Boston Red Sox

Red Sox notes: Gonzalez produces in Fenway debut

Red Sox notes: Gonzalez produces in Fenway debut

By Maureen Mullen and Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Adrian Gonzalez finally got his chance to play at Fenway Park after 864 Major League games without one at bat on Yawkey Way. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the only active player with more career games without appearing at Fenway is Aramis Ramirez (1,540).

The new Red Sox slugging first baseman got a warm reception during Opening Day introductions, and then went ahead with a 2-for-5 performance at the plate with a run and a pair of RBI including a seventh inning bunt that stunned plenty in the sellout crowd and leads the team with four multi-hit games.

Other offensive players in the Sox lineup like Dustin Pedroia, J.D. Drew and Jarrod Saltalamacchia carried more noticeable roles in the 9-6 win over the Yankees at the Fens, but Gonzalez loomed as the big bopper in the No. 3 hole around which the rest of the lineup orbited.

Hes a good hitter, man. Hes not just a home run hitter, Hes a good baseball player, said Pedroia, who was among a chorus of voices in the Sox clubhouse that have voiced all kinds of admiration for the home run hitting stud. I didnt get a chance to see him in the National League, but thats what he does, man. He hits and takes what the pitchers give him. Thats why hes so good.

After seven games Gonzalez is hitting .321 in the middle of Bostons lineup with a home run and 6 RBI, but the short cross section of spring training and a handful of regular season games has shown just as Pedroia is illustrating that hes much more than a simple home run hitter.

And hes not a bad bunter, either, as the five bunts for hits in his career would attest to when hes facing the left-handed hitter shift employed by many teams against Gonzalez and David Ortiz.

That guy can hit, bro, said Ortiz. He knows what hes doing out there.

With his first home run of the season, a solo shot into the first row of the Monster seats in the first inning off Phil Hughes, Pedroia has now homered in the Fenway Park opener for three straight seasons. The only other Red Sox player to do so is Fred Lynn, who accomplished the feat in 1978-1980. Lynn was on hand to witness Pedroias homer, watching from a suite on the first-base side.

The Red Sox have now won seven straight home openers at Fenway Park dating back to the 2005 season the longest stretch of home success on the opening day at the Fens since two six-year runs from 1938-43 and 1907-12.

This was the 28th time the Red Sox hosted the Yankees at Fenway Park on Opening Day and the second year in a row theyve hosted the Yankees. Hall of Fame left fielder Carl Yastrzemski walked out from behind the giant US flag draped over the Green Monster to throw out the first pitch on Opening Day, and bragged to Sox skipper Terry Francona that hes undefeated when he gets the honor.

I told Francona that I'm undefeated throwing out the first pitch, said Yastrzemski in a meeting with reporters. "Both games of the World Series, they won. So they'll win today. He wants me to come back tomorrow if they win."

Anytime a starting pitcher for the Red Sox is linked to Matt Clement its not really a good thing, and so John Lackeys Friday afternoon start was the first time a Sox pitcher won a game with at least five innings pitched and six runs allowed since Clement did it against the Kansas City Royals on Aug. 4, 2005.

Lackey saw his ERA drop to 15.58 while his opponents batting average now sits at a robust .395 after a second straight concerning outing after getting knocked around against the Rangers in Texas. At the end of the day Lackey got the victory, but he needs to be much better following Jon Lester in the starting rotation.

My command was fine. Every ball they hit was down the line for extra base hits. If I can keep the ball in the middle a lot of those turn into singles and no runs, said Lackey. It was one game. It worked out, but Ive got to keep working. It wasnt pretty, but it was closer than it looked.

Before the game, left-hander Dennys Reyes was designated for assignment. His 900,000 contract is guaranteed.

Also before the game, right-hander Matt Albers was placed on the disabled list with a strained right lat muscle and right-hander Alfredo Aceves was called up from Pawtucket. Left-hander Felix Doubront was also activated from the DL.

Aceves pitched out of the Sox bullpen during Fridays win and is the third Mexican-born pitcher to appear in a game for the Sox. He joined Vicente Romo (1969-70) and Dennys Reyes (2011).

Jonathan Papelbon has earned a save in each of the Sox last three home openers and pitched a scoreless inning in all four home openers in which he has appeared, including 2006.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Drellich: In-season trades are winning moves for Sox

nunez_red_sox_082317.jpg

Drellich: In-season trades are winning moves for Sox

CLEVELAND — There was Drew Pomeranz a year ago and Eduardo Nunez in July. Now, there’s Rajai Davis.

The Red Sox have continually pushed forward with in-season trades, and the timing is hard to ignore. As the Sox have soared in August — they’re 16-4 since the non-waiver trade deadline, and nipping at the idle Houston Astros’ heels for best record in the American League — the value of new blood in a clubhouse and a lineup are shining through.

Not every deal is of great impact. See Fernando Abad, who’s essentially MIA. Not every deal of great impact right away, either. See Year 2 Pomeranz, who went toe to toe with Corey Kluber in Wednesday night’s 6-1 Sox win over the Indians. Somehow, that wasn’t surprising in Pomeranz’s best year yet.

But either way, Dave Dombrowski is not one to remain idle at the trade deadline, a stark contrast to the Astros — the team the Sox now could dethrone for home-field advantage in the A.L. playoffs. Houston’s decision not to make any notable upgrades this year brought outspoken disappointment from both the ace of the staff, Dallas Keuchel, and Josh Reddick, the former Sox outfielder.

“You’re aware that if you make a move that’s viewed positively, that it can have a great influence mentally on your team,” Dombrowski said earlier this month on the Baseball Show podcast of the impact of trades. “However, you would not make a move strictly for that purpose. … It really comes down to how your team performs once the players arrive.” 

They’re performing alright.

The Sox’ home runs have spiked this month. One internal theory is that the new, lengthened look to the lineup has contributed significantly, as opposed to things simply evening out after power was scarce most of the year.

It’s a viable contributing factor. Nunez and Rafael Devers show up, and pitchers can’t pitch around the other names as they did previously. There are more threats and more opportunities for mistakes to be capitalized on. 

Nunez ripped his sixth home run since joining the Red Sox on Wednesday night, giving him two more long balls in 22 games with the Red Sox than he had in 76 games with the Giants this season.

Power is something Nunez really showed for the first time in his career last year, with 16 in all. 

“For the last two years I've learned more 'top' than before,” Nunez said, referring to lifting the ball more. “Before I was more [swinging] down, line-drive hitting, ground ball to the opposite field. So I changed my approach.

“We have a little camp in the Dominican with [Robinson] Cano, [Edwin] Encarnacion, [Jean] Segura, all those guys. And we have a hitting coach, that's Luis Merced over there, we figured out that on an inside pitch, I tried to hit the ball to the right field, we decided to pull the ball. We decided it's better to pull the ball.”

Still, the Sox didn’t expect this kind of power. They expected just a lift.

“I don’t know that we were thinking home run,” manager John Farrell said. “He was swinging the bat well. We needed to add to our offense, which, let’s face it, month of July we were stagnant. He’s done that, and the power certainly has been there. He’s such a good high-ball hitter, and that’s where a lot of those home runs have come from, pitches up.”

Now, Davis is here. He’ll play center field, Farrell said after Wednesday night’s game, presumably in an everyday capacity, although that’s to be seen. 

(Deven Marrero was sent back to the minors to make room for Davis, who is to be around Thursday. Blaine Boyer also returned to the roster from the disabled list, with Hector Velazquez sent down.)

Jackie Bradley Jr. may not be down too long with a thumb sprain, but if you’re in the Red Sox clubhouse, it has to sit well with you knowing that even as September creeps up, more help has arrived. Rather instantaneously, too. Bradley gets an MRI in the morning, a trade is made in the afternoon.

“When we found out this morning, picked up the phone and called Billy Beane back today and moved it along at a quicker pace, because we had room on the roster for him,” Dombrowski said.

There’s power in trades, including power that’s unexpected.

Pomeranz shines again as Red Sox beat Indians, 6-1

pomeranz_redsox_082317.jpg

Pomeranz shines again as Red Sox beat Indians, 6-1

CLEVELAND -- The Boston Red Sox found a way to get the best of Corey Kluber.

Mitch Moreland hit a fifth-inning home run, Drew Pomeranz and three relievers outdueled Cleveland's ace, and the Red Sox defeated the Indians 6-1 on Wednesday night.

Boston manager John Farrell admitted his team had little margin for error.

"One run against Kluber felt like an accomplishment," he said. "We had good at-bats all night long against one of the best pitchers in baseball. Thankfully, we created some separation later in the game."

Moreland homered to right on a 1-0 pitch from Kluber (12-4), who allowed two runs over 7 2/3 innings.

Mookie Betts' RBI single with two outs in the eighth ended the night for Cleveland's ace, who allowed four hits and struck out 12 - the 13th time this season he's reached double figures in strikeouts.

Four pitchers held Cleveland's injury-depleted lineup to three hits, a night after Doug Fister pitched a one-hitter.

Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-out homer in the eighth off Addison Reed.

Pomeranz (13-4) gave up two hits and struck out nine in 5 1/3 innings in winning his seventh straight decision.

"Most of these games here have felt like the playoffs with the intensity," he said. "I was throwing it where I wanted to, and they were having a hard time hitting it."

Eduardo Nunez hit a two-run homer in the ninth off Bryan Shaw when Boston scored four times.

Jay Bruce beat out an infield hit in the second and Brandon Guyer singled in the fourth for Cleveland's other hits.

Kluber and Pomeranz both left their starts on Friday with injuries, but completed bullpen sessions earlier in the week. Kluber was removed in the sixth inning against Kansas City because of a sprained right ankle. Pomeranz left against the New York Yankees in the fourth because of back spasms.

Neither pitcher thought the injuries were a factor.

"I wasn't even thinking about it at all," Kluber said. "I was able to throw my side normally and be able to pitch today."

"No back issues at all," Pomeranz said. "I felt fine."

Kluber didn't allow a baserunner until Nunez's infield hit to lead off the fourth. The right-hander struck out the next three hitters and got the first two outs in the fifth before Moreland hit his 15th home run.

Kluber struck out the first two hitters in the eighth and has 208 this season, the fourth straight year he's reached the 200 mark.

Brock Holt drew a two-out walk in the eighth and Nunez was hit by a pitch. Betts singled past third baseman Giovanny Urshela for a 2-0 lead.

"To get two quick outs and then walk a guy, hit a guy and give up a hit, it's not ideal," Kluber said.

The Indians placed second baseman Jason Kipnis on the 10-day disabled list for the second time since early July while first baseman Carlos Santana missed his second straight game with back tightness.

Outfielders Michael Brantley (sprained right ankle) and Lonnie Chisenhall (strained right calf) are also out.

"Sometimes you don't have everybody," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "That doesn't mean you can't win. It can be little more challenging. Rather than back down, just keep fighting."

ROSTER NEWS

Boston acquired OF Rajai Davis from Oakland during the game. Davis and RHP Blaine Boyer, who has been on the DL with a stiff neck, were added to the roster. INF Deven Marrero and RHP Hector Velazquez were optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket.

SLUMPING

Jose Ramirez, one of Cleveland's most consistent hitters, is in an 0-for-17 slump after going hitless in three at-bats and drawing a walk in the first. His average has dropped to .298.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: OF Jackie Bradley Jr. was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a sprained left thumb.

Indians: Santana might return to the lineup Thursday. He was removed in the eighth inning Monday.

UP NEXT

Red Sox LHP Chris Sale allowed seven runs over five innings in an Aug. 1 no-decision against Cleveland. Indians RHP Trevor Bauer is 1-2 with an 8.79 ERA in five career outings against Boston.