Bullpen picks up where it left off

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Bullpen picks up where it left off

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Bobby Valentine wasted no time putting his bullpen back to work Friday, the first day after the All-Star break.

With the benefit of four days' rest, the relievers were rested and ready and Valentine took full advantage as the Red Sox edged the Tampa Bay Rays, 3-1.

Starter Franklin Morales blanked the Rays on just two hits through the first five innings and could have gone another inning after throwing 90 innings.

"First time back,'' explained Valentine, "I didn't really want to bring the bullpen in with men on base if he got in trouble again in the sixth.''

Arms fresh, Valentine could mix and match as he saw fit. Atchison faced four hitters, allowing a two-out double which produced an unearned run thanks to an error by Mike Aviles.

Andrew Miller allowed an infield single to pinch-hitter Brooks Conrad, the only hitter he faced, putting runners at first-and-third. But Matt Albers fanned Desmond Jennings to end the threat, then retired the side in order in the seventh, adding two more strikeouts.

"We were able to come in and pick up Frankie,'' said Albers. "Those few days off were great. I used my sinker, curve ball and slider. Obviously, it kind of depends on how the games go, but with everybody rested, a lot of guys had a chance to pitch.''

Next came the duo of Vicente Padilla (eighth) and Alfredo Aceves, who got the Rays in order for his 20th save of the season.

"It's gone really good,'' said Albers of the bullpen's performance. "We all have each others' backs out there. Roles sometimes change depending on how much guys throw, but everybody has a chance to get rest after they throw. It's been good. We have guys who can do different roles.

"(Valentine) has tried to put us in position to make us successful. Obviously, if me and Atch can face righthanded hitters, that's going to benefit us. Andrew can get anybody out, but he's even more effective against lefties. And I think (using everybody) keeps everybody's pitch counts down, as well.''

Francona misses second game this month because of health issues

Francona misses second game this month because of health issues

CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona missed Tuesday night's game against Texas after his second trip to the hospital this month.

The Indians said doctors for now have ruled out major health issues and Francona will be monitored the next several weeks.

Francona, 58, left Monday night's game because he wasn't feeling well. He spent several hours at Cleveland Clinic and underwent a series of tests.

Francona was released from the hospital on Tuesday and spent the rest of the day at home. He was expected to return to the dugout Wednesday when the Indians host the Rangers. Cleveland lost to Texas 2-1 on Tuesday.

Bench coach Brad Mills ran the team in Francona's absence. Cleveland began the day in first place in the AL Central after rallying for a 15-9 win Monday.

"Tito actually wanted to come back to the ballpark today," team president Chris Antonetti said Tuesday. "I told him he can't come back to the ballpark today. He only got a couple hours of sleep last night, so despite his desire to want to be here, I thought it was best that he gets some rest tonight and just come back tomorrow. His plan when he was getting released from the hospital was to come over here."

"I don't think he was exceedingly happy with me," Antonetti said with a laugh. "That's OK."

Francona was hospitalized June 13 following a game at Progressive Field. He underwent tests and was released a few hours later, returning to work the following night. Last August, he missed a game after experiencing chest pains but was back the next day.

"Thankfully, we've got some great doctors that are coordinating his care," Antonetti said. "They've done every test they can possibly imagine. They've all come back clean. They're now working to try to figure out what are some of those things that are causing him to not feel so well."

Francona, a close friend of Mills for several years, has retained his sense of humor through his health issues.

A statement released by the team Tuesday read, "Mr. Francona also wanted to express that medical personnel have not yet ruled out an allergy to Bench Coach Brad Mills."

Red Sox move into first place with rain-delayed, 9-3 win over Twins

Red Sox move into first place with rain-delayed, 9-3 win over Twins

BOSTON -- Drew Pomeranz wasn't expecting one rain delay, let alone two. But he got through both just fine.

Pomeranz pitched five solid innings, Chris Young hit a three-run homer and the Boston Red Sox moved into first place in the AL East with a 9-2 victory against the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night.

"It was kind of crazy. I didn't even realize it was supposed to rain at all tonight," Pomeranz said.

Pomeranz (7-4) had to sit through nearly an hour delay before the game started, then a 76-minute delay between the second and third as a thunderstorm slowly passed over Fenway Park. Despite the interruption, the left-hander held the Twins to an unearned run and four hits, struck out seven and walked none.

Christian Vazquez homered for the first time in more than a year, helping the Red Sox win consecutive games for the first time in nearly two weeks. Dustin Pedroia had three hits and scored twice.

Bench coach Gary DiSarcina managed the Red Sox with John Farrell serving a one-game suspension handed down by Major League Baseball.

"It's a lot of fun. It's a lot of adrenaline. I can see and appreciate the trials and the tribulations and the struggles John goes through daily and nightly," DiSarcina said. "I don't think I'm going to appreciate it until the season's over and I'm looking back at having a day like this."

The Red Sox capitalized on three errors by the Twins and moved a half-game ahead of the New York Yankees, who lost 4-3 to the White Sox on Tuesday.

"Long night," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I've seen some really good games here and I've seen some ugly ones, and that would fall in the latter category for sure."

Hector Santiago (4-7) returned for the Twins after a stint on the 10-day disabled list with a strained left shoulder. He allowed two runs and one hit in two innings.

"I feel really good right now. Obviously it's only two innings," Santiago said. "I feel like I had some really good velocity, really good acceleration on the off-speed (pitches)."

The only hit Santiago allowed was Vazquez's two-run homer in the second. The Red Sox led 6-1 when Young blew it open with a drive off one of the signs above the Green Monster in left.

"We just didn't do a lot of damage control after we got back out and start playing again," Molitor said.

Minnesota didn't score until the fifth when Jorge Polanco drew a one-out walk and Eddie Rosario and Byron Buxton followed with consecutive singles off Pomeranz, who was fading and faced six batters in the inning.

Eduardo Escobar added a solo homer for Minnesota in the eighth.

Boston hadn't won consecutive games since beating Philadelphia three in a row from June 12-14.

VERSATILE VAZQUEZ

Vazquez hit his first home run since May 1, 2016. It was his third career homer and all three have come with one man on base.

Vazquez also stole a base after walking in the fourth and caught the entire game. Vazquez threw out Rosario when he attempted to steal third after leading off the third with a double off the wall in left.

"He's been great behind the plate all year. He's been hitting the ball all year," Pomeranz said. "It was good to see him get that home run tonight."

SUSPENSION

Farrell was suspended for poking umpire Bill Miller in the chest during an animated argument over the weekend.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Twins: Santiago was making his first start since June 6 at Seattle. The Twins placed him on the 10-day DL the next day. To make room on the roster for his return, recently acquired RHP Dillon Gee was sent down to Triple-A Rochester.

Red Sox: DH Hanley Ramirez sat out his second straight game with a bruised left knee from a pitch that hit him Sunday.

UP NEXT

Twins: Rookie LHP Adalberto Mejia (2-3, 4.93 ERA) pitches in Fenway Park on Wednesday night for the first time.

Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (4-9, 5.00 ERA), the 2016 AL Cy Young Award winner, looks to win consecutive starts for the first time this season.