NEW YORK -- Five takeaways from a dreary drubbing in Yankee Stadium, where the Bombers hit five home runs in a game against the Red Sox for the second time this season, the first time they've ever flexed their muscles in that fashion against the Sox:
• Even Dustin Pedroia has his limits. Distressed by the characterization of his role as ringleader in a Yahoo! Sports story that told of players' venting to ownership about manager Bobby Valentine here three weeks ago -- a charge Pedroia vehemently denied -- the Red Sox second baseman has taken to making quick exits from the Sox clubhouse without speaking to reporters. He did so Friday night even though he hit a three-run home run, made several outstanding defensive plays and just missed hitting a game-tying home run in the eighth inning, flying out to the deepest part of the ballpark. Pedroia has been uniformly standup throughout his time here and has embraced the role of speaking, win or lose, and there is an expectation that he will eventually return to doing so. But it is clear he has been deeply wounded by the criticism directed at him in some circles since the Yahoo! story after previously being held up as the model of ultimate team player.
Pedroia, by the way, now has a 12-game hitting streak and has homered on three different birthdays, tying him with Ted Williams for most by a Sox player, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Nomar Garciaparra has four birthday homers, but three came in one game.
• David Ortiz has now been out a full month with a strained right Achilles tendon. It's amazing the impact his absence has had on the starting rotation.
Yes, you read that right. In the 30 games Ortiz has been out since being placed on the disabled list July 17, Sox starters have a 7-15 record with a 5.25 ERA (104 earned runs in 178 1/3 innings). They have failed to finish six innings in 13 of those 30 starts.
In the previous 30 games before Ortiz was hurt, Sox starters were 12-9 with a 4.24 ERA, a full point lower than after he was hurt. They failed to finish six innings in 10 of those 30 starts.
Is there an actual cause and effect? Probably not, but it demonstrates that the Sox offense isn't the only thing that has been misfiring since Big Papi went down. Valentine has used eight different players as DH in Ortiz's absence: Cody Ross 11 times, Pedro Ciriaco six, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway four apiece, Daniel Nava twice and Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and Mauro Gomez once apiece. Earlier in the season, Will Middlebrooks served as DH one game, giving the Sox nine players who served as DH other than Ortiz this season. None of them has hit a home run in that position.
The Red Sox are now 12-18 without Ortiz. They were 46-44 before he was hurt; they're now 58-62. Do you think he needs any further evidence of his value to the team, both now and going forward? Friday night, he hit inside but did not run. He said he's getting closer, but no one is making any predictions.
• Will the Sox give extended playing time to rookie catcher Ryan Lavarnway to get a read on what they might have going into next season? Lavarnway has appeared in eight games so far, batting .125 (2-for-24), but with Kelly Shoppach traded to the Mets, they've created a window for evaluating the Yale product, who was voted best defensive catcher by International League managers in a Baseball America poll, which speaks to the progress he has made. The flip side of playing Lavarnway more, of course, is for the Red Sox to find out if Jarrod Saltalamacchia can break out of what is now a six-week hitting funk, one in which he is batting .188 over his past 53 games, with 69 strikeouts in 186 at-bats. Saltalamacchia hit just .217 in the second half last season, so there would appear to be grounds for concern that Saltalamacchia wears down during the season. He went 0-for-4 Friday with two K's and two infield flies. He has hit just three of his 20 home runs and driven in only six runs in the past month.
• With the Sox playoff viability fading by the day, will GM Ben Cherington entertain waiver deals for players who do not figure as part of the team's plans beyond this season? Players such as Aaron Cook, Cody Ross and Mike Aviles, all of whom would have some value for a contender down the stretch. Vicente Padilla, Mark Melancon and the recently acquired Craig Breslow could also be shipped out, if Cherington decided to go in that direction. Don't be surprised by any player movement before rosters are frozen Sept. 1. Cherington is with the club.
• It should be noted that Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez, the two players cited in the Yahoo! report as instigators of the players' meeting with ownership here three weeks ago, came into Friday's game ranked 1-2 in the AL in batting in August. Gonzalez was at .386 until an 0-for-4 Friday dropped him to .361. Pedroia came in batting .379 and is now at .371 after a 1-for-4 Friday night.