Red Sox

Notes: Crawford finally hits first Fenway homer

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Notes: Crawford finally hits first Fenway homer

By MaureenMullen and Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- Early Saturday morning Carl Crawford mentioned how nice it would be to hit his first home run at Fenway Park as a member of the Red Sox. He didnt exactly consider the fact that he had not yet done so to be a monkey on his back, but he was looking forward to it.

He can finally check that off his 2011 season to-do list.

With no outs in the second inning, David Ortiz on second and Jed Lowrie on first, Crawford took the first pitch from Brett Anderson and blasted it into the Red Sox bullpen, giving the Sox a 3-0 lead. He entered the game just 2-for-10, with two strikeouts and no extra-base hits in his career against Anderson.

We had a man on first and second so I was just looking to get a run over and pull the ball when he threw me a pitch I could handle and I was able to put good wood on it, Crawford said.

It was a good feeling to get his first Fenway homer.

Yeah, said Crawford, who had not homered at Fenway since May 26, 2006, while with the Rays. Because I was starting to wonder for a while, you know.

That was coming right out of the chute today, said manager Terry Francona. We hit in the cage before the game and werent even on the field and he rifled it. That was a great swing. And thats a guy Anderson thats really been tough on us. We had nobody with numbers against this guy and he kind of had his way with us . . . But, you score first and you score more than one thats a good formula for winning.

His teammates knew it would just be a matter of time before Crawford who had back-to-back three-RBI games for just the second time in his career sent one out of Fenway.

This guy, he hit a few balls the past couple series that I was like, No way, said David Ortiz. I know the right field fence for Fenway is kind of tricky but he crushed some balls and the ball didnt go nowhere. I was like, Well, man, welcome to my club.

A solution? Ortiz suggested Crawford lobby to have the right-field fences moved in.

Well, he should ask about it, Ortiz said. I asked about it a few years ago. Now, its his turn. Maybe theyll do for a guy with another 20 years left here.

With the three-game sweep of the As, after losing four straight, the Sox have swept five series this season, three at home. Their previous sweeps, though, had been of series less than three games. It was the Sox first sweep of the As at Fenway since Aug. 1-3, 2008. They have not lost any of the four homestands this season, winning three and splitting another.

John Lackey earned the win, the first Red Sox starting pitcher to get a win since Tim Wakefield on May 27 in Detroit.

Jarrod Saltalamacchias eighth-inning triple was just the second of his career, and first since 2007 while with Texas.

Daniel Bard pitched a perfect ninth for his fourth career save, and first since June 18, 2010, against the Dodgers.

Clay Buchholz willbe given two extra days' rest because of his back soreness and willpitch Friday in Toronto rather than Wednesday in NewYork.

TimWakefield will go Wednesday in hisplace.

"We'll kind of let Buchholz start his five-day cycle," saidTerry Francona. "I think that will do him a little bit of good. Wetalked to him a bunch Saturday and tried to get a feel for where hewas. I just think it makes sense.

"His back wassore. He's battled that for a while. His last outing, I don't think itinterfered with his pitching beside the fact that he was holding backat times -- that's probably the best way to put it. It just looked likehe was not quite reaching.

"Buck owned up to that.He said, 'It didn't hurt but I thought it was going to hurt.' We've allkind of been there. So rather than keep going like that, I think it'shard to pitch successfully like that, we'll give him an extra couple ofdays and I bet it will really help him . . . He knows it's in his bestinterest."

The Red Soxactivated Lackey, Sunday's starter, before the game and optioned outfielder JoshReddick back to Pawtucket to make room forhim.

The move leaves the Red Sox, temporarily, withjust 12 position players, but that will likely change intime for the series in New York, which begins Tuesday.

The Soxplan to activate Marco Scutaro (oblique) and would likely return apitcher to make room for the infielder.

Francona spokeabout his philosophy for pinch-running for two of his slower sluggers-- David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez -- in Saturday's extra-inning win. He pinch-ran for Ortiz in the eighth and Gonzalez in the 10th, and thus had Drew Sutton batting third and Mike Cameron fifth for the last four innings of the game.

"Wedon't do it very often," Francona said. "I think we thought it was ourbest chance to win. If I think it gives us the best chance towin, we do it. We just try to use common sense. We certainly don't tryto overdo it, because we don't like taking our best hitters out of thegame. But I think sometimes you need to."

Franconasaid he prefers to wait until Ortiz or Gonzalez are in scoring position"when they're the trail runners. In this instance, this is the go-aheadrun, so we needed to have better speed so hopefully we can gofirst-to-third or move up on a ball in the dirt, or whatever."

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

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

Red Sox can be thankful for a successful past and a bright future

Red Sox can be thankful for a successful past and a bright future

For the glass-is-half-full folks, there are those back-to-back Eastern Division titles. For the glass-is-half-empty folks, well, there are those two first-round playoff ousters (though both their conquerers made it to the World Series, and one of them won it). But, here on Thanksgiving night, there's plenty for Red Sox Nation to be thankful for, starting with . . . 


YOUR GOOD HEALTH

We know you don’t need the Red Sox to know you how important the most basic elements of life are. But sometimes, the typical fantasy land of baseball can grab our attention. The death of 17-year-old Sox prospect Daniel Flores (above) this month from complications because of cancer didn’t take away only a potentially great baseball career. It took away a beloved, hard-working young person from the people who loved him. He had just made millions of dollars in July for his talent on the field, but what does such a windfall matter compared to one’s health? His cancer was both rare and fast-moving, per the Boston Globe.

MOOKIE, JACKIE, XANDER, BENINTENDI, DEVERS

The kids deserve some love. They probably won’t be together on the Red Sox forever. Heck, the group could get broken up this winter. But while any of the Killer B’s (plus a D) remain on the Sox, there should be a sense of optimism. Two straight 93-win seasons may have resulted in a first-round exit, and 2017 didn’t meet expectations for some individual performances. But you know what? The youths are still damn good, and there’s time for them to show us they can be even better.

INSANELY GOOD PITCHERS IN CHRIS SALE AND CRAIG KIMBREL

Neither hogs the spotlight once the game ends or says too much. Sale doesn’t even have Twitter. But the righty closer and lefty starter both do two things exceedingly well: make batters swing and miss, and prevent runs. When both pitch, your seat at the park may well be worth the price of admission. (But we won’t ask what you paid for those seats.) Sale didn’t take down Pedro Martinez’s Sox single-season strikeout record this year, finishing with five fewer than Martinez’s 313 in 1999. But he could have done it. And with a little more rest next year, one can envision him plowing his way through playoff opponents too.

ALEX CORA'S NEW DIRECTION

A first-time manager’s not a sure thing, but as Sox owner John Henry noted, there was a feeling it was time for a change. It’s a little early to be thinking ahead to a New Year’s resolution, but a manager who better connects with his players and brings a different vibe to the day-to-day scene is reason to feel the Sox are following the right road map. Plus, if nothing else, Cora took that awesome picture walking toward Fenway.

A CHRISTMAS SHOPPING SPREE MAY BE AROUND THE CORNER

We don’t want to be too materialistic. But Uncle Dave Dombrowski couldn’t let you buy everything you wanted last year. The credit card companies needed him to step back for a year. Now he’s ready to spend. He might not close down Bloomingdale’s for the day for you to do your private shopping, but if you need a couple great jackets to complete your look, it sounds like he’s ready to get you some designer threads. He probably feels there won’t be too many chances to have a moment like this with you, at this stage of your life, and he wants to make the most of it.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

 

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.