Red Sox get it done on road trip

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Red Sox get it done on road trip

CHICAGO -- It wasn't a perfect road trip for the Red Sox, but it was close.

The Sox won their first six games on the trip, sweeping three from the Minnesota Twins and the first three from the Chicago White Sox before falling 4-1 Sunday in the final game of the trek.

A win Sunday would have given the team its best road trip since 1977, when the Sox were 9-0 on a West Coast trip. But 6-1 is nothing to toss back.

"The guys played their butts off," said manager Bobby Valentine. "This was a tough seven days. We battled the travel, battled the weather. They're a tough group."

When the Red Sox left Boston a week ago, they had lost five straight, topped by a debacle against the Yankees in which they failed to preserve a 9-0 lead.

But as it turned out, the time on the road was good for the Red Sox. They got out from underneath the scrutiny of playing at home and found themselves, gaining confidence with each successive win.

"It was a pretty good road trip as a team," said Josh Beckett, who took the only loss on the trip. "Anytime you can sweep one (series) and take three-out-of-four in another one . . . Four-game series are tough enough. Their pitchers get to see our hitters a lot more than our hitters get to see their pitchers."

"I'm really happy for the guys and the way we played this whole road trip after a tough homestand," said outfielder Cody Ross. "We played our hearts out. It would have been nice to sweep the whole road trip, but realistically, that's tough to do. But it gives us a lot of confidence to get back home and we're all excited to get back home."

The offense carried the way earlier in the trip as the Sox averaged eight runs per game in the sweep against the Twins before reaching double figures in runs scored in each of the first two games at U.S. Cellular Field.

In Chicago, the pitching staff took over, allowing a total of 10 runs in the four games.

"This week, it seemed like things were coming together nicely," said Valentine, "mainly because of the starting pitching, obviously. And the bullpen fell in nicely."

Indeed, the Sox got four quality starts in a row in the final four games of the trip from Felix Doubront, Daniel Bard, Jon Lester and Josh Beckett.

Moreover, the bullpen, which seemed in tatters on the homestand, allowed just two earned runs over 17 innings of work on the trip.

"Those things ended up working themselves out in the bullpen," said Beckett. "Those guys are going to be fine."

"We knew it would just take a good winning streak to get right back where we need to be," said Ross. "It's starting to come together now. We've played 21 games now and we're starting to figure out our team and hopefully now we can just start rolling."

"We're feeling comfortable with things," concluded Valentine. "It's still a work in progress, I believe."

But light years better than it was only a week ago.

Rosenthal: 'Some' Sox players question Farrell's leadership, game management

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Rosenthal: 'Some' Sox players question Farrell's leadership, game management

Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal ignited a local firestorm when he made a seemingly off-hand comment a few days ago that he "wouldn't be surprised" if the Red Sox fired John Farrell this year. (He quickly added he also "wouldn't be surprised" if Farrell stayed on and led the team to the A.L. East title this year, but that got scant mention.)

Today, however, Rosenthal expounded on Farrell and the Sox in a lengthy column on foxsports.com. While acknowledging the team's injuries and beyond-the-manager's-control inconsistencies (in the starting rotation and with the offense), he also ominously added, "The excuses for the Sox, though, go only so far — all teams deal with injuries, and not all of them boast $200 million payrolls. Other issues also have emerged under Farrell . . . "

Farrell, even when he won the 2013 World Series as a rookie manager, was not popular in all corners of the clubhouse. Some players, but not all, believe that he does not stand up for them strongly enough to the media when the team is struggling, sources say. Some also question Farrell’s game management, talk that exists in virtually every clubhouse, some more than others.

And then he mentioned two leadership problems:

The first occurred during the Red Sox’s prolonged dispute with the Orioles’ Manny Machado. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia, after Matt Barnes threw at Machado’s head, shouted across the field to Machado, 'it wasn’t me,' then told reporters that it was 'definitely a mishandled situation,' without mentioning Barnes or Farrell by name . . . 

The second incident occurred last Saturday, when Farrell engaged in a heated exchange with left-hander Drew Pomeranz in the dugout . . . [Pomeranz's] willingness to publicly challenge Farrell, in an exchange captured by television cameras, offered another indication that the manager and some of his players are not always on the same page.

Hmm.

Rosenthal's piece comes at a time when some of Farrell's harshest local critics are more or less giving him a pass, instead blaming Dave Dombrowski's flawed roster construction for the Sox' early season struggles , , , 

But there has been speculation hereabouts on whether or not Farrell has control of the clubhouse . . . 

Now that Rosenthal has weighed in, that sort of talk should increase.

In the end, Rosenthal makes no prediction on Farrell's future other than to conclude "If Dombrowski senses a change is necessary, he’ll make a change." 

But one prediction that can be made: The should-Farrell-be-fired? debate, which raged at unrealistic levels last year when the Red Sox won the division, isn't going to end anytime soon.