May 8, 2011: Red Sox 9, Twins 5

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May 8, 2011: Red Sox 9, Twins 5

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Red Sox manager Terry Francona was asked before Sundays game what he might be able to expect from starter Daisuke Matsuzaka. It was a legitimate question. Matsuzaka left his last start just one batter into the fifth inning with elbow tightness. He had also pitched the 13th and final inning of the marathon game against the Angels that began Wednesday night and ended early Thursday morning, taking the loss.

But given Matsuzakas track record of confounding inconsistency over his five seasons with the Sox, Francona jokingly replied that he hasnt known what to expect from the Japanese right-hander since his arrival in Boston.

Based on his first inning giving up three runs on three hits and walk throwing 34 pitches it appeared the ineffective Matsuzaka was on the mound. But he settled down after that, going six innings, giving up four runs on five hits and two walks with four strikeouts and a home run, throwing 102 pitches, 62 for strikes.

It wasnt a quality start, but it was enough to hold the Twins off while the Sox offense got in gear.

Matsuzaka earned the win, improving to 3-3, with a 4.64 ERA, as the Sox beat the Twins, 9-5.

Twins starter Carl Pavano had the opposite fortune to Matsuzakas. He cruised through the first inning only to sputter as the game went on. He went five innings, giving up seven runs on 10 hits and walk, with no strikeouts, one home run, and one wild pitch.

Every member of the Red Sox offense (not including Jose Iglesias, making his major league debut as a defensive replacement for Jed Lowrie at shortstop in the ninth inning) had at least one run scored, one RBI, or one hit. Kevin Youkilis matched his career high with four runs scored.

The nine runs the Sox scored matched a season high, the fourth time theyve done so.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Adrian Gonzalez
On his 29th birthday, Gonzalez went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBI. That includes his fourth home run, a solo shot going the opposite way to left field in the fifth inning. He leads the team with 24 RBI, while raising his average to .314.

Regardless of the fact that its my birthday, to get three hits and get a W is more important, he said.

In addition to his opposite-field home run, Gonzalez singled up the middle in the third and singled to left in the seventh. After a slow start to the season, Gonzalez said his swing is getting to where he wants it to be. He has three home runs on the homestand.

Its got nothing to do with the park, he said. Its got to do with my swing. My swings getting better and Im trying to stay behind balls and drive through them.

You start backing it up, trusting it more. Its one of those things that I dont usually do it too much in April and once the season goes on I do it more and more.

Ive gone through bad Aprils and good Aprils. Its all the same.
HONORABLE MENTION: Jacoby Ellsbury
Ellsbury went 3-for-5, extending his major-league best hitting streak to 17 games. He had a double, two singles, a run scored, and his 10th stolen base of the season. The three hits match his season high, for the third time. Since taking over the lead-off spot on April 22 he has raised his average from .186 to .295.

I think hes always been a good lead-off hitter, said Kevin Youkilis, who matched a career high with four runs scored. Its just everything gets put out there that hes doing bad because its within 50 at-bats. But theres 600 and some at-bats a season. So the next 50 at-bats have been great. Hes doing great. When he gets on base he causes havoc on the bases. Thats good.
THE GOAT: Carl Pavano
Staked to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, Pavano could not hold onto it. He appeared to be in control, cruising through the first inning on 11 pitches, nine strikes (compared to the 34 Matsuzaka threw in the inning), setting down Ellsbury, Pedroia, and Gonzalez in order. But the Sox got a run back from Pavano in the second, four more in the third, and another in the fifth.

Pavano went five innings, giving up seven runs on 10 hits and walk, with no strikeouts, one home run, and one wild pitch. His record fell to 2-4, while his ERA jumped nearly a run, from 5.84 to 6.64.

THE TURNING POINT
Trailing 3-1 going into the third inning, the Sox sent nine batters to the plate, forcing Pavano to throw 36 pitches, including eight to Jed Lowrie, the last batter of the inning. The Sox scored four runs -- taking a lead they would not give up on five hits, a walk, and an error.

Carl Crawford led off with his first triple of the season, scoring on Jason Variteks groundout to first. Ellsbury singled, Pedroia walked, Gonzalez singled, scoring Ellsbury. Kevin Youkilis grounded into a fielders choice, scoring Pedroia. David Ortiz singled. J.D. Drew singled, scoring Youkilis.

Lowrie flew out to center, but the eight pitches he saw were the most in the inning, driving Pavanos pitch count up, hastening his exit.
STAT OF THE DAY: 368
The Sox entered the game hitting a combined .250, sixth in the American League. But against Pavano and a trio of Minnesota relievers Alex Burnett, Jose Mijares, and Joe Nathan they were a combined 14-for-38 (.368), raising their team average to .254, with nine runs scored, three doubles, a triple, a home run, and eight RBI. The nine runs scored matched a season high.

Every member of the Red Sox offense (not including Jose Iglesias, making his major league debut as a defensive replacement for Jed Lowrie at shortstop in the ninth inning) had at least one run scored, one RBI, or one hit. Kevin Youkilis matched his career high with four runs scored.

It was good, Youkilis said of the offense. Guys swung the bats well. We were down early but we never gave up. Scratched our way back. DiceK settled back in and threw the ball well and our bullpen came in and threw the ball well and got out of a couple of things here and there. All around it was a good performance, offensively and defensively.

QUOTE OF NOTE
I was happy. I was super-happy. And its funny because Scutaro hid my glove right before I went out. So I couldnt find it. I finally found it and was able to get out there a little late but I was obviously very happy. Yes, I was nervous, especially because I couldnt find my glove and I had to get out there.

-- Shortstop Jose Iglesias, through Eddie Romero, the teams assistant director of Latin American operations, on his emotions going out to the field for his major-league debut in the ninth inning

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Good news for Benintendi: Just a sprain, and he may return this year

Good news for Benintendi: Just a sprain, and he may return this year

BOSTON -- The news was about as good as it could be -- under the circumstances -- for rookie outfielder Andrew Benintendi.

Benintendi underwent a second round of tests and examinations Friday, which revealed he is only dealing with a sprained left knee. The tests found no structural damage to the knee, and the ACL remains intact.

"When you think back and look at the video,'' said manager John Farrell, "this could have been much, much worse.''

Benintendi injured the knee Wednesday night at Tropicana Field when he attempted to return to second base after breaking for third on a grounder to shortstop, and had the knee buckle on him.

He had to be helped off the field and, initially, it was feared Benintendi had suffered a more severe knee injury, one that would require a surgical procedure.

"I'm definitely fortunate,'' said Beintendi. "It looked a lot worse than it actually was. It's unfortunate it happened and I'll try to get as healthy as possible as quickly as I can.''

"We're lucky that the ACL is not involved,'' said Farrell. "We're still optimistic that he could return this season.''

Benintendi was placed on the disabled list Thursday and will be lost to the team for at least the next two weeks, and likely longer.

"It's an interruption,'' acknowledged Farrell. "His production has been apparent, on both sides of the baseball. He's had an impact. So we're going to miss him. But at the same time, I think we've gotten a lot of good news here today that, despite the injury and the DL stint, there's optimism in this and that's in his return sometime this season.

"He'll be back as (soon as) available, and optimistically, we're thinking that could still be the regular season.'' Farrell praised Benintendi for being a "complete player.''

Benitendi was walking without a limp, though he was wearing a brace on the knee for additional support.

"He's actually feeling better today than [Thursday],'' said Farrell. "He's improved. This is going to take a little time. Obviously, it's going to take 15 days at a minimum. What further time is needed remains to be seen. But today was some good news -- (especially considering) what could have been.''

"At the time,'' added Benintendi, "I was nervous and didn't know what to expect.''

Farrell: Red Sox ‘optimistic’ Andrew Benintendi can return in 2016

Farrell: Red Sox ‘optimistic’ Andrew Benintendi can return in 2016

Red Sox manager John Farrell said rookie left fielder Andrew Benintendi sustained no further structural damage to his knee, other than the previously diagnosed sprain, after injuring it on the basepaths against the Rays.

Farrell said the team is optimistic that Benintendi, placed on the 15-day disabled list on Thursday, will be able to return before the end of the season. Watch the video for more.