Yankees bring out the best in Sox

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Yankees bring out the best in Sox

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- Baseball. Go figure.

The same team which couldn't buy a big hit against the Cleveland Indians for three days found a way to score nine runs against the New York Yankees Friday.

The same team which saw its bullpen implode in successive games at Progressive Field Wednesday and Thursday got four scoreless innings of relief from its relievers Friday against a much tougher New York lineup.

And the same team which became the butt of jokes in its first two series of the season more closely resembled a powerhouse, bashing out a season-high dozen hits in the start of its third.

This was more like it for the Red Sox, who were in the midst of digging themselves an early-season hole before completely reversing course and overpowering the Yankees 9-6 in their home opener.

This was what they had had in mind with all the spending, all the upgrading done in the off-season.

"We did some good things today,'' pronounced Dustin Pedroia after the Sox finally had a win to call their own. "It was fun, man.''

Fun? Where had that been for the first week, a period during which they spun their tires and splattered themselves with early-season mud. Until Thursday's back-breaking 1-0 loss to the Indians, most of the losses hadn't been close.

The Sox were outhit, outpitched, and outplayed. And they knew it.

Friday, it was time to play the way they should. They had endured the taunts in Cleveland, the embarrassment of endless statistical precedents ("No team has ever lost its first six games and still...") and the uneasiness that filled them as they headed for home.

Partly out of desperation and partly as a premptive strike, they had appealed to their fans to get behind them instead of piling on. Player after player issued the same call-to-arms to the loyalists: We need you. Now.

The strategy worked like a charm. Disarmed, the fans welcomed the Sox onto the field as they might have had the team returned undefeated instead of winless.

Before they even took the field, the players listened to general manager Theo Epstein and manager Terry Francona in the clubhouse. In a brief address that lasted only a few minutes, Epstein and Francona delivered words of encouragement.

The players were reminded of the talent that existed in the room and that six games didn't make a season. They were told that they were better than they had showed and assured that, working together, they could pull out of the first-week nosedive.

"It was refreshing,'' said Mike Cameron. "I think as players, sometimes, we need reminding how challenging it is to be real good. They kind of reminded us that we're a good team and it didn't come to an end in the last six games. We just needed to work a little harder, try to relax and go out and play ball. The talent will show here and we know the victories will come.

"The timing was good because we made it difficult on ourselves in Texas and Cleveland. But at the same time, the first six games didn't represent who we are and the first six games didn't represent the season. We just had a bad start.''

A bad start in Boston means more than a bad start in, say, Kansas City. The danger came in the players feeling overwhelmed by all the questions, all the historical references, all the negativity.

So the Sox went out and shed the bad baseball like a warm coat on a spring day. The hitters hit, the relievers slotted in nicely and the fans roared.

That the return to normalcy came against the Yankees only made it sweeter.

It wasn't perfect of course. You know the old saying about momentum being your starting pitcher? Not Friday, with John Lackey handing the Yanks a 2-0 lead in the first, then spitting back a 6-3 cushion after the Sox had scored five times in the bottom of the second.

But it all worked out. No more references to losing streaks in 1945, no more admonishments about how no team that began a season this poorly ever did this or did that.

"It was good for us,'' said Pedroia. "We needed it.

One win. Just one.

But it seemed like a lot more Friday, about as far from the feeling they had leaving Cleveland 24 hours earlier.

Go figure.

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

Tanguay: Boggs deserved to have his number retired by Red Sox

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Tanguay: Boggs deserved to have his number retired by Red Sox

Wade Boggs gets a bad rap around here.

Yes, he rode the horse at Yankee Stadium. Yes, he wore his Yankee World Series ring as he and his 1986 Red Sox teammates were honored at Fenway Park last night. And there is the whole Margo Adams affair that landed said mistress in Penthouse and Wade on 20/20 with Barbara Walters. My God, he even cried for Barbara. Plus, he was labelled selfish for wanting to hit for a higher average as opposed to hitting home runs.

He was a walking controversy.

But he was also a hell of a player who deserves to have his number 26 (sorry, Lou Merloni) on the right-field facade.

Over his eleven seasons with the Sox he hit .338 with an .890 OPS and averaged 190 hits each season. He was the East Coast Tony Gwynn. Unlike Wade, Gwynn was a media favorite playing in laid-back San Diego who always had a smile on his face. Boggs sported a perpetual scowl, unless he was on the road with Ms. Adams.

While we can reminisce about strange and crazy time Boggs had in Boston off the field, it should be noted that he was a great player. He is, after all, a Hall of Famer – you know, the Cooperstown kind and not just the Red Sox Hall of Fame.

He was stuck in the Sox farm system until he was 24 years old. The book on him said great hitter but so-so fielder. Boggs worked his butt off at becoming a very good third baseman. Eventually, he won back-to-back Gold Gloves with the Yankees in 1994 and' 95.

At the plate his number were staggering. In 1987 he had a OPS of 1.049 and had over 200 hits in each season for seven straight years. In 1985, he had 240 hits! He won five batting titles for Boston. 

It's too bad that Margo Adams and riding the horse at Yankee Stadium has overshadowed his Red Sox career. On the field it was awesome, and to this day is greatly unappreciated by Red Sox fans.

Great guy? Nah. Great player? Yeah.

Thursday's Red Sox-Rockies lineup: Bradley moved to the leadoff spot

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Thursday's Red Sox-Rockies lineup: Bradley moved to the leadoff spot

BOSTON -- Jackie Bradley Jr. has been inching his way up the lineup recently, but tonight he makes a quantum leap all the way to the top.

With Mookie Betts getting the night off, Bradley -- riding a 29-game hitting streak -- has been moved to the leadoff spot by John Farrell as the Red Sox attempt to complete a three-game sweep of the Rockies.

Dustin Pedroia (hamstring) and Xander Bogaerts (thumb) both had to leave Wednesday night's game, but both are back in the lineup tonight.

The lineups:

ROCKIES:
Charlie Blackmon CF
DJ LeMahieu 2B
Nolan Arenado 3B
Carlos Gonzalez RF
Mark Reynolds 1B
Gerardo Parra LF
Trevor Story SS
Daniel Descalso DH
Dustin Garneau C
---
Jon Gray P

RED SOX:
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Travis Shaw 3B
Chris Young RF
Blake Swihart LF
Christian Vazquez C
---
Clay Buchholz P