May 18, 2011: Red Sox 1, Tigers 0

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May 18, 2011: Red Sox 1, Tigers 0

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

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 smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam.

Yankees beat Blue Jays, Red Sox have chance to clinch AL East on Tuesday

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Yankees beat Blue Jays, Red Sox have chance to clinch AL East on Tuesday

For tonight, the Boston Red Sox can say "thank you" to the New York Yankees.

Despite the Toronto Blue Jays loading the bases with no out in the ninth, the Yankees hold on to beat the Blue Jays, 7-5. The result moves the Red Sox' magic number in the AL East to just one game. 

David Price will take the mound for the Red Sox on Tuesday night against those very Yankees with a chance to clinch the division. 

They can also clinch the AL East with a Toronto loss to the Baltimore Orioles. 

Dee Gordon homers leading off as Marlins mourn Jose Fernandez

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Dee Gordon homers leading off as Marlins mourn Jose Fernandez

MIAMI - Dee Gordon hit an emotional homer in Miami's first at-bat following the death of Marlins ace Jose Fernandez in a boating accident.

Leading off the first inning Monday night against the New York Mets, Gordon pulled a 2-0 pitch from Bartolo Colon over the wall in right for his first homer of the season.

Gordon circled the bases slowly and was crying when he reached home plate. He tapped his chest and waved toward the sky, and then sobbed as teammates hugged him in the dugout.

Gordon took the first pitch batting right-handed, in tribute to the right-handed Fernandez. Gordon then switched to his normal left side.

Fernandez died Sunday morning, prompting the Marlins to cancel their game that day against Atlanta.