Saltalamacchia feeling good after two-hit day

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Saltalamacchia feeling good after two-hit day

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Jarrod Saltalamacchia had been struggling this spring at the plate, hitting just .077 (1-for-13) with five strikeouts before Wednesday.

But in the span of a couple of at-bats, Saltalamacchia was feeling much better about his spring.

The Red Sox catcher belted an opposite-field double to lead off the second, then added a two-run homer to right, scoring Adrian Gonzalez ahead of him.

"I was lacking at-bats, so I've been trying to get some more here and there,'' said Saltalamacchia. "I felt good today. Me and (hitting coach Dave Magadan) have been working on certain things, trying to stay on the ball a little more and I was able to do it today at the plate.''

Saltalamacchia knew he had been struggling, the result of getting underneath the ball too much.

"The bat head was dragging,'' he said. "We've been working on trying to get the head (of the bat) out and stay on top. If I roll over, if I ground out, that's OK, at least it's not a pop-up. But when I get to two strikes, I've been trying to figure a way to keep the ball on the field instead of striking out.''

As it turned out, the double came with two strikes and the fact that Saltalamacchia was able to drive the ball the other way was another bonus.

"I stayed through a good fastball,'' he recounted. "My main goal was to work on my two-strike approach and make sure I put the ball in play.''

First impressions: Pomeranz is better, but Red Sox fall to Tigers

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First impressions: Pomeranz is better, but Red Sox fall to Tigers

First impressions from the Red Sox' 4-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers:

 

1) The same problem remains for Joe Kelly

As a starter, no one doubted Kelly's fastball, and the velocity with which he threw it. But the problem was, Kelly's fastball was often quite straight, and most major league hitters can hit a fastball without movement, no matter how hard it's thrown.

In his first appearance as a reliever for the Red Sox, the same problem reared its head.

Kelly started off Justin Upton with a 99 mph fastball. After an 89 mph slider, Kelly next threw a 101 mph fastball.

But Upton drove it on a line to the triangle for a triple, and two batters later, trotted home on a soft flare to center by James McCann.

Velocity is one thing and can produce some swings-and-misses. But ultimately, Kelly is going to need more than straight gas to get hitters out.

 

2) Drew Pomeranz was miles better in his second start

Pomeranz failed to get an out in the fourth inning of his Red Sox debut and was charged with five runs.

So when Pomeranz -- who allowed just one hit through the first three innings Monday night -- allowed a leadoff single to Miguel Cabrera to start the fourth, there was uneasy sense of deja vu at Fenway.

But Pomeranz quickly erased Cabrera on a double play and through five innings had allowed just three hits and a walk.

He got into some trouble in the sixth when he allowed a one-out, two-run homer to Jose Iglesias, erasing what had been a 1-0 Red Sox lead.

But Pomeranz was far sharper than his first outing, threw his curveball for more strikes and kept the Tigers mostly off-balance. His line (6 IP; 4 H; 2 ER; 2 BB; 7 K) will be more than good enough on most nights.

Just not Monday night.

 

3) They may lead MLB in runs scored, but there are still nights when the Red Sox offense can frustrate

It happened last Friday when they loaded the bases with no out against the Twins - and failed to score in a 2-1 loss.

It was more of the same Monday night when the Sox loaded the bases in the ninth -- and managed just one run.

The problems weren't limited to the ninth, of course. The Sox put the leadoff man on in both the seventh and eighth innings -- and didn't score.

For the game, the Sox left 11 men on and were just 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position.