May 25, 2011: Red Sox 14, Indians 2

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May 25, 2011: Red Sox 14, Indians 2

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

CLEVELAND The Red Sox showed no mercy Wednesday on Indians right-hander Mitch Talbot, making his first start since coming off the disabled list, as they pounded him for seven runs in the first inning en route to a 14-2 romp over the Indians.

The Sox sent 12 batters to the plate in the first and set season highs for both runs and hits in an inning. They tied their season high with four consecutive hits as Jacoby Ellsbury opened the game with a single to center, followed by Dustin Pedroias third home run of the season, Adrian Gonzalezs single, and David Ortizs single.

The Sox scored seven runs in an inning four times in 2010, but the last time they did so in the first inning was with 10 runs on Aug. 12, 2008, against the Rangers. The last time they had at least nine hits in the first inning was on June 27, 2003, against the Marlins.

Staked to such a robust lead, Jon Lester cruised through his outing, going six scoreless innings, giving up three hits two singles in the first, and a double to Asdrubal Cabrera in the sixth and one walk with seven strikeouts over 97 pitches. He improved to 7-1, with a 3.36 ERA. He has not lost since his third outing of the season, April 12 against the Rays.

Talbot suffered the loss, falling to 1-1 in his third start of the season, and second against the Sox, as he ERA swelled from 1.46 to 5.87. He gave up 8 runs on 12 hits -- a season high for an Indians starter -- with two walks, and a strikeout in three innings.

The Sox set new season highs with 20 hits, and four home runs in the game by Pedroia, Crawford, David Ortiz and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. They also matched their season high with six doubles Mike Cameron, Ellsbury, and two each by Crawford and Drew Sutton.

Crawford went 4-for-4 with three runs scored and two RBI, and his third home run of the season. He set a season high with four hits, falling a triple shy of the cycle and one hit shy of his career high. He raised his average in the game from .212 to .229. Going 6-for-11 with two home runs, six runs scored, and three RBI in the series, he raised his average 20 points, from .209.

Drew Sutton -- a late addition to the lineup to replace Kevin Youkilis, whose left hand was bothering him after being hit with a pitch Monday night and tweaking it diving for a ball Tuesday went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI, matching his career high in hits.

Player of the Game: Carl Crawford

Crawford went 4-for-4 with two doubles, a home run, three runs scored and two RBI. He fell a triple shy of the cycle before coming out of the game after his sixth-inning double. His season-high four hits were one hit shy of his career high and raised his average from .212 to .229 in the game.

"I'm just trying to have good at-bats," Crawford said. "I definitely feel better than I did before. So, I'm just going to take that for what it is.

"It just feels good to win the game, to help contribute."

"I thought about hitting for the cycle probably in my last at-bat. But not early on in the game."

Crawford said he has never hit for the cycle, at any level, including Little League.

"No, never. It's not easy."

Honorable Mention: Drew Sutton

Inserted into the lineup shortly before game time to replace third baseman Kevin Youkilis, whose left hand was bothering him after being hit there Monday night and tweaking it diving for a ball Teuesday, Sutton went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI, matching his career high in hits, which he last reached on Sept. 19, 2010, against Kansas City while with the Indians.

Sutton was called up from Triple-A Pawtucket on May 20.

"It's great. I didn't have as much time to think about it as I did when they told me the night before, as much time to think about it and be nervous," Sutton said. "When they tell you an hour-and-a-half before the game you're just kind of like, 'All right, let's do this.' It does make it a little easier. You just kind of go back, get ready, and go play."

The Goat: Mitch Talbot

Talbot who was activated from the disabled list to start Wednesday afternoon's series finale, after being sidelined since April 12 with a right elbow strain. He had made just two starts previously this season, including an April 6 no-decision, as the Indians beat the Sox that day.

But on Wednesday, he could offer his team very little as the Sox pounded him from the second pitch of the game, a Jacoby Ellsbury single.

Talbot went three innings, giving up eight runs on 12 hits and two walks with one strikeout. He allowed seven runs on nine hits as the Sox sent 12 batters to the plate. The 12 hits he allowed are season high for Indians starters. Talbot took the loss, falling to 1-1 in his ERA swelled from 1.46 to 5.87.

Turning Point: First inning explosion

In the first inning, the Sox sent 12 batters to the plate with seven scoring, a season-high for runs in an inning. They had nine hits in, also a season high. They tied their season high for consecutive hits in an inning, with four. Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia each had two hits in the inning, while Pedroia had three RBI. The 7-0 hole was more than the Indians could dig out of and more than enough for Jon Lester to cruise through his outing.

"Quick turnaround after last night and we came out with a lot of energy," said manager Terry Francona. "I know the hits lead to that. But we had a real good approach and we don't throw innings like that together very often. It was really nice. And then they kept after it. And Lester did exactly what you're supposed to do -- went out and threw strikes. His only walk was in his last inning, and we were able to not extend him a lot over 100, got 97, and we didn't use any relievers more than one inning. So that worked out really well."

The last time they had at least nine hits in the first inning was June 27, 2003, against the Marlins, when they had 13. The last time they scored at least seven runs in the first inning was Aug. 12, 2008, against the Rangers when they scored 10.

By the Numbers: .844

The Sox went 20-for-45 in the game, batting .444 as a whole, raising their team average from .262 to .267. With six doubles and four home runs, their slugging percentage for the game was .844, raising their season slugging percentage from .413 to .424.

Quote of Note:

"The last two games we beat them, which is good. But it's fun to play teams like this. They were feeling really good about themselves, as they should, and we came out and played pretty good baseball. And first night, they beat us but we came back and played two pretty good games."

-- Terry Francona on the three-game series against the Indians, who entered the series with the best record in baseball

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen.

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.