Getting the break they greatly deserve
Yesterday, the Red Sox enjoyed their first — and only — day off of the month.
Tonight, they begin a three-game set in New York against the Yankees that starts a grueling stretch of 20 consecutive games before the next scheduled off day June 2.
After a 9-3 setback in Toronto Wednesday night ended a 16-day stretch in which the Sox posted a 7-9 mark, the break could not have come at a better time.
“I think the schedule we’ve had — 3-in-the-morning games, then a day game, night games with rain delays — we definitely needed the help,’’ said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
In an 11-game homestand before the Toronto series, the Sox suffered a pair of extra-inning losses, including a marathon 13-inning affair that was protracted by a rain delay of 2 hours 45 minutes, causing them to exhaust nearly all of the arms in their bullpen.
Three games after reliever Tim Wakefield was forced to make a spot start for an ailing Clay Buchholz, Daisuke Matsuzaka came out of the bullpen in the 13th inning in a game that didn’t end until 2:45 a.m.
The bleary-eyed Sox reported to Fenway Park some 10 hours later and wound up getting pummeled, 11-0, by the Angels. They wrapped up the homestand with another extra-inning affair, pulling out a 2-1 victory against the Twins in 11 innings Monday.
The Sox failed to seize upon that momentum — and another opportunity to reach the .500 mark — by losing yet again in extras Tuesday, a 7-6 setback at Toronto in 10 innings. That was followed by Wednesday’s loss, which left the Sox with a 6-11 road record and in need of a mental and physical break.
“I think we feel we’re capable of putting a good winning stretch together,’’ Saltalamacchia said. “We just haven’t done it yet. We had a good road trip last time [6-3 on a swing through Oakland, Anaheim, and Baltimore], came home, and we didn’t keep it going.
“So I just think we haven’t played to our capability and I think that’s the thing we’re most frustrated with.’’
Cano returns Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano returned to the lineup last night after getting hit in the head by Nate Adcock’s 93-mile-per-hour fastball Wednesday night. After a CT scan that night and a follow-up appointment with a neurologist yesterday, he was cleared. Buchholz, who will start tonight, said Cano was hands down the toughest batter in the Bombers’ lineup. Cano is hitting .529 lifetime against Buchholz (9 for 17, 3 doubles, 1 strikeout). “He’s just an all-around good player, good hitter,’’ Buchholz said. “You can make him look terrible in an at-bat and he’ll come back and make like it never even happened. It’s pretty crazy. He’s a freak athlete.’’
Pitching in for PawSox Dan Wheeler pitched a scoreless inning for Pawtucket in a rehab appearance against Gwinnett at McCoy Stadium yesterday. He allowed no hits or runs, with a walk and a strikeout. Wheeler, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list May 5 with a left calf strain, will not be eligible to return from the DL until May 20. The PawSox got solid work from Andrew Miller, who went five innings and allowed one earned run on one hit and three walks while striking out six, and Scott Atchison, who threw two scoreless innings, allowing one hit while striking out three. Pawtucket continues to struggle offensively, losing, 4-2, in 15 innings. The PawSox have scored just two runs in their last 32 innings.
Peter Abraham of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org