Saltalamacchia breaks through in the clutch

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Saltalamacchia breaks through in the clutch

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON The cold, rainy, windy, foggy and overall miserable conditions at Fenway Park Wednesday night were suited to just about anything other than offensive success.

When Jarrod Saltalamacchia stepped to the plate with two outs and Carl Crawford on first in the eighth inning Wednesday night against Tigers lefty Daniel Schlereth, he had gone hitless and his team had just three hits, all singles.

But on the fourth pitch of this at-bat -- a 2-and-1, 90-mph sinker -- he lashed a double off the Wall in left-center, scoring Crawford for the games only run.

"It felt good to come out with a win obviously, Saltalamacchia. This weather has been crazy. So for us it seemed like the first team to score was going to win the game. Both pitchers pitched great. They had a lot of situations to score and we had Clay Buchholz to hold them down.

I've been hitting the ball hard, but haven't always got the results. Felt good that it turned my way for once.

Saltalamacchia entered the game hitting just .217 (18-for-83) overall and just .150 (3-for-20) against lefties. He had a slow start to the season. His average
poked above .200 just once in April and in May, he has struggled to keep it above that dubious line of demarcation.

But with Wednesdays go-ahead double, he has hit safely in 12 of his last 16 starts, going 15-for-56 (.268). Six of his last 12 hits have gone for extra bases, with five doubles and a home run.

When you start out as slow as he did, its not always going to come back in one chunk, said manager Terry Francona. But I think hes making progress and he'll be fine as long as he lets the ball travel and doesnt get overanxious like he did early. Hes a big, strong kid. That ball was about as well-struck as youre going to see. And hes plenty quick, just needs to swing at pitches he can handle. That at-bat early in the game he offered at two of their off-speed pitches, kind of check-swing and then took the fastball. So sometimes hes in between.

Saltalamacchia has noticed a difference in his swings over the last couple of weeks.

Just feeling more comfortable the last two weeks, Saltalamacchia said. The more ABs, you get the better you feel. Always felt like second half of the season I'm better. I don't know what to credit that to. But like I said, me and hitting coach Dave Magadan sat down and started talking and slowed everything down. Just slow it down and put good wood on it.

And if the ball didnt hit the Wall?

"If it didn't, I would have walked off right there, Saltalamacchia joked. I hit that ball well. That's the way it's been going. I've hit the ball good and it just hasn't fallen in.

Although Buchholz didn't earn the win, having pitched seven scoreless innings before giving way to Daniel Bard, he could appreciate Saltalamacchia's effort.

That was awesome, Buchholz said. He squared that ball up. Might have been a home run in a lot of parks. Good to see everybody was part of a team effort to win a game like this considering everything that went on.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

Pomeranz gives up three runs in Red Sox loss to Blue Jays

Pomeranz gives up three runs in Red Sox loss to Blue Jays

Starter Drew Pomeranz gives up three runs on five hits in four innings of work in the Red Sox' 3-2 loss to the Blue Jays on Friday.

Lou Merloni breaks down Pomeranz's start and explains why he should be in the starting rotation to begin the season.

Sox' lack of homegrown starters an understandable problem to Yanks' Cashman

Sox' lack of homegrown starters an understandable problem to Yanks' Cashman

The dearth of homegrown starting pitching for the Red Sox is talked about almost as much as every Tom Brady post on Instagram.

Red Sox fans may take some solace in knowing their team isn’t the only one dealing with this problem.

In an interview with MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman didn’t talk about his team’s pitching problems in context of the Red Sox. But the explanation the longtime Yanks boss offered should sound familiar. 

In the biggest of markets, time to develop properly is scarce.

“Yeah. It's a fact,” Cashman said when asked if criticism of their pitching development was fair. “I think part of the process has been certainly where we draft. Because we've had a lot of success, we've not been allowed to tank and go off the board and therefore get access to some of the high-end stuff that plays out to be impactful. Part of it is we can't get out of our own way because we don't have the patience to let guys finish off their development, because if you possess some unique ability that stands out above everybody else -- whether it was Joba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy, now [Luis] Severino and before that [Bryan] Mitchell and Shane Greene -- we're pulling them up before their development is finished.

“Teams like Tampa Bay, for instance, they're going to wait until they have their four pitches down and their innings limits are all exceeded at the minor-league level; they're very disciplined in that approach as they finish off their starters. For us, if I'm looking at my owner and he says, ‘What's our best team we can take north?’ 

“Well, ‘We could take this guy; he's not necessarily 100 percent finished off, but we can stick him in our 'pen. He can be in the back end of our rotation, because he's better than some of the guys we already have,’ and then you cut corners, so I think that probably plays a role in it.”

Not everything is circumstantial, though -- or a deflection. 

“And sometimes we don't make the right decisions, either, when we're making draft selections and signings and stuff like that,” Cashman continued. “On top of it all, playing in New York is a lot different than playing anywhere else.”

We’ve heard that last part about Boston too, here and there.

Cashman was complimentary of his current Sox counterpart, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, whose team Cashman has compared to the Golden State Warriors.

On his feelings when he first heard the Sox were getting Chris Sale:

“When that trade was consummated, that was the first thing I thought about, which was, 'Wow, look at what they've done,' ” Cashman said. “I know how it's going to play out for them. Listen, Steve Kerr does a great job managing that team -- oh, I mean John Farrell. It's a lot of talent and with talent comes pressure to perform. I think Dave Dombrowski has done everything he possibly can to provide that city with a world championship team. They've got 162 games to show it.”