Notes: Beckett overworked by Indians

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Notes: Beckett overworked by Indians

By SeanMcAdam
CSNNE.com

CLEVELAND -- Compared to what the first three starters did in Texas over the weekend, Josh Beckett didn't pitch badly Tuesday night. But as Beckett was the first to acknowledge, it wasn't good enough, either.

Beckett allowed three runs over five innings and had only two hard-hit balls against him. But thanks to long innings and high pitch counts in the third, fourth and fifth, he was done after five at 106 pitches.

After needing just 24 pitches to get through the first two innings, Beckett threw 35 pitches in the third, 24 more in the fourth and 23 in the fifth. That totaled 106 after five.

"That's a lot of effort,'' said Terry Francona. "They made him work so hard the second time through the order. Give them some credit -- we talk about grinding out at-bats. They did a good job on that. They did it better than we did.''

"They grinded some good at-bats,'' agreed Beckett (0-1). "You've got to get ahead. That's when most of the hits occurred, when I wasn't ahead. I was getting behind and having to challenge different parts of the plate.

"Instead of commanding the at-bat, I felt like getting behind forced me to throw more pitches over the plate . . . You can't throw 105 pitches over five innings. You're not going to survive very long.''

Beckett's changeup was a plus pitch for most of the night and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia remarked that his curveball, which had been inconsistent throughout spring training, was much improved Tuesday night.

"In spring training, we had trouble throwing the curveball and getting the ball down,'' said Saltalamacchia. "Tonight, he was getting the ball down when he needed to. And on top of that, his fastball, when he wanted to throw the ball down, he threw it down there, which is a great sign because in spring training we were fighting that.

"I think he's trusting himself more and not worrying about mechanics as much as just getting the ball down and getting outs.''

Saltalamacchia, who was 0-for-10 with five strikeouts in the series in Texas, finally got his first hit of the season and it was well-timed: a two-out single in the third to score the first -- and as it turned out, only -- run of the night, scoring David Ortiz.

J.D. Drew, who had been on second, also tried to score but was gunned down at the plate by right fielder Shin-Soo Choo.

"I felt all right,'' Saltalamacchia said. "I'm getting there at the plate. But we've all got to jump and do something at the plate, myself included.''

In the sixth inning, Saltalamacchia didn't get a throw off as Cleveland first baseman Matt LaPorta utilized a delayed steal to swipe second with one out, but it wasn't an example of Saltalamacchia battling some of the well-documented issues he dealt with last year.

Shortstop Marco Scutaro was a bit late getting to cover the second-base bag and Saltalamacchia didn't want to throw down and risk throwing the ball into center field.

Said Francona: "We were a little late. They delayed and we were a little late. It's one of those things where Scoot was probably going to be there in time, but it's hard to throw to an unoccupied base. I thought Salty actually bounced up pretty good ready to throw.''

The Indians stole a total of three bases. In the third, Michael Brantley stole second and Saltalamacchia's throw bounced past Scutaro for a throwing error as Brantley moved up to third.

Immediately after, Asdrubal Cabrera walked and also stole second, but Saltalamacchia decided not to throw through, fearing that Branley might break for the plate.

Tuesday night saw the Indians use a shift against Adrian Gonzalez, with shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera swung over to the right side of the infield and third baseman Jack Hannahan moved over to where the shortstop would normally be positioned.

The shift paid off in the fourth inning for the Indians. Dustin Pedroia had singled to lead off the inning, but with the shift on, Gonzalez hit a groundball to the right side which was fielded by Cabrera, who began a 6-5-3 double-play.

Gonzalez is hardly a traditional pull hitter, but like J.D. Drew, when he hits the ball on the ground, it's often to the right of second base.

"Last year, it probably helped me more,'' said Gonzalez. "I hit more balls to the third-base side then the pull side. It's just something that managers feel comfortable doing for whatever reason.

"But I think it helps me rather hurts me. Obviously, not tonight when I'm chasing pitches out of the zone.''

If there was a bright spot on the night, it was the work of the Boston bullpen.

The trio of Matt Albers, Bobby Jenks and Daniel Bard combined to toss three scoreless innings and had eight strikeouts between them.

"Our guys did a good job,'' said Francona. "Our starters have been leaving pretty early, so we were trying to piece it together without using everybody. Jenks threw the ball great and it was nice to see Bard come back and put a zero up.''

Albers and Jenks each fanned three while walking a hitter. Bard, who was roughed up in the season opener for four runs, enjoyed a 1-2-3 eighth, recording two strikeouts and a ground ball.

Pedroia, who had two of the Red Sox' four hits, has hit safely in all four games to date . . . Scutaro was hitless in three at-bats and has yet to get a hit, going 0-for-11 in the three games he's started at shortstop . . . The announced attendance at Progressive Field was just 9,025. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that was the smallest crowd to watch the Red Sox in more than a decade. The last time they had a smaller crowd was July 5, 2000, when just 8,488 attended one of their games in the Metrodome in Minneapolis.

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

Improved Matt Barnes dealing with much more than mechanics

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Improved Matt Barnes dealing with much more than mechanics

BOSTON — Matt Barnes has been coping with more than just a few bad outings on the mound, and he’s asking for help.

The Red Sox set-up man made some mechanical corrections that paid off in the eighth inning Monday night, when he struck out all three Twins he faced in a 4-1 Red Sox win at Fenway Park.

“I just simplified the mechanics,” Barnes said afterward. “Two days ago, I was trying to get with more of an up, down, and out approach. I felt better in that outing. I know I gave up a run and walked the one guy, but I felt better around the zone. And then just kind of went into a slide step, doing what Andrew Miller was doing.”

Barnes allowed four runs spanning his previous three outings, retiring just four batters while walking five. But Barnes has had a lot more to worry about than just a brief professional rut. 

He’s been devoted to helping his girlfriend, Chelsea, through the unexpected loss of her father, who was diagnosed with cancer and suffered a stroke

"Her father passed away [May 27]. That’s why I wasn’t in Baltimore for the two days [in early June], I was at his funeral,” Barnes said. "It’s tough, dealing with that, and she’s obviously having a hard time with it. She’s got her good days and her bad days. But it’s not easy. He was sick for a little while, and unexpectedly passed a lot faster than anybody ever expected him to. So, it’s been tough. She’s been alright, considering.”

There are a ton of medical bills still to be paid. A fundraising page has been set up to help the family with some large medical bills, and Barnes has asked on Twitter for people to spread the word if they’re able to.

“I’ve been able to spend a lot of time with her which is nice,” Barnes said of his girlfriend. “Everybody who’s helped out with donations and spreading the page, I couldn’t be more grateful, and she couldn’t be more grateful.”

Barnes is a big leaguer, but he’s still young and making the major league minimum. For every $1,000 total donated, Barnes plans to send a signed baseball to a random donor.

“I felt like it was a nice way, if they’re going to help me out, I can at least do that in return for them,” Barnes said.

Sale gets 9 Ks, Moreland hits home run as Red Sox beat Twins, 4-1

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Sale gets 9 Ks, Moreland hits home run as Red Sox beat Twins, 4-1

BOSTON - The way Chris Sale and the Boston relievers were pitching, the Red Sox didn't need to score a lot.

Sale went 6 1/3 overpowering innings with nine strikeouts, Mitch Moreland hit a solo homer for the third straight game and the Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 4-1 on Monday in a matchup of two of the AL's top teams.

"When you've got him on the mound, all you need is a couple and he's going to do the rest," Moreland said. "Obviously, tonight was another example of that."

Dustin Pedroia had two hits and drove in a run and Moreland added a sacrifice fly for Boston, which kept pace with the New York Yankees atop the East.

The Red Sox started fast, grabbing a 2-0 lead just four batters into the first.

"When the guys score early for you, it's nice," Sale said. "It settles you down a little bit and allows you to throw strikes."

Coming off a three-game sweep in Cleveland that had jumped them over the Indians into first in the Central, the Twins' offense was stymied by Sale and three relievers. The loss coupled with Cleveland's win over Texas moved the Indians back a half-game ahead.

Sale (10-3) gave up one run and four hits, increasing his major-league strikeout total to 155. Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 21st save after Matt Barnes struck out three in the eighth. Heath Hembree faced one batter, getting a double play.

The 6-foot-6 Sale relied on his usual sharp-breaking slider and fastball in the mid-to-upper 90s to fan eight over the first six innings, getting the initial half dozen with his breaking pitch.

"It's what we've seen many times. He had a nice mix," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I think the biggest trouble we had was with that slider, especially down and in to righties."

Jose Berrios (7-2) allowed four runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings. Chris Gimenez had a solo homer for Minnesota.

"When you go against a guy like Chris Sale, you try to give 110 percent," Berrios said through a translator.

Boston jumped ahead when Moreland homered into the first row of Green Monster seats after the first run scored on a double-play grounder.

Berrios had given up just two runs in each of his previous four starts, and six of eight since being promoted on May 7.

Gimenez's homer completely left Fenway Park over the Monster.