Notes: Hits keep coming for Gonzalez

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Notes: Hits keep coming for Gonzalez

By SeanMcAdam
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- Ten days ago, Adrian Gonzalez was on a home run tear, clubbing five in the span of four games.

Now the long balls have dried up for the time being, but the hits keep on coming.

Gonzalez was 4-for-4 in the Red Sox' 5-1 win over the Chicago Cubs Sunday night, giving him two four-hit games in the span of his last three. He's hitting .342 for the season.

"I feel good,'' said Gonzalez. "I'm able to swing at the pitches I want to swing at and I'm not chasing too many pitches out of the zone. I'm just trying to execute my game plan.

"You have the same thought process all the time. It's about execution and I've been able to execute. If I know my body's going to respond the way I want it to, I'm confident.''

Gonzalez has had multiple hits in 8 of his last 13 games and is hitting .431 in that span. He now leads the American League in multihit games with 20 and also has seven games three of more hits.

The only hitter in the big leagues with more than two four-hit games this season is Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro.

"He's a really good hitter,'' said Terry Francona, "and he's in a really good period, too. He hits the ball to left field. He fights off pitches and get something he can handle.''

Jarrod Saltalamacchia has seemingly found his power stroke.

The Red Sox catcher launched a homer to left in the fifth inning Sunday night, his second homer in as many games and his third in his last four starts.

"We talk a lot about catching is first and foremost for him,'' said Francona. "But he's starting to add something with the bat, and so is Jason Varitek. If they're sitting there in the ninth spot and hit a ball out every once in a while, or get a couple of hits, it certainly helps us.

"Saltalamacchia looks more confident. He should be -- he's playing better.''

Saltalamacchia has hit safely in five straight games and during that stretch is hitting .389 (7-for-18) and of his last 15 hits, eight have been for extra bases.

The Red Sox are seeing progress with two sidelined pitchers and are encouraged that both may be ready to begin rehab assignments later this week or early next.

John Lackey, sidelined with elbow inflammation, threw on the side Sunday afternoon and will throw a bullpen Tuesday in Cleveland.

"He was really upbeat, which was good to see,'' said Terry Francona.

Bobby Jenks (biceps tendinitis) played catch Sunday and will throw a side session Monday.

Meanwhile, shortstop Marco Scutaro continues to feel some discomfort from a strained oblique muscle and must wait some more before being cleared to begin taking batting practice.

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

Red Sox secure playoff with 6-4 win over Rays

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Red Sox secure playoff with 6-4 win over Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Dustin Pedroia hit his fourth career grand slam to help Rick Porcello get his major league-leading 22nd win, and the Boston Red Sox clinched a playoff berth by beating the Tampa Bay Rays 6-4 Saturday night for their 10th consecutive win.

Boston maintained a 5 1/2-game lead over Toronto for the division title and ensured no worse than the AL's second wild card. While the Red Sox technically have a magic number of one, the Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles play each other three times in the season's final week - meaning only one of them can win match Boston's 91 wins.

Among the other wild-card contenders, only Detroit can reach 91 victories.

Pedroia stopped an 0-for-17 skid with a single in the sixth and gave Boston a 6-3 lead with a seventh-inning drive off Danny Farquhar.

Porcello (22-4) gave up three runs, eight hits and struck out nine over 6 1/3 innings. He just missed getting his 12th consecutive start of seven or more innings and three runs or fewer, which would have moved him past Cy Young (1904) and Pedro Martinez (2000) for the longest stretch during the same season in franchise history.

Craig Kimbrel, the fifth Boston reliever, reached 30 saves for the sixth straight season despite allowing Logan Forsythe's solo homer in the ninth.

Brad Miller hit a two-run double in a three-run second that put Tampa Bay up 3-1 and gave him 80 RBIs.

Tampa Bay threatened in the second but failed to score due to two nice defensive plays. Pedroia made a throw from just in front of the outfield grass at second base on Mikie Mahtook's grounder to get Corey Dickerson at the plate. Third baseman Brock Holt made a solid play along the line on Alexei Ramirez's grounder and threw him out at first to end the inning.

Farrell: Sandoval could possibly return to Red Sox for postseason

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Farrell: Sandoval could possibly return to Red Sox for postseason

Thought to be lost for the season after shoulder surgery this past spring, Pablo Sandoval could possibly return to the Red Sox for the postseason, Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters Saturday.

Sandoval joined the team in St. Petersburg, where the Red Sox are playing the Tampa Bay Rays. Farrell said Sandoval had played in instructional league games in Florida and was "well ahead of schedule."

He could be an option to be activated if another player is injured. 

“One of the things I put in my mind that I have to work,” Sandoval told Boston Herald. “I learned a lot of things about this surgery so I had to work hard to be on the field as soon as possible.

“There are a lot of things I’ve been doing, working out, doing things so I can get better and better everyday.”

Sandoval, 30, is in the second year of a five-year, $95 contract. He lost his starting third base job to Travis Shaw in spring training and in April an MRI revealed he needed surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder, which was to have ended his season.

He appeared in only three games this season and hit .245 with 10 homers and 47 RBI in 126 games in 2015.