Three things we learned from Red Sox 11-4 win over Braves
Three things we learned | Sean McAdam
Three things we learned from the Red Sox' 11-4 victory over the Braves in Atlanta on Tuesday night . . .
1) The 14 strikeouts were nice, but they weren't the most impressive part of David Price's start
After a somewhat slow start, Price got stronger as the game went along. He struck out three in the sixth and two more in the seventh, finally settling into a groove as the night progressed.
When Price came off the mound after seven, with his pitch count right at 100, John Farrell and Carl Willis had a question for him. "They asked how I felt and I said, 'good,' '' recounted Price after the game. "Then they asked me again, and I said 'great.' ''
The message Price was sending was clear: he didn't want to come out of the game.
The Red Sox led comfortably by that time, with an insurance run in the top of the seventh making it 6-2. But Price knew that he had another inning in him, and knew, too, that the bullpen, having been overworked Sunday night, could use as much as rest as possible.
Better yet, Price backed up his claim of feeling "great'' when he went out and struck out the side in the eighth. That allowed Farrell to use only Pat Light in the ninth, giving the likes of Junichi Tazawa, Koji Uehara and Craig Kimbrel a night off.
"Those guys have worked a lot,'' said Price of his bullpen mates. "That's tough. They've done an extremely good job with the situation we've put them in. I wanted to go as deep as I could today.''
2) Somewhat quietly, Dustin Pedroia had a big road trip
Pedroia was 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored in the victory. For the five game road trip, Pedroia was 9-for-20 with five runs scored, serving as a key table-setter at the top of the lineup.
For the season, Pedroia is hitting .318 with an .817 OPS, and while some maintain that he's lost some range at second, he remains an offensive spark plug for the Boston lineup.
That .817 OPS, while early in the season, is slightly above his career average of .809, and ahead of where he finished last season (.797), when he started strong but missed almost the entire second half of the season with a serious hamstring strain.
He's reached base in 18 of the 19 games he's played this season and his 15 runs scored is second only to leadoff hitter Mookie Betts, who has 17.
3) A year ago, Travis Shaw was a rather non-descript Triple A player. Over the last two games, he's ably served as the team's cleanup hitter
Shaw's progression has been remarkable. He made a huge impression over the final two months of last year, belting 13 homers in about a third of the season. This spring, he came in and stole the third base job from Pablo Sandoval.
On Monday and Tuesday, with David Ortiz sitting out back-to-back interleague contests, John Farrell inserted Shaw as the cleanup hitter. Shaw didn't produce much Monday, but he made up for it Tuesday with a mammoth three-run homer in the first before closing out with a well-struck double to right-center in the ninth, accounting for two more runs.
That resulted in a five-RBI night for Shaw, who didn't seem at all out of place hitting fourth.
Of late, there have been some occasional lapses at third base - he's made four errors in 20 games, with one coming Monday at first base - but that's to be expected, given how little Shaw has played the position in his pro career.
When Shaw is hitting sixth, he helps lengthen the lineup and provide some lefthanded power to go with Ortiz. And, on nights like the last two, he can even fill in for Ortiz and provide the missing muscle.