May 25, 2011: Red Sox 14, Indians 2


May 25, 2011: Red Sox 14, Indians 2

By Maureen Mullen

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.

Drellich: Why David Ortiz should hang around the Red Sox more often

Drellich: Why David Ortiz should hang around the Red Sox more often

BOSTON — David Ortiz should stop by Fenway Park more often. 

There may be no tangible gain for his old teammates. At this point, it defies logic to think there’d be tangible harm.

On Thursday evening before Ortiz’s charity roast at House of Blues, Red Sox president Sam Kennedy recalled how it was a no-brainer to plan Friday’s jersey retirement so soon after Ortiz’s exit from the game. 

Kennedy said he was the one who actually broached the question with team management last year. Basically, everyone looked at him sideways because of the implication any other time but right away made sense.

“No person has meant more to the [John] Henry-[Larry] Lucchino-[Tom] Werner era than David Ortiz,” Kennedy said.

Let’s accept the premise wholly: that because Ortiz is so special, the timing for his ceremony deserved to be just as unique. The design of the day was centered on how much Ortiz means to people: fans, the team.

Why, then, has Ortiz been staying away from the ballclub? Dustin Pedroia has been a leader for years. Ortiz is a positive influence. The idea that having Big Papi swing by Fenway sometimes would actively stunt the development of the Red Sox’ identity is a stretch. 

There’s been a grace period of nearly three months. 

“Well I, I could never entirely walk away. I have been around,” Ortiz said Friday night in a press conference. “I have been watching the games and I have been in touch with my teammates. I have been in touch with the organization. You know, I just don’t like to, you know, be in the way of anything. 

“I know that, me retiring, it was going to have a big impact on what we do around here. So I don’t — I tell myself, give everybody their space and I don’t want to, now that I’m not playing, I don’t want to be a distraction. And I know that coming to the field sometimes, it can cause a distraction or something, so. I have been able to keep my distance so I’m not in nobody’s way. But I stay in touch with everybody and I have been pretty busy also, doing a lot of things. 

“But me and the organization, we’ve been talking for a while about me working with the organization. Probably Sam Kennedy can give you guys more info about it. But it’s going to happen, and at some point I’m going to be able to help out somewhere, somehow some way.”

It’d be ridiculous to say Ortiz is the reason Rick Porcello pitched well and Hanley Ramirez homered Friday. It’d be a flat-out lie.

But Ortiz’s presence shouldn’t somehow be a distraction, if leadership and the mentality in the Red Sox clubhouse is as the Red Sox describe it.

"Pedey has been a leader of this team for the entire time he's been here,” manager John Farrell said Friday. “To me, the clubhouse has been a place where guys have felt comfortable. They've been able to come in and be themselves. They have rallied around one another when times have called for that. When you remove an individual, there are going to be other people who step up. I firmly believe that has taken place.”

If that’s the case, then how does what Farrell said in the same pregame press conference yesterday make sense?

“[Ortiz] has a keen awareness that he could potentially keep others from flourishing with the potential thought and the question always being there,” Farrell said. “Well, he is around, is he ever coming back? All the things that I think have been reported on to a certain extent. I think David's keen awareness of himself and how a team works, I wouldn't be surprised if that is at the root of his decision to keep the space that he's done.”

But that decision seems flawed. No one in that room should be hurt or confused by Ortiz coming by occasionally — absolutely not now that the jersey’s hanging. (A little speculation he could un-retire was throwing the Sox off their game? Really?) 

If anything, the team should find comfort in seeing such an important, charismatic man with ties to the group.

Ortiz is special. The team has adapted well without him. If those are facts, the need for Ortiz to stay away doesn’t make sense.

Ramirez, Leon homer, Red Sox beat Angels 9-4 on Papi's night

Ramirez, Leon homer, Red Sox beat Angels 9-4 on Papi's night

BOSTON - David Ortiz became one of the most celebrated players in Red Sox history during his storied 14-year run in Boston.

On the night he returned to Fenway to have his No. 34 take its place among the franchise's other legends, his former teammates did their part to make sure it was a memorable one.

Hanley Ramirez and Sandy Leon hit two-run homers and the Boston Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels 9-4 on Friday to cap a night in which Ortiz's number became the latest retired at Fenway Park.

It was the 250th career home run for Ramirez, a good friend of Ortiz who was also born in the Dominican Republic. Leon finished with three hits and four RBIs.

Ramirez said he played with Ortiz on his mind.

"He's my mentor, my big brother. He's everything," Ramirez said. "Today when I saw him on the field crying, it made me cry."

He said his home run was in Big Papi's honor.

"Definitely, definitely, definitely," he said. "I was going to do his thing (pointing his hands in the air) but I forgot."

The homers helped provide a nice cushion for Rick Porcello (4-9), who gave up four runs and struck out eight in 6 1/3 innings to earn the victory. It was the 13th straight start Porcello has gone at least six innings.

"It was vintage Porcello," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "A couple of pitches that cut his night short, but he was crisp throughout."

This could serve as a needed confidence boost for Porcello, who had been 0-4 with a 7.92 ERA in his previous five starts, allowing 47 hits and 27 earned runs.

He had command of his pitches early, holding the Angels scoreless until the fourth, when a catching error by Leon at home allowed Albert Pujols to cross the plate.

Porcello said he isn't sure if he has completely turned a corner yet after his slow start, but he has felt better in his recent starts.

"Today was a step in the right direction," he said.

Alex Meyer (3-4) allowed five runs and five hits in 3 1/3 innings.

Los Angeles scored three runs in the seventh, but cooled off after Porcello left.

Boston got out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, scoring on an RBI double by Xander Bogaerts and then getting two more runs off wild pitches by Meyer.

Ramirez gave Porcello a 5-1 lead in the fourth with his two-run shot to right field.