Sweeney enjoying strong start

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Sweeney enjoying strong start

BOSTON When the Red Sox acquired outfielder Ryan Sweeney from the As in December as part of the trade that also brought closer Andrew Bailey to Boston, most observers and evaluators thought the Sox were getting a light-hitting, good-fielding player.

Sweeney -- who entered this season with a career average of .283, a .346 on-base percentage, and .341 slugging percentage -- has spent the early part of this season surprising those folks.

He is batting .361, fourth in the American League, sixth in the majors, with a .345 OBP, and .556 slugging percentage. Most of his plate appearances, 42, have been in the second spot, where he is hitting .308 (.333 OBP, .487 SLG) with seven doubles and three RBI.

Sweeney leads the major leagues with 12 doubles. In 108 games last season he hit just 11 doubles.

Its always good to get off to a good start with a different team, said Sweeney, who also played two seasons for the White Sox, who drafted him in the second round in 2003. Im enjoying it. The guys have made it an easy transfer and Im just having fun.

Sweeney, who turned 27 in February, said he hasnt made any substantial changes at the plate. But getting regular playing time has helped. He averaged just 95 games and 284 at-bats over the last two seasons with the As.

Not really anything different, he said. Just getting consistent playing time and feeling good. I havent really changed anything. I felt good going from spring training into the regular season, so Ive just tried to stay consistent every game and every at-bat, not giving an at-bat away, even if were up by 10 or down by a few runs or whatever it is.

In spring training manager Bobby Valentine said Sweeney didnt really know himself as a hitter. Sweeney began making adjustments this spring to understand himself better at the plate.

Little things in spring training, just kind of like moving my hands a little bit moreand having a fluid stance, he said. But obviously throughout the year you adjust to different things when different things feel good. But right now I havent really had toIm just trying to go up there and see a hit.

He attributes some of the success to having other left-handed hitters David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez around.

Adrian and Big Papi help me a lot, he said. Just to be able to watch them and talk to them about different approaches to different pitchers and just the way they go about their business in the cage and approaches to their swing and different things. Being able to watch them as a left-handed hitter helps me out a lot.

Sweeney is batting .397 against right-handed pitching this season, just .111 against lefties. He has not made a start against a lefty, going 1-for-9 with three strikeouts overall. It just a matter of time, he believes, before all those numbers change.

My first three years in Oakland and all, before that I was always a starter and I always faced lefties and I was always in there against whoever. It didn't really matter, he said. But sometimes in baseball, you do the match-up thing and last year with not playing a whole lot and not getting to face lefties at all really, I think you kind of get put in that category where maybe people think you can't hit lefties anymore. I dont have a problem facing them. Its just that I havent gotten a lot the last couple of years. So when you go up there and you havent faced them for a couple of years you're not really comfortable facing them,. Especially when youve got guys that are pretty good left-handed pitchers or guys coming out of the bullpen. Thats their one job, is to get you out.

There is another column in his stat line hed like to improve. After 21 games he is still without a home run. In Wednesdays starting lineup only Will Middlebrooks, making his big league debut, and Marlon Byrd, who struggled in the National League before a trade and his first game with the Sox on April 23, also had zeros in the home run column.

Obviously Id like to hit for power but my swing is such a line drive swing that I hit line drives all the time, he said. But in BP I can do it. Its just figuring that out when I can transfer it on certain counts, maybe take bigger swings. But Im just going to try to be the player that I am right now and see how that works out.

Red Sox' seven-run rally in seventh keys 9-4 win over Rangers

Red Sox' seven-run rally in seventh keys 9-4 win over Rangers

BOSTON -- Chris Sale was perfectly happy to sit back and watch the Red Sox hitters do the work this time.

Sale cruised into the fifth inning, then was rewarded in the seventh when the Boston batters erupted for seven runs on their way to a 9-4 victory over the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night.

Sale (5-2) struck out six, falling short in his attempt to become the first pitcher in baseball's modern era to strike out at least 10 batters in nine straight games in one season.

But he didn't seem to mind.

"It was fun," said the left-hander, who received more runs of support in the seventh inning alone than while he was in any other game this season. "You get run after run, hit after hit. When we score like that, it's fun."

Dustin Pedroia waved home the tiebreaking run on a wild pitch, then singled in two more as the Red Sox turned a 3-1 deficit into a five-run lead and earned their third straight victory. Sam Travis had two singles for the Red Sox in his major league debut.

"I was a little nervous in the first inning," he said. "I'd be lying to you guys if I said I wasn't."

Mike Napoli homered for Texas, which has lost three of four to follow a 10-game winning streak.

FOR SALE

Sale, who also struck out 10 or more batters in eight straight games in 2015 with the White Sox, remains tied for the season record with Pedro Martinez. (Martinez had 10 straight in a span from 1999-2000.)

After scoring four runs in support of Sale in his first six starts, the Red Sox have scored 27 while he was in the game in his last five. He took a no-hitter into the fifth, but finished with three earned runs, six hits and a walk in 7 1/3 innings.

"Guys pulled through for me when I was probably pretty mediocre," he said.

NO RELIEF

Sam Dyson (1-5) faced seven batters in relief of Martin Perez and gave up four hits, three walks - two intentional - and a wild pitch without retiring a batter.

"Martin threw the ball really well and I came in with two guys on and couldn't get an out," Dyson said. "Sometimes they hit them where they are, and sometimes they hit them where they aren't."

Asked if he felt any different, he said: "Everything's the same.

"If I get my (expletive) handed to me, it's not like anything's wrong," he said. "Any more amazing questions from you all?"

SEVEN IN THE SEVENTH

It was 3-1 until the seventh, when Andrew Benintendi and Travis singled with one out to chase Perez. Mitch Moreland singled to make it 3-2, pinch-hitter Josh Rutledge singled to tie it and, after Mookie Betts was intentionally walked to load the bases, Moreland scored on a wild pitch to give Boston the lead.

Pedroia singled in two more runs, Xander Bogaerts doubled and Hanley Ramirez was intentionally walked to load the bases. Dyson was pulled after walking Chris Young to force in another run.

Austin Bibens-Dirkx got Benintendi to pop up foul of first base, but Napoli let it fall safely - his second such error in the game. Benintendi followed with a sacrifice fly that made it 8-3 before Travis was called out on strikes to end the inning.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rangers: 2B Rougned Odor was shaken up when he dived for Betts' grounder up the middle in the third inning. He was slow getting up. After being looked at by the trainer, he remained in the game.

Red Sox: LHP David Price made his second rehab start for Triple-A Pawtucket, allowing six runs - three earned - seven hits and a walk. He struck out four in 3 2/3 innings, throwing 89 pitches, 61 for strikes, and left without addressing reporters. 3B Pablo Sandoval also played in the game, going 2 for 4 with two runs.

"He felt fine physically," said Red Sox manager John Farrell, who added he would talk to Price on Thursday morning to determine how to proceed. "We had a scout there who liked what he saw."

UP NEXT:

Rangers: Will send RHP Nick Martinez (1-2) to the mound in the finale of the three-game series.

Red Sox: LHP Drew Pomeranz (3-3) looks to snap a personal two-game losing streak.

David Price dodges media after second rough rehab start

David Price dodges media after second rough rehab start

If only David Price could pitch as well as he dodges the media.

The Red Sox lefty bailed on a typical post-start media session with reporters in Pawtucket on Wednesday, after his second minor league rehab outing in Triple-A was another dud.

As Price comes back from a nondescript elbow injury, difficulty retiring minor league hitters doesn't combine well with difficulty facing questions. He sat in the mid-90s in his second rehab start with Pawtucket, but allowed six runs, three earned, in 3 2/3 innings. He struck out four and walked one.

The PawSox were at home at McCoy Stadium against Triple-A Louisville, a Reds affiliate, and Price heard some heckling. Postgame, he wanted to hear nothing, apparently.

Per CSNNE’s Bill Messina, who was on site in Pawtucket, the media was waiting outside the clubhouse for Price, as is standard. 

PawSox media relations told the media to go to the weight room, where Price would meet them. As media headed that way, PR alerted reporters that Price was leaving and did not want to talk. Media saw a car leaving, but there was no interview.

On the mound, Price’s velocity is there, but the command is not. The Red Sox would be unwise to bring back Price before really two more minor league starts — one to show he can do well, another to show he can repeat it.

Price’s ERA in two starts for Pawtucket is 9.53. He’s gone 5 2/3 innings and allowed six earned runs, while striking out eight and walking two overall.