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

McAdam: Red Sox should pass on this Sale

McAdam: Red Sox should pass on this Sale

BOSTON -- I'm not sure what the Red Sox would have to give up for Chicago White Sox starter Chris Sale.

For that matter, I can't say definitively that the two clubs have actually discussed a trade for Chris Sale, though it's logical to assume they have, even in a cursory way.

The White Sox, mired toward the bottom of the A.L. Central and with just one playoff appearance in the last 11 seasons, are said to be "open'' to listening for offers on Sale. That's both their right and their duty.

As for the Red Sox, given that they're a big-market club with plenty of resources and an expectation from a loyal fan base to compete for a championship every season, they're similarly smart to inquire.

Who knows? Maybe the White Sox have had their fill of Sale and ,in a fit of pique, might be desperate enough to take less than full value to rid themselves of a pitcher who's developed into quite the clubhouse lawyer of late.

But my guess is that the White Sox are demanding a lot for Sale. That makes sense, since, beyond his raging sense of entitlement, Sale remains one of the handful of best starters in the game and is under club control for another three seasons after this one.

Whatever the asking price is, however, it's almost certainly too much.

Sure, the addition of Sale might, on paper, make the Red Sox the favorites to win the American League pennant.

Again, on paper. Ask the New York Mets, who owned the best starting rotation in the game when the season began and now sit, uncomfortably, in third place in their own division.

So much for the best-laid plans.

But the focus here is on the cost, however unknown, to obtain Sale.

If obtaining Drew Pomeranz cost the Red Sox Anderson Espinoza, how much more would Sale cost?

Let's assume that the Red Sox consider Yoan Moncada essentially untouchable. That would mean Boston would have to essentially clean out the rest of its prospect inventory. Think: a package like Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers and Michael Kopech, and perhaps more.

Or maybe the White Sox want more established young talent, and have their eyes on Mookie Betts and more.

Argue, if you wish, that pitching is more important than offense, but giving up a leadoff man who's shown indications he could become a five-tool superstar? No, thanks.

There's also the matter of need. Unlike at the beginning of the season, the Red Sox can now lay claim to having a rotation in which every one of the five starters gives them a solid chance to win.

Yes, David Price has underperformed in a big way. But that's likely the result of adjusting to Boston and new surroundings. What are the odds that, at 30, Price has almost overnight permanently devolved into a mediocre starter after finishing second in the Cy Young Award voting just last fall?

Steven Wright has emerged as a consistent starter who's under control for the forseeable future. Rick Porcello, though not flashy, is pitching like the Red Sox envisioned he would when they dealt for him a season-and-a-half ago. Eduardo Rodriguez has overcome injury and delivery issues to fufull the promise he showed as a rookie. And Pomeranz could be an afforable middle-of-the-rotation for years to come.

Is Sale better than each one of them right now? Of course, Price included.

But is the Red Sox rotation so troubled that it must upgrade now or else? No. Is their an obvious weak link begging to be immediately replaced? No.

And this is not Chris Sale, free agent. This is Chris Sale, incredibly expensive trade piece.

What if they stripmined their minor-league system for Sale, and didn't win? Then what? What if they tore up their core of foundational players for Sale, only to find him incapable of surviving Boston?

As I confessed earlier, I'm don't know what the White Sox would want for Sale.

What I do know is that it would, by definition, almost certainly be too much.

Quotes, notes and stars: Pomeranz 'made one pitch that hurt' Red Sox

Quotes, notes and stars: Pomeranz 'made one pitch that hurt' Red Sox

BOSTON - Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 4-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers:

QUOTES:

"He pitched as we had anticipated at the time of the trade.'' - John Farrell on Drew Pomeranz.

"I had a good curveball and I was locating my fastball a lot better. I was in a lot better counts all night, but I made one pitch that hurt us.'' - Pomeranz on his outing.

"He was able to limit the damage against a very good offensive team. He pitched well enough to win. I just wish we could have put more runs on the board for him.'' - Jackie Bradley Jr. on Pomeranz.

 

NOTES:

* Until Monday night, the Red Sox had won their last six series openers.

* Drew Pomeranz has allowed four or fewer hits in 12 of his 18 starts this season.

* Eleven of Travis Shaw's last 15 hits have been for extra bases.

* Jackie Bradley Jr. had his 25th multi-hit game.

* Sandy Leon is hitting .500 (11-for-22) with runners in scoring position.

* The Red Sox are 21-21 in games decided by two or fewer runs.

* Dustin Pedroia (walk, single) has reached base in 28 straight games.

* Xander Bogaerts has 133 hits through 97 games. Since 1940, only Wade Boggs (134 in 1983; 135 in 1987) and Adrian Gonzalez (135 in 2011) had more.

STARS:

1) Justin Verlander

Verlander has enjoyed a bounce-back season of sorts this year, and the Red Sox got to see it up close Monday night as Verlander limited them a single run over six innings.

2) Jose Iglesias

The former Red Sox shortstop haunted his old team with a two-run homer in the sixth to put the Tigers ahead to stay.

3) Drew Pomeranz

The lefty absorbed the loss, but pitched well enough to win, giving up two runs in six innings while striking out seven.