Red Sox

May 25, 2011: Red Sox 14, Indians 2

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May 25, 2011: Red Sox 14, Indians 2

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

CLEVELAND The Red Sox showed no mercy Wednesday on Indians right-hander Mitch Talbot, making his first start since coming off the disabled list, as they pounded him for seven runs in the first inning en route to a 14-2 romp over the Indians.

The Sox sent 12 batters to the plate in the first and set season highs for both runs and hits in an inning. They tied their season high with four consecutive hits as Jacoby Ellsbury opened the game with a single to center, followed by Dustin Pedroias third home run of the season, Adrian Gonzalezs single, and David Ortizs single.

The Sox scored seven runs in an inning four times in 2010, but the last time they did so in the first inning was with 10 runs on Aug. 12, 2008, against the Rangers. The last time they had at least nine hits in the first inning was on June 27, 2003, against the Marlins.

Staked to such a robust lead, Jon Lester cruised through his outing, going six scoreless innings, giving up three hits two singles in the first, and a double to Asdrubal Cabrera in the sixth and one walk with seven strikeouts over 97 pitches. He improved to 7-1, with a 3.36 ERA. He has not lost since his third outing of the season, April 12 against the Rays.

Talbot suffered the loss, falling to 1-1 in his third start of the season, and second against the Sox, as he ERA swelled from 1.46 to 5.87. He gave up 8 runs on 12 hits -- a season high for an Indians starter -- with two walks, and a strikeout in three innings.

The Sox set new season highs with 20 hits, and four home runs in the game by Pedroia, Crawford, David Ortiz and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. They also matched their season high with six doubles Mike Cameron, Ellsbury, and two each by Crawford and Drew Sutton.

Crawford went 4-for-4 with three runs scored and two RBI, and his third home run of the season. He set a season high with four hits, falling a triple shy of the cycle and one hit shy of his career high. He raised his average in the game from .212 to .229. Going 6-for-11 with two home runs, six runs scored, and three RBI in the series, he raised his average 20 points, from .209.

Drew Sutton -- a late addition to the lineup to replace Kevin Youkilis, whose left hand was bothering him after being hit with a pitch Monday night and tweaking it diving for a ball Tuesday went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI, matching his career high in hits.

Player of the Game: Carl Crawford

Crawford went 4-for-4 with two doubles, a home run, three runs scored and two RBI. He fell a triple shy of the cycle before coming out of the game after his sixth-inning double. His season-high four hits were one hit shy of his career high and raised his average from .212 to .229 in the game.

"I'm just trying to have good at-bats," Crawford said. "I definitely feel better than I did before. So, I'm just going to take that for what it is.

"It just feels good to win the game, to help contribute."

"I thought about hitting for the cycle probably in my last at-bat. But not early on in the game."

Crawford said he has never hit for the cycle, at any level, including Little League.

"No, never. It's not easy."

Honorable Mention: Drew Sutton

Inserted into the lineup shortly before game time to replace third baseman Kevin Youkilis, whose left hand was bothering him after being hit there Monday night and tweaking it diving for a ball Teuesday, Sutton went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI, matching his career high in hits, which he last reached on Sept. 19, 2010, against Kansas City while with the Indians.

Sutton was called up from Triple-A Pawtucket on May 20.

"It's great. I didn't have as much time to think about it as I did when they told me the night before, as much time to think about it and be nervous," Sutton said. "When they tell you an hour-and-a-half before the game you're just kind of like, 'All right, let's do this.' It does make it a little easier. You just kind of go back, get ready, and go play."

The Goat: Mitch Talbot

Talbot who was activated from the disabled list to start Wednesday afternoon's series finale, after being sidelined since April 12 with a right elbow strain. He had made just two starts previously this season, including an April 6 no-decision, as the Indians beat the Sox that day.

But on Wednesday, he could offer his team very little as the Sox pounded him from the second pitch of the game, a Jacoby Ellsbury single.

Talbot went three innings, giving up eight runs on 12 hits and two walks with one strikeout. He allowed seven runs on nine hits as the Sox sent 12 batters to the plate. The 12 hits he allowed are season high for Indians starters. Talbot took the loss, falling to 1-1 in his ERA swelled from 1.46 to 5.87.

Turning Point: First inning explosion

In the first inning, the Sox sent 12 batters to the plate with seven scoring, a season-high for runs in an inning. They had nine hits in, also a season high. They tied their season high for consecutive hits in an inning, with four. Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia each had two hits in the inning, while Pedroia had three RBI. The 7-0 hole was more than the Indians could dig out of and more than enough for Jon Lester to cruise through his outing.

"Quick turnaround after last night and we came out with a lot of energy," said manager Terry Francona. "I know the hits lead to that. But we had a real good approach and we don't throw innings like that together very often. It was really nice. And then they kept after it. And Lester did exactly what you're supposed to do -- went out and threw strikes. His only walk was in his last inning, and we were able to not extend him a lot over 100, got 97, and we didn't use any relievers more than one inning. So that worked out really well."

The last time they had at least nine hits in the first inning was June 27, 2003, against the Marlins, when they had 13. The last time they scored at least seven runs in the first inning was Aug. 12, 2008, against the Rangers when they scored 10.

By the Numbers: .844

The Sox went 20-for-45 in the game, batting .444 as a whole, raising their team average from .262 to .267. With six doubles and four home runs, their slugging percentage for the game was .844, raising their season slugging percentage from .413 to .424.

Quote of Note:

"The last two games we beat them, which is good. But it's fun to play teams like this. They were feeling really good about themselves, as they should, and we came out and played pretty good baseball. And first night, they beat us but we came back and played two pretty good games."

-- Terry Francona on the three-game series against the Indians, who entered the series with the best record in baseball

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen.

Why the Red Sox should sign not one but two relievers

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Why the Red Sox should sign not one but two relievers

BOSTON — There is a world outside of Giancarlo Stanton. 

Stanton, at this point, simply doesn’t appear likely to end up in Boston. That should feel obvious to those following along, and so should this: it can change. 

But there are other pursuits. Besides their search for a bat or two, the Red Sox have been actively pursuing left-handed relief options. Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is a fast mover, but this year’s market has not been.

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Robbie Ross Jr. and Fernando Abad are both free agents, leaving Robby Scott as the lone incumbent southpaw from last season's primary group. Brian Johnson is bound for the pen, with Roenis Elias as a depth option too.  Still, even if Johnson’s transition pans out, the Sox still have an opening for a late-inning reliever with the departure of free agent Addison Reed. 

Reed is a righty, but between Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly, Heath Hembree, Carson Smith, and Craig Kimbrel, the Sox have more right-handed choices than left. Coming back from surgery, Tyler Thornburg, should be in the mix eventually too, but it's difficult to expect too much from him.

What the Red Sox should do: sign one of each for the bullpen, one righty, and one lefty. And then trade a righty or two. Turn some of that mishmash into an addition elsewhere. Be creative. 

Because inevitably, come midseason, the Sox will want to add another bullpen arm if they sign just one now. Why wait until you have to give up prospect capital when you can just add the piece you want now?

Go get a near-sure thing such as Pat Neshek, a veteran who walks no one and still strikeouts a bunch. At 37 with an outgoing personality, Neshek also brings leadership to a team that is looking for some. He walked just six guys in 62 innings last season. Entering his 12th season in the majors, he’s looking for his first ring.

All these top of the market relievers may be handsomely paid. But relievers are still something of a bargain compared to position players and starting pitchers. One of the key words for this winter should be creativity. If there’s value to be had in the reliever market, capitalize on it. 

Comeback kid Mike Minor, Jake McGee and Tony Watson headline the crop of free agent lefties available. Brad Hand of the Padres could also be had by trade but his market isn’t moving too quickly (and he won’t come cheaply).

Minor, 29, who posted a 2.55 ERA in 2017 after health issues kept him out of the majors in 2015-16, is expected to be paid handsomely. He is also open to the idea of potentially starting if a team is interested in him doing so. The Royals reportedly could give him that shot.

McGee’s American League East experience could be appealing.

He's 31 and had a 3.61 ERA with the Rockies in 2017 and has a 3.15 ERA lifetime. He’s not quite the strikeout pitcher he was earlier in his career — he had an 11.6 K/9 in 2015 — but a 9.1 K/9 is still very strong, particularly when coupled with just 0.6 homers allowed per nine.

For what it’s worth: McGee has also dominated the Red Sox, who have a .125 average, .190 on-base percentage and .192 slugging against him in 117 regular-season plate appearances. 

McGee throws a mid-90s fastball with a low-80s slider. He can operate up in the zone, and he actually has been even more effective against righties than lefties in his career, including in 2017. McGee’s been a closer, too, with 44 career saves.

The Sox had the second-best bullpen in the majors by ERA in 2017, at 3.07. Yet, come the postseason, there wasn’t a sense of great confidence or even a clear shape to the pecking order behind one of the absolute best relievers in the game, Kimbrel. 

HOFer Joe Morgan's letter urges voters to keep steroid users out of Hall

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HOFer Joe Morgan's letter urges voters to keep steroid users out of Hall

Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan is urging voters to keep “known steroid users” out of Cooperstown.

A day after the Hall revealed its 33-man ballot for the 2018 class, the 74-year-old Morgan argued against the inclusion of players implicated during baseball’s steroid era in a letter to voters with the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The letter from the vice chairman of the Hall’s board of directors was sent Tuesday using a Hall email address.

Read the full text of Morgan's letter here. 

“Steroid users don’t belong here,” Morgan wrote. “What they did shouldn’t be accepted. Times shouldn’t change for the worse.”

Hall voters have been wrestling with the issue of performance-enhancing drugs for several years. Baseball held a survey drug test in 2003 and the sport began testing for banned steroids the following year with penalties. Accusations connected to some of the candidates for the Hall vary in strength from allegations with no evidence to positive tests that caused suspensions.

About 430 ballots are being sent to voters, who must have been members of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years, and a player needs at least 75 percent for election. Ballots are due by Dec. 31 and results will be announced Jan. 24.

Writers who had not been covering the game for more than a decade were eliminated from the rolls in 2015, creating a younger electorate that has shown more willingness to vote for players tainted by accusations of steroid use. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens each received a majority of votes for the first time in 2017 in their fifth year on the ballot.

Morgan said he isn’t speaking for every Hall of Famer, but many of them feel the same way that he does.

“Players who failed drug tests, admitted using steroids, or were identified as users in Major League Baseball’s investigation into steroid abuse, known as the Mitchell Report, should not get in,” Morgan wrote. “Those are the three criteria that many of the players and I think are right.”

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez were inducted into the Hall of Fame in July. They were joined by former Commissioner Bud Selig and retired Kansas City and Atlanta executive John Schuerholz, who were voted in by a veterans committee.

Some baseball writers said the election of Selig, who presided over the steroids era, influenced their view of whether tainted stars should gain entry to the Hall.

Morgan praised BBWAA voters and acknowledged they are facing a “tricky issue,” but he also warned some Hall of Famers might not make the trip to Cooperstown if steroid users are elected.

“The cheating that tainted an era now risks tainting the Hall of Fame too,” he wrote. “The Hall of Fame means too much to us to ever see that happen. If steroid users get in, it will divide and diminish the Hall, something we couldn’t bear.”

© 2017 by The Associated Press