Notes: Miller mediocre at best in Sox win

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Notes: Miller mediocre at best in Sox win

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

CHICAGO -- Andrew Miller has just one win in his last four starts -- he earned his second-straight no decision in the Red Sox' 5-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox Sunday -- but both the pitcher and his manager thought were encouraging signs about his outing.

Miller went 5 23 innings -- he's yet to pitch past the sixth inning in any of his eight starts for Boston this year - and gave up 10 hits. But he also struck out a season-high eight and walked just one.

"The ball came out of his hand better than we've seen in a while," said Terry Francona. "Saying that, he gave up some hits. But I still thought he threw the ball pretty well -- a little bit of bend, but don't break."

Miller didn't have a single 1-2-3 inning, but, again, forced his pitch count up. He threw 106 pitches to get just 17 outs, but it all resulted in a win.

"Runners in every inning is not how you draw it up," he conceded. "But I was able to get out of (some jams) in the end and give us a chance to win. Fortunately, those guys in the bullpen, as always, just came in and shut them down.

"It was a battle at times. But ultimately, we won the game."

One ominous note: Miller has given up 41 baserunners in his last 21 23 innings -- nearly two baserunners per inning.

"I gave up a lot more hits than I'd like to," said Miller, "but I think a couple of them were broken bats. Once the ball leaves my hand, it's out of my control so I have to just pitch around whatever happens next."

What might happen next is Miller could be pushed from the rotation, following the acquisition Sunday of Erik Bedard.

"I'm concerned with how I pitch," he said. "I think that's out of my control. I can't worry about that. It is what it is."

For the time being, it seems, Miller is safe as Theo Epstein broadly hinted that the Sox might go with six starters for the next few turns through the rotation.

The Sox welcomed the acquisition of Bedard. Some found out about the deal in the dugout while others didn't hear until after the game in the clubhouse as they packed and got ready to return to Boston.

"Right on . . . awesome," said Dustin Pedroia. "He's got great stuff. I'm excited to have him. He's going to help us a ton. We've had some injuries on our pitching staff. He's going to come in here and help. Hopefully, he does a great job for us. We're excited to have him. It's going to be a fun rest of the season."

"He's a very effective pitcher," said Kevin Youkilis. "He can get guys out if he's using his slider and fastball well. He's definitely a good pitcher who can get guys out. Hopefully, he can do that here in Boston. We'll find out sooner than later."

Bedard pitched in Baltimore for several seasons, but he last was there in 2008.

"I think the whole division's probably changed (since then)," Youkilis said. "This team has changed dramatically, so, I don't think (familiarity) with pitching in the AL East (isn't necessarily important). The big thing is if he has his stuff, throws strikes and gets guys out, that's all that matters."

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

Report: Third base among 'major upgrades' Red Sox seek by trade deadline

Report: Third base among 'major upgrades' Red Sox seek by trade deadline

Despite still being owed more than $42 million after this year, Pablo Sandoval's days with the Red Sox appear numbered. So, it's no surprise that landing a third baseman at the trade deadline is a priority.

That's among the "major upgrades" the Sox are seeking by the July 31 deadline, MLB.com columnist Mark Feinsand reports.

With Sandoval now on his second disabled list stint of the season - this time with an ear infection - after turning into what Feinsand calls "a horror tale for the Red Sox," and with fill-ins Josh Rutledge and Deven Marrero holding down third, it's apparent that the position is a glaring need.

"Sandoval is basically a non-entity at this point," a source told Feinsand. "They need to make a move there."

Feinsand mentions the usual suspects - Mike Moustakas of the Royals and Todd Frazier of the White Sox - as possibilities. Also, he wonders if former MVP Josh Donaldson could be pried away from the Blue Jays (if "Dave Dombrowski knocks their socks off") with an offer and if Toronto is still sputtering at the deadline?

Those other upgrades? "Boston is also looking for pitching, both in the rotation and bullpen," Feinsand writes. Again, no surprise there.

Drellich: Red Sox' talent drowning out lack of identity

Drellich: Red Sox' talent drowning out lack of identity

A look under the hood is not encouraging. A look at the performance is.

The sideshows for the Red Sox have been numerous. What the team’s success to this point has reinforced is how much talent and performance can outweigh everything else. Hitting and pitching can drown out a word that rhymes with pitching — as long as the wins keep coming.

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At 40-32, the Sox have the seventh-best win percentage (.556) in the majors. What they lack, by their own admission, is an intangible. Manager John Farrell told reporters Wednesday in Kansas City his club was still searching for its identity.

“A team needs to forge their own identity every year,” Farrell said. “That’s going to be dependent upon the changes on your roster, the personalities that exist, and certainly the style of game that you play. So, with [David Ortiz’s] departure, his retirement, yeah, that was going to happen naturally with him not being here. And I think, honestly, we’re still kind of forming it.”

To this observer, the vibe in the Red Sox clubhouse is not the merriest. 

Perhaps, in the mess hall, the players are a unified group of 25 (or so), living for one another with every pitch. What the media sees is only a small slice of the day. 

But it does not feel like Farrell has bred an easygoing, cohesive environment.

Farrell and big boss Dave Dombrowski appeared unaligned in their view of Pablo Sandoval’s place on the roster, at least until Sandoval landed on the disabled list. 

Hanley Ramirez and first base may go together like Craig Kimbrel and the eighth inning. Which is to say, selfless enthusiasm for the ultimate goal of winning does not appear constant with either.

Dustin Pedroia looked like the spokesperson of a fractured group when he told Manny Machado, in front of all the cameras, “It’s not me, it’s them,” as the Orioles and Red Sox carried forth a prolonged drama of drillings. 

Yet, when you note the Sox are just a half-game behind the Yankees for the American League East lead; when you consider the Sox have won 19 of their past 30 games, you need to make sure everything is kept in proportion.

How much are the Sox really hurt by a lack of identity? By any other issue off the field?

Undoubtedly, the Sox would be better positioned if there were no sideshows. But it’s hard to say they’d have ‘X’ more wins.

The Sox would have had a better chance of winning Wednesday’s game if Kimbrel pitched at any point in the eighth inning, that’s for sure. 

Kimbrel is available for one inning at this point, the ninth, Farrell has said.

A determination to keep Kimbrel out of the eighth because that’s not what a closer traditionally does seems like a stance bent on keeping Kimbrel happy rather than doing what is best for the team. The achievement of a save has been prioritized over the achievement of a team win, a state of affairs that exists elsewhere, but is nonetheless far from ideal — a state of affairs that does not reflect an identity of all for one and one for all.

Maybe the Sox will find that identity uniformly. Maybe they’re so good, they can win the division without it.