Red Sox manager John Farrell has started Dustin Pedroia in every game this season and has cheerfully ducked questions about when his second baseman will get a day off to rest.
In most cases, even the best players will provide a ready excuse for their manager by going hitless in a few games or looking a bit tired. But Pedroia, who has played the most games in the majors this season, hasn’t opened that door even a crack.
Pedroia homered, walked, and started two double plays Monday night, leading the Sox to a 9-3 victory against the Philadelphia Phillies before a crowd of 33,627 at Fenway Park.
With the Yankees losing against the Mets in New York, the 32-20 Sox are now alone in first place in the American League East. They have won four straight, five of six, and 10 of their last 13 games.
It was the first interleague game of the season for the Red Sox. The Sox are 22-9 against the Phillies since 2004. The teams play at Fenway again Tuesday night before two games in Philadelphia starting Wednesday night.
Pedroia did get three innings off at least, coming out for a pinch runner in the sixth inning. He had left the park by the time reporters were allowed into the clubhouse. But Pedroia’s teammates and manager had plenty to say about his performance.
“It seemed to be good spot to get him off his feet for the three innings,” Farrell said. “I think he appreciated it. He was in the dugout ragging every pitch that was thrown after that.”
Said first baseman Mike Napoli: “He just got his day off. Pretty sure that’s all he wants.”
Pedroia gave the Sox a 2-0 lead in the first inning when he wrapped a home run around the Pesky Pole. He later drew a walk, making it the 35th time this season he has reached base safely at least twice. That leads the American League.
“Tough player. He goes hard at everything, it doesn’t matter if we’re up or down, he’s going to play the same way,” Napoli said. “It’s nice to see. It rubs off on all of us.
“When you see that kind of stuff, you want to go up there and do the same thing.”
Pedroia fielded a hard-hit ball off the bat of John Mayberry in the second inning and started a double play. Instead of a single and two runners on, the inning was over.
“He makes it look awful easy and it’s not. He’s got such sure hands and such confidence,” Farrell said. “Seemingly he attacks every ground ball, whether it’s a short hop, whether it’s a long hop. I don’t want to say we take it for granted. But we’ve come to see him make so many plays like that. He turns a one-hop smash into a ground-ball double play. It’s a testament to who he is.”
Philadelphia starter Tyler Cloyd grew up in Nebraska rooting for the Red Sox and was making his first appearance at Fenway. It was not a game he will treasure.
The 26-year-old rookie gave up six runs on nine hits — five for extra bases — before coming out in the third inning.
Napoli had a solo homer in the first inning and an RBI double in the third inning. Stephen Drew had an RBI single and Jacoby Ellsbury an RBI double later in the inning.
Drew was 2 for 3 with two RBIs and Jarrod Saltalamacchia was 2 for 4 with one run driven in.
Ellsbury was 3 for 5 with two doubles, a run scored, and an RBI. He is 10 of his last 25, improving his batting average to .257.
Ellsbury also had a rare outfield assist in the third inning when he caught Ben Revere off first base after making a catch in center. He also made a nice running catch in the sixth inning with three runners on and two outs.
“We all take great pride in our defense and that’s one thing that we feel we can always do well at is defense,” Ellsbury said. “Tonight we were able to flash the leather a little bit.”
Red Sox starter Alfredo Aceves was banished to Triple A Pawtucket April 24, a day after he lasted 3⅓ innings in a start against Oakland and allowed eight runs.
Aceves was recalled Friday and pitched a scoreless inning of relief against the Indians. That led to a start against the Phillies after Clay Buchholz came down with a sore shoulder and was given some extra days off.
Aceves (2-1) responded with six strong innings. He allowed one run on seven hits with three walks and four strikeouts. The Phillies had runners on base in every inning against Aceves but were 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position when he was on the mound.
“Solid work for us,” Farrell said. “The biggest key was his pace and his tempo. After each pitch he got back up on the mound. Our defense felt the flow of the game. We played exceptional defense.”
With lefthanded reliever Franklin Morales expected to come off the disabled list Tuesday, Aceves may be returned to Pawtucket.
“There’s no move at this point. We did talk about Franklin being available for us tomorrow,” Farrell said. “That move has not been finalized yet. So there’s some things coming in the next day or so.”
Aceves was not in the clubhouse after the game and his locker was cleared of personal items.