Red Sox notes: Lackey turns in solid outing

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Red Sox notes: Lackey turns in solid outing

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- It didn't begin well certainly, but by the time it was over, John Lackey turned in a pretty good start Saturday.

After giving up three runs despite no hard-hit balls against him in the first, Lackey settled down and gave up just one more runs the rest of the way before being lifted
with two outs in the sixth.

"It felt like I made some good pitches in that inning,'' said Lackey, who improved to 7-8. "I had a lot of balls on the ground and kind of ran into a little bad luck, but the guys came back swinging the bats and we ended up winning the game.''

Marco Scutaro was charged with a throwing error in the first, then couldn't come up with two other infield grounders as the Rays got out in front.

As he often does, Lackey showed his displeasure with his body language, throwing his arms up in the air when plays weren't made. But eventually, he settled down and turned back the Rays.

The win was the second straight strong outing, but Lackey wasn't willing to say this was the start of a good run for him.

"I'm not getting into predicting the future,'' he said. "(But) I feel pretty good.''

Later, when Francona came out to get him with two on and two out in the sixth, an emotional Lackey pleaded his case to no avail.

"I felt like I could have gotten (Casey Kotchman) out,'' said Lackey. "But looking back on it, we had a two-run lead. Tito probably protected me a little, so I can respect that as well.

"I couldn't do much about it. I had already had a visit (to the mound), so it's not like you can argue your way out of that one.''

Listed at the top of the Red Sox batting order, Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia aren't necessarily known for their power.

But in the last two weeks, the two are on home run binges. Ellsbury homered in the fourth, giving him four in the last seven games and a career-high 13 for the season.

Ellsbury has three homers in seven games against Tampa Bay this year.

Pedroia added a solo homer of his own in the seventh, making it 7 in his last 14 games and six in his last eight. He, too, has 13 homers, just five shy of his career high of 18, set during his MVP season.

"I've felt good for a while,'' said Pedroia. "I kind of had (one of these homer binges) at the beginning of the year than I didn't hit another for, like, 300 at-bats. When they come, I guess you've kind of just got to ride it out.

"I'm not a home run hitter by any means. When I hit them, it's nice but it's extra. I'm not trying to hit home runs at all. It might look like it, but trust me, I'm not.''

Randy Williams got word shortly before midnight Friday that he was being called up by the Red Sox, replacing Bobby Jenks on the roster.

He arrived in the Tampa area late yesterday morning, and didn't have to wait long to make his debut.

Francona called upon Williams with two on and two out in the sixth after Lackey had reached 107 with his pitch count.

Williams quickly made a contribution, getting lefty Casey Kotchman to ground out to second for the third out, ending Tampa's threat.

He then came back out for the seventh inning, too, and retired the only two hitters he faced: Evan Longoria on an infield popup and Matt Joyce with a strikeout.

"To get into that situation was outstanding,'' said Williams, "and to get through it unscathed was a great way to start here.''

"That was a big part of the game,'' said Francona. "That's why we got him here. He's going to be interesting.''

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

Quotes, notes and stars: Porcello 'the model of consistency'

Quotes, notes and stars: Porcello 'the model of consistency'

BOSTON - Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 9-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays

 

QUOTES:

"Rick has been the model of consistency.'' - John Farrell on starter Rick Porcello

"It means that we have a heck of a team, really. The runs we put up, and I don't think anybody talks about our defense.'' - Porcello, asked about the significance of being baseball's first 18-game winner.

"It's cool to be a part of that, but we're in a race right now and that's way more important.'' - Mookie Betts on the crowd chants of "MVP!" during his at-bat.

 

NOTES

* Hanley Ramirez has nine extra-base hit in the last 15 games.

* Opposing baserunners have stolen only 54 percent of the time when Sandy Leon is behind the plate, the lowest figure for any Red Sox catcher (minimum 20 games) since 1987

* Brock Holt tied a season high with three hits, including two with two outs and runners in scoring position.

* Mookie Betts set a career high with 72 extra-base hits.

* Betts became the third player in franchise history to have a 30-homer season before the age of 24. Ted Williams and Tony Conigliaro are the others.

* Betts has five homers and 13 RBI in his last five home games.

* Rick Porcello is just the fifth major league pitcher since 1913 to begin a season 13-0 at home

* Porcello is the third Red Sox pitcher to win 18 of his first 21 decisions after Cy Young (1902) and Daisuke Matsuzaka (2008)

* David Ortiz leads the majors in doubles, slugging percentage and OPS.

 

STARS:

1) Rick Porcello

The righthander became the first 18-game winner in the big leagues and he did it by supplying seven innings for the sixth straight start while improving to 13-0 at home.

2) Mookie Betts

Betts gave the Red Sox an early lead with his 30th homer of the year, becoming the third player in franchise history to reach that milestone before the age of 24.

3) Travis Shaw

Shaw broke out of a month-long slump with a three-hit game, including a double, to go along with two RBI.

 

First impressions: Porcello settles in, helps Red Sox beat Rays, 9-4

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First impressions: Porcello settles in, helps Red Sox beat Rays, 9-4

First impressions from the Red Sox' 9-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays:

 

* Rick Porcello followed form.

Porcello has, throughout the season, struggled some in the early innings before making some adjustments and stabilizing as the game wears on.

So it was Monday night against the Rays.

Coming into the start, Porcello had compiled a 4.15 ERA in the first three innings with a 2.13 ERA in innings four through six.

Sure enough, Porcello allowed four straight hits and two runs in the third inning. After that, he looked like a different pitcher. He did yield a solo run in the fifth when he gave up a leadoff double and two groundouts.

But from the fourth through the seventh, he faced 13 hitters and retired 12 of them, including five by strikeout.

 

* Travis Shaw showed signs of digging out his funk at the plate.

Shaw was 0-for-6 to start the homestand, and since the beginning of August, had compiled an anemic .141/.236/.264 slash line with only four extra-base hits (two doubles, two doubles).

That resulted in Shaw losing playing time to Aaron Hill at third, and being dropped lower in the batting order.

But Monday, Shaw smacked a double to right -- the kind of extra-base power that he almost routinely flashed in the first half -- and later added two singles for a three-hit night.

It marked the first multi-hit game for him since July 26, better than a month ago.

 

* Lo and behold, the Red Sox can collect hits with the bases loaded.

The team's struggles in that department have been well-chronicled. Coming into the night, the Sox were hitting just .211 in such situations, ranking them 14th out of the 15 A.L. teams.

Time after time, the Sox have failed to come through with the bases full, sometimes even with no outs.

But that wasn't the case Monday. Twice, in fact, the Sox had innings with the bases loaded and both times, they scored.

In the second, Brock Holt's single to left scored Chris Young, though Sandy Leon was cut down at the plate when the Sox tried to get two runs out of it.

In the seventh, a sharp single to center by Sandy Leon scored two more.