Breslow 'more confident' this time around

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Breslow 'more confident' this time around

BOSTON The last time Craig Breslow wore a Red Sox uniform he was a 25-year-old lefty attempting to establish himself as a big league ballplayer.
He shuttled back-and-forth from Boston to Pawtucket during the 2006 season and put up a respectable 3.75 ERA in 13 games spanning 12 innings for Boston.
Breslow stayed with the Red Sox organization through the 2007 season and then was waived by both the Sox and the Cleveland Indians within a week during the final week of March in 2008.
Fast forward six years and stints with the Minnesota Twins, Oakland As and Arizona Diamondbacks: Breslow is returning to Boston as an established reliever that has appeared in 60 plus games in each of the last three seasons. In 2010, Breslow appeared in 75 games for the As and actually racked up five saves for Oakland. The lefty wont be dropped into that role in Boston, obviously.
But Breslows place in the bullpen might just allow the Red Sox to move hard-throwing lefty Franklin Morales back into the starting rotation that looked like a natural fit for him.
Its exciting for me. I appreciate the time that I was away, but this is home for me. I want to help the guys. The last time I was here filling in while I was shuffling back and forth between Triple-A. Now Im more confident, more seasoned and more better-prepared for the situations I might find, said Breslow. Hopefully I can contribute as another left-hander out of the bullpen. I can do matchups or pitch multiple innings at a time.
Ive always fought the notion that Im strictly a left-on-left guy and my splits have always been pretty even in my career. If its eating innings or matching up, I feel like I can do both of those.
This season Breslow is actually holding right-handed hitters to a .226 batting average and lefties to a .243 batting average in a similar number of at bats against him.
More importantly hes aware of the constant pressure and potential reward that comes along with wearing the home whites at Fenway. Thats a must for a reliever that can sometimes live and die with that nights results.
For better or for worse this is Boston. Growing up in Connecticut this is a team that Im very familiar with and at times you can be scrutinized, said Breslow. But I dont think theres a better place to be successful.
The 31-year-old also cost the Sox two major league-caliber players in Scott Podsednik and Matt Albers during a July 31 trade deadline deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Breslow made it to Fenway Park prior to game time after flying all the way in from Los Angeles, and actually pitched 1 13 of scoreless relief while striking out a pair of hitters. It didnt ultimately lead to a winning end product for the Sox as they ended a four-game winning streak in a 7-5 loss to the Detroit Tigers at Fenway Park.
But theres no mistaking that Breslow can help, and who better to do that than a New England native from Trumbull, Connecticut.
He looked good. Everything was moving. Ive faced him a couple of times, but not enough to know a lot about him, said Jarrod Saltalamacchia. He has really good stuff; a sinker-in to lefties and a changeup as well and a cutter. Everything is working and it was fun to catch that.
In a sign of the times only Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Josh Beckett and Jon Lester remain from that 2006 Sox team that Breslow made his Boston debut with.
Its an almost entirely different group of players in the Sox clubhouse and an altogether different Breslow looking to make it work a second time around.

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.