Red Sox happy with recent home success

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Red Sox happy with recent home success

BOSTON It was the kind of win the Red Sox needed. Contributions from all parts offense, defense, starting pitching, and the bullpen.

Perhaps it was enough to fend off the naysayers. For the time being.

Its very encouraging, said manager Bobby Valentine, who celebrated his 62 birthday with a 12-1 win over the Indians at Fenway Park.

Especially at home because there was some question after game one of the four-game series that wed never play well at home again, and that there was a mental state that we couldnt break through, and la-de-da-de-da-de-da.

When you see the guys in the clubhouse thats a good thing for me. Its good. And I think we had a good thing most of the year, its just frustrating because wed get so close and it would slip away. And now were just banging the door down. Were not letting the door shut the last couple of games. Its really been good.

While Daniel Bard was not at his sharpest, it was enough to hold the Indians at bay. The four-run lead his offense handed him in the first inning certainly helped. Bards outing, along with Clay Buchholz on Friday and Felix Doubronts on Saturday, gives the Sox a streak of three straight quality starts for the first time this season.

The bullpen once again came through, with three scoreless innings, one each from Rich Hill, Matt Albers, and Scott Atchison.

The 11-run margin of victory was the Sox largest of the season, and largest since an 18-6 win over the Blue Jays on Sept. 13. The Sox have scored 10 or more runs nine times this season, the most ever in the teams first 34 games of a season.

The offense batted around twice, in the four-run first and in the six-run seventh. Jarrod Saltalamacchia led the offense going 3-for-4 with a season-high five RBI, the second most of his career, and a his fifth home run of the season.

It starts with pitching, said Saltalamacchia. Pitching and defense wins games. So last three starts have been great. These guys have been going after the guy, really commanding the plate, commanding the zone, kind of setting the tone for us and then with our offense were going to be able to put some runs on the board. And a day like today where Bardo battled and just going after these guys and didn't give in, that was what picked everyone up.

Rookies Daniel Nava and Will Middlebrooks combined to go 4-for-5 with six runs scored, five RBI, a home run, two doubles, a walk, and Nava twice getting hit by a pitch.

Its awesome. It really is, Saltalamacchia said. Thats whats going to happen throughout the year. You get guys that are injured, guys that get called up and step in like theyve done. Its not easy to come to Boston and step in like they've done and do a great job.

Perhaps a game like this will make it easier to play, at least for the final two games on the six-game homestand.

Youve just got to take it all in, Saltalamacchia said. Its the best place in the world to play and obviously if were not playing well, they're going to let us know and thats part of the game. But a day like today, we put some runs on the board, but it was awesome.

Napoli: Red Sox and his agent only had 'small talk' about reunion

Napoli: Red Sox and his agent only had 'small talk' about reunion

BOSTON -- Of course, the Rangers' Mike Napoli didn't mind the idea of replacing David Ortiz. He loved playing in Boston.

There just was never much chatter that way last offseason, when Napoli was a free agent after his Indians took the Cubs to seven games in the World Series.

"I think my agent had maybe a small talk or something [with the Red Sox], but I don't think it ever would have happened," Napoli said Tuesday afternoon as he returned to Fenway Park with Texas. "I mean, don't get me wrong, I would have loved to come back. But, I mean, it all worked out. I'm glad to be where I'm at now. Because I knew everybody here [with the Rangers]. I didn't have to start over again."

Napoli played with the Rangers in 2011 and '12, and was traded by the Sox to Texas for the last few months of the 2015 season.

He was hopeful the Sox -- his team from 2013 to midseason 2015 -- would be among the clubs to come calling last winter.

"Oh, yeah," he said.

But he wasn't optimistic it was going to happen. And it didn't.

"To be honest with you . . . Cleveland was my first priority," he said. "I just had a World Series run [with the Indians] and we didn't win it. And then Texas was there [in the bidding, along with] Minnesota."

The Rangers wound up giving Napoli, 35, a one-year deal for 8.5 million with an $11 million club option for next season or a $2.5 million buyout. He's hitting just .188 entering Tuesday, a subpar figure, but has 10 home runs.

"We started off pretty slow, but winning 10 straight will help," Napoli said of the Rangers' recent tear. "[Winning] 11 of 12, we've been playing better. I think we kind of lost track of who we are. We got some guys struggling, still trying to find themselves and kind of got away from doing it together as a team, but we got back to doing that. It's been going pretty well."

Part of the World Series championship team of four years ago, Napoli loved being in Boston in 2013, and he enjoys being back now.

"What we were able to do in 2013, obviously, it's something I'l never forget and something I cherish," Napoli said. "I love coming back here to play."

When it was noted there's been so much turmoil since Napoli left -- the talk of Tuesday was manager John Farrell's job security -- he was unsurprised.

"You got to have thick skin to play here," Napoli said. "You're expected to win a championship every single year. But that's what I loved about playing here, is that people were on you. For me, I loved it. A lot of people probably couldn't do it.

"I knew it in my heart that I went out there and I played as hard as I possibly could every single time . . . I know you're not going to be perfect and live up to everyone."

Red Sox recall Sam Travis, send Velázquez back to Pawtucket

Red Sox recall Sam Travis, send Velázquez back to Pawtucket

BOSTON -- On the list of Red Sox problems, finding a platoon partner for Mitch Moreland at first base isn't high on the list. But the others -- third base, fifth starter -- aren't solvable at the moment, so the Sox turned to one they think they can solve.

Today they recalled Sam Travis from Pawtucket, most likely to provide relief for Moreland against left-handed pitching. Travis' path to the majors was delayed by a knee injury that cost him a good chunk of the 2016 season -- otherwise, odds are good he'd have been here by now -- but he signaled his readiness by recovering from a 5-for-36 start with a sizzling .344 average in 90 at-bats since April 22 that includes six doubles and three home runs. His OPS in that span is .909.

Most importantly, Travis crushes left-handed pitching. He's hit .358 (93-for-260) against them in his professional career, and is .414 (12-for-29) against them this year. 

Hector Velázquez was sent back to the PawSox to make room for Travis, ensuring another roster move later this week. After Kyle Kendrick's failed attempt to take control of the fifth spot in the starting rotation, Velázquez was called up and given a shot in Oakland last Thursday night. He allowed six earned runs over five innings, failing the test. And thus the search for a fifth starter -- at least until David Price returns -- continues.

Price will make a rehab start in Pawtucket tomorrow and could return to Boston after that, but the Sox will need a pitcher for Saturday's game against Seattle. Even if Price is cleared to return to Boston, he won't be able to pitch Saturday on two days' rest.