Top Sox hitters lock on, but stil lacking consistency

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Top Sox hitters lock on, but stil lacking consistency

BOSTON The Boston Red Sox did a pretty fair job of showing exactly what they can do when everything goes right against the big, bad Texas Rangers on Monday night.

They got the pitching and the quality defense, but the real key was the top four hitters in the Sox lineup going ballistic in the 9-2 victory at Fenway Park that nudged them back to the .500 mark.

Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford, Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez went 11-for-18 with eight doubles and eight RBIs while knocking the stuffing out of Yu Darvish, and Ellsbury, Crawford and Pedroia became the first fearsome threesome in franchise history to each whack at least two doubles out of the 1-3 spots in the lineup.

While Sox manager Bobby Valentine wasnt going to start expecting that kind of production every single night, its much closer to the Sox team he envisioned prior to arriving in Boston.

Its going to be hard to get Dustin with three hits and Adrian with three hits every single night, or having Carl and Ellsbury on base all the time, said Valentine, who may not have witnessed some of the hitting binges that Pedroia is eminently capable of providing. But having consistent at bats are what were getting these days. These guys are world class players and theyre playing very well right now.

Of particular importance is Pedroias three-hit, three-double performance out of the No. 3 hole after languishing as a .260-something hitter for much of the season. The second baseman is a career .300 hitter and could truly spark the Sox if he goes on one of his patented hitting tears over the final two months of the season.

Clearly an energized Ellsbury and a confident Crawford have brought bounce to the top of Bostons batting order, but theyll also need consistency on a nightly basis if theyre looking to pile wins together.

The Sox are tops among Major League teams in runs scored this season, but theyve been an all-or-nothing kind of outfit. Theyre also riding on the accomplishments of the first few months of the season. Nine of their thirteen double-digit scoring binges came in April or May, and theres been a steady offensive slowdown as the Sox have trudged through the dog days of their schedule.

So its important to build on Mondays impressive showing against a very good team, and spread out the offensive over multiple nights while their starting pitching unit gets their house in order.

When Ellsbury and Crawford are healthy and they get into the rhythm that they can both be in, thats when this team is going to score a lot of runs. They set the table and they set the tone, said Gonzalez. After that its up to the middle of the order to drive them in. If they can be on base then we can score some runs.

In so many ways the Red Sox win over the Rangers was exactly the way Boston would conjure up a victory blueprint if such a thing existed in baseball. Its no mystery whats needed for the Sox to embark on an epic winning streak in the final 62 games of the regular season.

They need a lot more of what they showed in a short burst against a playoff caliber team, and its up to the big guns in the top four spots of the Boston lineup to provide it for them.

CSN CHICAGO: Yoan Moncada 'thrilled' to reunite with Jose Abreu on White Sox

CSN CHICAGO: Yoan Moncada 'thrilled' to reunite with Jose Abreu on White Sox

Yoan Moncada and Jose Abreu are back together.

The two Cuban natives were teammates in 2012 when they played for Cienfuegos in Cuba, and now they'll be in the same dugout once again — this time in Chicago.

"To get the opportunity to play with him right now in the United States, it's an honor for me," Moncada said through a translator on a conference call Wednesday. "I'm thrilled with that."

Click here for the complete story on CSNChicago.com

Red Sox notes: Sox did their homework researching Sale's character

Red Sox notes: Sox did their homework researching Sale's character

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- In today's game, teams are sure to do their homework when bringing in a star player. For either a big free agent or trade acquisition, clubs want to know everything they can about the individual.

New starter Chris Sale passes that test for the Red Sox.

"There's always an on-field (personality) and away from the game (to consider),'' said Dave Dombrowski, the Red Sox' president of baseball operations. "On the field, he's as competitive as can be. He's got an edge to him - a good edge. His teammates love him.

"Off the field, I've heard a lot of pleasant things about him. I've heard tremendous things from him as an individual. A couple of our guys in the organization know him very well and say real good things about him.''

Sale was involved in two clubhouse incidents last season - one in which he angrily confronted White Sox president Kenny Williams about his decision to limit the amount of time Adam LaRoche's son could spend with the team, and another in which he cut up a throw-back uniform with scissors.

"I think you do your checking to see what causes some things,'' said Dombrowski. "But after I checked things, (I'm) not really (concerned).''

Another benefit to having Sale is that he could potentially take some pressure of David Price, who struggled at times in his first season in Boston and perhaps tried too hard to validate his $217 million contract.

"I think it's always good for a club if they have a number of guys, top of the rotation guys, to take the pressure off everybody else,'' Dombrowski said. "Because you know that everyone has a bad outing here and there, and somebody else picks you up in that case. I think that's helpful. If we didn't have (another No. 1 starter), I'd still have confidence in (Price).''

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It's possible that the Red Sox could go into next season with as many as four lefthanders in their rotation -- Sale, Price, Eduardo Rodriguez and Drew Pomeranz.

"It's unusual to have four lefthanders, potentially, in the rotation,'' acknowledged Dombrowski. "A lot of times, you're looking for one. But if it was four lefties, that would be fine. I think it's more important that they get people out. I'd be comfortable with that.

"I've really never been in that spot before, which doesn't make me feel uncomfortable. I don't have a driving force to make any trades because four guys are lefties. I think they're good lefties.''

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Retired Red Sox slugger David Ortiz caused a stir with an Instagram post Tuesday night, kiddingly suggesting that the arrival of Sale was forcing him to re-think his decision to quit.

"It's amazing the number of people who reached out to me,'' laughed Dombrowski. "I know David well enough. I do know that if he really had sincere interest (in returning), he would call. But I also know that he has to stay on the voluntarily retired list for 60 days. So there's rules involved with that. But I know he was just joking.

"When I walk into the clubhouse and I see him working out, I say, 'You could play now. Look at the shape you're in!' But he says, 'Oh, nooooo.' ''

The Sox have yet to officially confirm that they've signed free agent first baseman Mitch Moreland. The two sides are in agreement on a one-year deal for $5.5 million deal, but a slight delay has taken place because of either contractual formalities or added time for medical information to be obtained.

"I can't say much about free agent players,'' said Dombrowski. "We've made some strides with an individual. But I'm not in a position to say much about that for various reasons.''