Crawford gets off to a good start

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Crawford gets off to a good start

BOSTON -- Before Mondays game, left fielder Carl Crawford said he expected to feel some butterflies when he took the field for his first game in almost 10 months. After the game -- his season debut after missing the first 89 games while on the disabled list -- Crawford was happy to report he felt more comfortable than he thought he would.

It felt good to be back on the field, he said. Its been a while so a real nice feeling for me.

Today it really wasnt that bad as when I talked to you the first time. It actually felt kind of comfortable for me. So I was glad to feel that way instead of feeling so nerved up.

Crawford, who started the season on the DL after surgery on his left wrist in mid-January and a subsequent sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow, went 1-for-3 with two runs scored and a walk. The first run he scored came after his first-inning single. It was the first time, he said, hes opened a season with a base hit.

Yeah, Ive never started the season off with a base hit, he said. That did a lot for me. So I was happy to start the game off that way.

That definitely helps. It helps you relax a little bit more and not worry about it so much. And then it kind of reminds you that you can still do it. So that was good to get that knock out of the way.

Crawford started the Sox eighth-inning rally. With the score tied, 1-1, Crawford opened the inning with a walk off White Sox lefty reliever Leyson Septimo. After a walk to David Ortiz, Adrian Gonzalezs three-run homer put the Sox ahead on their way to a 5-1 win.

It was real nice to play for the win like that, be able to help, and do something important, he said. At the end of the day we got the win. So I definitely feel good about that.

It feels good to be able to see pitches. Last year I think that was an area I struggled in. So to be able to notice pitches real quick now and seem to be a little bit better at it is definitely confidence building for me.

Crawford had just one chance in the field, making the final out of the sixth inning on Paul Konerkos fly ball. He has expressed some concern about his elbow and making throws from the outfield. The only active throw he had to make came in the first, backing up on Adrian Gonzalezs errant throw to Will Middlebrooks that resulted in an error to the first baseman and the White Sox only run.

All in all, it was just what manager Bobby Valentine was hoping to see from Crawford.

Well, that was it, he said. He gets a base hit, scores a run. He had a real patient, professional at bat in the eighth inning. Hasnt seen the left-hander, knows its a tie score. He's leading off. You know how much he wants to do something really special and the walk turned out to be really special.

Crawford is hoping he can begin to focus on getting into a rhythm, and just playing ball.

Yeah, thats what Im trying to do, focus on just playing ball and dont worry about everything else, he said. Just try my best to help the team win.

Well see. I definitely feel like Im in a good place. So well see.

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

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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.