Notes: Crawford delivers grand performance

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Notes: Crawford delivers grand performance

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com Follow @JCameratoNBA
By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON -- It had been over a year since Carl Crawford last cleared the bases with a grand slam. The old feeling quickly came back on Saturday as he belted his first one as a member of the Red Sox in their eight-run fourth inning against the Texas Rangers.

Its a good feeling when the stadiums cheering for you like that and everybodys happy, he said following the Red Sox' 12-7 win.

Crawford missed Fridays game with a stomach illness but bounced back the following day, finishing the game with two hits (including a double) and four RBI.

His offensive performance was a turnaround from a recent three-game series against the New York Yankees in which he went 3-for-12 and a homestand where he had gone just 3-for-19 prior to Saturdays game.

When you hit a grand slam, it definitely helps your confidence out a little bit, just hoping thats something that can get you going, he said, adding, Ive been feeling all right. Unfortunately I cant go 5-for-5 or something like that but Ive been feeling better.

After a slow start and inconsistent production this season, solid performances like this are often contrasted with previous struggles. Crawford stays looking ahead to the remainder of the season -- and to the postseason -- while leaving the rest behind him.

The games that passed, I dont really worry about them, he said. I just try to take the approach try to do well the next day and the day after that. Everything that happened is pretty much behind me.

The Red Sox plan to do the same.

Said Terry Francona, If his batting average at the end of the year is a little short of what expectations were, that doesnt mean he cant be a force like he was today.

Josh Reddick had a career-high four hits (he also scored three runs) but his night was cut short when he was hit on the left hand by a pitch from Darren Oliver in the eighth inning. X-rays taken after the game came back negative and he will ice his hand for treatment.

We didnt see anything too serious, so luckily missed the bone and just keep icing and covering it up and wrapping it up and reevaluate tomorrow, he said. Its a lot better. The numbing went away about ten minutes after it happened. Its a good sign.

Reddick only recalls being hit in the majors once before, in 2009 -- a 95 mile-an-hour fastball off his ankle. While he does notice a difference in getting hit in the majors and minors, he tries to avoid it either way.

A little bit of a difference, he said. They all hurt but Ive never been a guy who gets hit a lot so I like to get out of the way. But any time I get hit I dont really like it.

Francona, who expects Reddick to be sore on Sunday, offered plenty of praise for the outfielder.

So many times hes given us such a lift, and thats hard for young players to do that, he said. Were in the middle of a pennant race and this kid comes in, like when Carl Crawford wasnt playing, and gave us a lift there. And now hes playing the majority of right field and hes had some pretty good days. He had a little time there when he kind of came back, they made some adjustments, but he still has that ability to put some sock in his bat, not just singles. Theres some production in that bat.

Jed Lowrie, who started at shortstop, also left the game in the fourth inning with left shoulder tightness. Jed is just stiff, I think probably from a little bit of fatigue. Hes played a lot, said Francona. I dont think well play him tomorrow. Hell certainly be available, so were OK there. That might be me overreacting a little bit. Just dont want to lose guys.

Adrian Gonzalez turned two unassisted double plays which, according to Elias, makes him the first Red Sox first baseman in the Divisional Era to do so.

Dustin Pedroia hit his 200th career double in the sixth inning.

Jacoby Ellsbury (1-for-3) extended his hitting streak to eight games. He is batting .323 during that stretch.

Erik Bedard made the start on Saturday, following JonLester on Thursday and Andrew Miller on Friday. That marks the first time sinceMay 18-20, 1995, the Sox have started three lefties in a row. The Sox went 1-2in those games.

Entering August, Matt Albers had an ERA of 2.09.In 12 games since Aug. 1, spanning 12 23 innings, he has allowed 19 earnedruns with eight walks, 11 strikeouts, and four home runs, for a 13.50 ERA. Hehas allowed runs in eight of the 12 outings. He is not hurt, though, Francona said.

No, hes had a tough time, Francona said. Hisvelocitys good. Sometimes his velocitys real good. Theres been times whenhes been behind the count and paid the price and theres been times when hesmade mistakes over the middle of the plate. When hes good hes working aheadand hes allowing that two-seamer to just come through the zone with some life,an occasional breaking ball andrightnow its elevating a little bit.

Francona is not considering giving Albers a mental ofphysical break. No, actually he wants to pitch more, Francona said. Physicallyhes fine so . . . sometimes for whatever reason he goes through ruts or things dontgo well. If you look up at the end of the year and his ERAs a little higherbecause he had that one stretch, that doesnt necessarily mean he can't be thatguy again that hes been for most of the year. Just his ERA might pay the pricea little bit."

With the Sox getting pummeled by the Rangers Friday night, Albersentered with the Sox trailing by seven runs, a lower pressure situation than hehas pitched earlier in the season. He gave up three runs.

Things kind of go hand-in-hand, Francona said. When your startergoes an inning and a third, somebodys got to pitch. Were just trying to lineit up where last night we had it mapped out where Wake was going to come in andhopefully finish the game. So we had right-handers coming up for the most partbefore Wake and it seemed like a good time to just limit Albers to one inning andthen we could bring in Tim Wakefield.

Francona said he is not yet ready to line uphis starting rotation in preparation for the postseason.

When we know were supposed to, he said. Not until. Wecertainly look at things like we always do but we also dont want to get aheadof ourselves. Were trying to do what we do.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.com!JCameratoNBA

Drellich: Sale may be Red Sox' most electrifying pitcher since Pedro

Drellich: Sale may be Red Sox' most electrifying pitcher since Pedro

The newest lefty ace can succeed where David Price did not.

Chris Sale might be the most electrifying pitcher the Red Sox have had since Pedro Martinez.

Josh Beckett had his moments. Jon Lester was steadily excellent.

But the stuff Sale brings is a step above.

A spaghetti-limbed motion and a fast pace. The ability to throw any pitch in any count, something said of many pitchers, but noted here without exaggeration. A delivery that disguises each pitch as another until there’s no time to react.

MORE ON CHRIS SALE

There's been a lot of talk about how competitive Sale is. That's great.

Let's acknowledge how filthy he is before going crazy about the intangibles. He carves hitters better than he does jerseys.

Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has made some questionable moves, but he deserves some optimism here. Some early praise, even -- no matter how well Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, the best prospects he gave the White Sox for Sale, are faring this spring.

Where Dombrowski failed with Price thus far, he may succeed immediately with Sale.

Yes, Sale's 10-strikeout performance against the Yankees on Tuesday night was just a spring training game. But he was dominant to the point that a Grapefruit League game was actually made interesting.

Must-watch, even.

“You guys saw,” Sale told reporters in Florida. “Just felt good.”

All three pitches were working for Sale, the fastball, slider and changeup, and the variants thereof.

“I've been working on my changeup a little bit more the last couple of outings,” Sale said. “My last time out it wasn't great, but just working on it in between starts, just throwing it on the flat ground, it's a pitch that doesn't take a whole lot of stress on your arm. So even when you're just playing catch, you can flip it around, work on grips, things like that.

"As far as my slider, I feel good about it. . . . Obviously when I'm throwing harder, I think it's a little bit flatter. When I take some off of it, not only do I have a little bit more control, but I think it has a little bit more depth. Plus, it kind of creates another pitch in there. It's like an in-between fastball-changeup type of thing. Anything to give them a different look or try to throw them off. That’s kind of the name of pitching."

American League Rookie of the Year runner-up Gary Sanchez was miles in front of the 2-and-2 changeup he swung over in the first inning. Matt Holliday was frozen by a slider at the belt on the inner half.

Chris Carter, he of 40-home run power, was beat by a 2-and-2 fastball an inning later, clearly thinking off speed and unable to decipher just what was coming in time.

Aaron Hicks tried to golf an 0-and-2 slider by flinging his bat into the stands, somewhere behind the third-base dugout.

That’s just the first two innings.

"He added his third pitch more this evening than five days ago, when it was more fastball-changeup," manager John Farrell said. "He had his breaking ball to both sides of the plate, and got underneath to some right-handed swings. And any time he needs to, he's got such good feel for the changeup to get him back in counts to give him a different look. He was impressive."

Opening Day at Fenway Park will be exciting. But Game No. 2, when Sale is to make his Sox debut, should bring the most intrigue.

Chris Sale dominant again in Red Sox' win vs. Yankees

Chris Sale dominant again in Red Sox' win vs. Yankees

By Pat Bradley, CSN Staff

Chris Sale was treating this like a regular season game, and delivered an excellent, midseason performance.

The Boston Red Sox got a taste Tuesday of the star pitcher they acquired last offseason, when Sale dominated the New York Yankees in a 4-2 spring training road win in Tampa, Florida.

Sale, who entered the game having thrown 63 of his 68 spring pitches for strikes (92%), continued to show off his incredible command, throwing 58 of his 86 pitches for strikes (67%) in the victory.

The 27-year-old struck out five of the first six Yankees he faced, and finished with an even 10 strikeouts on the night. He’s now struck out 20 batters to just one walk this spring.

"Obviously, anybody who knows anything about sports knows about Boston and New York," Sale said, via The Providence Journal’s Tim Britton. "Coming in here, playing against the Yankees, playing at their park in a night game, it gives it more of a regular-season feel. That's what we're here for. Anytime you can get that much closer to a regular-season game, the better off we're going to be."

His single blemish came on a 2-2 pitch to Yankees designated hitter and noted masher Matt Holliday, who sent the ball sailing to the opposite field for a two-run home run that at the time tied the score at 2.

Sale quickly regrouped, lining out Chris Carter to left field on his very next pitch to end his outing. His final line: two runs on four hits with 10 strikeouts and a hit batsman in six innings on 86 pitches.

That’s quite a debut to the rivalry, and something the Red Sox are well aware could become a regular thing.

“I don't want to say tonight is the norm,” began Red Sox manager John Farrell, via The Providence Journal, “but certainly he is very capable of doing that every time he walks to the mound.”

Sale wasn’t the only one strutting his stuff on Tuesday, though. Youngsters Marco Hernandez and Sam Travis continued to hit and were pivotal parts of a Red Sox offense that pounded out 13 hits.

After Mike Miller opened the scoring with a solo homer for Boston in the third inning, Travis kept things rolling a few batters later when his base hit scored Hernandez.

Travis was back at it again in the seventh inning, when his groundout scored Heiker Meneses for what proved to be the game-winning run.

Hernandez and Travis each finished 2-for-4, with Hernandez tripling (his fifth of the spring) and scoring a run and Travis driving in two runs of his own. They raised their spring averages to .422 and .351, respectively.

Every member of the starting lineup -- which did not feature regulars Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval or Xander Bogaerts -- recorded at least one hit, save for Jackie Bradley Jr., who went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts out of the cleanup spot.

Boston is back in action Thursday with a 1:05 p.m. start against the Pittsburgh Pirates.