Saltalamacchia breaks through in the clutch

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Saltalamacchia breaks through in the clutch

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON The cold, rainy, windy, foggy and overall miserable conditions at Fenway Park Wednesday night were suited to just about anything other than offensive success.

When Jarrod Saltalamacchia stepped to the plate with two outs and Carl Crawford on first in the eighth inning Wednesday night against Tigers lefty Daniel Schlereth, he had gone hitless and his team had just three hits, all singles.

But on the fourth pitch of this at-bat -- a 2-and-1, 90-mph sinker -- he lashed a double off the Wall in left-center, scoring Crawford for the games only run.

"It felt good to come out with a win obviously, Saltalamacchia. This weather has been crazy. So for us it seemed like the first team to score was going to win the game. Both pitchers pitched great. They had a lot of situations to score and we had Clay Buchholz to hold them down.

I've been hitting the ball hard, but haven't always got the results. Felt good that it turned my way for once.

Saltalamacchia entered the game hitting just .217 (18-for-83) overall and just .150 (3-for-20) against lefties. He had a slow start to the season. His average
poked above .200 just once in April and in May, he has struggled to keep it above that dubious line of demarcation.

But with Wednesdays go-ahead double, he has hit safely in 12 of his last 16 starts, going 15-for-56 (.268). Six of his last 12 hits have gone for extra bases, with five doubles and a home run.

When you start out as slow as he did, its not always going to come back in one chunk, said manager Terry Francona. But I think hes making progress and he'll be fine as long as he lets the ball travel and doesnt get overanxious like he did early. Hes a big, strong kid. That ball was about as well-struck as youre going to see. And hes plenty quick, just needs to swing at pitches he can handle. That at-bat early in the game he offered at two of their off-speed pitches, kind of check-swing and then took the fastball. So sometimes hes in between.

Saltalamacchia has noticed a difference in his swings over the last couple of weeks.

Just feeling more comfortable the last two weeks, Saltalamacchia said. The more ABs, you get the better you feel. Always felt like second half of the season I'm better. I don't know what to credit that to. But like I said, me and hitting coach Dave Magadan sat down and started talking and slowed everything down. Just slow it down and put good wood on it.

And if the ball didnt hit the Wall?

"If it didn't, I would have walked off right there, Saltalamacchia joked. I hit that ball well. That's the way it's been going. I've hit the ball good and it just hasn't fallen in.

Although Buchholz didn't earn the win, having pitched seven scoreless innings before giving way to Daniel Bard, he could appreciate Saltalamacchia's effort.

That was awesome, Buchholz said. He squared that ball up. Might have been a home run in a lot of parks. Good to see everybody was part of a team effort to win a game like this considering everything that went on.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

Quotes, notes and stars: Ramirez knows error 'can't happen'

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Quotes, notes and stars: Ramirez knows error 'can't happen'

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels ofAnaheim

Quotes:

"I tried to get two (outs) before I got one. That can't happen." - Hanley Ramirez on his throwing error which cost the Red Sox the game.

"Executing pitches - that's the name of the game." - David Price on improvement he showed from his last start.

"Fourth time through the order, middle of the lineup. . . Price had done his job. In a one-run game, we felt it was best to start a clean inning with a reliever." - John Farrell after lifting David Price after eight innings and 108 pitches.

Notes:

* Reliever Brad Ziegler was charged with the loss for the second straight game.

* Each of the last seven Red Sox losses has been by one or two runs.

* Dustin Pedroia has reached base in 31 consecutive games.

* The Red Sox four-game losing streak is their longest of the season.

* The Sox are now 9-23 in their last 32 meetings with the Angels.

* David Price did not allow a run for the second time this season.

Stars:

1) David Price

After a stretch of shaky outings, Price did his job with eight scoreless innings, getting 14 outs on groundouts while walking just one.

2) Jered Weaver

At times, the radar gun made Weaver's pitches look like softball offerings. But mixing junk, he held the Sox to a single run over 5 1/3 innings

3) Mookie Betts

He had just one hit - single in the eighth - but his sacrifice fly in the third produced the only run of the night.

First impressions: Ziegler can't finish Price's strong start

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First impressions: Ziegler can't finish Price's strong start

First impressions from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

1) David Price pitched in the truest sense

Price wasn't necessarily overpowering with only six strikeouts in eight innings, but he succeeded in keeping the ball down in the zone, resulting in a ton of groundouts.

In eight innings, the Angels produced just two flouts to the outfield, both of them routine.

Otherwise, Price deftly mixed his changeup, slider and two-seamer to produce ground balls. His location was more precise and he induced weak contact in at-bat after at-bat.

 

2) The danger of a closer like Brad Ziegler was on display

The throwing error by Hanley Ramirez resulted in two runs scoring but Ziegler allowed three base hits to set the stage.

Ziegler doesn't get a lot of swing-and-miss with his sinker; what he gets is a lot of balls put in play. When things are going well, that results in groundouts; when they're not, it means baserunners and strange things happening.

As inconsistent as Craig Kimbrel has been in some non-save situations, he at least has the ability to record strikeouts and keep balls out of play.  That's not the case with Zieger, as the Red Sox learned the hard way in Anaheim Thursday night.

3) The Red Sox wisely took advantage of Jered Weaver on the bases

Weaver's high leg kick and reliance on off-speed pitches make for a slow delivery time to the plate. Dustin Pedroia would have easily stole second in the first but made the mistake of going into his slide too far ahead of the bag, and though initially ruled safe, was deemed out after a replay challenge.

In the sixth, Xander Bogaerts, was more successful in his stolen base. Neither steal led to a run, but the Sox did put some additional pressure on Weaver