Red Sox notes: Gonzalez on a tear

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Red Sox notes: Gonzalez on a tear

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

NEW YORK -- Adrian Gonzalez has been on a tear at the plate of late, hitting six homers in his previous nine games before Friday night.

Most of those have been hit to the opposite field, with Gonzalez taking particular advantage of the inviting left field wall at Fenway.

But Friday night, when Gonzalez belted yet another homer, he hit this one to right, into the second deck in Yankee Stadium.

"Bartolo (Colon, Yankee starter) was going to pound me in,'' said Gonzalez. "I knew that. He wasn't going to give much away to go the other way, so my game plan was to try and choose my spots to try to look for a pitch that I could drive to right field. After ball one, I thought that would be a good spot and I think he left it more middle-in than I think he wanted to.''

Gonzalez has homered in each of his last three games, in four of his last five games and in six of his last 10.

Daniel Bard had a rocky eighth inning, but managed to survive, standing two runners in scoring position after the Yankees had pulled to within two runs at 5-3.

Bard gave up a triple to Curtis Granderson, then tossed a wild pitch, allowing him to score.

After a popup by Mark Teixeria for the first out, Bard then walked Alex Rodriguez and hit Robinson Cano. When both took off on the bases, the Yanks had runners at second and third and one out.

But Bard then fanned Nick Swisher and after falling behind 3-and-0 to Jorge Posada, he came back on a full count and got Posada to hit a grounder to second for the third out.

"That's the loudest I've ever heard a crowd when they had guys at second-and-third,'' said Bard. "There's no shortage of adrenaline, that's for sure. It's just a matter of comtrolling it.

"I do have confidence in my fastball. We got to 3-and-0 and we went with three heaters away. Those were the three best executed pitches I made the whole inning. It was good to gather myself there and execute when I needed to.''

The Soxgot some good news on Pawtucket outfielder Ryan Kalish, who has beensidelined for the last few weeks with a labruminjury.

Kalish visited with team physician Dr. Thomas Gill, who sawimprovement in the shoulder. Kalish will report to extended spring inFort Myers and begin baseballacitivities.

"Dr. Gill was really impressed with his shoulder strength,"said general manager Theo Epstien. "He was really optimistic about things, so he's going togo to Fort Myers and continue his rehab. As long as the progresscontinues without any major interruptions, it looks like he's on a pathto recovery without surgery. That's what we were hoping for, but younever know until you actually rehab.''

As the Soxcontinue to play under .500 in the second month of the season, Epsteinis open to finding ways to improve the club. But it's unlikely anythingwill come from outside the organization, at least for awhile.

"Ithink, realistically, there aren't that many opportunities to do thatthe first third of the season,'' he said, "so you spend a lot of timebeing internally focused on ways to get better, ways to get the mostout of the talent we do have, ways to execute and play better baseball,play better fundamental baseball, to get the most out of ourplayers.

''We take a broad view of what we can accomplish on thebaseball field, fundamentally, and then go execute it. A lot of it isdictated by opportunity. You're not going to make a blockbuster tradein April, for the most part, or May. Usually that's something for themiddle third of the season."

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

Red Sox-Indians ALDS matchup becoming increasingly likely

Red Sox-Indians ALDS matchup becoming increasingly likely

BOSTON - The Red Sox knew they'd be in the playoffs last weekend when they clinched a postseason berth for the first time since 2013.

On Wednesday, they became division champs and knew they'd avoided the dreaded wild-card game.

ANALYSIS: Nick Friar looks at potential Red Sox-Indians matchup

They still don't know their first-round opponent, though it's becoming increasingly likely that it will be the Cleveland Indians.

Here's why: the Red Sox' loss to the Yankees on Thursday night leaves them with a 92-67 record with three games remaining, the second-best mark -- for now -- among the three A.L. division winners.

The Texas Rangers, at 94-65, retain the best record, with the Indians, at 91-67, a half-game behind the Sox.

The team with the best record of the three will enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed, and will be matched against the winner of Tuesday's A.L. wild-card matchup.

To finish with the A.L.'s best record and host the wild-card winner, the Red Sox essentially need to sweep the Toronto Blue Jays on the final weekend and hope that the Rangers get swept by Tampa Bay.

That's because a tie between the Red Sox and Rangers in the standings would make the Rangers the top seed by virtue of the second tie-breaker: intra-division play.

(The first tie-breaker is head-to-head play; the Sox and Rangers split the season series, sending them to the second tie-breaker).

In other words, the Rangers have a magic number of one to clinch the best record in the A.L. and gain home-field advantage throughout the postseason. One more Red Sox loss or one more Rangers win would get the Rangers locked into the top spot.

Again, barring a sweep by the Sox and the Rangers getting swept, a matchup in the Division Series with Cleveland seems almost inevitable.

What's not known is where that series will begin, and here's where it gets tricky.

Because the Indians and Detroit Tigers were rained out Thursday, the Tribe will have played only 161 games by the time the regular season ends early Sunday evening.

That could force the Indians and Tigers to play a makeup game on Monday, since the game could have playoff seeding implications for the Indians and Tigers. Detroit is still in the running for the A.L. wild card spot, currently a game-and-a-half behind the Orioles and Jays.

Since the Red Sox won the season series against the Indians 4-2, the Sox can clinch home field by winning two-of-three games from Toronto this weekend.

Should the Sox win two from the Jays, it would wipe out the need for Monday's makeup -- at least as far as the Indians are concerned. It's possible that it would still need to be played to determine the one of the wild card spots.

No matter who wins home field in a likely Red Sox-Indians matchup, the Division Series between the two will start with games next Thursday and Friday. After a travel day, the series would resume Sunday and Monday, Oct. 9-10.

Should the Sox win home field and host the first two games, Game 3 would be played Sunday Oct. 9 in Cleveland -- on the same day and in the same city where Tom Brady will make his return to the Patriots.