McAdam: N.L. clubs out of Sox' league


McAdam: N.L. clubs out of Sox' league

By Sean McAdam Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
BOSTON -- Under a realignment plan being discussed by Major League Baseball, two 15-team leagues would be created, creating the mathmatical need for interleague series be played throughout the season.

Surely, this has caught the eye of Red Sox ownership and given them ideas: Wouldn't it be great to play National League teams all the time?

For the Red Sox, indeed it would.

Facing the National League is tantamount to an exhibition game for the Sox, like playing their Triple-A affiliate.

That much was evident again Monday night, when the Red Sox had their way with the San Diego Padres, 14-5. Ho-hum.

Another N.L. opponent, another lopsided win. So what else is new?

The Sox have now played seven games against opponents from the N.L. and won five. In four of those five wins, the Red Sox have scored double figures. In five games, they're averaging a hair over 11 runs per game.

That's not competition; it's a vacation.

The current homestand has featured two teams from the National League, the Brewers and Padres. The Red Sox have had at least 10 hits in four of the five.

And while the Cubs -- an earlier interleague opponent -- and Padres aren't anyone's ideas of a good team, there's the distinct feeling that, other than the Phillies, Giants and perhaps one or two other clubs, it wouldn't matter much.

A huge gulf still remains between the two leagues.

True, the National League has won two of the last three World Series. But the senior circuit's improvement is top-heavy and limited to, at most, a handful of teams.

The average N.L. team is no match for an average A.L. club, and the numbers bear it out, to say nothing of the circumstantial evidence playing out at Fenway. Since the start of 2006, the American League boasts a winning percentage of .567 against its National League brethren; this season, AL teams are 56-40.

The Brewers, as an example, are in the thick of the N.L. Central race, a mere half-game out of first place in their division.

At Fenway, however, they were exposed. Though they managed a win behind crafty lefty Randy Wolf in the middle game of the series, they lost the other two games by a combined scored of 22-7. Starter Shaun Marcum, who pitched in the American League just last year, looked terrified of the Red Sox lineup in the first inning, needing 42 pitches to get the first three outs.

It was more of the same Monday when San Diego's Wade LeBlanc used up 39 pitches in the top of the first.

The astounding thing about the Red Sox' 14-run outburst Monday is the fact that San Diego's pitching staff came into the game ranked third in staff ERA in the N.L. Naturally, that number is influenced by the fact that the Padres play half their home games in cavernous Petco Park, which is slightly smaller in dimensions than Yosemite.

Yet in the seventh inning, the parade of Padres pitchers looked -- sorry, there's no other word to describe this -- scared. What else do you call it when back-to-back bases-loaded situations resulted in hit batsmen?

In all, the Padres issued nine walks, in addition to allowing the Sox to hit .389 (14-for-36) for the game.

This kind of domination isn't anything new for the Red Sox. Since the start of 2010, the Red Sox are 18-6 (.750) against the N.L. Since 2003, the year before Terry Francona was hired, the Sox are an astounding 100-51, one loss shy of a .667 pace.

And yet, there's hope yet for National League opponents. This weekend, the Red Sox will have play in National League cities, where the DH is not available to them. That means, except for a game or two, when the Sox might stick Adrian Gonzalez in the outfield, the Sox will be without David Ortiz.

From an offensive standpoint, it's the baseball equivalent of playing with one hand tied behind their backs. Maybe that will help level what is, for now, a very uneven playing field.

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

Three-run HR from Sandoval (.353) leads Red Sox split squad past Rays, 7-5

Three-run HR from Sandoval (.353) leads Red Sox split squad past Rays, 7-5

Pablo Sandoval hit his fourth home run of the spring and Rusney Castillo had three hits to lead a Red Sox split squad to a 7-5 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday in Port Charlotte, Fla. 

Sandoval, who has won back his third base job after missing nearly all of last season following surgery on his left shoulder, connected for a three-run shot, batting right-handed, against Rays starter Ian Snell in the fifth inning. The switch-hitting Sandoval had abandoned hitting right-handed in 2015, his last full season with the Red Sox.

He's hitting .353 this spring with a 1.051 OPS and 19 RBI.

Castillo, the Cuban outfielder signed to a seven-year, $72 million deal late in 2014 but again likely headed for Triple-A Pawtucket, went 3-for-4 and is hitting .368 this spring. Catcher Blake Swihart, also probably Pawtucket-bound, had two hits and is hitting .325.


Another strong start for Kendrick in Red Sox split squad's 3-3 tie with Phillies

Another strong start for Kendrick in Red Sox split squad's 3-3 tie with Phillies

Kyle Kendrick strengthened his bid for a spot in the rotation by allowing two runs in six innings and striking out six and Jackie Bradley homered as a Red Sox split squad played to a 3-3 tie with the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday in Fort Myers, Fla.

Kendrick, 32, a non-roster invitee to spring training, allowed eight hits and a walk in his sixth start this spring. He's been the Red Sox best starter with an ERA of 2.17. 

With David Price out until May and lefty Drew Pomeranz still a question mark, Kendrick could find his way into the rotation behind Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, Steven Wright and Eduardo Rodriguez.

Bradley went 2-for-3 with his third homer of the spring. He's hitting .244 in spring training games. 

The Phillies pushed across the tying run in the ninth off lefty reliever Robby Scott, the first run he's allowed this spring in 10 innings. 

The Minnesota Twins host the Red Sox on Sunday at 1:05 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.