Notes: Gonzalez driving in runs at record pace

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Notes: Gonzalez driving in runs at record pace

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
TORONTO -- The way he's going at the plate right now, Adrian Gonzalez seemingly could knock in runs in his sleep.

With a first-inning homer Sunday, Gonzalez extended his personal RBI streak to nine games. That ties him with San Diego's Jason Bartlett and White Sox' Paul Konerko for the longest such streak this season.

It's also the longest streak for a Red Sox player since Manny Ramirez knocked in at least one run in 10 straight games in 2002.

After that solo homer in the first, he added a groundout to the right side in the third when the Sox had runners at second and third with one out, giving him another RBI.

"He puts the bat on the ball,'' said Terry Francona of his first baseman. "He rolled over on that (groundout), but he got a knack. He understands what he's got to do (to deliver runs) -- if he's got to shorten up, or hit the ball out of the ballpark.''

For his part, Gonzalez pointed to the table-setters in the Boston batting order -- Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia -- for providing RBI opportunities.

''People keep asking about the RBIs,'' said Gonzalez, "but RBIs are all about the guys ahead of you and those guys are doing an incredible job of giving me multiple opportunities every day. They're the ones that get the team going.''

And after five seasons in the National League, Gonzalez has found the Rogers Centre to be a nice place to hit. In five games here with the Sox this year, Gonzalez has four homers.

Nearly lost in the Red Sox' offensive barrage was the work of starter Jon Lester, who was brilliant, allowing just one run on two hits over eight innings.

Of course, it helped that Lester had a 1-0 lead before even taking the mound, a 3-0 lead in the third and a 9-0 lead by the fifth.

"That was real nice,'' acknowledged Lester, who became the American League's first nine-game winner.

Sunday marked the first time in 14 starts this season that Lester didn't walk a single batter.

In fact, starting with his outing against the Yankees last week, Lester has walked just one batter over his last 14 innings.

That followed a stretch in which he walked 17 over five starts.

"There's been a couple of starts where I was a little erratic with my mechanics and just being able to repeat things,'' said Lester. "But the last couple of starts, I've been able to attack a little bit more. And it's easier to do when you have a lead like that.''

Lester faced just three hitters over the minimum and acknowledged that Sunday perhaps constituted his best outing of the season.

"I'd say my fastball command was pretty good today,'' he said, "and that was probably the best changeup I've had in a while.''

Tuesday will mark Carl Crawford's first return to Tropicana Field since leaving the Tampa Bay Rays to sign his seven-year, 142 million deal with the Red Sox last December.

"I've got to treat it like another road trip,'' said Crawford.

Crawford played against the Rays twice in spring training in Port Charlotte, but this will be his first time back at the Rays' major league facility.

"Port Charlotte is nothing like actually going to the stadium for a big-league game,'' he said. "That's going to be a little different. I'm looking forward to seeing how that's going to turn out.''

Crawford hopes that, after eight full seasons in a Rays uniform, fans will remember what he contributed to the franchise.

"I have no ill will toward those guys,'' he said. "You never know, though. You just have to see what's going to happen. It wasn't an option to stay there (because the Rays never made him an offer once he became a free agent). Hopefully, the fans will be smart enough to realize that.''

Following Sunday's win, utility man Drew Sutton was seen shaking hands with teammates and didn't leave with them on their charter flight to Tampa.

Instead, Sutton -- who hit .290 since being recalled -- will return to Pawtucket, likely making room for the return of outfielder Darnell McDonald, who was placed on the DL on the last road trip with a sore quad.

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.