Red Sox notes: Hitters catching fire


Red Sox notes: Hitters catching fire

By Sean McAdam

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- It isn't just the starting pitchers who are beginning to turn things around.

Some of the slumping hitters in the lineup are starting to enjoy some success, too.

In the Red Sox' 5-0 shutout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Jason Varitek, Carl Crawford, Kevin Youkilis and Jacoby Ellsbury all contributed in significant ways.

Before Saturday's game, Youkilis had the highest batting average of that quartet: a not-so-impressive .218.

-- Varitek came into Saturday with just one hit in 23 at-bats. But in the sixth inning, he drove a double to right, scoring Crawford, snapping a string of 19 hitless at-bats in a row.

"We've been working and I saw the ball a lot better,'' said Varitek. "I had all quality at-bats. The other day, I didn't feel like that. I just continue to get into it and keep working.''

-- Crawford, who was hitting eighth for the first time, had an infield single and an RBI-double for a multi-hit night.

"I'm just trying to keep everything simple,'' said Crawford. "Just see the ball and hit it and not try to overdo anything.''

Crawford hit the ball on the ground and hit his double to the opposite field, both encouraging signs.

"Usually, when I'm going the other way and just going with the pitch,'' Crawford said, "and not pull everything, that's a good sign.''

-- Youkilis, who missed Friday's game after fouling a pitch off his lower left shin Thursday night, returned to the lineup and made his presence felt with a two-run homer to right-center.

Terry Francona has long said that it's a positive when Youkilis is driving the ball to right of center field.

"Anytime you drive the ball the other way and it goes out of the yard, it feels good,'' confirmed Youkilis. "I just haven't been my normal self at the plate. For me, it's just battling and keep going and keep figuring out things and try to put together good at-bats.''

-- Ellsbury, hitting in the leadoff spot for the second straight night, had two singles in four trips with two stolen bases.

"When those guys are on, we're a different team,'' said Francona. "Getting on has been a little tough for us early.''

Daniel Bard pitched a scoreless ninth, his third appearance in the last four games . . . Varitek's RBI was his first since last June 29, 2010. Varitek missed almost two months in the second half of last year with a broken foot, then didn't get an RBI in the final month . . . Ellsbury tied Heinie Wagner on the Red Sox all-time steals list at 141 . . . Matsuzaka became just the third pitcher in Red Sox history to throw back-to-back games of seven or more innings with one hit allowed. The others were Pedro Martinez in 2002 and Howard Ehmke in 1923. The last major leaguer to do it was Vincente Padilla in 2009.

Sean McAdam can be reached at Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Bradley, Betts, Pedroia are A.L. Gold Glove finalists


Bradley, Betts, Pedroia are A.L. Gold Glove finalists

Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field, Mookie Betts in right and Dustin Pedroia at second base are the Red Sox' finalists for the American League Gold Glove awards.

The Blue Jays’ Kevin Pillar and the Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier are the other A.L. center field finalists. The White Sox’ Adam Eaton and Astros’ George Springer are A.L. right field finalists. Joining Pedroia as second base finalists are the Mariners’ Robinson Cano and Tigers’ Ian Kinsler.

Peoria has won four Gold Gloves. Bradley and Betts have yet to win one.

The full list of finalists is here.  The awards will be presented on Nov. 8 at 8 p.m. on ESPN

The Red Sox sent out a series of tweets backing each player’s candidacy.

Betts is also a front-runner for the American League Most Valuable Player.


Ortiz wins Hank Aaron Award as top hitter in American League


Ortiz wins Hank Aaron Award as top hitter in American League

CLEVELAND -- David Ortiz is heading into retirement with some more hardware.

The Boston Red Sox slugger captured the Hank Aaron Award on Wednesday as the top hitter in the American League this season. Budding Chicago Cubs star Kris Bryant was honored as the top hitter in the National League.

The award was presented before Game 2 of the World Series between the Cubs and Cleveland. It was determined through a combination of fan voting and a panel that includes Aaron and other Hall of Fame players.

The 40-year-old Ortiz hit .315 with 38 home runs, 127 RBIs and 48 doubles in the 20th and final season of his major league career. His 541 career home runs rank 17th all-time.

The 24-year-old Bryant hit .292 with 39 home runs and 102 RBIs while helping the Cubs cruise to the NL Central title and eventually a spot in the World Series. Shortly after being honored, Bryant singled in the first inning for his first Series hit.