Melancon strong in Pawtucket, hoping for call

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Melancon strong in Pawtucket, hoping for call

PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- Mark Melancon would like nothing more than to get back to the Red Sox to prove that hes not the pitcher who left last week after being optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket with just four outings under his belt and an ERA of 49.50.

His three outings with the PawSox are helping to prove that. Spanning 3 13 innings he has yet to allow a run or a walk, giving up three hits with six strikeouts. He has held opponents to a .231 average with a 4.00 groundball-to-flyout ratio.

Tuesday against the ScrantonWilkes-Barre Yankees, Melancon entered in the ninth with the PawSox leading 4-3. He faced four batters, allowing a double, with three strikeouts, earning a save.

That was good stuff, said PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler. He has a good arm, good stuff. he worked on his breaking ball and changeup a little bit more tonight, which is one of the goals here to try to utilize the off-speed stuff a little bit more because its good stuff, and get ahead in the count so we can utilize it.

It was an outing, like Melancons first two with Pawtucket, that he can build from.

It was good, Melancon said. I felt good. Still working on stuff but what I was working on was effective tonight. So its positive.

Ive been working on my changeup. Ive been working on location, first of all. But being more aggressive, throwing in, climbing the ladder with two strikes. Just a lot, I guess.

What Melancon went through with the Sox -- especially his last outing on April 17 when he faced six Rangers batters in the eighth, giving up six runs and three home runs without recording an out is not easy for any pitcher, especially for a pitcher in his first season with a new team.

An experience like that can stay in a pitchers head.

To me, it doesnt look like it, said Pawtucket pitching coach Rich Sauveur said. If it is, its not showing. He just wants to get back.

Melancon also wants to use that as a learning experience.

I havent lost perception of who I am and what I can do, he said. Obviously my outings up there werent good but that doesnt mean Im a bad pitcher and dont know how to get outs. So, unfortunately, had a rough go for the first couple of outings. But its a long season.

You cant really bring it back and do it over. So obviously Im learning from it and hopefully we can look back and go, Wow, thats great. Im glad I went through that because it made me that much stronger and Im that much better now. But its unfortunate that I went that far but baseballs tough. I respect the game. Big league hitters are good.

Location has been the key for him with the PawSox.

Were going to work on pitching inside a little more. His stuff is good. We got to keep it down, Sauveur said. Throw the cutter more and mix in the changeup. Just another thought to put in the hitters minds. But we want to pitch in a little more.

And hes been awesome. The stuff hes been through, its not easy. But hes been outstanding. He came down here. He didnt shy away. He said, Can you get me in the game? Hes been awesome. Back-to-back games and one was a tough situation too, bases loaded, 6-3, he gave up a base hit but he got the next guy.

Melancon is pleased with the strikeouts and groundball outs, which can be keys to his success.

I noticed that while I was up there, I just wasnt getting any groundballs, he said. I dont know if I ever went through a stretch with the lack of groundballs that I had up there. I have a couple different opinions on why. But at the end of the day its location.

Even if I didnt strike three guys out in an inning, Im looking for groundballs. And no more home runs.

Harper, Strickland throw punches in Nationals-Giants brawl

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Harper, Strickland throw punches in Nationals-Giants brawl

SAN FRANCISCO - An enraged Bryce Harper charged the mound, fired his helmet and traded punches to the head with San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland after getting hit by a fastball, setting off a wild brawl Monday during the Washington Nationals' 3-0 win over the Giants.

Drilled in the right hip by a 98 mph heater on Strickland's first pitch in the eighth inning with two outs, none on and Washington ahead 2-0, Harper didn't hesitate. The slugger pointed his bat at Strickland, yelled at him and took off.

No one got in Harper's way as he rushed the mound. His eyes were wide as he flung his helmet - it sailed way wide of Strickland, it might've slipped - and they started swinging away. The 6-foot-4 Strickland hit Harper in the face, then they broke apart for a moment before squaring off again. Harper punched Strickland in the head as the benches and bullpen emptied.

Giants teammates Michael Morse and Jeff Samardzija collided hard as they tried to get between the two fighters. Three Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the pack all the way into the dugout, while a teammate held back Harper.

Harper and Strickland were both ejected. They have some history between them - in the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland, and the All-Star outfielder glared at the reliever as he rounded the bases after the second shot in Game 4.

Drellich: After golden 2016, Red Sox remember what it's like to have things go wrong

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Drellich: After golden 2016, Red Sox remember what it's like to have things go wrong

CHICAGO — More than anything else, Monday’s 5-4 Red Sox loss was a reminder of how much the Red Sox had go right for them a year ago, and just how unrealistic it was to expect so much of it to carry over into 2017.

The Red Sox remain a very good team. But the success of last year’s 93-win team, of any 93-win team is, truly, difficult to replicate. Unlikely, even.

Baseball’s age of parity, the randomness of freak injuries, good old regression — the Sox were due for some elements to catch up to them after a season that was more or less golden in 2016.

Dustin Pedroia, who headed back to Boston on Monday for an MRI on his left wrist, was healthy enough to hit 15 home runs a year ago, his highest total since 2012. The way this year is going for him health-wise, just having him on the field and hitting close to .300 sounds like a worthwhile goal the rest of the way.

(Slides are Pedroia’s enemy, be it from an oncoming base runner, like Manny Machado, or an oncoming first baseman, like Jose Abreu.)

David Price wasn’t living David Price’s best baseball life a year ago. But you know what you can, and probably do, take for granted? He was healthy and devouring innings. He cleared more frames than anyone else in the regular season. Even when he wasn’t pitching well, he could pitch and pitch and pitch. 

Jackie Bradley Jr. had a 1.001 OPS at the end of play on May 29, 2016. His OPS after play May 29, 2017, was .670.

We know how special David Ortiz was. Let’s not go there, because it seems like no one can talk about Ortiz’s absence rationally. His exit did not suck every home run out of the Sox lineup, as many like to say is the case, but he is — of course — a big missing piece.

Not everything was perfect in 2016, lest we remember our ex-girlfriends too fondly. Carson Smith went for Tommy John surgery, for example. 

But look now: Smith still isn’t back, Tyler Thornburg is a mystery if not quiet yet an afterthought and Robbie Ross Jr. not only struggled to the point he was demoted, he’s going through elbow trouble.

Rick Porcello won the American League Cy Young, much to Kate Upton’s chagrin. Porcello will not win the Cy Young this year, if you hadn’t been paying attention, although Chris Sale might.

There’s something going well for the Sox right now: that Sale guy. The bullpen coughed up the game Monday, Matt Barnes in particular. Yet Sox relievers had the fifth best ERA of any team to start the day. 

Hey, Eduardo Rodriguez looks pretty good, doesn't he?

With some downward trends have come some positives. Craig Kimbrel's on another planet.

The Sox may still be a 90-win team. Again, they remain a very good club.

But the wins, the breaks aren’t coming as easily as they did a year ago. You should never have expected they would.