Nation STATion: Goal mining

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Nation STATion: Goal mining

By Bill Chuck
CSNNE.com

This is the time of the year when we watch the game, the scoreboard, and the box scores. As we play out the final month of the season, we move beyond team results and we get involved with the accomplishments of individual players, checking on how close they might be to reaching individual goals and milestones.

There are innumerable numbers that can be crunched in this fun process; here are just nine:

1. We all had high expectations for Adrian Gonzalez when he was acquired last December, and he has exceeded so many of them. Gonzo is on the verge of having 200 hits in a season for the first time in his career. He leads the majors with a career-high 189 hits, already exceeding his 2007 previous high of 182. With 11 more hits, Gonzo will become the twelfth different Sox player to have over 200 hits in a season, a feat that has been accomplished 23 times in Sox history. Wade Boggs did it seven times while he was with the Sox and, much to my surprise, Ted Williams never reached that level in a season.

I want to add another A-Gon watch: Only two Red Sox have ever had at least 20 homers, 100 RBI and 200 hits. Jim Rice did it four times, and Mo Vaughn did it twice. Adrian Gonzalez is trying join them this season. He has 23 homers and 103 RBI, so all he needs are the 200 hits. And only Rice and Vaugh have ever had at least 20 homers, 100 RBI, 200 hits and 100 runs scored for the Sox. Gonzalez has 95 runs scored.

But here is one even better. Gonzo has 41 doubles. No Red Sox player has ever has had at least 20 homers, 100 RBI, 200 hits and 40 doubles.

2. From Larry Lucchino on down, Red Sox Nation entered the season with serious concerns about Bostons catching. The Jarrod Saltalamacchia-Jason Varitek combo has proven to be effective behind, and at, the plate. They lead all AL teams catchers in homers and they trail Atlanta by just four (28 to 24) as Brian McCann has 23 by himself. In addition, this is only the second time in Sox history that they have had two catchers who have hit at least 10 homers in a season: Saltalamacchia has 14 and Varitek has 10. The only other time this happened in Boston history was in 1962 when Jim Pagliaroni hit 11 homers, and Bob Tillman hit 14. Interestingly, the last time this was done in AL was by the 2009 Cleveland Indians who had double figure homers from Victor Martinez and Kelly Shoppach, two former Sox backstops.

3. With all the good vibes in the column, I must spoil the mood by pointing out that John Lackey is trying to avoid having the worst single season ERA in team history for any Sox pitcher who had at least 20 starts. This ignominious record is currently held by Pedros brother, Ramon Martinez, who had a 6.13 ERA in 27 starts in 2000. Lackeys ERA is now an ugly 6.11.

In addition, Lackey leads the league having hit 18 batters, the Red Sox team record is 20, jointly held by Bronson Arroyo (2004) and Howard Ehmke (1923).

4. Back to positive business. We are going to be hearing a lot about Jonathan Papelbon from here on through what will be a very busy off-season for the Sox. This 2012 free-agent-to-be in 2007 struck out a career-high 84 batters. So far this season, he has struck out 72. He is also seeking a milestone in whiffs. He has 494 strikeouts in his career hoping to reach the 500 mark in a Sox uniform.

5. Jon Lester finished fourth in Cy Young Award voting last year and he wont reach that level this year, but it does not mean he has had a bad season. In fact, with 14 wins he still has a chance to tie his career high in wins that he set last season with 19. In addition, he hopes to have his first sub-3.00 ERA. Its currently 3.05, the lowest of his career. He wants to reach the 200 innings pitched mark for the fourth straight year (he has 165). He also wants to keep his winning percentage over .700. His .708 is the best among all active pitchers with at least 100 decisions. All good, from Jon Lester.

6. Things had been even better from Josh Beckett who has resumed the position as ace of this staff. But as Sean McAdams reports, the Beckett situation could prove very ugly. One of the things that a top pitcher does is go deep into games. In 2009, Beckett had 26 games in which he threw at least six innings. Beckett was on his way to number 23 yesterday before his ankle derailed him. He was also hoping to pitch 200 innings for only the fourth time in his career, hes at 173.2 innings now and I think we all will be relieved when he gets past 174.

Heres a neat one: Beckett has a chance to cut his ERA from last season by more than half. He ended last season with a 5.78 ERA and his ERA now is a career low 2.49. His WHIP is also at a career low 0.985.

7. There were bad vibes all around regarding Jacoby Ellsbury and his sore ribs last year at this time. This year, life for Ellsbury is different as he plays just about every game and is hitting .312. He has also joined an elite club: only 16 times has a Sox centerfielder hit at least 20 homers. While Jacoby Ellsbury has 24, he wont be able to catch Tony Armas 43 of 1984. However, Jacoby still can do something that no member of the Red Sox has ever done. He already has 36 steals and he is trying to become Bostons first-ever 30 homer30 steal player.

8. Dustin Pedroia does it all and I love to watch him play. He already has a career high 18 homers and is on the verge of surpassing his 2008 career high 83 RBI, he has 77. Two more homers this season would make him just the second second baseman in Sox history with at least 20 homers. Bobby Doerr did it three times with a high of 27, which he achieved in 1948 and 1950. Pedey is trying to tie Doerr in another category as well. Doerr, Pete Runnels, and Billy Goodman are the only Sox second basemen who hit over .300 three times each. If the Muddy Chicken maintains his .304 average, it will be his third time as well.

9. David Ortiz is having a stellar season in his contract year and he is trying to win the designated hitter triple crown (lead all DHs in home runs, RBI and batting average). Amongst players who qualify for the batting title and have played at least 50 percent of their games as a DH, Big Papi leads with 28 homers (KCs Billy Butler is second with 18), 89 RBI (Butler is second with 83), and trails only the Tigers Victor Martinez in batting average, .324 to .313.

So those are just nine for you to follow. No, Im not forgetting the most obvious; we all wish and hope that before this season ends that we can join in the celebration as Tim Wakefield wins the 200th game of his career.

Rodriguez continues strong stretch as Red Sox blank Seattle, 3-0

Rodriguez continues strong stretch as Red Sox blank Seattle, 3-0

BOSTON -- The Red Sox scored runs in bunches in tallying four consecutive victories. They leaned on pitching and defense to earn their latest.

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

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

"I just go out there and pitch," Rodriguez said. "I'm never really thinking about numbers. I just go out there and throw my pitches and do the best I can do."

That effort is producing one of the best stretches of his three-year career.

Rodriguez has pitched at least six innings in his last seven starts, going 4-0 in that span. He hasn't allowed a run in 10 innings and only 11 runs in his last 49 1/3 innings. His ERA is just 2.01 over that same period.

"He was amazing," Jackie Bradley Jr. said. "Put zeroes on the board all night long. And he made the big pitch when he needed to."

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.

Manager John Farrell said his 24-year-old pitcher is in a "very good place" right now.

"He was powerful tonight," he said. "It's just a matter of his abilities coming together. This has always been an extremely talented young guy. We've talked about his maturity, we've talked about his progression. It's been on display here for a good number of starts consecutively."

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.

"The whole night obviously wasn't consistent," he said.

Seattle has won just one of its last seven.

Meanwhile, Boston gave Rodriguez got lots of help defensively. Bradley 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.

TRAINER'S ROOM

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 RBIs in 21 games. ... A night after he left the game with left knee pain, 2B Dustin Pedroia was held out Friday for what Farrell said was "precautionary reasons" because of the wet playing surface.

MISSING: OFFENSE

Mariners manager Scott Servais said they are doing everything they can to find production from an offense that has gone missing.

"Offensively, we struggled to put innings together. That's kind of been the story here for the last week or so, we just haven't gotten the line moving at all, for whatever reason," he said. "Guys are frustrated by it, we all are. We know we're better than that, offensively. It's not happening right now."

Seattle was held scoreless for the fourth time this season.

UP NEXT

Mariners: RHP Rob Whalen (0-2, 4.09 ERA in Triple-A Tacoma) will be making his first 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.

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: 

MARINERS
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

RED SOX
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