Boston Red Sox

A Grain of Saltalamacchia

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A Grain of Saltalamacchia

When Bobby Valentine speaks, you always listen. But whether or not you believe him is an entirely different story.

Thats because sometimes Bobby V. seems to just say stuff for the sake of saying stuff. Just to make a headline. Just to hear himself speak. Just to I dont know sometimes hell deliver a quote and all you can do is shake your head, think Where the hell did that come from? and then move on like nothing ever happened.

For instance, there was the time in Spring Training when he pretended to criticize Derek Jeter for his flip in the 2001 ALDS. Or a few weeks back, when a Wednesday afternoon win in Baltimore had him dreaming of World Series glory. Or last Wednesday, when he said that Jarrod Saltalamacchia had turned into an All-Star.

"He's turned a big corner,'' Valentine said of Salty. "In the last couple of weeks, I've seen a player turn into an All-Star -- an absolute player who you can count on, who's got it. He's understands what's needed out of him and he's delivering it.

Honestly, when I originally heard that quote, I thought nothing of it. In fact, Im pretty sure I laughed: Yup, theres Bobby V., up to his old nonsense-spewing antics.

But a few days later, Im starting to think that maybe old Bobby V. is on to something.

Last night at Fenway, Saltalamacchia hit his 10th home run of the season, which not only makes him the second Sox player (after David Ortiz) to reach double digit dongs, but also gives him more homers than any catcher in baseball. Seriously. Hes now the Major League-leader. Hes also tied for third among MLB catchers with 10 doubles, ranks in the top 10 with 24 RBI and is hitting a wildly-respectable .281.

Sure, his .160 CS is one of the worst in the league, but given recent Red Sox history, thats not all on him. And hes made up for his lack of throwing guys out with his ability to earn the respect of this pitching staff. Hes found a rhythm with the delicate Josh Beckett, built a line of communication with the insane Alfredo Aceves and really just taken control of the situation.
Sure, maybe hes not Jason Varitek, but for all the talk of how Varitek was an irreplaceable cog in the pitchers success, and how no one in the world could call a game or manage a staff like Tek! Saltys made a pretty seamless transition into the big chair. All while making a level of noise with his bat that we hadnt heard from Tek in years.
When you look around the American League, you have to assume that Joe Mauer whether he deserves it or not will be voted in as the starting All-Star catcher. And even though hes having a slightly down year, Mike Napoli is another guy who can probably book his flight to Kansas City.

After that, theres one catchers spot left, and right now, I dont see how anyone is more deserving than Salty. I think its time to actually, and unbelievably, consider the fact that Jarrod Saltalamacchia might be headed to the All-Star game.

At which point Valentine will probably declare him a candidate for MVP.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Red Sox move closer to AL East title with 5-0 win over Reds

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Red Sox move closer to AL East title with 5-0 win over Reds

CINCINNATI - Mitch Moreland ended his long slump with a three-run homer, Eduardo Rodriguez pitched three-hit ball into the eighth inning, and the Boston Red Sox took another step toward a second straight AL East title, beating the Cincinnati Reds 5-0 on Saturday.

Boston has won 13 of 16, holding off the Yankees as it tries to win back-to-back East titles for the first time since divisional realignment in 1969. The Red Sox have their best record of the season at 90-64, reaching 90 wins for the second year in a row.

They remain four games in front of the Yankees, who beat Toronto 5-1.

Moreland was in an 0-for-19 slump when he connected off Robert Stephenson (5-6) in the sixth inning, his 20th homer of the season but only his second in September. The Red Sox are last in the AL with 160 homers.

Rodriguez (6-6) has given up two or fewer earned runs in each of his last four starts, the best stretch of his career. The left-hander gave up three singles and two walks in 7 2/3 innings, his longest outing since May 21.

The Red Sox have shutout victories in three of their last four games, including two at Baltimore. They are 7-1 on a trip that ends Sunday. Boston wraps up the regular season at Fenway Park with three games against Toronto and four against Houston.

Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi, who grew up in suburban Madeira and had hundreds of relatives and friends in the stands for the series, singled home a run in the seventh at the ballpark where he regularly attended games as a youth.

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Betts (foot), Pedroia (knee) out of Red Sox lineup

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Betts (foot), Pedroia (knee) out of Red Sox lineup

Mookie Betts, who fouled a ball off his left foot Friday night, and Dustin Pedroia, who has been bothered by a knee injury almost all season, were out of the Red Sox lineup Saturday against the Reds in Cincinnati.

Chris Young started in right field for Betts and Brock Holt at second base for Pedroia.

Betts was scratched from the original lineup but was a late scratch. Pedroia, who had been getting intermittent days off to rest his knee was originally expected to play but needed treatement and hopes to be able to play Sunday, according to Scott Lauber of ESPN. 

Manager John Farrell told reporters, including Christopher Smith of MassLive.com, that Betts "was hindered by it last night in the second half of that game. [He] woke up a little bit more sore. Went through treatment. But felt it was best to give him a day to fully recover and get some additional treatment."

The manager added that Betts was available to pinch hit Saturday and did not have X-rays, but that step could be taken if there's no improvement in the next 24 hours.