McAdam: It's a start for the Sox


McAdam: It's a start for the Sox

By Sean McAdam

NEW YORK - There were, of course, no celebrations or back-slapping in the Red Sox clubhouse late Sunday night.

True, the Red Sox had finished off a sweep of the New York Yankees, capped by a 7-5 victory, a win which left them with a 20-20 record and enabled them to reach the elusive .500 mark.

But for a team established as the consensus favorite in the division, burnished with a 165 million payroll, this was no monumental achievement. Rather than letting loose with a congratulatory cheer, the night called for a sigh of relief.

"It actually feels good," said Terry Francona with a slight hint of self-consciousness. "This is not really what our goal is. But we're making strides. We played a good series."

Mediocrity, at last.

And yet, however modest the accomplishment, it hadn't been easy.

Three times previously, they had been within a game of .500, only to lose the next game, as if the break-even point was some carrot at the end of a stick they could not quite grasp.

When they tripped over themselves at the start, going 0-6 en route to a 2-10 record, Francona warned it would take some time to clean up the mess they had made. But surely not even Francona thought that it would take more than six weeks.

In a sense, the Sox had spent the first month-and-a-half running uphill, a sort of extended spring training. They were fortunate that no one in the division sprinted too far ahead, allowing them to keep within three games of first place in the American League East.

As they had last month, the Yankees had served as a catalyst -- rather than an obstacle - for the Red Sox. Typically, these series bring out the best in both teams, but in two series now, the meetings have boosted only the Red Sox, who have dominated their rivals, winning five of six.

"It's definitely a positive," said Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who chipped in with two hits, including his first homer of the season, Sunday night. "But we can't focus on trying to get to .500 or trying to get through this week. We've got to focus on the next game.

"I think that's what we tried to do too early. We thought about what we were going to do, instead of just going out there and playing. That's what we starting to do - play game-by-game."

The schedule offers them an opportunity. Thirteen of the next 20 games are at Fenway, and of those 20, just nine of those are against teams with winning records.

Now would be a good time for the Sox to go on the kind of roll they experienced in late April - when they went 8-1- and build some actual progress.

Not that they are without some remaining issues. Until back-end starters John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka gain some consistency, it will be difficult to sustain any forward momentum.

And it would help for the offense to begin fully clicking, enough to at least occasionally overcome some less-than-quality outings from their starters. To date, the Sox have averaged slightly less than 4.5 runs per game, hardly the kind of powerhouse attack they expected.

Still, as they packed for home, there was the feeling that, at last, they were ready to engage. Like back-of-the-pack marathoners, they had taken a long time just to reach the starting line.

"It's not what we're shooting for," emphasized Francona of the break-even point. "But we're coming. We're getting better."

Much later than expected, it should be noted. But better, nonetheless.

Forty games in, it's a start.

Sean McAdam can be reached at Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Eduardo Rodriguez strong, Red Sox down Mariners for 5th straight win

Eduardo Rodriguez strong, Red Sox down Mariners for 5th straight win

BOSTON (AP)  Eduardo Rodriguez pitched six scoreless innings and the Boston Red Sox took advantage of a sloppy performance by the Seattle Mariners to earn their season-high fifth straight win, 3-0 on Friday night.

It was the third consecutive win for Rodriguez (4-1), who went six innings, gave up just five hits and struck out four while throwing a season-high 112 pitches. Craig Kimbrel earned his 13th save.

Rodriguez has pitched at least six innings in his last seven starts, going 4-0 in that span.

The only run support Rodriguez needed came in the second inning, when Hanley Ramirez scored on Josh Rutledge's RBI groundout. Boston added two more runs in the sixth, scoring on a wild pitch and passed ball.

Yovani Gallardo (2-5) took the loss. He lasted 5 1/3 innings, gave up seven hits and was responsible for all three of Boston's runs. Seattle has won just one of its last seven.

Meanwhile, Boston gave Rodriguez got lots of help from his defense. Jackie Bradley Jr. had a pair of nice plays, getting an outfield assist in the second and running down another ball on the warning track in the sixth.

In addition to the pitching miscues, the Mariners had all kinds of issues in the wet conditions, committing two fielding errors.

The Red Sox left 11 runners on base, leaving the door open for the Mariners to get back in the game. But Seattle couldn't capitalize, going 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position. The Mariners also left seven runners stranded.


Mariners: LHP James Paxton (strained left forearm) was slated to make a rehab start Friday night in Double-A Arkansas. He has been on the 10-day disabled list since May 5. He could be activated for a start at the end of the month against Colorado.

Red Sox: Infielder Marco Hernandez will be out the remainder of the season after undergoing stabilization surgery on his left shoulder on Friday. Hernandez was placed on the disabled list May 4 with a left shoulder misalignment. The 24-year-old hit .276 with two RBI in 21 games. ... A night after he left the game with left knee pain, 2B Dustin Pedroia was held out Friday for what manager John Farrell said was "precautionary reasons" because of the wet playing surface.


Mariners: RHP Rob Whalen (0-2, 4.09 ERA in Triple-A Tacoma) will be making his major league start since last season with Atlanta. He will be 12th different starting pitcher the Mariners have used this season.

Red Sox: LHP Brian Johnson (1-0, 7.20 ERA) will be making his second major league start this year and third of his career.


More AP baseball:

Pedroia (knee) out of lineup again after leaving game early Thursday

Pedroia (knee) out of lineup again after leaving game early Thursday

Dustin Pedroia is out of the lineup again tonight after leaving the Red Sox game Thursday night with knee pain in the fifth inning.

Josh Rutledge will start at second base as the Sox open a three-game series with the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park.  

The weather and sloppy field conditions were a factor in John Farrell deciding to get Pedroia out of the game Thursday and conditions haven’t improved significantly Friday. 

Pedroia (.288, two homers, 21 RBI) had surgery on that knee in October. It's the same leg that was hurt when Manny Machado slid into Pedroia at second base in April, the slide that sparked the plunking war between the Orioles and Red Sox.

The full lineups: 

Jean Segura SS
Guillermo Heredia CF
Robinson Canó 2B
Nelson Cruz DH
Kyle Seager 3B
Danny Valencia 1B
Taylor Motter LF
Ben Gamel RF
Mike Zunino C

Yovanni Gallardo RHP

Mookie Betts RF
Andrew Benintendi LF
Xander Bogaerts SS
Hanley Ramirez DH
Mitch Moreland 1B
Josh Rutledge 2B
Jackie Bradley Jr CF
Christian Vazquez C
Deven Marrero 3B

Eduardo Rodriguez LHP