Lester exorcises demons, Sox roll, 10-2

191542.jpg

Lester exorcises demons, Sox roll, 10-2

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
CHICAGO -- No team had been a tougher opponent for Jon Lester than the Chicago White Sox.

In the last two matchups with him, the White Sox had belted him around for 15 runs over a span of 9 23 innings.

But Saturday, something changed. Lester limited the White Sox to two runs on four hits over eight innings while the Red Sox snapped a two-game losing streak by beating Chicago, 10-2.

The victory snapped a seven-game losing streak for the Red Sox against the White Sox and was just their second win in the last 13 head-to-head meetings.

The Sox took a healthy lead in the fifth with four runs on an RBI-double from Jarrod Saltalamacchia, sacrifice flies from Marco Scutaro and Dustin Pedroia and a broken-bat single from Kevin Youkilis.

Home runs from Adrian Gonzalez (two-run shot) and Kevin Youkilis (solo) helped create a five-run ninth as the Sox blew the game open.

Gonzalez's homer was his first since July 7.

Both runs off Lester were late in the game solo homers: Paul Konerko in the seventh and Gordon Beckham in the eighth.

Lester's win was his first in exactly a month, dating back to June 30.

Dan Wheeler finished up with a scoreless ninth.
STAR OF THE GAME: Jon Lester
In his second start since coming off the DL, Lester was masterful, going eight innings while allowing just two runs on four hits.

He needed just 64 pitches through the first six innings, facing the minimum number of hitters in five of the frames. All of this against a team which had had success with Lester in the past, scoring 15 runs off him in his last two outings.

HONORABLE MENTION: Jarrod Saltalamacchia
After homering for the third time in his last seven starts Friday in the series opener, Saltalamacchia had two doubles and two RBI in Saturday's win.

Over his last eight games, Saltalamacchia is hitting .364 with 10 RBI.

GOAT OF THE GAME: Alex Rios
Rios went 0-for-3 to drop his average to .207, further enraging White Sox fans who have let him know that underachievement and oversized paychecks aren't a good combination.

Rios made things worse when he fielded a single from Marco Scutaro and lobbed a throw back in to the cutoff man as Josh Reddick managed to score all the way from first.
TURNING POINT:
Although they were already relatively comfortable with a 5-2 lead, the back-to-back homers from Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis, accounting for three more insurances runs, helped in the ninth.

BY THE NUMBERS: 6
Adrian Gonzalez, in addition to hitting his first homer since July 7, posted his sixth consecutive multi-hit game, a career-high.

QUOTE OF NOTE:
"It's always about executing, regardless of the lineup. I was able to keep the fastball down. When you're able to do that, good things happen.'' Jon Lester on beating the White Sox, against whom he had a career ERA of 5.94

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Napoli: Red Sox and his agent only had 'small talk' about reunion

Napoli: Red Sox and his agent only had 'small talk' about reunion

BOSTON -- Of course, the Rangers' Mike Napoli didn't mind the idea of replacing David Ortiz. He loved playing in Boston.

There just was never much chatter that way last offseason, when Napoli was a free agent after his Indians took the Cubs to seven games in the World Series.

"I think my agent had maybe a small talk or something [with the Red Sox], but I don't think it ever would have happened," Napoli said Tuesday afternoon as he returned to Fenway Park with Texas. "I mean, don't get me wrong, I would have loved to come back. But, I mean, it all worked out. I'm glad to be where I'm at now. Because I knew everybody here [with the Rangers]. I didn't have to start over again."

Napoli played with the Rangers in 2011 and '12, and was traded by the Sox to Texas for the last few months of the 2015 season.

He was hopeful the Sox -- his team from 2013 to midseason 2015 -- would be among the clubs to come calling last winter.

"Oh, yeah," he said.

But he wasn't optimistic it was going to happen. And it didn't.

"To be honest with you . . . Cleveland was my first priority," he said. "I just had a World Series run [with the Indians] and we didn't win it. And then Texas was there [in the bidding, along with] Minnesota."

The Rangers wound up giving Napoli, 35, a one-year deal for 8.5 million with an $11 million club option for next season or a $2.5 million buyout. He's hitting just .188 entering Tuesday, a subpar figure, but has 10 home runs.

"We started off pretty slow, but winning 10 straight will help," Napoli said of the Rangers' recent tear. "[Winning] 11 of 12, we've been playing better. I think we kind of lost track of who we are. We got some guys struggling, still trying to find themselves and kind of got away from doing it together as a team, but we got back to doing that. It's been going pretty well."

Part of the World Series championship team of four years ago, Napoli loved being in Boston in 2013, and he enjoys being back now.

"What we were able to do in 2013, obviously, it's something I'l never forget and something I cherish," Napoli said. "I love coming back here to play."

When it was noted there's been so much turmoil since Napoli left -- the talk of Tuesday was manager John Farrell's job security -- he was unsurprised.

"You got to have thick skin to play here," Napoli said. "You're expected to win a championship every single year. But that's what I loved about playing here, is that people were on you. For me, I loved it. A lot of people probably couldn't do it.

"I knew it in my heart that I went out there and I played as hard as I possibly could every single time . . . I know you're not going to be perfect and live up to everyone."

Red Sox recall Sam Travis, send Velázquez back to Pawtucket

Red Sox recall Sam Travis, send Velázquez back to Pawtucket

BOSTON -- On the list of Red Sox problems, finding a platoon partner for Mitch Moreland at first base isn't high on the list. But the others -- third base, fifth starter -- aren't solvable at the moment, so the Sox turned to one they think they can solve.

Today they recalled Sam Travis from Pawtucket, most likely to provide relief for Moreland against left-handed pitching. Travis' path to the majors was delayed by a knee injury that cost him a good chunk of the 2016 season -- otherwise, odds are good he'd have been here by now -- but he signaled his readiness by recovering from a 5-for-36 start with a sizzling .344 average in 90 at-bats since April 22 that includes six doubles and three home runs. His OPS in that span is .909.

Most importantly, Travis crushes left-handed pitching. He's hit .358 (93-for-260) against them in his professional career, and is .414 (12-for-29) against them this year. 

Hector Velázquez was sent back to the PawSox to make room for Travis, ensuring another roster move later this week. After Kyle Kendrick's failed attempt to take control of the fifth spot in the starting rotation, Velázquez was called up and given a shot in Oakland last Thursday night. He allowed six earned runs over five innings, failing the test. And thus the search for a fifth starter -- at least until David Price returns -- continues.

Price will make a rehab start in Pawtucket tomorrow and could return to Boston after that, but the Sox will need a pitcher for Saturday's game against Seattle. Even if Price is cleared to return to Boston, he won't be able to pitch Saturday on two days' rest.