May 2, 2011: Red Sox 9, Angels 5

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May 2, 2011: Red Sox 9, Angels 5

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- The Red Sox offense came alive Monday night against the Angels, erupting for six runs in the seventh inning a season-high for one inning as Boston beat the Angels at Fenway Park, 9-5.

If this game is remembered for anything, it will be Dustin Pedroias 13-pitch at-bat in the fifth inning against Jered Weaver. On the 13th pitch, Pedroia lashed a grounder into center field, scoring Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury.

Clay Buchholz earned the win, improving his record to 2-3 (4.81). He went 6 23 innings, giving up two runs on eight hits and two walks, with two strikeouts and a wild pitch. It was Buchholzs first quality start of the season.

The Sox offense, which has betrayed the team so often this season, finally came around. Boston had 11 hits in the game, two shy of its season high, and the nine runs matched a season high. Batting with runners in scoring position has been a mark of futility this season, with the Sox batting just .212. Monday against the Angels they were 5-for-8 in such situations.

After a four-game sweep in Anaheim in April, the Sox are 5-0 against the Angels this season. They have outscored them, 29-10.

Player of the Game: Dustin Pedroia

While Pedroias 13-pitch at-bat against Jered Weaver mayhave been the turning point in the game, he was all over the field for the RedSox.

Just before his marathon at-batagainst Weaver, it was his defense that kept the Angels in check. In the top of the fifth, the Angels loadedthe bases with one out. Bobby Abreusshot up the middle seemed destined to score a couple of runs. Pedroia broke to his right, but Buchholz deflectedthe ball. Pedroia quickly reversed field,snagged the ball and tossed to Jed Lowrie covering second. Instead of two runsin with one out, just one run scored and there were two outs. Buchholz then gotHoward Kendrick to ground out, ending the threat.The play set the stage for Pedroias at-bat in the bottom ofthe inning, scoring two runs to give the Sox a lead they would not relinquish.He has a way of doing that, manager Terry Francona said. Hefights. He doesnt give in, not just at the plate, on the bases, in the field. Hegets a double-play ball, turns it into a double-play ball. On the bases he getsa great read. He plays the game. Hes a ballplayer.

Honorable Mention: Clay Buchholz

Wins have not come easy for Buchholz this season. With Mondays victory over the Angels, he improved to 2-3 with a 4.81 ERA. It was his first quality start of the season, besting the Angels Jered Weaver, who entered the game leading the league in wins, with six, ERA (0.99), strikeouts (49), opponents batting average (.163), and complete games (2), posting quality starts in each of his six previous outings.

Buchholz kept the Angels in check, going 6 23 innings, matching a season high, giving up two runs on eight hits and two walks with two strikeouts and a wild pitch.

Everybody knows going in that Weavers going to throw a lot of strikes, hes going to throw all his pitches for strikes, Buchholz said. That being said, as the guy going up against him, you got to keep their guys off balance and try to keep them off base. They made some early contact, had some runners in scoring-position situations. All I can do is try to limit the damage as best as I could. Got a couple of balls that were hit at guys and got out of the inning. But yeah, Weaver thats what he does. He goes out there and wins. Hes obviously a strikeout guy and not a whole lot of stuff going on on the base paths with him on the mound. It was a definitely a good step for this team.

The Goat: Francisco Rodriguez

The Red Sox had a slim one-run lead going into the seventh inning. Rodriguez entered with one out and runners on second and third after Hisanori Takahashi gave up consecutive one-out hits to Jason Varitek and Jacoby Ellsbury to start the inning. Rodriguez allowed the next four batters to reach base Pedroia on a walk, Adrian Gonzalez on a three-run double, Kevin Youkilis on an RBI double, and David Ortiz on a two-run homer before getting an out. The Red Sox scored six runs in the inning, a season high. Two runs were charged to Takahashi, four to Rodriguez.

Turning Point: Pedroia's 13-pitch battle

Dustin Pedroias 13-pitch at-bat was the signature moment of the game. With the Sox trailing, 2-1, in the fifth, two outs, and runners on second and third, Pedroia came to the plate. The Sox second baseman had just 4 hits in his last 23 at-bats, and was 3-for-25 in his career against Jered Weaver. But he worked Weaver for 13 pitches over nearly 10 minutes, including five straight 3-and-2 pitches that he fouled off. On the 13th pitch, Pedroia lashed a grounder in center field, scoring Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury.

Plays like that can serve as a catalyst not only for a game but also for a team that has been struggling to find ways to win.

To be honest with you, man, I was just trying to put the ball in play, Pedroia said. Jereds tough. I faced him a lot in college and the first few years in the big leagues and it doesnt get any better than him. I havent won too many of those, but it was nice to drive in a couple and kind of get things going.

By the Numbers: 5-for-8

Entering the game the Sox had been struggling to find ways to get runners in scoring position across the plate. They had been hitting just 54-for-255 (.212) in such sitautions this season.

Against the Angels Monday night, however, they were 5-for-8 (.625) with runners in scoring position

Its a nice way to play the game and it took us a while to do it, Terry Francona said. Theres night when you need your big guys to hit some three-run homers or hit a ball off the wall. But I thought we did a lot of good things tonight. You talk about Dustin Pedroia's at-bats, or they way he played defensively. And we had to because the way Weaver pitches, you better play a good game.

Quote of Note

Itwas awesome, man. Just one of those things that he just battled, battled,battled. And you see Weaver make pitch after pitch. And he just kept foulingthem off. And finally Weaver left,I think itwas a fastball away that Pedroia could handle and took it up the middle. It was great. -- AdrianGonzalez on Dustin Pedroias 13-pitch at-bat in the fifth inning that endedwith the tying and go-ahead runs scoring.

Drellich: Red Sox' talent drowning out lack of identity

Drellich: Red Sox' talent drowning out lack of identity

A look under the hood is not encouraging. A look at the performance is.

The sideshows for the Red Sox have been numerous. What the team’s success to this point has reinforced is how much talent and performance can outweigh everything else. Hitting and pitching can drown out a word that rhymes with pitching — as long as the wins keep coming.

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At 40-32, the Sox have the seventh-best win percentage (.556) in the majors. What they lack, by their own admission, is an intangible. Manager John Farrell told reporters Wednesday in Kansas City his club was still searching for its identity.

“A team needs to forge their own identity every year,” Farrell said. “That’s going to be dependent upon the changes on your roster, the personalities that exist, and certainly the style of game that you play. So, with [David Ortiz’s] departure, his retirement, yeah, that was going to happen naturally with him not being here. And I think, honestly, we’re still kind of forming it.”

To this observer, the vibe in the Red Sox clubhouse is not the merriest. 

Perhaps, in the mess hall, the players are a unified group of 25 (or so), living for one another with every pitch. What the media sees is only a small slice of the day. 

But it does not feel like Farrell has bred an easygoing, cohesive environment.

Farrell and big boss Dave Dombrowski appeared unaligned in their view of Pablo Sandoval’s place on the roster, at least until Sandoval landed on the disabled list. 

Hanley Ramirez and first base may go together like Craig Kimbrel and the eighth inning. Which is to say, selfless enthusiasm for the ultimate goal of winning does not appear constant with either.

Dustin Pedroia looked like the spokesperson of a fractured group when he told Manny Machado, in front of all the cameras, “It’s not me, it’s them,” as the Orioles and Red Sox carried forth a prolonged drama of drillings. 

Yet, when you note the Sox are just a half-game behind the Yankees for the American League East lead; when you consider the Sox have won 19 of their past 30 games, you need to make sure everything is kept in proportion.

How much are the Sox really hurt by a lack of identity? By any other issue off the field?

Undoubtedly, the Sox would be better positioned if there were no sideshows. But it’s hard to say they’d have ‘X’ more wins.

The Sox would have had a better chance of winning Wednesday’s game if Kimbrel pitched at any point in the eighth inning, that’s for sure. 

Kimbrel is available for one inning at this point, the ninth, Farrell has said.

A determination to keep Kimbrel out of the eighth because that’s not what a closer traditionally does seems like a stance bent on keeping Kimbrel happy rather than doing what is best for the team. The achievement of a save has been prioritized over the achievement of a team win, a state of affairs that exists elsewhere, but is nonetheless far from ideal — a state of affairs that does not reflect an identity of all for one and one for all.

Maybe the Sox will find that identity uniformly. Maybe they’re so good, they can win the division without it. 

Haggerty: Loss of Colin Miller not a significant one for Bruins

Haggerty: Loss of Colin Miller not a significant one for Bruins

There will be some that will absolutely crucify the Bruins for losing Colin Miller in Wednesday night’s expansion draft, and rail against an asset that was lost for nothing. Those people will also miss the absolutely essential point that the whole raison d’etre for an expansion draft is to remove assets from each of the 30 NHL teams, and do it without a cost for the benefit of the new franchise opening up shop in Las Vegas.

It could have been much worse for the Black and Gold as some teams were shipping first round picks to Vegas to shelter their own players from expansion selection, and other teams were losing essential players like James Neal, Marc Methot and David Perron from their respective rosters. The B’s didn’t entertain overpaying simply to avoid losing a useful player, and clearly, they did lose a talented, still undeveloped player in the 24-year-old Miller, who now may be flipped to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a side deal with Vegas.

But let’s be honest here. A whole lot of people are vastly overestimating a player in Miller that’s long on tools and very short on putting them together, and they’re also vastly underestimating Kevan Miller. The younger Miller can skate like the wind and has a bazooka of a shot when he winds up and fires his clapper at the net.

But despite those clear offensive talents, Colin had the same number of points as stay-at-home defenseman Kevan this season despite the bigger, stronger and older Miller playing three less games this season. Kevan also had more goals (five) and more points (18) than Colin did two years ago in his rookie season for Boston.

This isn’t to say that Colin doesn’t have more discernible offensive skill than Kevan when it comes to moving the puck or creating offense. He does, but all that talent hasn’t manifested into real points, real offense or anything else for the Black and Gold over the last couple of seasons. At a certain point, a prospect like Colin needs to put all the tools together into production on the ice if he wants to become the sum of his hockey parts, and that hasn’t happened in two full seasons in Boston.

Instead, Miller continues to struggle with decision-making with the puck, consistency and finding ways to turn the quality skating and shot package into any kind of playmaking on the ice. Miller had his challenges defensively and he was never going to be the most physical guy on the ice, but those could have been overlooked if he was lighting it up in the offensive zone on a regular basis.

Plain and simple that wasn’t happening, and over the last season 20-year-old Brandon Carlo and 19-year-old Charlie McAvoy passed Miller on the organizational depth chart for right shot defenseman, and either Adam McQuaid or Kevan Miller would slot in as the third pairing D-man on the right side. It’s clear at this point that Colin Miller needs more time and patience if he’s ever going to develop as a late-blooming defenseman at the NHL level, and he wasn’t going to get those opportunities to develop in Boston.

So how good can Colin Miller really be if he was about to get buried on a Boston defensive depth chart without much hope of being in the starting six every night unless he was able to magically transform himself into a top-4 guy on the left side?

Clearly, there is risk here as Miller could move on to Toronto, develop into the player that posted 19 goals and 52 points in the AHL a couple of seasons ago and torment the Bruins for the next five-plus years. It would become another arrow in the quiver of those critics looking to hammer GM Don Sweeney and President Cam Neely at every turn, and it would generate massive “Why can’t we get players like that?” homages to the legendary Bob Lobel all across New England.    

But there’s just as good a chance that Kevan Miller will still be throwing hits and soaking up heavy minutes of ice time for the Bruins three years down the road, and that Colin Miller will be out of the league after never harnessing together his considerable talent. Perhaps Sweeney could have been better about securing an asset for Miller ahead of the expansion draft if he knew he was going to lose that player for nothing to Vegas.

The bottom line is that the Bruins were going to lose somebody to Las Vegas in the expansion draft, and the Golden Knights weren’t going to do them any favors by taking on misfit toys like Jimmy Hayes, Malcolm Subban or Matt Beleskey. They did instead lose a player with plenty of raw talent in Colin Miller, but it’s not exactly somebody that’s going to be missed in Boston once Carlo and McAvoy start showing just how bright the B’s future is on the back end starting next season.