Posted on 06 July 2011.
The phone in the Red Sox bullpen has been ringing early the past two games. In each instance, the Sox relievers have answered the call.
After allowing two runs (one earned) in 62/3 innings as they tried to clean up John Lackey ‘s mess in a 9-7 loss to the Blue Jays on Monday, the Sox relievers were again up to the task in extended duty in last night’s 3-2 win over Toronto.
Jon Lester left after four no-hit innings with a strained latissimus dorsi, which got Matt Albers into the game earlier than planned.
‘We heard the phone ring right after the top of the fourth and kind of had a feeling that it probably wasn’t good,’ Albers said. ‘They said, ‘You’re in the game.’ Right then I was able to get on the mound and get loose before the inning started.’
Albers (3-3) earned the win with two shutout innings, although he did lose the Sox’ no-hit bid by allowing a Jose Bautista single with two outs in the sixth. Franklin Morales and Daniel Bard followed with a scoreless inning apiece. Bard hasn’t allowed a run in 161/3 innings dating to May 27, which is the longest active streak in the majors.
‘You can’t speak highly enough for our bullpen,’ Lester said. ‘They picked me up tonight. They picked the team up. Especially after a rough one yesterday, I needed to pick some innings up. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do that. Albie, Morales, Bardo, ( Jonathan Papelbon ), tip your hat to those guys. They did a great job.’
Papelbon’s 18th save wasn’t a clean one, as he allowed a two-run homer to Bautista on a high fly that barely cleared The Wall.
‘There’s 29 ballparks that that ball is a can of (expletive),’ Papelbon said. ‘Can’t do nothing about it.’
Papelbon had runners on first and second with two outs when John McDonald singled to left. Darnell McDonald fired to the plate to nail Edwin Encarnacion , who appeared to beat Jason Varitek ‘s tag.
‘I pick up my teammates some days and they pick me up,’ Papelbon said.
Carl Crawford is making strides in the right direction.
The Red Sox left fielder ran the bases yesterday for the first time since straining his left hamstring June 17. Crawford also took batting practice and showed no ill effects, though he didn’t appear to be running at full throttle.
‘He had a really good day,’ Sox manager Terry Francona said. ‘That’s been about three days in a row now, so just keep letting him do that, and I would think maybe in the not-too-distant future we’ll be talking about him coming back. When that is, I don’t know, but he’s doing really well.’
Crawford could be ready to return before the All-Star break, but the Sox are mindful of the benefit of the additional days off. His progress will continue to be monitored daily.
Clay Buchholz had an early wakeup call today, as he was scheduled to catch a 5 a.m. flight to make it to Charlotte, N.C., for an 8 a.m. appointment with back specialist Dr. Craig Brigham . Buchholz met with Sox team physician Thomas Gill on Monday, and is making the trip for a second opinion on his lower back strain, which has kept him out of the rotation since June 16.
The pain has lingered longer than expected, so the Sox are hoping the visit to Brigham will alleviate concerns that the injury is serious.
‘We want to make sure if he pitches – because he’s probably going to be sore for a while – that he’s not hurting himself,’ Francona said. ‘Not only for his sake, but for ours; we just want to make sure that you’re not missing something or somebody has a different opinion. That’s why you do these things. You try to get intelligent people and get the best opinions you can.’ . . .
Jed Lowrie took ground balls before the game, but still is not ready to take batting practice. The shortstop has been on the disabled list with a left shoulder strain since June 17.
The Sox traded Mike Cameron , along with cash, to the Florida Marlins for a player to be named or cash considerations. The Sox will pick up all but the prorated minimum (roughly $ 200,000) of the $ 3.4 million Cameron has remaining on his contract, according to a source.
Cameron was designated for assignment June 30 after hitting .149 in 33 games this season. The 38-year-old outfielder was signed to a two-year, $ 15.5 million contract before last season. . . .
Adrian Gonzalez was named the AL Player of the Month for June after batting .404 with six home runs and 25 RBI in 25 games. . . .
The Sox (50-35) hit the 50-win mark one game faster than they did last year.