Notes: Gonzalez has fun with former team

191542.jpg

Notes: Gonzalez has fun with former team

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
BOSTON Adrian Gonzalez insisted facing the Padres the team with which he spent the previous five seasons would be just another series. He was true to his word in the series opener Monday night, going 3-for-5 with two runs scored, three RBI, and a strikeout.

Ho hum.

Just another game for Gonzalez, who extended his American League-best batting average from .348 to .353, as the Red Sox pounded the Padres, 14-5.

Just like another game, he said. Have fun with it. it was good to see them before the game and catch up with them, but once the game started it was all about playing the game.

Gonzalezs three hits came against three different Padres pitchers. In the first inning he singled off starter Wade LeBlanc. In the seventh, his RBI double drove Cory Luebke from the game. Later in the seventh when the Sox sent 14 batters to the plate, with 10 scoring he doubled off Evan Scribner, scoring two more runs.

But he did manage to squeeze in some fun during the game, with Chase Headley, who went 4-for-5, on first.

I touched Chases ear, which was important, Gonzalez said. He doesnt like his ear being touched. Those are fighting actions if you touch his ears. It was fun. But you only talk between pitches and once you get ready for the pitch you refocus.

Before the game, Gonzalez was the focus of many reporters, wanting the first basemans input on his new team and his former team.

How do you prepare for something like that? Gonzalez asked. You just answer the questions and once the game starts, play the game. Theres no other way to focus on it. Once the umpire says play ball, try to beat the team on the other side of the field and focus on the same preparation, how you're going to face the pitcher, how youre going to play defense and just play the game.

In the seventh inning, the Sox sent 14 batters with 10 scoring, including nine with two outs. It was the most they have scored in an inning since the a 12-run sixth inning against the Indians on May 7, 2009. They have batted around 15 times this season, most in the majors. Two of the runs scored on consecutive hit batters, by Ernesto Frieri.

I actually didnt even realize it until you just said that, Jason Varitek told reporters.

The Sox have at least 10 hits and 10 runs in three of their four games on the homestand, batting .352 (51-for-145), scoring 38 runs. On his teams offense, Varitek said:

We spent a lot of time earlier this season when we didnt have any offense. It just allowed us to work and become the team that we are.

With the score tied, Dustin Pedroia, the second batter in the seventh, beat out a possible double play, setting up the offensive explosion. Jacoby Ellsbury, who walked, was thrown out at second on a fielders choice, but Pedroia beat the relay throw from shortstop Jason Bartlett.

Pure hustle gives our hitters a chance to keep hitting and extend an inning and we take advantage of it, Francona said. That's the kind of player he is.

I run like that all the time, Pedroia said. Its good to extend the inning and have a guy on base.

Pedroia has a six-game hitting streak, going 9-for-24 (.375).

Kevin Youkilis has hit safely in 9 of his last 11 games, batting .310 (13-for-42) with 16 RBI.

David Ortiz has a 14-game hitting streak at Fenway since May 19, hitting .491 (27-for-55) with nine doubles, four homers, and 13 RBI. It is his longest stretch at Fenway since a 15-game streak from July 4 Aug. 13, 2007.

Padres manager Bud Black, whose ties to Fenway go back to hismajor-league debut on Sept. 5, 1981, while with the Mariners, is notsurprised by what Gonzalez has done for the Sox thisseason.

He put up All-Star numbers with us aswell, Black said. You look at what he did for the Padres, thosenumbers are very, very solid. And hes doing itagain.

No doubt he was the focal point of ouroffense when he was here and I think that was probably stressed fromthe other dugout. I can only imagine when they went through scoutingreports they probably said dont let Gonzalez beat you. Thatssomething that we could see quite frankly from game to game, how goodhe is.

Its a little tougher for a pitcher to gothrough a lineup as deep as the Red Sox have. I think that when youresurrounded by other players and the Red Sox are getting on base at apretty high rate, it makes it awfully tough on the opposingpitcher.

Dave Roberts is in his first season as firs-base coach for the Padres afterworking in the teams baseball operations department lastyear. He played parts of 10 seasons in the major leagues,including 45 games with the Sox in 2004 that led to one very memorablestolen base in the ALCS against the Yankees (which the Padres pregamepress notes jokingly downplayed: He stole one freakin bag, bigdeal).

Red Sox manager Terry Francona said beforethe game, if it werent for Roberts he might not still be managing theteam.

I dont know where the heck I would be if itwasnt for Tito, Francona said. But you know what? We had a specialgroup. People always talk about the 04 team and what it meant to thepeople in New England and Boston. The group, were still tight, all ofus are still tight. We still reminisce about 04 and the group we had.Im still looking forward to seeing David Ortiz over there, JasonVaritek.

Roberts, who was diagnosed in 2010 withHodgkins lymphoma, got a clean report from doctors at Dana-Farber inhis visit there Friday.

That was a big day for me,he said. Im pretty happy to be here, and just taking every day.Whats not to love about this ballpark?

Reliever BobbyJenks had what Francona termed "a real good day," throwing from adistance of 200 feet on flat ground.

Jenks is onthe disabled list because of a back injury.

"If heshows up Tuesday with no ill effects from that," said Francona, "hemight even take it to the mound. Not a full-fledge side, but justgetting back on that downhill plane. But he had a real good dayMonday; best day by far."

With three series in N.L. parks coming up fast on the schedule, the RedSox were on the field early, working on buntplays.

Thanks to no DH in NL-hosted games, the Soxare likely to see far more bunt attempts from opposingpitchers.

"Over there," said Francona, "when apitcher comes up to the plate, he's bunting. You put a wheel play onin the American League, you're doing them a favor because you'reopening up two holes and you have a position playerhitting.

"In the National League, there are going tobe situations where they are bunting. We might as well defend it."

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Wednesday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: Ramirez gets night off

red_sox_hanley_ramirez_072816.jpg

Wednesday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: Ramirez gets night off

Hanley Ramirez is getting a night off as the Red Sox look for their third straight win against the Rays tonight at Tropicana Field.

Travis Shaw will play first base, with Brock Holt at third.

Tonight's lineups:

RED SOX:
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Sandy Leon C
Brock Holt 3B
Travis Shaw 1B
Andrew Benintendi LF
---
Rick Porcello P

RAYS:
Logan Forsythe 2B
Kevin Kiermaier CF
Evan Longoria 3B
Brad Miller SH
Matt Duffy SS
Logan Morrison 1B
Steven Souza Jr. RF
Corey Dickerson LF
Bobby Wilson C
---
Matt Andriese P

McAdam: Buchholz is the relief the Red Sox need

McAdam: Buchholz is the relief the Red Sox need

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- This is the kind of season it has been for Clay Buchholz:

A little more than a month ago, he was merely taking up space on the Red Sox roster, having been summarily removed from the rotation after three months of poor outings.

He was in the bullpen, but the Sox were loathe to use him. Asked, memorably, why Buchholz hadn't been the choice to serve as a long reliever in a game in which the starter departed early, John Farrell candidly noted, in not so many words, that because the Sox still had a chance to win the game, Buchholz didn't make sense as an option.

Ouch.

But slowly, Buchholz became more effective in his new relief role. And when injuries struck the rotation, Buchholz got himself three cameo starts, during which he posted a 2.70 ERA in 16 2/3 innings, topped by Tuesday's beauty -- 6 1/3 innings, one run allowed, nine strikeouts recorded.

Just as Buchholz has straightened out, however, Red Sox starters are suddenly stacked up like jets waiting for clearance to land at Logan Airport. Steven Wright returns from a brief DL stint Friday, and Eduardo Rodriguez is not far behind.

When he pitched poorly, the Red Sox didn't have any other options.

When he pitched well, the Red Sox have plenty of other choices.

So, now what?

"As far as Clay goes,'' said John Farrell, "this will be, I'm sure, a conversation (had) within (the organization). But setting that aside, he's throwing the ball exceptionally well right now.''

That's indisputable.

But the question remains: In what capacity will he throw the ball in the near future?

There's been a suggestion to keep Buchholz in the rotation while moving Drew Pomeranz to the bullpen. That would give the Sox a dependable lefty in relief -- as opposed to, say, Fernando Abad -- while also serving the dual purpose of putting a governor on Pomeranz's climbing innings total.

Pomeranz, who has plenty of bullpen experience in the big leagues, has also thrown 140 1/3 innings this season, eclipsing his previous major league high by nearly 40.

But Pomeranz is 27, not 21. He's shown no signs of fatigue. To the contrary, he's 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his last four starts. The Sox shouldn't mess with his success.

Instead, Buchholz should become one of the team's high-leverage set-up weapons, available in the seventh or eighth inning.

True, Buchholz doesn't have the swing-and-miss capability you'd prefer to have in the eighth inning, where the fewer balls put in play, the better off you are. But he can get lefties and righties out, and, pitching out of the stretch full-time, he's greatly improved his command.

Buchholz would remain the best option for a spot start if one of the five Red Sox starters faltered or got hurt. But the bullpen remains the best choice for him.

Ironic, isn't it? When he pitched poorly, he remained in the rotation for several months. Now that he's pitching superbly, he can't earn a permanent spot.

It's been that kind of season.