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Monday, April 30, 2012

This Week In Beantown Baseball: 4/23-4/29

After a concerning 4-10 start to the season, the Red Sox turned the page and finished up the last week in April with a scorching road trip between Minnesota and Chicago. Every element of the team seemed to click all at once, leading to a 6-1 trip that puts the Sox just a game under .500 heading to Fenway on Monday.

As I said, everything clicked for the Red Sox but the most encouraging sign from the seven game stand was the pitching--relief and starting.

Josh Beckett put together a pair of quality starts, allowing two runs in six innings against the Twins on Tuesday and three runs in seven strong against the White Sox in Sunday's loss.

Jon Lester pitched a gem in Saturday's game at U.S. Cellular, blanking the ChiSox for seven and out dueling Jake Peavy for his first win of the season.

Daniel Bard pitched in relief of Lester on Monday but made his start on Friday, going seven strong innings allowing just a pair of earned runs and striking out six on the way to his first W as a starter. Felix Doubront maintained his consistency, posting a quality start with six innings of three run ball for his first win of the season.

Clay Buchholz started once on the trip and continued to struggle but showed some encouraging signs. The righty gave up five runs on ten hits in 5 1/3 innings, picking up his first win of the season but still showing much room for improvement.

Alfredo Aceves picked up his fourth and fifth saves on the young season but the first wasn't pretty. Aceves loaded the bases before striking out Denard Span for the third out and appeared to be overthrowing, averaging 2 mph more on his fastball than last season but he got the job done. In the second save Aceves had a clean inning but still looked to be overthrowing, hitting 97 on the gun twice.

Recently added reliever Junichi Tazawa had himself a week to remember. The Japanese righty notched a three inning save on Thursday, allowing just two hits, no walks and striking out four. He hasn't allowed a run in 6 1/3 innings since being called up from AAA Pawtucket.

The Red Sox offense continued to mash over the last week, pushing 46 runs across in seven games. David Ortiz has been a huge part of the fire power with his .395 BA, 4HR, 18 RBI in 81 AB so far this season. Big Papi was 8-26 on the road trip with 2HR and 6 RBI.

Mike Aviles picked up 6H, 2HR and 5RBI in the series against Minnesota but only had 2H in 17AB against the White Sox. He goes into the series at Fenway with a .284 BA, 5HR, 13 RBI.

New Red Sox outfielder Marlon Byrd had 8 hits in 26 at-bats after putting up just 7 hits in 43 at-bats with the Chicago Cubs.

Ryan Sweeney continued to tear it up with the Red Sox. The outfielder went 9-22 with 4 doubles in six games, bringing his average for the season to .373 with a .962 OPS.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia broke out with a power surge, mashing three homers and driving in seven runs in just five games. Cody Ross had 2 homers and 8 RBI on the trip. Dustin Pedroia had 10 hits and scored 7 runs. The story on the offense could go on forever, but I'll cut it short and say this. The Red Sox offense is dangerous.

A road trip like this one should give the Red Sox some welcomed momentum heading into a short six game home stand. In 2011, the Sox got hot in May and June. It's looking like they got started a bit early this season. With Daniel Bard and Felix Doubront solidifying the rotation, the bullpen holding its own and the offense inflating ERA's, the Red Sox can make up for the first half of April pretty quickly. Look for them to start it agains young lefty Tommy Milone tonight at Fenway.

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