Saltalamacchia gives Red Sox offense extra cushion


Saltalamacchia gives Red Sox offense extra cushion

By Danny Picard

BOSTON -- @font-face font-family: "Times New Roman";p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; table.MsoNormalTable font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; div.Section1 page: Section1; With runners on the corners and two outs, combined with JonLesters presence on the mound and No. 9 hitter Jayson Nix at the plate, allsigns pointed towards letting the Blue Jays have second base if they wanted it.

Not to say that the Red Sox should have completely ignoredJuan Rivera at first base while second was open, but with Lester on the moundwith two outs in the second inning of a scoreless game, you would thinkBostons major focus would be on Torontos No. 9 hitter.

Instead, Rivera got a bad jump, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia decidedto make the throw to second. The throw was off target, but still had enough onit to get Rivera caught in a rundown for the third out. Problem was, the throwto second gave Aaron Hill plenty of time to score from third and give the BlueJays an early 1-0 lead.

Well take the chance of allowing a run to score to come off the field,said Red Sox manager Terry Francona after the game. That throw, we didntexecute exactly like we wanted, but well come off the field at any time.

Francona took full responsibility for making the decision tothrow to second on the play, taking any heat that could have been put onSaltalamacchia for essentially giving Toronto a run.

It was one of those things where Ive got to peek at therunner at third, and I didnt, said Saltalamacchia after the game. I justkind of saw Rivera get a bad jump, kind of came up throwing it. I knew whatthey were going to do in this situation. Luckily it didnt kill us today.

It didnt kill the Red Sox because that was the only runthey allowed on the afternoon. And they went on to score eight runs of theirown. Saltalamacchia drove in three of those -- his most RBI in a game since driving in four runs in May of 2009 with the Texas Rangers -- which included his second-inning RBI single that got the party started for Boston's offense, in the half inning after the BlueJays scored on his poor throw to second.

With runners on first and third and one out in the bottom ofthe second, Saltalamacchia hit a ground ball to the right side of the infieldthat just got past Hills lunging attempt and rolled into the outfield.

Jed Lowrie was able to score easily on the play, tying thegame at 1-1.

In the very next at-bat, Jacoby Ellsbury drove in J.D. Drewand Saltalamacchia with a three-run home run that gave the Red Sox a 4-1 lead.But even at that point, no three-run lead was safe, seeing that on Fridaynight, Boston blew an early 3-0 lead to Toronto and lost, 7-6.

That wasnt something anyone wanted to deal with on Sundayafternoon. So Saltalamacchia's two-run single with bases loaded and two outs in the bottomof the sixth gave the Red Sox a 6-1 cushion that they were dreaming of, inorder to not have to use Jonathan Papelbon for three straight days.

Saltalamacchia ripped a 2-and-2 slider to right field off ofToronto starter Jesse Litsch, driving home David Ortiz and Lowrie. It was aperfect example of what Saltalamacchia and Red Sox hitting coach Dave Magadantalked about on Saturday, while Saltalamacchia had the day off.

Just trying to slow it down a little bit, not jumping toomuch, not trying to crush the ball every time, said the Red Sox catcher after Sundays 8-1 win overToronto. Just stay within myself, like I was in spring training.

He seemed to stay within himself with two strikes on him inthe bottom of the sixth, sat back on an 83 mph pitch that tailed back over theplate at the last second, and ripped it to right, ending Litschs afternoon.

I think the more anybody relaxes, the better theyre goingto be, said Francona. I mean, the game sometimes can look a little bitquick.

In the past, Ive felt comfortable with two strikes, saidSaltalamacchia. I dont know if I just kind of bare down a little bit more anddont try and over-due it. But in that situation, I was just looking for a ballup that I could put good wood on.

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on