Friday, May 7, 2010
Quick hits: Red Sox 11, Angels 6
By Gordon Edes
BOSTON -- Quick hits on Red Sox 11, Angels 6
-- The four-game sweep of the Angels puts the Sox over .500 for the first time since they beat the Yankees on the season’s opening night. They enter the Yankee series on their first winning streak of four games or more this season, while the Yankees, who had an off-day Thursday, also have won four straight.
-- Dustin Pedroia raised his average back over .300, to .303, with a double and single, scored three runs, and had a terrific series both offensively and defensively. He was on base nine times with six hits and three walks, scored four runs, and set up what promises to be an entertaining duel with Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, one of the hottest hitters in the league.
“He’s on another level, man,’’ Pedroia said of Cano, who comes to town second in the league in home runs with 9, second in slugging at .695, and third in hitting at .362. “Fun to watch. I’d definitely pay to watch him hit, the way he plays.
“I think everyone has seen it. That first week at our place, the way he swung the bat. He hits every pitch. There really isn’t a flaw in his swing. It’s pretty fun to watch.’’
The Red Sox lost two of three to the Yankees in the season’s opening series, and enter this weekend 6½ games behind first-place Tampa Bay, five games behind the second-place Yankees and 1½ games behind third-place Toronto in the AL East.
"Those are going to be some good games,’’ Pedroia said of playing the Yankees. “We just have to keep doing what we’re doing.
“We know we haven’t played well early. We don’t want the three teams in front of us to get too far away. We’ve just got to play better.’’
-- Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez brought the Sox back with a two-run home run off Scott Kazmir in the third and a game-tying, two-run double in the fifth. Martinez had gone 24 games (90 at-bats) without a home run, the longest homerless drought of his career since he went 60 games over the 2007 and ’08 seasons.
Martinez went 2 for 17 on the last trip, his average dropping to .233 after the sweep in Baltimore. But he rebounded with six hits against the Angels, and has been prolific from the right side against lefties, his hits off lefty Kazmir raising his average against left-handers to .429, highest on the club and among the top three in the league.
-- Whatever problems the Sox were having pale compared with those of the Angels, who have now lost seven straight and were outscored, 36-16, in this series. The Angels’ bullpen in particular was horrific. Their line against the Sox in this series: 10 2/3 IP, 23 H, 10 B, 16 ER, 13.50 ERA.
After Thursday’s game, manager Mike Scioscia closed the clubhouse doors for a team meeting that was nothing like a New England town meeting. Only one voice was heard -- his.
"Right now, we’re carrying some ghosts,’’ Scioscia said. ‘’You have to be able to turn the page and get to the next game and start fresh. I think that was always a strength of this group here and when you’re not playing well, I think some things are starting to become distractions. Guys are starting to press because of something that happened three days ago."
-- Daisuke Matsuzaka survived a wild start -- three walks in a 39-pitch, four-run first inning -- to emerge with his first win of the 2010 season. Matsuzaka held the Angels scoreless on three hits and did not walk another batter before leaving after Juan Rivera’s one-out double in the sixth. A fifth run was charged to Matsuzaka after Rivera scored ahead of Mike Napoli’s home run off Manny Delcarmen.
“Kind of reversed the other day,’’ manager Terry Francona said of Matsuzaka, whose first start of the season ended badly, with a six-run fifth inning in Baltimore. “His first two pitches were right where he wanted, and the next 30 or so he was scattering.’’
-- The Sox bullpen has now allowed 17 home runs this season, 3 more than the Sox starters have allowed, and that is the most home runs yielded by any bullpen in the American League.
-- Outfielder Mike Cameron said he is scheduled to be evaluated by a doctor Friday to determine how close he is to recovering from an abdominal tear. Cameron has been hitting and throwing. “Power running is the final thing,’’ he said, “and comfort. I can’t really go with discomfort.’’
Cameron, who has been out since April 18 after passing a kidney stone and then being diagnosed with the abdominal tear, said that regardless of the doctor’s evaluation, he will have to go to the minor leagues on a rehabilitation assignment.
“You can’t sit out for three weeks and come back to play major league baseball,’’ he said. “The only guy I ever saw who did that was Barry Bonds.’’
Jacoby Ellsbury (hairline fracture of four ribs) also has increased activity, hitting and throwing and some running, but he, too, is unlikely to return anytime soon.