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Pulling up their Sox

Pulling up their Sox
RED SOX 12, Orioles 1

The Red Sox posed as underachievers the first nine days of the season. Yesterday, they showed just how strong and balanced they can be with a 12-1 Patriots Day pounding of the Baltimore Orioles.

The top third of the lineup - Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz - woke up with nine hits, six RBI and seven runs while spot starter Justin Masterson kept the Orioles flailing at his fastballs during his 5 1/3-inning stint that wound up decidedly in his favor.

The Red Sox (7-6) completed a four-game, homestand-opening sweep that pushed them above .500 for the first time since Opening Day.

``That's why you don't panic the first two weeks of the season,'' manager Terry Francona said. ``You look up at one point and (Ellsbury's) hitting .275, (Pedroia's) the same thing. We say it every year, but it happens. Everything gets blown out of proportion and you just try to play good Baseball because at some point in the season, when you start logging enough at-bats and innings, you get into the grind. And if you're good, it shows.''

The home team's Red Sox showed very well in the late-morning, early-afternoon light. Masterson is on his way to developing a reputation not unlike Derek Lowe. Yesterday he not only had his sinking two-seam fastball in fine shape, but he brought some heat with his four-seamer, topping out at 96 mph. He struck out three and got nine outs on ground balls.

A fastball combo like that is hard to beat.

``I wanted to keep the intensity I had coming in from the bullpen when it seemed my velocity kind of elevated, and really just keep that intensity coming into my start,'' said Masterson, who started for the injured Daisuke Matsuzaka. ``I was really happy that I was able to do that.''

Orioles starter Mark Hendrickson, a 6-foot-9 lefty, did not baffle the Sox . Leadoff hitter Ellsbury (three hits, RBI) doubled in the first inning. Pedroia (four hits, three RBI) blooped in Ellsbury for the 1-0 lead, then Ortiz (two hits, two RBI) hit a double off The Wall to put a pair of runners on with no outs. Rocco Baldelli's fielder's choice knocked in Pedroia for a 2-0 lead.

Jason Varitek homered to lead off the second, then things quieted down for a while.

In the sixth, with Hendrickson out, the Sox pounced on the Baltimore bullpen for three runs, two on Ortiz' triple off The Wall. An inning later, the Sox sent 12 batters to the plate, scoring six times.

``We swung the bats really well the whole series. It was huge for us,'' Pedroia said. ``I know some guys struggled early the first couple of games, but through the course of the year, you find that rhythm and you have good at-bats and you continue to see the ball, and that's the biggest thing.''

And the biggest guy in that lineup, Ortiz, had a big day.

``He'll be all right. He swung the bat good today,'' Pedroia said. ``He's got to build on that, got to keep moving forward. It's a long year, got 600 more at-bats left. The season's not 50 at-bats. He'll be fine.''

The Red Sox appear fine, too.


Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 22, 2009

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