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 relievers didn’t do the job vs. Toronto

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McAdam: Red Sox relievers didn’t do the job vs. Toronto

Sean McAdam joins SNC to discuss the Red Sox bullpen giving up a 4-run lead in the late innings of their loss to the Blue Jays.

Watch the video above.

Three things we learned from the Red Sox’ 10-9 loss to the Blue Jays

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Three things we learned from the Red Sox’ 10-9 loss to the Blue Jays

Three things we learned from the Boston Red Sox’ 10-9 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays…

1) Toronto’s offense can never be taken lightly.

Coming into the series, the Blue Jays had scored 197 runs, putting them in the middle of the pack among all Major League teams and averaging four runs per game. In the two games against Boston, they’ve scored 17 runs.

So an offense that had appeared to be dormant has been woken up thanks to some subpar Red Sox pitching.

It seems like these two teams are very similar and could be in opposite positions just as easily. The Blue Jays are only three behind in the win column (five in the loss), so Boston needs to win David Price’s Sunday start to widen the gap and cut their three-game skid.

2) Craig Kimbrel is only effective for so long.

Boston’s closer wasn’t giving excuses following Saturday’s game -- and this isn’t one either.

Saturday’s 39-pitch performance wasn’t just his season-high, but his career high in pitches.

This not only resulted in a drop in Kimbrel’s velocity, but it exposed flaws in the Red Sox’ pen. Kimbrel is truly a one-inning guy, so if Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara can’t get him the ball, he’s useless.

And it seems like Uehara won’t be used on back-to-back days frequently in the near future, so Boston won’t be able to use Tazawa in a seventh inning role with much consistency.

Somewhere along the way Dave Dombrowski will need to find another reliever for the back-end of the bullpen.

3) Offense can only take a team so far.

Both teams had big offensive days, in large part because pitchers from both sides made a lot of mistakes -- but they still took advantage of them.

Had the Red Sox been the home team in this contest, there’s no reason to believe they wouldn’t have won -- just based on the progression of the game and ignoring any statistical splits.

If the Red Sox are serious about making the postseason, they need pitching to pick up the slack once in a while. Because when they hit the road late in the year, games like will slip away when quality pitching is lacking.

Quotes, notes and stars: 'Unfortunate situation at a key moment'

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Quotes, notes and stars: 'Unfortunate situation at a key moment'

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 10-9 loss to the Blue Jays:
 
QUOTES
*“We’ve seen Hanley [Ramirez] catch that ball multiple times...An unfortunate situation at a key moment.” John Farrell said of the final play of the game.
 
*As soon as I let it go I thought he was out...I feel like that game kind of slipped away from us.” -Travis Shaw said of his throw in the final play of the game.
 
*“Everybody was so excited on the bench. We’d lost the lead and to have him come through in that situation . . . It was huge.” -Hanley Ramirez on David Ortiz’s go-ahead homerun in the ninth inning.
 
*“We’re a strike away on a number of occasions . . . you watch the attack plan all day long right-handers with curveballs were having success against [Justin] Smoak.” -Farrell said of the bullpen’s performance and Smoak’s ninth inning hit off Craig Kimbrel.
 
*“If he makes an accurate throw he’s out.” -Farrell on Christian Vazquez’s errant throw in the ninth inning.
 
*“In some key spots we gave an extra 90 feet when otherwise we have not of late.” -Farrell said about Boston’s inability to execute late in the game.

NOTES
*Xander Bogaerts has hit safely in his last 21 games, extending his streak with a home run to lead off the fourth inning. He’s hitting .402 with five home runs during the streak. Bogaerts logged his ninth three-hit game of 2016.
 
* Dustin Pedroia extended his hitting streak to five games with his first-inning double. Pedroia has also hit safely in his past 22 games against Toronto. He’s hitting .444 during the short streak.
 
*David Ortiz extended his own hitting streak to six games with a double in the fourth. He's hitting .520 over that span.
 
* Russell Martin logged his fifth multi-hit game of the season -- and first three-hit game -- smacking a double and a home run. Martin entered the game batting .179 with three extra-base hits.
 
 
STARS
1) Russell Martin

Not only did he score the winning run, but he also tied the score in the ninth and launched a home run earlier in the game.
 
2) Xander Bogaerts
Another threre-hit performance, extending his hitting streak to 21 games, Bogaerts keeps creating headaches for opposing pitchers.
 
3) Rick Porcello
On a day where pitchers from both side scuffled, Porcello’s 6 2/3-inning effort gave Boston more than enough of a chance to win.