May 18, 2011: Red Sox 1, Tigers 0


May 18, 2011: Red Sox 1, Tigers 0

By Sean McAdam

BOSTON -- Victor Martinez returned to Fenway Park Wednesday, inviting the usual questions about whether the Red Sox did the right thing in allowing him to leave as a free agent last offseason.

Then, as if on cue, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, his replacement as the team's No. 1 catcher, made his case with a Wall-scraping, run-scoring double in the bottom of the eighth, giving the Red Sox a 1-0 shutout of the Detroit Tigers.

Saltalamachia's double scored Carl Crawford (walk) from first and snapped a scoreless tie in a game that featured a 26-minute rain delay in the top of the eighth inning.

Clay Buchholz threw a career-high 127 pitches, allowing just four hits, but was left with a no-decision. Daniel Bard, who pitched the eighth, got the win with Jonathan Papelbon nailing down his eight save.

Papelbon allowed a leadoff double to Martinez, putting the potential tying run in scoring postition with no out. But Papelbon got Jhonny Peralta to groundout and he struck out Alex Avila and Ryan Rayburn to end the game.

The win was Boston's fifth in a row -- tying a season high -- and eighth victory in the last 10 games. The Sox are two games over .500 for the first time all season.

The Red Sox could mount little against Detroit starter Phil Coke, who limited them to just three hits over the first seven innings.

Player of the Game: Jarrod Saltalamacchia

The return of Victor Martinez to Fenway Park in an opponent's uniform put the focus squarely on Saltalamacchia and comparing the two players' numbers didn't reflect well on the Red Sox catcher.

But in the eighth inning, with the game scoreless, Saltalamacchia drilled a double off The Wall in left-center, scoring Carl Crawford all the way from first base.

Saltalamacchia may only be hitting .221 with just 10 RBI, but he's been having far better at-bats in the last two weeks and his confidence at the plate seems to be growing daily.

Honorable Mention: Clay Buchholz

Buchholz didn't get the win in the end, but he blanked the Tigers over seven innings, turning in the 11th scoreless outing by a Red Sox starter this year.

Terry Francona showed what kind of trust he has in Buchholz by leaving him out for a career-high 127 pitches. The last one was a swinging strike against Austin Jackson, giving Buchholz a season-high seven strikeouts.

The Goat: Glen Schlereth

Detroit manager Jim Leyland went to Schlereth with two out in the eighth and the lefty promptly walked Carl Crawford, then gave up Saltalamacchia's wall-scraping, game-winning double.

Turning Point: Papelbon shuts the door

While Saltalamacchia's run-scoring hit accounted for the only run of the game, this one wasn't locked down until Jonathan Papelbon struck out Alex Avila and Ryan Rayburn with the potential tying run on third base in the top of the ninth inning.

By the Numbers: 10

Saltalamacchia has just 10 RBI, but five of those have come in close-and-late situations -- i.e., the seventh inning or later with the Sox either ahead by a run, tied or with the tying run on base, at the plate or on deck.

Quote of Note:

"We certainly didn't bludgeon them to death (four hits) tonight, but Salty took a terrific swing.'' -- Terry Francona

--Red Sox manager Terry Francona

Sean McAdam can be reached at Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam.

Bradley, Betts, Pedroia are A.L. Gold Glove finalists


Bradley, Betts, Pedroia are A.L. Gold Glove finalists

Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field, Mookie Betts in right and Dustin Pedroia at second base are the Red Sox' finalists for the American League Gold Glove awards.

The Blue Jays’ Kevin Pillar and the Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier are the other A.L. center field finalists. The White Sox’ Adam Eaton and Astros’ George Springer are A.L. right field finalists. Joining Pedroia as second base finalists are the Mariners’ Robinson Cano and Tigers’ Ian Kinsler.

Peoria has won four Gold Gloves. Bradley and Betts have yet to win one.

The full list of finalists is here.  The awards will be presented on Nov. 8 at 8 p.m. on ESPN

The Red Sox sent out a series of tweets backing each player’s candidacy.

Betts is also a front-runner for the American League Most Valuable Player.


Ortiz wins Hank Aaron Award as top hitter in American League


Ortiz wins Hank Aaron Award as top hitter in American League

CLEVELAND -- David Ortiz is heading into retirement with some more hardware.

The Boston Red Sox slugger captured the Hank Aaron Award on Wednesday as the top hitter in the American League this season. Budding Chicago Cubs star Kris Bryant was honored as the top hitter in the National League.

The award was presented before Game 2 of the World Series between the Cubs and Cleveland. It was determined through a combination of fan voting and a panel that includes Aaron and other Hall of Fame players.

The 40-year-old Ortiz hit .315 with 38 home runs, 127 RBIs and 48 doubles in the 20th and final season of his major league career. His 541 career home runs rank 17th all-time.

The 24-year-old Bryant hit .292 with 39 home runs and 102 RBIs while helping the Cubs cruise to the NL Central title and eventually a spot in the World Series. Shortly after being honored, Bryant singled in the first inning for his first Series hit.