McAdam: Sox continue to beat up on Sabathia

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McAdam: Sox continue to beat up on Sabathia

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam

BOSTON -- In four games against CC Sabathia this season, the Red Sox are 4-0 and have scored six or more runs in three of the four games.

But ask them to explain their success against the big lefty and the Red Sox suddenly seemed more overmatched by the question that Sabathia himself.

It's a mystery to them, too, why Sabathia is 16-2 with a 2.11 ERA against everyone else in baseball, but 0-4 with a 7.20 ERA against the Sox.

Perhaps they were just being polite, but the Sox had far fewer answers than they had runs scored.

"Believe me,'' said manager Terry Francona, "it's not like we see him and think, 'Oh, we're going to lunch up on this guy.' He's good. He's really good.''

Against lineups other than the Red Sox, yes. He had allowed seven runs in his last eight starts combined; Saturday night, he gave up seven to the Red Sox by the end of the sixth inning.

Sabathia found himself in a 2-2 game in the bottom of the fourth after his teammates had negated a two-run third with two runs of their own off Red Sox starter John Lackey in the top of the fourth.

But just as quickly, the Sox exploded for five runs in the bottom of the fourth to blow the game open, with the big hit coming on Jacoby Ellsbury's three-run blast into the seats in right.

Asked to explain the Red Sox' almost inexplicable success against Sabathia, Dustin Pedroia offered: "I don't know -- luck, I guess. He's got great stuff. We know what CC's about. He's a competitor. He's their horse.

"But we've been able to get big hits at the right time. We did that today.''

Pedroia said the Sox haven't necessarily taken the same approach against Sabathia in each of the four starts. Against an experienced ace like Sabathia, the methodology has to change because Sabathia won't fall into predictable patterns.

"You're only going to get one pitch to hit -- if that -- each at-bat,'' said Pedroia. "You've got to make sure you hit it (when you get the chance).''

Surely, the Red Sox' habit of grinding out at-bats serves them well against Sabathia. For the most part, Red Sox hitters don't often get themselves out by swinging at pitches out of the strike zone.

Instead, they work pitchers and grind, getting themselves in hitter's counts, then taking full advantage.

It helps, too, that the Sox know what to expect from Sabathia. The more teams see a pitcher, the more familiar they get.

Finally, this Red Sox team has a habit of rising to a challenge. Last year, they were able to beat perennial Cy Young Award candidates like Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum, while chasing Ubaldo Jiminez.

"You want to rise to the occasion against good pitchers,'' said hitting coach Dave Magadan.

"We grind out at-bats, get on base and try to wear him down,'' shrugged Adrian Gonzalez.

"Good pitchers like that,'' offered David Ortiz, "it's just the one inning where they make a few mistakes and things like that happen. It happened to (Jon Lester) the other day. Today, he had that one inning when he made the mistake to Ellsbury.''

To put into historical perspective, the last time the Red Sox beat a Yankee starter four times in the same season was 1975, when they did so to Pat Dobson.

Sabathia, meanwhile, had never lost to the same team four times in the same year until he was saddled with another defeat to the Sox on Saturday.

"We've made him work and we've gotten some big hits in two-out situations,'' said Magadan, reflecting back on the four wins against Sabathia. "But there's no secret. You need to make him work. When you have at-bats against CC or Felix (Hernandez), you don't want to have those one-pitch at-bats where it makes their job easier.''

"I'm glad (we've had success against him),'' said Francona, ''because at some point, you have to beat pitchers like that. He's had his way with a lot of teams, (but) we've given him a good battle. I'm sure we'll face him a few times.''

Unlike other teams, they'll do so with some confidence.

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

Jones-Molina WBC spat is a clash of cultures . . . and that's great

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Jones-Molina WBC spat is a clash of cultures . . . and that's great

The Adam Jones-Yadier Molina verbal skirmish is as predictable as it is annoying.

Was every cultural nuance for the 16 World Baseball Classic teams explained in a booklet the players had to memorize before the tournament?

No? Then it’s amazing there weren’t more moments like this.

Jones, the Orioles outfielder, said Team USA's championship game win over Puerto Rico was motivated by Puerto Rico's choice to plan a post-tournament parade for the team before the final game.

As Jones was raised, parades in pro sports are for championship teams. Red Sox fans are likely aware of this.

As Jones was raised, discussing a parade before a title is secured suggests overconfidence. Rex Ryan fans are likely aware of this.

After an 8-0 win for the U.S., Jones revealed the parade was used as bulletin-board material.

"Before the game, we got a note that there was some championship shirts made -- we didn't make 'em -- and a flight [arranged],” Jones said. “That didn't sit well with us. And a parade -- it didn't sit well with us."

But apparently, Jones didn't know the full context of the parade. It was reportedly planned regardless of whether Puerto Rico won.

One Team USA teammate of Jones whom CSNNE spoke with didn't believe that, however.

"It was called a champions parade that got turned into a celebration parade once they lost," the player said. "I think they just don't like getting called out by Jones, but all Jones did was tell exactly what happened."

Jones’ comments weren’t received well.

Puerto Rico's going through a trying time, a recession, and the entire island rallied behind the team.

“Adam Jones . . . is talking about things he doesn't know about," Molina told ESPN’s Marly Rivera. "He really has to get informed because he shouldn't have said those comments, let alone in public and mocking the way [preparations] were made.”

No one should be upset Jones explained what he was thinking.

Jones actually asked MLB Network host Greg Amsinger, “Should I tell the truth?”

Yes. It’s better than lying.

Look at the reactions across the WBC: the bat flips, the raw emotion. Honesty conveyed via body language.

People in the U.S. are starting to accept and crave those reactions. The WBC helped promote a basic idea: let people be themselves.

Jones said what was on his mind. We can’t celebrate bat flips and then say Jones should keep his mouth shut.

But there's an unreasonable expectation being placed on Jones here.

He heard about a parade -- which is to say, a subject he wouldn't normally think twice about or investigate before a championship baseball game.

Plus, it gave him motivation.

Why is Jones, or anyone with Team USA, more responsible for gaining an advance understanding of Puerto Rico’s parade-planning conventions -- we're talking about parade planning! -- than Puerto Rico is responsible for keeping U.S. norms in mind when making and/or talking about those plans?

No one involved here was thinking about the other’s perception or expectation. It's impossible to always do so.

But that’s how these moments develop: what’s obvious to one party is outlandish to the other.

Now Molina, Puerto Rico's catcher, wants an apology.

"He has to apologize to the Puerto Rican people," Molina told ESPN. "Obviously, you wanted to win; he didn't know what this means to [our] people."

Jones can clear the air with an apology, but he doesn't owe one. And he definitely doesn't owe one after Molina took it a step further.

"I'm sending a message to [Jones], saying, 'Look at this, right now you're in spring training working out, and we're with our people, with our silver medals,' " Molina said. "You're in spring training and you're working . . . you have no idea how to celebrate your honors, you don't know what it means.”

Team USA had no parade. Manager Jim Leyland made clear how the U.S. was celebrating, by recognizing those serving the country.

The silver lining here is how much attention the WBC has drawn, and how much conversation it can drive. People care, a great sign for the sport -- and its potential to foster better understanding across cultures.

Internationally, the sport is on parade.

Wright extends scoreless streak to 9 1/3 innings in Red Sox' 10-7 win over Pirates

Wright extends scoreless streak to 9 1/3 innings in Red Sox' 10-7 win over Pirates

The angst surrounding the David Price- and (possibly) Drew Pomeranz-less Red Sox starting rotation may have eased a little -- or a lot -- on Thursday.

Steven Wright extended his string of scoreless spring-training innings to 9 1/3 by blanking the Pirates for 4 1/3 innings in his third spring-traing start, leading the Sox to a 10-7 victory over the Pirates at SkyBlue Park.

Red Sox-Pirates box score

Wright allowed two hits -- the only two hits he's allowed this spring -- with one walk and three strikeouts.

Several of his pitching brethren, notably Heath Hembree and Robbie Ross Jr., didn't fare nearly as well. (See box score above.) But the Sox -- using what may be their regular-season batting order for the first time -- bailed them out with a 16-hit attack, led by Dustin Pedroia (3-for-3, now hitting ,500 for the spring). Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez, Jackie Bradley Jr., and, yes, Pablo Sandoval each added two hits. Sandoval also drove in three runs and is now hitting .362.

Xander Bogaerts went 1-for-4 in his return to the Sox from the World Baseball Classic.