Beckett battled, but didn't have 'best stuff'

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Beckett battled, but didn't have 'best stuff'

BOSTON -- Josh Beckett didn't have his best stuff on Thursday night. And when your offense lets the opposing pitcher in Max Scherzer off the hook at the same time, it's awfully difficult to complete a four-game sweep against a lineup like that of the Detroit Tigers.
But that's exactly what the Red Sox failed to do on Thursday at Fenway Park, falling to the Tigers 7-3.
Beckett had only one strikeout in seven innings. And while he continued to battle, he saw some solid defense behind him that helped prevent him from allowing more than four runs on 10 hits
"He gave us a chance to win the game," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine after the loss. "I don't know that that was his best stuff. It seemed like he didn't have his curveball until the sixth inning. He made some pretty good pitches, and they hit a few of them for hits. He did a good job of keeping them at bay."
Beckett agreed with not having his curve ball in this one.
"I made some pitches when I needed to, and didn't make some other ones," said Beckett afterwards. "You have five pitches in a game that you have to make, and I think I made three of them today. The other two cost me three runs in one inning.
"I don't think I had my curve ball to put guys away. It was difficult for me to get the ball down."
Beckett wasn't awful for a guy that didn't have his best stuff, but on a night like that, you need some big defensive plays, and that's exactly what Ryan Sweeney provided in the top of the second inning to keep it a scoreless game at the time.
With runners on second and third and one out, Jhonny Peralta put a fly ball down the right field line, and Sweeney came charging in after it at an awkward angle because of the side wall. But he was able to make the catch and throw a seen into home, one-hopping the ball to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who then made the tag on Delmon Young.
"I thought he made a great adjustment to round it out to get behind the ball and throw it right down the line," said Valentine. "A good defensive play."
"I've always prided myself on my defense and making accurate throws to bases," said Sweeney. "So when I made that throw, I felt like I had a good shot of getting him."
But as good as that defensive play was and may have saved him a few more runs, a couple bad bounces on throws to second from Saltalamacchia turned out to be costly. And when your starting pitcher doesn't have his best stuff, those bad bounces aren't going to help anybody.
Except for the Tigers, who took advantage of the two throws that ended up in the outfield while stealing second, and eventually taking third.
The first came in the fifth inning, as Quentin Berry stole second. Saltalamacchia's throw was on target, but hit a diving Berry and shot out to left field, sending Berry to third, and eventually home on a Miguel Cabrera single that gave the Tigers a 4-3 lead and ended up being the game-winning run.
Saltalamacchia's other throw to second that ended up in the outfield came in the ninth inning, as Cabrera stole second. The throw ended up in center field, and Cabrera took third, only to score on a Prince Fielder triple to give the Tigers a 6-3 lead.
"The last one, Saltalamacchia didn't get a good grip on it, and Cabrera caught us all by surprise," said Valentine. "I think Mike Aviles was a little late getting there, and Saltalamacchia was a little late throwing. The first throw would've been right on the bag."
Beckett didn't have his best stuff, and those plays ended up costing the Red Sox.

Improved Matt Barnes dealing with much more than mechanics

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Improved Matt Barnes dealing with much more than mechanics

BOSTON — Matt Barnes has been coping with more than just a few bad outings on the mound, and he’s asking for help.

The Red Sox set-up man made some mechanical corrections that paid off in the eighth inning Monday night, when he struck out all three Twins he faced in a 4-1 Red Sox win at Fenway Park.

“I just simplified the mechanics,” Barnes said afterward. “Two days ago, I was trying to get with more of an up, down, and out approach. I felt better in that outing. I know I gave up a run and walked the one guy, but I felt better around the zone. And then just kind of went into a slide step, doing what Andrew Miller was doing.”

Barnes allowed four runs spanning his previous three outings, retiring just four batters while walking five. But Barnes has had a lot more to worry about than just a brief professional rut. 

He’s been devoted to helping his girlfriend, Chelsea, through the unexpected loss of her father, who was diagnosed with cancer and suffered a stroke

"Her father passed away [May 27]. That’s why I wasn’t in Baltimore for the two days [in early June], I was at his funeral,” Barnes said. "It’s tough, dealing with that, and she’s obviously having a hard time with it. She’s got her good days and her bad days. But it’s not easy. He was sick for a little while, and unexpectedly passed a lot faster than anybody ever expected him to. So, it’s been tough. She’s been alright, considering.”

There are a ton of medical bills still to be paid. A fundraising page has been set up to help the family with some large medical bills, and Barnes has asked on Twitter for people to spread the word if they’re able to.

“I’ve been able to spend a lot of time with her which is nice,” Barnes said of his girlfriend. “Everybody who’s helped out with donations and spreading the page, I couldn’t be more grateful, and she couldn’t be more grateful.”

Barnes is a big leaguer, but he’s still young and making the major league minimum. For every $1,000 total donated, Barnes plans to send a signed baseball to a random donor.

“I felt like it was a nice way, if they’re going to help me out, I can at least do that in return for them,” Barnes said.

Sale gets 9 Ks, Moreland hits home run as Red Sox beat Twins, 4-1

Sale gets 9 Ks, Moreland hits home run as Red Sox beat Twins, 4-1

BOSTON -- The way Chris Sale and the Boston relievers were pitching, the Red Sox didn't need to score a lot.

Sale went 6 1/3 overpowering innings with nine strikeouts, Mitch Moreland hit a solo homer for the third straight game and the Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 4-1 on Monday in a matchup of two of the AL's top teams.

"When you've got him on the mound, all you need is a couple and he's going to do the rest," Moreland said. "Obviously, tonight was another example of that."

Dustin Pedroia had two hits and drove in a run and Moreland added a sacrifice fly for Boston, which kept pace with the New York Yankees atop the East.

The Red Sox started fast, grabbing a 2-0 lead just four batters into the first.

"When the guys score early for you, it's nice," Sale said. "It settles you down a little bit and allows you to throw strikes."

Coming off a three-game sweep in Cleveland that had jumped them over the Indians into first in the Central, the Twins' offense was stymied by Sale and three relievers. The loss coupled with Cleveland's win over Texas moved the Indians back a half-game ahead.

Sale (10-3) gave up one run and four hits, increasing his major-league strikeout total to 155. Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 21st save after Matt Barnes struck out three in the eighth. Heath Hembree faced one batter, getting a double play.

The 6-foot-6 Sale relied on his usual sharp-breaking slider and fastball in the mid-to-upper 90s to fan eight over the first six innings, getting the initial half dozen with his breaking pitch.

"It's what we've seen many times. He had a nice mix," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I think the biggest trouble we had was with that slider, especially down and in to righties."

Jose Berrios (7-2) allowed four runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings. Chris Gimenez had a solo homer for Minnesota.

"When you go against a guy like Chris Sale, you try to give 110 percent," Berrios said through a translator.

Boston jumped ahead when Moreland homered into the first row of Green Monster seats after the first run scored on a double-play grounder.

Berrios had given up just two runs in each of his previous four starts, and six of eight since being promoted on May 7.

Gimenez's homer completely left Fenway Park over the Monster.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Twins: Molitor said RHP Phil Hughes, on the 10-day disabled list since late May with biceps tenderness, "felt good" but the pitcher had hoped his velocity would be a bit higher. ... LHP Glen Perkins, on the DL with a shoulder strain, is expected to resume throwing again Tuesday after a setback about a week ago.

Red Sox: DH Hanley Ramirez was out with a sore left knee after getting hit by a pitch Sunday. ... 3B Pablo Sandoval, on the 10-day DL since June 20 with a left inner-ear infection, is slated to start a rehab stint with Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday. Manager John Farrell said there's no planned date for his return. ... Moreland fouled a ball that bounced and hit near his right eye.

NICE START, KID

Red Sox 3B Tzu-Wei Lin singled to right in his first major-league at-bat and first career start.

The 23-year-old from Taiwan played third on his country's national teams in 2009 and 2010. He's the second Taiwanese-born player to make Boston's major-league roster. Outfielder Che-Hsuan Lin was the other, in 2012.

RUNNING AROUND

Twins LF Eddie Rosario made three nice running, over-the-shoulder catches.

WELCOME ABOARD

Infielder Jhonny Peralta reported to Triple-A Pawtucket on Monday. Boston signed him to a minor-league deal after he was released by St. Louis earlier this month.

The plan is to alternate him at third and DH with Sandoval.

ROSTER MOVE

The Twins sent RHP Dillon Gee back to Triple-A to make room for Tuesday's starter LHP Hector Santiago.

UP NEXT

Twins: Santiago (4-6, 5.26 ERA) will be activated off the DL Tuesday. He's been sidelined since June 7 with a strained left shoulder.

Red Sox: LHP Drew Pomeranz (6-4, 4.07) looks to snap a three-start winless stretch.