Lester exorcises demons, Sox roll, 10-2

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Lester exorcises demons, Sox roll, 10-2

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
CHICAGO -- No team had been a tougher opponent for Jon Lester than the Chicago White Sox.

In the last two matchups with him, the White Sox had belted him around for 15 runs over a span of 9 23 innings.

But Saturday, something changed. Lester limited the White Sox to two runs on four hits over eight innings while the Red Sox snapped a two-game losing streak by beating Chicago, 10-2.

The victory snapped a seven-game losing streak for the Red Sox against the White Sox and was just their second win in the last 13 head-to-head meetings.

The Sox took a healthy lead in the fifth with four runs on an RBI-double from Jarrod Saltalamacchia, sacrifice flies from Marco Scutaro and Dustin Pedroia and a broken-bat single from Kevin Youkilis.

Home runs from Adrian Gonzalez (two-run shot) and Kevin Youkilis (solo) helped create a five-run ninth as the Sox blew the game open.

Gonzalez's homer was his first since July 7.

Both runs off Lester were late in the game solo homers: Paul Konerko in the seventh and Gordon Beckham in the eighth.

Lester's win was his first in exactly a month, dating back to June 30.

Dan Wheeler finished up with a scoreless ninth.
STAR OF THE GAME: Jon Lester
In his second start since coming off the DL, Lester was masterful, going eight innings while allowing just two runs on four hits.

He needed just 64 pitches through the first six innings, facing the minimum number of hitters in five of the frames. All of this against a team which had had success with Lester in the past, scoring 15 runs off him in his last two outings.

HONORABLE MENTION: Jarrod Saltalamacchia
After homering for the third time in his last seven starts Friday in the series opener, Saltalamacchia had two doubles and two RBI in Saturday's win.

Over his last eight games, Saltalamacchia is hitting .364 with 10 RBI.

GOAT OF THE GAME: Alex Rios
Rios went 0-for-3 to drop his average to .207, further enraging White Sox fans who have let him know that underachievement and oversized paychecks aren't a good combination.

Rios made things worse when he fielded a single from Marco Scutaro and lobbed a throw back in to the cutoff man as Josh Reddick managed to score all the way from first.
TURNING POINT:
Although they were already relatively comfortable with a 5-2 lead, the back-to-back homers from Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis, accounting for three more insurances runs, helped in the ninth.

BY THE NUMBERS: 6
Adrian Gonzalez, in addition to hitting his first homer since July 7, posted his sixth consecutive multi-hit game, a career-high.

QUOTE OF NOTE:
"It's always about executing, regardless of the lineup. I was able to keep the fastball down. When you're able to do that, good things happen.'' Jon Lester on beating the White Sox, against whom he had a career ERA of 5.94

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

First impressions from the Red Sox' 4-2 win: Ortiz has flair for the dramatic

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First impressions from the Red Sox' 4-2 win: Ortiz has flair for the dramatic

First impressions from the Red Sox' 4-2 win over New York Yankees...

* David Ortiz still has a flair for the dramatic.

Matched against Yankees reliever Dellin Betances, Ortiz cracked a two-run homer into the Monster Seats to snap a 2-2 tie in the eighth inning. Ortiz now has 18 RBI in 23 games -- he didn't start in four of those games - and at 40, remains the one hitter opposing teams want to face with the game on the line.

Before the homer, Ortiz was 0-for-7 against Betances, with four strikeouts.

* All things considered, Henry Owens did OK.

Owens didn't fool anybody. He couldn't command his fastball, and when the Yankees did hit it, they hit it pretty hard. He walked three and hit another. But Owens managed to limit the damage in a big way, allowing just two hits in six innings despite 10 baserunners.

Occasionally, he would get bailed out by his changeup, which seems to be the lone pitch he has that is better than average by major league standards.

* Jackie Bradley Jr. continues to hit when it counts.

Bradley got the Red Sox offense going with a two-run, two-out double off Masahiro Tanaka, when the Sox were down to their final seven outs.

In the last week along, Bradley hit an extra-inning homer; a solo homer that represented the only run of the game; a ninth-inning triple; and Friday's big two-base hit.

That he has 10 RBI from the bottom of the order suggests he can provide some sock from that spot.

* Matt Barnes continues to make strides.

Since allowing a homer to Kevin Kiermaier on the last homestand, Barnes has allowed just one run in his last four appearances, covering 6 1/3 innings, while holding opposing hitters to a .208 batting average (5-for-24).

* The Yankees bullpen gets all the attention, but in relief of Owens, Barnes, Koji Uehara and Craig Kimbrel faced nine hitters and retired them all.

McAdam: Gordon suspension is proof MLB testing works

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McAdam: Gordon suspension is proof MLB testing works

Kevin Millar, John Farrell and Sean McAdam talk about Dee Gordon’s 80-game suspension for PED violations.

Red Sox-Yankees: Pregame news and observations

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Red Sox-Yankees: Pregame news and observations

BOSTON -- As we get ready for the first Red Sox-Yankee series of the season, some pregame news and observations:

* Eduardo Rodriguez was at Fenway, to be checked by the training staff after his rehab outing in Syracuse Thursday night. Rodriguez allowed three runs -- two earned -- in 3 2/3 innings. He allowed six hits and walked three while striking out two.

"He came through it fine from a health standpoint,'' said John Farrell. "He was probably a little rusty. He's going to need some innings.''
Rodriguez is scheduled to pitch again Tuesday for Pawtucket. The Sox are undecided about what their plans are beyond that, but it seems likely he'll make another rehab start after that.

* Blake Swihart made his debut in the outfield Thursday, and according to Farrell, had just one chance in left: a ball that he initially lost in the lights before eventually recovering.

"The first game, after some work...(he's), as we all are: a work in progress,'' said Farrell. "The footwork was initially something that we had to address (in pre-game work). We've had (minor league outfield coordinator) Billy McMillon in there to work with him. It's been about some of that first-step reads and jumps to his routes to get accustomed to. Here's a guy, for the last four or five years, the game is coming to him (behind the plate). Now, all of a sudden, he's reacting to balls off the bat. It's a completely different view of the game. This is going to take some time in the outfield.''

Farrell said the goal is to get Swihart in the outfield a couple of times per week.

* Farrell hinted that the Sox may be close to dropping a pitcher -- they currently are carrying 13 - and adding another position player. For the past week, the Sox have had just three extra position players on the 25-man roster.

"Maybe (Friday night) might have some impact on that,'' said Farrell, suggesting that as long as starter Henry Owens doesn't need relief help early, the Sox may be in a position tomorrow to swap a reliever for a role player.

As it stands, the Sox have an extra catcher, outfielder Chris Young and infielder Josh Rutledge. Not long ago, they had infielder Marco Hernandez up, but Farrell said it wasn't a given that the player added will be an infielder.

"I don't think we need to center around an infielder,'' said Farrell. "The best complement would be a left-handed bat.''

On the 40-man roster, that profile fits only two players: Hernandez and Swihart, who's a switch-hitter.

Hernandez was optioned back to Pawtucket on April 20, and rules state that a player must spend 10 days in the minors before being recalled. On Saturday, that 10-day period will have elapsed.

It's highly unlikely that Swihart would be brought back so soon, since the Sox want him to continue his development behind the plate and get more comfortable in the outfield.

"We wanted him to come up here and not play more than half the week,'' said Farrell. "I think that derails everything that we're trying to accomplished currently.''

* Joe Kelly (shoulder impingement) threw a 35-pitch bullpen Friday and will throw long-toss Sunday, with another bullpen set for Tuesday. After that, the Sox will schedule his first rehab assignment for an affiliate.

"He's going to need some innings, obviously,'' said Farrell. "We haven't gotten him to full speed yet. For any pitcher, that last five to ten percent of intensity is always the benchmark. We're going to have to build him up to 80-plus pitches.''

* The Red Sox lost lefty Edwin Escobar on a waiver claim to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Escobar was taken off the 40-man roster and designated for assignment when the Sox had to get William Cuevas onto the 40-man roster.