1-2-3 Inning: Matt Albers

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1-2-3 Inning: Matt Albers

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com Follow @JCameratoNBA

Welcome to the second edition of 1-2-3 Inning, a step inside the Boston Red Sox bullpen and a look at the individuals who make up this cohesive unit. Last week we brought you a unique glimpse at Alfredo Aceves (did you know he wanted to be a dentist?). Now up, Matt Albers.

Albers, 28, signed with the Red Sox this offseason after playing the previous five seasons for the Houston Astros and Baltimore Orioles. Albers started off strong in his first year with the Red Sox, boasting an ERA of 1.50 in April and later throwing 13.1 scoreless innings in July (4-4, 4.28 ERA on the season). But after giving up 16 runs in August (12.34 ERA for the month), he pitched a scoreless 0.2 innings on Tuesdays win against the Yankees, leaving two men on base. With just a month left in the regular season, Albers looks to pick up where he started in April.

He talked to CSNNE.com about embracing the pressure of Fenway Park, playing for his hometown team, and his dream location for a baseball game.

1. Albers was selected by his hometown Houston Astros in the 2001 amateur draft. Even though he had an idea he would be playing for his childhood favorite team, there was so much excitement on that day that years later, he says it seems like a blur.

When I was real little my favorite player was Jose Cruz. I barely remember this but my parents told me stories about how I was running around saying I was him. Then when I was growing up, the Killer Bs were huge, so (Craig) Biggio, (Jeff) Bagwell, even (Lance) Berkman and those guys. I was a big Astros fan.

The Astros drafted me on the intention of me being a draft-and-follow and going to junior college. I had talked to them about that before, so I had a pretty good idea Houston was going to draft me and they said itd probably be on the second day. I talked to a few other teams, but it was really the Astros, my hometown team, that really went after me.

I have a couple of my Astros jerseys at my house. I actually have one from my first Big League start. They were throwbacks jerseys against San Diego. I have this 1970s rainbow stripe Astros jersey. Actually, I think it might be at my parents house but Ive got to steal it back from them.

2. After playing three seasons in Baltimore, where Red Sox fans pack Camden Yards, Albers was familiar with the high pressure environment surrounding the Red Sox. After quickly settling in with his new team, he has found a comfort in Boston that translated on to the mound early on.

When I got here everybody, not just the relievers, was really cool about making me feel welcome. The bullpen is kind of a tight-knit group and thats nice because thats how it needs to be. Youre picking each other up -- one guy goes in and then the next guy and there are runners on base, the bullpen sticks together and I think that makes for a good group.

Pitching wise Ive started throwing my slider a lot more. Being able to throw that to both sides of the plate and also my fastball, I have better command with overall. With that comes comfort when Im out there and having confidence.

Every time we go out there I try not to put any extra pressure on myself because thats really easy to do. You get caught up in the situation and you always have a full house here, a lot going on. Its kind of pressure-packed every outing, which is nice. I enjoy that. So I think just the combination of all those things helps.

You kind of get used to the pressure. Its tough to explain. I think once you go through it more and more -- when I came into the league I was pitching in Houston at home in front of family and friends, that kind of put extra pressure on myself. When youre young, youre trying to find a spot on the team and fit in. I think kind of the same thing here, but just try to focus on pitching and put that out of your mind and not get too caught up in the moment.

3. Albers is a self-admitted low-key guy who likes to return home in the offseason. But if he could pick one place in the world to play ball, it would have a different scenery than Houston.

Ive been to Cabo San Lucas (Mexico), they have really nice weather. Its sunny and has some nice views. A background on the beach, thatd be cool. When I was there it was like 85 degrees and sunny every day. The landscape and the views are pretty nice. Wed probably need a regular mound, not sand, but thatd be pretty nice.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.com!JCameratoNBA.

Moreland homers again, Red Sox tag A's to avoid four-game sweep

Moreland homers again, Red Sox tag A's to avoid four-game sweep

OAKLAND, Calif. - A five-run ninth inning for the Red Sox that lasted more than a half-hour derailed any chance Eduardo Rodriguez had of getting his first career complete game.

Not that the left-hander was complaining.

After a bitter loss to Oakland a year ago when he allowed just one hit over eight innings, Rodriguez was more than happy with the way things turned out.

Rodriguez earned his second straight win, Mitch Moreland homered in his third consecutive game and Boston beat the Oakland Athletics 12-3 on Sunday to avoid a four-game sweep.

"I wanted to go back out there but they hit the ball pretty good in that inning and I know I had to get out of the game," Rodriguez said about the long wait. "I'll take it because we score more runs, I have a chance to win. If every inning's like that, I'll get out of the game after five."

Rodriguez (3-1) allowed three runs over eight innings. He struck out eight, walked one and retired 14 of his final 15 batters.

"Where he was with the pitch count, it'd be nice for him to go out there for the ninth inning given where he was and how well he was throwing the baseball," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "But at that point you're up nine, probably about a 35-minute inning, didn't want to take any chances."

Hanley Ramirez and Christian Vazquez had three hits apiece to power a Red Sox lineup that tallied 15 hits. Every player in Boston's starting lineup had at least one hit, and eight of the nine drove in runs.

Chad Pinder homered and drove in two runs for Oakland.

Boston, which hasn't been swept in a four-game series since July 2015, trailed 3-2 before scoring 10 runs over the final five innings.

"It felt we had them on the run a little bit," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "They get the lead and then we come back and take the lead again and you feel pretty good. But they were pretty persistent today."

Pinder went deep in the fourth, his fourth home run in eight games and fifth overall.

The A's committed three errors, giving them a major league-leading 42.

BRADLEY'S DEFENSIVE GEMS

Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts gave the A's trouble with his running and defense. Betts scored twice from first base and also made a pair of strong defensive plays. He made a sliding catch on Mark Canha's sinking liner in the eighth and then slammed into the wall after catching Khris' Davis fly to end the inning.

"This place during the daytime plays very difficult," Farrell said. "What Mookie was able to do a couple times in right field, those aren't easy plays. To be able to stay with it, go up against the wall a couple of times, we played very good outfield defense here today."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: Brock Holt continues to deal with lingering symptoms from vertigo and isn't yet ready to come off the disabled list, according to Farrell. Likewise, Boston plans to keep third baseman Pablo Sandoval in the minors to get consistent at-bats while recovering from a right knee sprain. ... Farrell said LHP Drew Pomeranz, who took the loss Saturday, will start against Texas on Thursday.

Athletics: Yonder Alonso (sore left knee) sat out his fourth straight game but could be back in the lineup Tuesday when Oakland begins a two-game series against Miami. ... Sean Doolittle (strained left shoulder) threw on flat ground before making 15 pitches off the mound. The plan is for the former closer to throw 25 pitches on Wednesday. ... Melvin said the team has applied for an extension on Chris Bassitt's rehab assignment. Bassitt underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello (2-5) faces Texas on Tuesday in the opener of a three-game series at Fenway Park. Porcello has lost three of his last four decisions.

Athletics: Following an off day, RHP Jesse Hahn (1-3) starts against Miami on Tuesday at the Coliseum. Hahn leads the majors in fewest home runs allowed per nine innings at 0.19.