runs in 23 innings and hit just .108 (8-for-74) against them.

* When the opposition scores first, the Red Sox are 5-6 this season.

* Jackie Bradley Jr. extended his hitting streak to nine games with a sixth-inning single.

* Dating back to last season, Steven Wright hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in his last nine starts.

* Hanley Ramirez's homer in the fifth was his first since April 6, covering 96 at-bats.

 

STARS

1) Jose Quintana

Chicago's starter was brilliant, allowing a single run in eight innings on just four hits without issuing a walk.

2) Jose Abreu

The White Sox first baseman drove in three of the four White Sox runs with a first-inning triple and a two-run double in the eighth.

3) Steven Wright

Once again, the knuckballer got almost no run support and was stuck with the loss despite allowing just two runs in six innings.