Nation STATion: Homes away from home

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Nation STATion: Homes away from home

By Bill Chuck
Special to CSNNE.com

First, let me get this out of the way: even first-place teams lose games. Red Sox Nation has gotten so used to Ws that its important to remember that there are pitchers like Justin Verlander out there ready to shut down even the hottest hitting team.
FYI Sox shutouts:The Sox have been shut out five times this season. Last year they were shut out four times, the fewest blankings in the majors. In 2009, 2008, and 2007, they were shut out seven times each year, and in 2006, they were held scoreless eight times.

There is lots of digital ink being used today about David Ortizs big pinch-homer that won Game 1 of the day-nighter yesterday in Detroit. As we have discussed here at the STATion previously, this was Big Papis first Sox pinch-homer since his very first Sox homer on April 27, 2003 in the 14th inning.

BTW Who did Papi pinch-hit for?Feel free to ask your friends if they know whom Ortiz pinch-hit for that afternoon. Then you can feel smart by informing them that it was Jeremy Giambi.
FYI Sox pinch-hit homers:As you already know, the Sox had two pinch-hit homers last season off the bats of Darnell McDonald and Bill Hall. They didnt have any in 2009, but in 2008 they had a pair from pinch-hitting catchers, Kevin Cash and Jason Varitek. And they didnt have any in 2007 or 2006, but another pinch-hitting catcher, Doug Mirabelli, hit one in 2005.

What I found most interesting about the Ortiz homer however was its location, and I dont mean right-centerfield. Papi loves Comerica Park. In 151 at bats there Ortiz has 16 homers. The same number he has hit at US Cellular in Chicago and Texas Arlington Stadium, but in about 35 fewer at bats than each location. And on top of that hes hitting around .290 at Comerica.

So, it got me thinking (always something dangerous) as to what are some of the other favorite ballparks for Sox hitters, in essence, homes away from home.

While Jacoby Ellsbury has a .405 average at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, I would go with Baltimores Camden Yards as his favorite alternative hitting venue. He has a .402 lifetime average there with three homers and a dozen RBI, but outside of Fenway, its his favorite ballpark to steal bases; hes 18 of 19 in steal attempts there.

In my mind Dustin Pedroia, likes to play everywhere, anywhere, and at any time. When I look at these numbers, I leave out the aberration of interleague play, which in my mind dilutes stats, the season, and quality of play (but thats a rant for another day). I do have to point out that Pedey is 9-for-14 (.643) at Minute Maid Field in Houston and 6-for-12 (.500), with three homers, at Coors Field in Colorado. So, because the 6-for-12 sample at Target Field in Minnesota is so small, Im going with Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City as Pedroias top road ballpark. He is 21-44 and thats good for a .477 average.

FYI Adrian Gonzalez in the NLWe are skipping A-Gone as we go through the batting order simply because he is too new to the AL, but I can tell you that he will miss Miller Park in Milwaukee where he hit .425 with seven homers and 19 RBI and had a 1.302 OPS.

Kevin Youkilis prefers home cooking. Youk is a lifetime .306 hitter at Fenway and a .280 hitter on the road. But there are two road parks Kevvie particularly likes: Seattles Safeco Field where he has hit .338 and Camden Yards where he is a .330 hitter with nine homers and 35 RBI (and 35 walks).

Its hard to tell whether J.D. Drew enjoys playing anywhere (yes, I know I read your mind), but the AL ballpark (remember that he has spent nine years in the NL) he has had the most success is Camden Yards where he has hit .342 with eight homers and 23 RBI, with a 1.088 OPS.

Carl Crawford has also had good games at Safeco Field, where he has hit .360. But I think his favorite road stop is Chicagos US Cellular where he has hit .356 and has four homers and nine RBI, plus he is 15-for-18 in steal attempts there.

Jed Lowrie is still experiencing his first extended regular play in the bigs, so its too early know where else he enjoys success, I just think hes happy to be on the field.
BTW Marco ScutaroMarco has done well at Camden Yards where he has hit .324 with three homers and 12 RBI.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia is like Lowrie in that he is new to playing regularly, so I thought I would point out that the Captain, Jason Varitek, has always hit well in Cleveland. At the Jake, or for those of who prefer Progressive Field, Tek has hit .293 with seven homers and 18 RBI.

So thats a quick (okay, its quick for me) look at Sox batters away from the Fens and on another day well look at how Boston pitchers fare on other hills.

BTW Send a salami to your boy in the armyFinally, dont just wait for Memorial Day to think about those in uniform who are also away from their homes doing things we cant describe in numbers. Theres a great delicatessen in New York (where else?) called Katzs Deli. Since its founding in 1888, it has sold tons of corned beef, hot dogs and pastrami. During WW II they posted a sign that encouraged parents of GIs to send a salami to your boy in the army.To this day, they maintain special international shipping only for U.S. military addresses. So if you want to send a gift package to the troops stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq, simply call 1-800-4HOTDOG to make the arrangements.

Or, if your favorite soldier is watching his or her cholesterol, just send a copy of Nation STATion, I know it would make all of us at CSNNE.com feel honored.

Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox 7, White Sox 3

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Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox 7, White Sox 3

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 7-3 win over the White Sox:

QUOTES

* "Where five days ago, he was able to harness things and command the baseball a little better, tonight that was not the case.'' - John Farrell on Henry Owens.

* "That was a momentum shift for us.'' - Farrell on the inning-ending double play that ended the fifth, with Mookie Betts throwing out Brett Lowrie at the plate.

* "They've done outstanding work, when our backs have been against the wall with some early exits by starters.'' Farrell on the bullpen contributions.

* "It's disappointing, (after) working hard on my mechanics the last five days.'' - Owens on his command struggles.

* "It's good to win a series, for sure, against this team.'' - Xander Bogaerts on the win.

NOTES

* Seven different Red Sox hitters produced an RBI.

* The Red Sox are 9-2 in their last 11 and 11-4 in their last 15.

* Hanley Ramirez, who homered for the second time in his last two games, has nine RBI in his last nine games.

* Jackie Bradley Jr. extended his hitting streak to 11 straight games.

* The Sox became the first team to beat the White Sox two games in a row at home.

STARS

1) Matt Barnes

Barnes picked up the win in relief, contributing five big outs in the middle innings and stabilizing the game for the Red Sox bullpen.

2) Dustin Pedroia

After going hitless Wednesday night in the cleanup spot, Pedroia was back in the No. 2 hole and got the Sox off on the right foot with a solo homer in the top of the first. He later added two more hits.

3) Hanley Ramirez

Returning from a one-game absence, Ramirez belted his second homer in as many games and also worked two walks, a good sign for someone who not long ago was too often expanding the strike zone.

First impressions: Red Sox bullpen picks up the slack in 7-3 win

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First impressions: Red Sox bullpen picks up the slack in 7-3 win

CHICAGO -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 7-3 win over the White Sox:

* Henry Owens doesn't throw enough strikes to remain in the rotation.

Owens's time was coming to an end anyway, what with the imminent return of Eduardo Rodriguez.

But Owens may have pitched his way out of another start with his outing Thursday night. He faced 16 hitters and walked six hitters.

In every inning he began, he allowed the leadoff hitter to reach. This, despite his teammates scoring runs for him in every previous half inning.

* For a team without a lot of homers, the Red Sox hit their share Thursday night.

The Sox came into the game tied for 11th in homers in the American League, then hit three in the first six innings.

Each one of the homers -- by Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez and Jackie Bradley - came with the bases empty, but together, they helped the Red Sox hold off the White Sox.

Ramirez's homer was particularly encouraging, since it was his second in the last three nights, and like the one he hit on Tuesday, was hit to the opposite field.

* The bullpen picked up a lot of slack.

When the Henry Owens Walkfest mercifully ended in the fourth inning, the Red Sox still had 18 outs to get.

Heath Hembree stumbled some, allowing a run on five hits -- the first run he's allowed this season -- but Matt Barnes, Junichi Tazawa, Robbie Ross. Jr took it from there, chipping in for the final 4 1/3 innings, all scoreless.

Thus far this season, the Red Sox have won four games in which their starter failed to get to the fifth inning. Some of that is a tribute to the offense, which has rallied a few times to make up early deficits.

But it's also due in part to the bullpen, which has provided quality relief and bought time for the offense to catch up.

* The Sox continue to play well on the road.

Through the first four road series, the Red Sox are 4-0-1, having done no worse than a split in their road sets to date.

Learning to win on the road now can be a useful trait for this team in the second half, when the schedule has them playing far more games away from home in the final two and a half months of the season.

* Boston had a balanced offensive attack.

Every member of the starting lineup except one Thursday had either an extra-base hit or a sacrifice fly. Leadoff hitter Mookie Betts, who continues to run hot and cold, was the only starter without one or the other, though he did have a single, walk twice and score a run.

In all, seven different players recorded one RBI.