By Maureen Mullen
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