Boston Red Sox

Atchison re-joins the Red Sox from Pawtucket

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Atchison re-joins the Red Sox from Pawtucket

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
PITTSBURGH Scott Atchison knows the drill. Hes done this many times before three times already this season alone.

After starting the season with Triple-A Pawtucket he was pressed into duty, making the Opening Day start for the PawSox when Alfredo Aceves was called up to the Red Sox Atchison is now in his third stint with the Red Sox after getting called up Friday when Michael Bowden was sent back down.

He has appeared in seven games, spanning 13 13 innings for the Sox this season.

He was first called up on May 5 and went a career-high 3 23 innings, throwing 67 pitches, as the Sox lost, 11-0, to the Angels. In all, he has allowed just two walks and 17 hits with nine strikeouts and seven earned runs for a 4.73 ERA with one save. Last season, Atchison and Daniel Bard offered the only measure of consistency in a bullpen that was better than just Baltimores and Kansas Citys in the American League.

The trips up and down I-95 between Boston and Pawtucket have not fazed Atchison.

Hes a pro, said manager Terry Francona. We call him and say Atch and he goes I know. Hes that guy that has that option. It helps save our staff but its not the best for him. We recognize that. Saying that, we love him. He knows that. We think he can pitch. Just, unfortunately, sometimes when guys have options, thats the way. It happened to Youk. That will go away.

Atchison knew coming into the season what it would be like.

Its kind of the same situation as last year a little bit, he said.

Obviously, I feel like Im throwing the ball pretty well. Ive had to go a little longer in games up here a few times, just trying to keep guys from being used. But its been a good year so far. Obviously, you always want to spend more time in the big leagues but hopefully thats coming.

Because hes made the trips back and forth so many times, settling in at each destination is easy.

It hasnt been too tough, he said. Usually its harder when you come up to the big leagues, especially if you dont necessarily know everybody. But I played with pretty much everybody last year, and played pretty much the whole year, and then through spring and the multiple times I came up this year. Each time I come up here its pretty easy to kind of just fit back in. Everybody knows me and I know them, too. So Im very comfortable coming in, which makes it much easier to go out and perform the more comfortable you are. But obviously you always want to be in one place, and it would be the big leagues. But if thats not the case, this is an easy situation to come into.

At 35, Atchison is on the older side to be making the frequent trips up and down. But it also makes it easier to understand the reasons.

I think maybe as a younger guy youre worrying about it so much more, going. Oh my God, am I ever going to get back? This is so tough' or 'Why is it me? or whatever the case may be, he said.

And now I just kind of take it. I know the situation. So, when I go to Triple A I just try to get back in the groove and throw. They run me out there pretty regularly, and try to just stay hot and stay sharp. So that when it comes its easy to come back up an get back in. When I come up here I just try to do my job and just hope that Im going to stick. But I know the situation so its easy to handle."

He also knows that because he still has options available (this is his last season with options), he is the easy choice to send down. It can be a mixed blessing.

"You never know if theyre having to send you through waivers if you get claimed and maybe you dont get claimed, you never know, Atchison said. Its kind of a stability thing to some extent where I know, I feel like Im going to be with Boston one way or another, there or here. And I enjoy this organization. So its not like I want to get out of here by any means. So, it can help and it can hurt. But it makes it easier for them to send me down knowing that they dont run the risk of losing me or whatever the case may be. But then at times, youre kind of like, Man, I wish I didnt have one so maybe I could stick up here easier. But, try not to think about that too much and just go out and throw.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

How should Red Sox handle Chris Sale's pursuit of Pedro Martinez's strikeout record?

How should Red Sox handle Chris Sale's pursuit of Pedro Martinez's strikeout record?

BALTIMORE — Baseball records are so precise. When to pursue them, when to value them even if minor risk is involved, is not nearly as clear cut.

The Red Sox, Chris Sale and John Farrell have stumbled upon that grey area, and it will continue to play out in the final two weeks of the regular season.

Sale reached a tremendous milestone on Wednesday night, becoming the 14th different pitcher in major league history to reach 300 strikeouts in a single season. No one else has done it in the American League this century. Clayton Kershaw was the last to get there in the National League two years ago.

“It was really fun,” Sale said of having his family on hand. “My wife, both my boys are here, my mother-in-law. Being able to run out and get a big hug from him and my wife and everybody — it was special having them here for something like this. … I’ll spend a little time with them before we head to Cincinnati.”

Now, there’s another mark ahead of Sale: Pedro Martinez’s single-season club record of 313. And the pursuit of that record is going to highlight the discussion of what matters even more.

The tug-of-war between absolute pragmatism and personal achievement was on display Wednesday, when Farrell gave ground to the latter. 

The manager was prepared for the questions after a celebratory 9-0 win over the Orioles. His pitchers threw 26 straight scoreless innings to finish off a three-game sweep of the Orioles, and the Sox had the game well in hand the whole night.

With seven innings and 99 pitches thrown and 299 strikeouts in the books, Sale went back out for the eighth inning.

If you watched it, if you saw Sale drop a 2-2 front-door slider to a hapless Ryan Flaherty for the final strikeout Sale needed and his last pitch of the night, you surely enjoyed it. Records may not be championships, but they have their own appeal in sports that’s undeniable. 

But Sale could have recorded strikeout No. 300 next time out. Surely, he would have. He needed all 111 pitches to do so Wednesday.

In this case, the difference between 299 and 300 wound up being just 12 pitches. 

It’s doubtful those 12 pitches will ruin Sale’s postseason chances, particularly considering he was throwing hard all game, touching 99 mph. 

Nonetheless, the Sox hope to play for another month, and they've been working to get Sale extra rest. So, why risk fatigue, or worse, injury?

“The two overriding factors for me,” Farrell explained, “were the pitch counts and the innings in which he was in control of throughout. Gets an extra day [for five days of rest] this next time through the rotation. All those things were brought into play in the thinking of bringing him back out.

“We know what the final out of tonight represented, him getting the 300 strikeouts. Was aware of that, and you know what, felt like he was in complete command of this game and the ability to go out and give that opportunity, he recorded it.”

If Sale makes his final two starts of the year, he’ll break Martinez's record of 313. At least, Sale should. But he might not make his projected final start, in Game No. 162, so that he’s set up for Game 1 in the Division Series.

(So, if he could do reach 314 Ks in his next start, he’d make this discussion disappear — but 14 Ks in one outing is not easy.)

When should exceptions be made to let someone get to a record? Where do you draw the line? 

Would it be reasonable to get Sale an inning or two against the Astros in Game 162 if he was a few strikeouts away, even though he may face the Astros in the Division Series?

Letting the Astros get extra looks against Sale is a different matter than Sale throwing 12 extra pitches. But neither is really a guarantee of doom. They're small risks, of varying size.

Consider that if Sale is on, he should rough up the Astros no matter what.

What's 12 pitches Wednesday for a guy who leads the majors in average pitches thrown per game? Not enough to keep Farrell from letting Sale have a go at one milestone.

Will the Sox work to put Sale in position for the next?

Records don’t usually fall into such a grey area. Outside of the steroid era, anyway.

Sale gets strikeout No. 300 as Red Sox shut out O's, 9-0

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Sale gets strikeout No. 300 as Red Sox shut out O's, 9-0

BALTIMORE - Chris Sale struck out 13 to become the first AL pitcher in 18 years to reach the 300 mark, and the Boston Red Sox moved to the brink of clinching a playoff berth by beating the Baltimore Orioles 9-0 on Wednesday night.

Sale (17-7) reached the milestone on his last pitch, a called third strike against Ryan Flaherty to end the eighth inning. The last AL pitcher to fan 300 batters in a season was Boston's Pedro Martinez in 1999, when he set a club record with 313.

Mookie Betts and Deven Marrero homered for the Red Sox, who reduced their magic number for reaching the postseason to one. If the Angels lost to Cleveland later Wednesday night, Boston would be assured no worse than a wild-card spot in the AL playoffs.

The Red Sox, of course, would prefer to enter as AL East champions. They hold a three-game lead over the second-place Yankees with 10 games left.

After winning two straight 11-inning games over the skidding Orioles, Boston jumped to a 6-0 lead in the fifth and coasted to its 11th win in 14 games.