May 18, 2011: Red Sox 1, Tigers 0

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May 18, 2011: Red Sox 1, Tigers 0

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- Victor Martinez returned to Fenway Park Wednesday, inviting the usual questions about whether the Red Sox did the right thing in allowing him to leave as a free agent last offseason.

Then, as if on cue, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, his replacement as the team's No. 1 catcher, made his case with a Wall-scraping, run-scoring double in the bottom of the eighth, giving the Red Sox a 1-0 shutout of the Detroit Tigers.

Saltalamachia's double scored Carl Crawford (walk) from first and snapped a scoreless tie in a game that featured a 26-minute rain delay in the top of the eighth inning.

Clay Buchholz threw a career-high 127 pitches, allowing just four hits, but was left with a no-decision. Daniel Bard, who pitched the eighth, got the win with Jonathan Papelbon nailing down his eight save.

Papelbon allowed a leadoff double to Martinez, putting the potential tying run in scoring postition with no out. But Papelbon got Jhonny Peralta to groundout and he struck out Alex Avila and Ryan Rayburn to end the game.

The win was Boston's fifth in a row -- tying a season high -- and eighth victory in the last 10 games. The Sox are two games over .500 for the first time all season.

The Red Sox could mount little against Detroit starter Phil Coke, who limited them to just three hits over the first seven innings.

Player of the Game: Jarrod Saltalamacchia

The return of Victor Martinez to Fenway Park in an opponent's uniform put the focus squarely on Saltalamacchia and comparing the two players' numbers didn't reflect well on the Red Sox catcher.

But in the eighth inning, with the game scoreless, Saltalamacchia drilled a double off The Wall in left-center, scoring Carl Crawford all the way from first base.

Saltalamacchia may only be hitting .221 with just 10 RBI, but he's been having far better at-bats in the last two weeks and his confidence at the plate seems to be growing daily.

Honorable Mention: Clay Buchholz

Buchholz didn't get the win in the end, but he blanked the Tigers over seven innings, turning in the 11th scoreless outing by a Red Sox starter this year.

Terry Francona showed what kind of trust he has in Buchholz by leaving him out for a career-high 127 pitches. The last one was a swinging strike against Austin Jackson, giving Buchholz a season-high seven strikeouts.

The Goat: Glen Schlereth

Detroit manager Jim Leyland went to Schlereth with two out in the eighth and the lefty promptly walked Carl Crawford, then gave up Saltalamacchia's wall-scraping, game-winning double.

Turning Point: Papelbon shuts the door

While Saltalamacchia's run-scoring hit accounted for the only run of the game, this one wasn't locked down until Jonathan Papelbon struck out Alex Avila and Ryan Rayburn with the potential tying run on third base in the top of the ninth inning.

By the Numbers: 10

Saltalamacchia has just 10 RBI, but five of those have come in close-and-late situations -- i.e., the seventh inning or later with the Sox either ahead by a run, tied or with the tying run on base, at the plate or on deck.

Quote of Note:

"We certainly didn't bludgeon them to death (four hits) tonight, but Salty took a terrific swing.'' -- Terry Francona

--Red Sox manager Terry Francona

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

Who's on first for Red Sox? It may be not someone you'd expect

Who's on first for Red Sox? It may be not someone you'd expect

Who’s on first? A middle infielder, maybe.

Hanley Ramirez, Josh Rutledge and Mitch Moreland aren't fully healthy. So the 25th man on the Red Sox has become a matter of corner-infield triage.

Rutledge was gearing up to play some first base with Ramirez restricted to DH because of his throwing shoulder. But Rutledge is hurt now too, likely headed to the disabled list with a left hamstring strain, Sox manager John Farrell said Wednesday morning in Florida.

Here’s the easiest way to think about who takes Rutledge's place: Who would the Red Sox like to see less against left handed pitching, third baseman Pablo Sandoval or first baseman Mitch Moreland? 

If it’s Sandoval, then you carry Marco Hernandez, who can play third base.

“He’s a very strong candidate,” manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida on Wednesday. “He’s one of a few that are being considered strongly right now.” 

If it’s Moreland, than you carry Steve Selsky, who has a history playing first base.

“He’s a guy we’re having discussions on,” Farrell said. “Any guy in our camp that we feel is going to make us a more complete or balanced roster, Deven Marrero, they’re all in consideration.”

The additional wrench here is that Moreland has the flu. If he's not available at all for a few days to begin the season, then the Sox probably have to carry Hernandez.

Why? Because Brock Holt can play some first base if Moreland is out. But then, you’d need another back-up middle infielder, and Hernandez gives you that. 

Hernandez is also hitting .379 in 58 at-bats this spring entering Wednesday.

Moreland isn’t the only one who has the flu.

"It’s running through our clubhouse," Sox manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida on Wednesday, including the Providence Journal’s Tim Britton. "Probably be held out for three days for a quarantine.” (LINK:http://www.providencejournal.com/sports/20170329/with-josh-rutledge-and-mitch-moreland-ailing-first-base-depth-compromised-for-red-sox)

That means the Red Sox won't have Moreland for their exhibitions against the Nationals on Friday and Saturday in Washington D.C. and Annapolis, Md. Moreland could still be ready for the regular season, but would likely be at less than full strength.

Having Ramirez available would sure make things a lot simpler for the Sox.

Both Sandoval at third base and Moreland could use right-handed bats to complement them. Or more specifically, they could use people who can hit left-handed pitching to complement them.

Hernandez is a left-handed hitter who might actually be able to hit lefties. But the Sox haven't used him at first base, and there's no indication they will.

“As we look at the upcoming games, there is the potential for two left-handed starters in Detroit,” Farrell said. “So there’s a number of things being factored right now.”

Early in spring training, Farrell was asked what player had started to catch his eye.

The guy he mentioned was Selsky, an outfielder and first baseman the Red Sox feel fortunate to have picked up off waivers because he still has minor league options remaining.

Now Selsky, who has already technically been cut from major league spring training, has a chance at making the opening day roster. He's 27 and hit .356 in 45 Grapefruit League at-bats.

Chris Young isn't going to have an easy time finding at-bats as it stands now, but the Sox aren't considering moving him to first base.
 

Betts and Bradley Jr. combine for seven RBI, Red Sox roll to 9-2 win

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Betts and Bradley Jr. combine for seven RBI, Red Sox roll to 9-2 win

The Boston Red Sox put up six runs in the first inning and coasted to a 9-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night.

Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. led the way for the Red Sox with four and three RBI respectfully. Both outfielders had two-run home runs in the Sox’ big first inning.

Knuckleballer Steven Wright gave up one earned run in four innings, his ERA for the spring is now 0.68.

The Red Sox are back in action again on Wednesday at 1:05 p.m when Rick Porcello makes his final spring training start against the Minnesota Twins.