Red Sox notes: Beckett's swagger yields results

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Red Sox notes: Beckett's swagger yields results

By Jessica Camerato and Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON - Call it swagger, call it confidence, call it what you want.

Whatever it is, the Boston Red Sox (3-10) like when Josh Beckett has it - and he brought it to the mound with him on Saturday against the Toronto Blue Jays (7-7).

Beckett (2-1) recorded nine strikeouts in seven innings while allowing only three hits and one earned run in the Red Sox' 4-1 victory.

Hes always been the leader of this staff, Terry Francona said after the game. I know he didnt pitch Opening Day, but guys look up to him. When hes going good and when he feels good about himself, hes got that, I dont know if its persona or swagger, I dont know how youd want to say it, but he gives our ball club a lot of confidence.

After giving up five hits and three earned runs in his first appearance of the season, Beckett has won his past two outings. He has struck out 19, given up only three walks, and posted an ERA of 0.60 during his back-to-back victories. Opponents are batting just .102 against him during this stretch.

Beckett is already noticing an improvement from last season, in which he went 6-6 with a 5.78 ERA.

I think execution-wise and health-wise and everything, I definitely think my last two starts have been a notch above what I was most of the year last year, he said.

Francona praised Beckett for using all of his pitches and working his way back if he fell behind in the count. Jason Varitek noticed him making adjustments to stay on top.

I didnt see us behind too too much, but he continued to make quality pitches if he did fall behind, Varitek said. He had a good game plan. We had to mix in a little more cutters today than we did in his last outing, but sometimes you have to adapt to what you have.

Beckett had enough on Saturday to give the Red Sox their third win of the season, one they hope will give them momentum.

Its nice to pitch well, Beckett said. Weve got to win some more games, however we got to do it, if we got to win 15-12, whatever. Weve got to win games. Like I said, its nice to pitch well but it doesnt make it any easier on the other days.

The good news is that everyone on the Red Sox is trying to boost the teams run production. The not-so-good news is that sometimes trying too hard can be counterproductive, resulting in an increased number of men left on base. On Saturday, the Red Sox left 11 stranded.

I think for the most part when you see guys in the lineup not getting it done and then its your turn, you press and you try harder, Adrian Gonzalez (1-3, 1 RBI) said. Usually that doesnt come out with good results. Ive been in it a lot of times in the past where its just a group effort, everyones trying so hard to get that run in, that it just doesnt happen.

Gonzalez expects there to be a domino effect once players start hitting the ball.

When we start getting those to fall and getting more hits, it will just kind of snowball into a point where were going to be hitting .500 for a period of time, he said. Thats just the game and weve just got to keep going out there and grinding out at bats.

Matt Albers will make a pair of rehab appearances in Pawtucket on Sunday and Tuesday. The right handed pitcher has been on the 15-day disabled list since April 6 with an oblique strain.

I hope to go down there and get into a game situation again, he said on Saturday. Thatll be nice. Ill try to get the juices flowing and make sure my arm feels good and everything. Thats what I hope to accomplish.

Albers has pitched in two games this season, recording three strikeouts and two walks without giving up a run over two innings. He is looking forward to getting back on the mound.

I think it just makes me get back out there and face real hitters and get some real at-bats, he said. I want to just keep doing what I was doing. Hopefully come in and be able to throw strikes and get outs.

As the Red Sox get their season underway, their fellow Boston athletes on the Celtics will kick off their postseason on Sunday against the New York Knicks. Many of the Sox are eager to see how the Cs will perform.

I want to see Rajon Rondo, said Mike Cameron. I just want to see him get back in his game, going off. And I want to see how The Truth handles Melo and see Ray Allen do his thing - sharpshooter, marksman.

Said Carl Crawford, I just like to watch good basketball. I know they have a good team and a highly competitive team, so Id like to see what theyre going to do.

Jed Lowries first-inning single was the first hit by a Red Sox lead-off batter in the first inning of a game. It took 13 games to accomplish the feat. Jacoby Ellsbury reached base by a walk on April 2 in Texas, and Carl Crawford reached when he was hit by a pitch on April 12 against Tampa Bay. It was Lowries first career appearance in the lead-off spot.

The Jays stole three bases in the game, getting caught once. That gives them seven steals in the series, against one caught stealing. Red Sox catchers are 3-for-19 (15.8 percent) throwing out attempted base stealers this season.

Ellsbury reached base three times two walks, and getting hit by a pitch once. It was the second time he has reached base three times this season. The last was Opening Day, April 1, in Texas.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcameratonba

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Ortiz, Red Sox express shock, sadness over Fernandez's death

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Ortiz, Red Sox express shock, sadness over Fernandez's death

Like the rest of the baseball world, the Red Sox expressed shock and sadness over the tragic death of Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, who was killed in a boating accident in Miami. 

David Ortiz tweeted his thoughts before the game Sunday in St. Petersburg, where the Red Sox played the Tampa Bay Rays.

There was a moment of silence for Fernandez - who attended high school in the Tampa area after defecting from Cuba at 15 - before the game at Tropicana Field, and before all major league games on Sunday. 

There was to be on-field ceremony for Ortiz before his last game at the Trop, part of his retirement farewell tour, but it was canceled at Ortiz's request. A video tribute to Ortiz was shown during the game and the Rays gave Ortiz his retirement gifts privately.

Ortiz wiped away tears during the moment of silence. He wrote Fernandez's intitals and his uniform number 16 on his cap.

Fernandez had joked about how he wanted to give up a home run to Ortiz when he faced him as an N.L. pitcher in the All-Star Game this past July. 

"I told him yesterday that I am going to throw him three fastballs down the middle. I want to watch him hit a home run," Fernandez had said. 

Ortiz ended up walking against Fernandez, prompting this response from Big Papi:

First baseman Hanley Ramirez, who played for the Marlins, as well as other Red Sox players, also tweeted their reactions after hearing the news of Fernandez's death Sunday morning. 

Sunday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: JBJ sits, Vazquez catches

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Sunday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: JBJ sits, Vazquez catches

Jackie Bradley Jr. gets the day off and Christian Vazquez get the start at catcher as the Red Sox look to extend their winning streak to 11 games today against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg. 

Andrew Benintendi replaces Bradley in center, Chris Young is in left and left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (3-7, 4.84 ERA) is on the mound as the Red Sox close in on the A.L. East title. Their magic number to clinch the division is three with seven games left. 

Right-hander Jake Odorizzi (9-6, 3.73) is on the mound for the Rays.

The lineups:  

RED SOX 
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez LF
Travis Shaw 3B
Chris Young LF
Andrew Benintendi CF
Christian Vazquez C
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Eduardo Rodriguez LHP 

RAYS
Logan Forsythe 2B
Kevin Kiermaier CF
Evan Longoria 3B
Brad Miller SS
Mikey Mahtook RF
Corey Dickerson LF
Curt Casali DH
Luke Maile C
Richie Shaffer 1B
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Jake Odorizzi RHP