Notes: Rough start forgotten, Sox in first

191542.jpg

Notes: Rough start forgotten, Sox in first

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

DETROIT The Red Sox started off the season with records of 0-6 and 2-10, mired in the basement of the American League East.

After Fridays win over the Tigers, they have won 12 of their last 14 games with a season-long seven-game win streak. They now lead the A.L. East by 1 12 games after the Yankees' second straight loss in Seattle on Saturday night.

How to explain such vagaries?

I always say that guys usually get to their level, said manager Terry Francona. Sometimes its not the most consistent way, but usually sometimes guys with track records get to their level. Sometimes its the damnedest way. Some guys start out hitting .500. Some guys start out hitting no-hundred. But they usually get there. If you can figure it out, bottle it, well make a lot of money.

Its sort of the same with teams. We started out doing nothing right. Sometimes that happens. Its not a good feeling. Sometimes all the things that go wrong go right, and normally its somewhere in the middle. I do think human emotions play a part. You feel confident about yourself, because the last thing you want to feel, any time doubt is created it doesnt help. The games played by human beings. So theres always going to be that element.

But he has noticed a different vibe around his team recently.

Yeah, and there should be, he said. The thing Ive kind of liked, we have a good enough team where were going to go through some things where we hit that ball . . . Sometimes it goes away and it comes back. But theyve been trying to play the game right: score early and keep after them. I like that.

"When we were 0-6 or 2-10, I was like, 'Okay, this isnt the end of the world.' Its the same thing on the other side, too. We dont want to get too carried away.

Sometimes it takes a while for a team to jell and show its collective personality.

Ive seen this team have a few personalities, myself included, he said. It grows over the course of a season. I dont know if you really know until its over. It doesnt happen on the first day of a season. I can guarantee that.

Bobby Jenks is expected to throw another inning Sunday for Pawtucket as he makes his way back from a biceps strain.

Ryan Kalish (left shoulder labrum) is close to returning to Pawtucket. Francona said Kalish has been out to 120 feet throwing.

In spring training, Jarrod Saltalamacchia worked on a Tony Pena-style squat behind the plate. At 6-feet-4, hes tall for a catcher and the stance helps him to get lower behind the plate, giving the pitchers a lower target. He hasnt completely scrapped that stance, but hasnt used it since early in the season.

Some guys felt more comfortable throwing to the normal stance . . . so I stopped it, he said. Alfredo Aceves likes it, so if I catch him I might do it. But its just a target thing. Thats all I did it for. I wasnt doing it for anything other than giving a low target. Its hard for me to give a low target. But me and bullpen coach Gary Tuck have worked on different things I can do to give a lower target in the stance.

I did it in 08 for the first time and it felt pretty comfortable. It wasnt anything. When guys are on base you obviously dont do it. So, its pretty comfortable.

Asked if he would use it again, Saltalamacchia replied:

I will if I have to have to. Whatever works."

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Quotes, notes and stars: Betts has first career five-hit night

red_sox_mookie_betts_082516.jpg

Quotes, notes and stars: Betts has first career five-hit night

BOSTON - Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 6-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals

QUOTES:

"We continually do a great job in creating opportunities and I'm confident that (the struggles with men in scoring position) will turn.'' - John Farrell

"When you start off with a five-run spot in the first, that's a tough deficit to overcome.'' - Steven Wright.

"That's how it goes sometimes. Sometimes, we score when we're not expecting to and then when we need to score, sometimes it doesn't happen.'' - Mookie Betts on the team going 4-for-15 with RISP.

 

NOTES:

* The loss was just the third in the last 13 series openers for the Red Sox.

* The game marked the first time in 20 home games in which the Sox never led.

* Boston was 4-for-15 with runners in scoring position.

* The first four hitters in the order were 13-for-19 (.684). The fifth-through-nine hitters, however, were just 2-for-21 (.095).

* Mookie Betts (five hits) leads the majors with 55 multi-hit games.

* Dustin Pedroia has reached base in each of his last eight plate appearances.

* David Ortiz's double was the 625th of his career, passing Hank Aaron to move into 10 place in MLB history.

* Ortiz leads the A.L. in doubles (41) and extra-base hits (72).

 

STARS:

1) Eric Hosmer

Hosmer cranked a three-run homer into the Monster Seats four batters into the game, and the Royals were off and running with a five-run inning.

2) Ian Kennedy

The Royals starter wasn't dominant, allowing nine hits in 5 1/3 innings, but he bailed himself out of a number of jams and limited the Sox to just two runs.

3) Mookie Betts

Betts had his first career five-hit night and knocked in two of the three Red Sox runs, though he also got himself picked off first base.

 

First impressions: Royals' five-run first inning dooms Red Sox in 6-3 loss

red_sox_steven_wright_082616.jpg

First impressions: Royals' five-run first inning dooms Red Sox in 6-3 loss

First impressions from the Red Sox' 6-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals:

 

Steven Wright recovered nicely after the first inning, but the damage was done.

Wright's last five innings featured just three hits allowed -- one in the infield. But the first inning did the Red Sox in -- two walks followed by a three-run homer, then a single and a two-run homer.

Whether this was a matter of rust for Wright -- who last pitched three weeks ago Friday night -- or an early inability to command his knuckleball is uncertain.

The fact is, Wright dug an early hole for his teammates, and he had the misfortune to do so against a team with the best bullpen in baseball.

To his credit, Wright kept the game somewhat within reach thereafter, but the five-run head start proved too much of a jump.

 

It's time to worry a little about Jackie Bradley.

Bradley was just 7-for-40 in the just-completed road trip, and things didn't get any better on the first night of the homestand.

In the first, he came up with two on and two out and struck out swinging to strand both baserunners. In the third, he came to the plate with runners on the corners and, again, struck out swinging.

We're seeing the same kind of slump that Bradley fell into in previous seasons, where even contact is hard to find, with nine strikeouts in the last 16 at-bats.

Problem is, with Andrew Benitendi on the DL, there aren't a lot of options for John Farrell with the Red Sox outfield.

 

Trying to get Fernando Abad and Junichi Tazawa back on track in low- leverage mop-up didn't work.

Tazawa had a perfect seventh, but gave up a monster shot into the center field bleachers to Lorenzo Cain to start the eighth.

Abad entered, and while he did record a couple of strikeouts, also gave up a single, a walk and threw a wild pitches before he could complete the inning.

Getting some work for the two was the right idea, given that the Sox were down by three runs at the time. A good outing might help either regain some confidence and turn the corner.

But not even that could be accomplished Friday night.