Gonzalez comes clean, and breaks slump

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Gonzalez comes clean, and breaks slump

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins InsiderFollow @hackswithhaggs
KANSAS CITY Adrian Gonzalez claims hes not superstitious and that his goatee will be back in a matter of days.

But after breaking an 0-for-14 slump with a three-hit performance in the Red Sox' 7-1 win over the Royals Friday night . . . well, maybe he ought to give it a second thought.

"I have zero superstitions. I just shaved," saidGonzalez. "You use whats called a trimmer, you pass it through your face and youlose hair. Thats how you talk about shaving.

And what Gonzalez has done all season for the Sox is called hitting. After a brief slump, it appears he's back on track.

This doesnt change whats going to happen tomorrow, soall that matters is that we won, said Gonzalez, who had a pair of doubles among his three hits and lifted his average to .346. Youre going to gothrough week spans where you dont feel good, and week spans where youfeel great. You just try to stay the same throughout."

Gonzalez said his timing still isnt perfect at the plate, but hes getting some breaks to go along with the results. He still has gone almost 20 games without hitting a home run, but a solid nights work should ease some of the pressure hes feeling as one of the few healthy big bats still remaining in the Sox lineup.

My timing was good," he said. "It wasnt great. I was able to put a good swing on the first double and keep it fair, snuck one through, struck out on a pitch that I thought was off the plate and then on the double I got to 2-0 count and was able to let it fly a little bit more.

"Sometimes guys are just one swing away," said manager Terry Francona. "Adrian and Carl Crawford and a bunch of other guys took early hitting before Friday's game to try and take advantage of the nice, hot weathera.

"I dont know if you can stay on a pace when you can drive in 190 runs. Its just not feasible. Sometimes youre banged and sometimes you start going out of the strike zone. A lot of things can happen, but we still like him in that No. 3 hole.

"I think he left the strike zone a little more than normal (during the slump). I dont know if thats pressing, though. Sometimes you just dont see the ball as well. Then it all kind of comes together at once . . . "

For Gonzalez, there's no magical solution in which it all "comes together at once". When asked when it takes to break a slump, he had a simple answer.

At-bats, he said. You cant work on timing unless youre in the game. You have one at-bat where you feel good, and that swing or take will allow you to build off that. Its not just me. Everybody else -- including the opposing pitchers -- is tired at this point. Its an even playing field.

Taking a day off wont help because its not physical. Not getting a hit for three or four games isnt physical. You grind through to clinch a playoff spot, and then maybe you take a day or two off.

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

Wednesday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: Ramirez gets night off

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Wednesday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: Ramirez gets night off

Hanley Ramirez is getting a night off as the Red Sox look for their third straight win against the Rays tonight at Tropicana Field.

Travis Shaw will play first base, with Brock Holt at third.

Tonight's lineups:

RED SOX:
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Sandy Leon C
Brock Holt 3B
Travis Shaw 1B
Andrew Benintendi LF
---
Rick Porcello P

RAYS:
Logan Forsythe 2B
Kevin Kiermaier CF
Evan Longoria 3B
Brad Miller SH
Matt Duffy SS
Logan Morrison 1B
Steven Souza Jr. RF
Corey Dickerson LF
Bobby Wilson C
---
Matt Andriese P

McAdam: Buchholz is the relief the Red Sox need

McAdam: Buchholz is the relief the Red Sox need

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- This is the kind of season it has been for Clay Buchholz:

A little more than a month ago, he was merely taking up space on the Red Sox roster, having been summarily removed from the rotation after three months of poor outings.

He was in the bullpen, but the Sox were loathe to use him. Asked, memorably, why Buchholz hadn't been the choice to serve as a long reliever in a game in which the starter departed early, John Farrell candidly noted, in not so many words, that because the Sox still had a chance to win the game, Buchholz didn't make sense as an option.

Ouch.

But slowly, Buchholz became more effective in his new relief role. And when injuries struck the rotation, Buchholz got himself three cameo starts, during which he posted a 2.70 ERA in 16 2/3 innings, topped by Tuesday's beauty -- 6 1/3 innings, one run allowed, nine strikeouts recorded.

Just as Buchholz has straightened out, however, Red Sox starters are suddenly stacked up like jets waiting for clearance to land at Logan Airport. Steven Wright returns from a brief DL stint Friday, and Eduardo Rodriguez is not far behind.

When he pitched poorly, the Red Sox didn't have any other options.

When he pitched well, the Red Sox have plenty of other choices.

So, now what?

"As far as Clay goes,'' said John Farrell, "this will be, I'm sure, a conversation (had) within (the organization). But setting that aside, he's throwing the ball exceptionally well right now.''

That's indisputable.

But the question remains: In what capacity will he throw the ball in the near future?

There's been a suggestion to keep Buchholz in the rotation while moving Drew Pomeranz to the bullpen. That would give the Sox a dependable lefty in relief -- as opposed to, say, Fernando Abad -- while also serving the dual purpose of putting a governor on Pomeranz's climbing innings total.

Pomeranz, who has plenty of bullpen experience in the big leagues, has also thrown 140 1/3 innings this season, eclipsing his previous major league high by nearly 40.

But Pomeranz is 27, not 21. He's shown no signs of fatigue. To the contrary, he's 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his last four starts. The Sox shouldn't mess with his success.

Instead, Buchholz should become one of the team's high-leverage set-up weapons, available in the seventh or eighth inning.

True, Buchholz doesn't have the swing-and-miss capability you'd prefer to have in the eighth inning, where the fewer balls put in play, the better off you are. But he can get lefties and righties out, and, pitching out of the stretch full-time, he's greatly improved his command.

Buchholz would remain the best option for a spot start if one of the five Red Sox starters faltered or got hurt. But the bullpen remains the best choice for him.

Ironic, isn't it? When he pitched poorly, he remained in the rotation for several months. Now that he's pitching superbly, he can't earn a permanent spot.

It's been that kind of season.