1-2-3 Inning: Matt Albers

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1-2-3 Inning: Matt Albers

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com Follow @JCameratoNBA

Welcome to the second edition of 1-2-3 Inning, a step inside the Boston Red Sox bullpen and a look at the individuals who make up this cohesive unit. Last week we brought you a unique glimpse at Alfredo Aceves (did you know he wanted to be a dentist?). Now up, Matt Albers.

Albers, 28, signed with the Red Sox this offseason after playing the previous five seasons for the Houston Astros and Baltimore Orioles. Albers started off strong in his first year with the Red Sox, boasting an ERA of 1.50 in April and later throwing 13.1 scoreless innings in July (4-4, 4.28 ERA on the season). But after giving up 16 runs in August (12.34 ERA for the month), he pitched a scoreless 0.2 innings on Tuesdays win against the Yankees, leaving two men on base. With just a month left in the regular season, Albers looks to pick up where he started in April.

He talked to CSNNE.com about embracing the pressure of Fenway Park, playing for his hometown team, and his dream location for a baseball game.

1. Albers was selected by his hometown Houston Astros in the 2001 amateur draft. Even though he had an idea he would be playing for his childhood favorite team, there was so much excitement on that day that years later, he says it seems like a blur.

When I was real little my favorite player was Jose Cruz. I barely remember this but my parents told me stories about how I was running around saying I was him. Then when I was growing up, the Killer Bs were huge, so (Craig) Biggio, (Jeff) Bagwell, even (Lance) Berkman and those guys. I was a big Astros fan.

The Astros drafted me on the intention of me being a draft-and-follow and going to junior college. I had talked to them about that before, so I had a pretty good idea Houston was going to draft me and they said itd probably be on the second day. I talked to a few other teams, but it was really the Astros, my hometown team, that really went after me.

I have a couple of my Astros jerseys at my house. I actually have one from my first Big League start. They were throwbacks jerseys against San Diego. I have this 1970s rainbow stripe Astros jersey. Actually, I think it might be at my parents house but Ive got to steal it back from them.

2. After playing three seasons in Baltimore, where Red Sox fans pack Camden Yards, Albers was familiar with the high pressure environment surrounding the Red Sox. After quickly settling in with his new team, he has found a comfort in Boston that translated on to the mound early on.

When I got here everybody, not just the relievers, was really cool about making me feel welcome. The bullpen is kind of a tight-knit group and thats nice because thats how it needs to be. Youre picking each other up -- one guy goes in and then the next guy and there are runners on base, the bullpen sticks together and I think that makes for a good group.

Pitching wise Ive started throwing my slider a lot more. Being able to throw that to both sides of the plate and also my fastball, I have better command with overall. With that comes comfort when Im out there and having confidence.

Every time we go out there I try not to put any extra pressure on myself because thats really easy to do. You get caught up in the situation and you always have a full house here, a lot going on. Its kind of pressure-packed every outing, which is nice. I enjoy that. So I think just the combination of all those things helps.

You kind of get used to the pressure. Its tough to explain. I think once you go through it more and more -- when I came into the league I was pitching in Houston at home in front of family and friends, that kind of put extra pressure on myself. When youre young, youre trying to find a spot on the team and fit in. I think kind of the same thing here, but just try to focus on pitching and put that out of your mind and not get too caught up in the moment.

3. Albers is a self-admitted low-key guy who likes to return home in the offseason. But if he could pick one place in the world to play ball, it would have a different scenery than Houston.

Ive been to Cabo San Lucas (Mexico), they have really nice weather. Its sunny and has some nice views. A background on the beach, thatd be cool. When I was there it was like 85 degrees and sunny every day. The landscape and the views are pretty nice. Wed probably need a regular mound, not sand, but thatd be pretty nice.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.com!JCameratoNBA.

Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox make 'outstanding comeback' vs. Rangers

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Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox make 'outstanding comeback' vs. Rangers

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 8-7 win over the Rangers:

QUOTES

* “(Matt) Bush has tremendous arm, but what we’ve seen . . . I don’t know that there’s anyone that throws a hard enough to get it by Mookie [Betts]. Just lightening bat speed . . . The dugout erupted when he caught it.” - Farrell said on Betts’ ninth inning homerun.

* “It was an outstanding comeback. Just a tremendous character win tonight by our guys. The work that our bullpen did tonight was just outstanding. ” - John Farrell said following the comeback win over Texas.

* “Koji comes back after a couple of rough outings and was vintage Koji here tonight.” - Farrell said on Uehara striking out the side in the ninth to earn the save

* “The homerun. Without that homerun, you don’t get to that wild pitch.” - Jackie Bradley said on what the Red Sox dugout was more excited about in the ninth.

* “Winning, to me that’s everything. I definitely want to go out there and throw the baseball better. I want to win myself. But at the end of the day I want the Red Sox to win.” - David Price said following the Red Sox win, despite his inability to keep the game close throughout the duration of his start.

NOTES

* David Ortiz extended his hitting streak to 10 games with his fourth inning single. He’s now 12 for his last 36 during his 10-game hitting streak.

* Sandy Leon’s ninth inning double was his 12th hit of the year. He’s now 12-for-22 (.545) to start his 2016 campaign. Four of his hits are doubles and he also has four RBI. 

* David Price’s 2.1-inning start is his shortest with Boston yet. The lefty gave up a season-worst 12 hits -- the most hits he’s given up since May 8th last season in a 6.1 inning start.

* Hanley Ramirez’s two-run homerun marks his third in the last ten games.

* The Red Sox improve to 22-3 when Jackie Bradley Jr. hits a homerun following his 13th homerun of the season.

STARS

1) Mookie Betts

Betts had over three hours between his two base hits, but his second proved the most important. He launched a 2-0 fastball into left center, tying the game in the ninth.

2) Jackie Bradley Jr.

Bradley laced a homerun into the right field second deck to put Boston in striking distance at 7-4. In addition to knocking in two runs, he scored in the ninth after he walked, starting the ninth inning comeback. 

3) Koji Uehara

Despite struggling of late, Uehara was called on to close and struck out the side to seal the win. He was the final piece of the 6.2 innings of relief from the bullpen that came in one of Boston’s biggest wins of the year.

Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter: @ngfriar

First impressions of the Red Sox’ 8-7 win over the Rangers

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First impressions of the Red Sox’ 8-7 win over the Rangers

First impressions of the Boston Red Sox’ 8-7 win over the Texas Rangers:

Boston’s offense is always in striking distance.

The Red Sox had an uphill battle from the get-go thanks to David Price’s tough outing.

But somehow they took advantage of Texas’ equally bad pitching—that just happened to be more spread out than Boston’s bad pitching.

If Jackie Bradley Jr. doesn’t earn a walk, or Sandy Leon doesn’t fight tooth and nail for a two-out double in the ninth, that Mookie Betts homerun can’t happen.

The Red Sox need another long outing from Steven Wright.

Obviously they’d prefer a strong performance -- but the knuckler may need to bite the bullet if he’s off Saturday night.

Boston’s bullpen has been used and abused of late, and needs some rest following the Chicago series and a 2.1 inning outing from Price.

Price continues to struggle against the Rangers in his career.

Even when he was able to walk out of the first with just the one run after a bases loaded double play, but couldn’t clamp down with two outs.

The biggest reason he struggled wasn’t his velocity—although it seemed down most of the night—but his location. He left a lot of pitches up in the zone and Texas is not the team you can do that with.

Although Price was bound to have a rough start, this start went worse than anyone could’ve anticipated. To say this was a bad start is putting it nicely.

Texas gave him a nice wake-up call. He still has room to grow.

Matt Barnes had a solid performance.

It wasn’t his best, but given the situation, he did well. First off, the Rangers are a very hot team and swing early in the count. Barnes left the ball up time after times, but only surrendered the one run.

Additionally, he entered the game far earlier than he’s used to -- in the midst of a blowout where his team was on the wrong end. That’s not an easy thing to walk into for a reliever, especially one who’s used to pitching late in tight ballgames.

He gave Boston a chance when the offense started to gain momentum.

Hanley Ramirez’s power continues to show.

Although he’s not hitting at the rate he did to start the year, Ramirez laced another homer against the Rangers Friday night.

This homerun may have been his most impressive, coming on a 1-2 slider away, driving it to straightaway center -- the deepest part of the ballpark.

Boston just saw what they look like when they almost blow games.

All season the talk around the league has been how explosive the Red Sox lineup is.

Well, the Rangers offense is right there with them. The league’s hottest team didn’t waist any time scoring, and had 15 hits before Boston pitching recorded an out in the fifth inning.

Although the Red Sox outslugged Texas late, they saw what a potent offense outside the AL East can do -- and how bad pitching can undo all of that.

Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter: @ngfriar