Notes: Gagne looking for answers
Former closer struggling in new role since joining Red Sox
BALTIMORE -- Eric Gagne spent a long time before Saturday's game with the Orioles studying videos of his pitching. The recently acquired reliever was clearly looking for some answers to the problems that have plagued him since coming to the Red Sox.
Gagne has no record but a bloated 16.20 ERA since waiving his no-trade clause with the Rangers to join the Red Sox on July 31. The former National League Cy Young Award winner has given up six runs on nine hits in 3 1/3 innings during his four appearances in a Boston uniform.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona brushed off talk about Gagne having problems adjusting to his new role as a setup man for closer Jonathan Papelbon.
"I think the biggest adjustment is him coming to a new team and not trying to do too much," Francona said. "Last night, it looked to me like he was trying to just be Tom Seaver, dropping and driving. That's not him."
Francona said that it's normal for a player to press when coming to a new team. He feels that any player wants to get off to a good start with a different team, especially to make a good first impression.
But Gagne kept it simple, saying that he just hasn't been making good pitches since coming to the Red Sox and is working on getting back on track.
"I've got to make my pitches," Gagne said. "The bottom line is, no matter where you pitch or who you pitch for or what inning or whatever, you've got to make your pitches. For me, I'm just not executing my pitches."
Patience was a virtue: Dustin Pedroia has been on a roll lately, hitting .386 in his last 21 games, getting at least two hits twice. He's now ranked among the top three of American League rookies in a number of offensive categories.
His .328 batting average now ranks seventh overall in the American League and is a long way from the .172 mark he had early in the season.
All of that makes Francona and the Red Sox glad they stuck with Pedroia through his tough days early in the season.
"Everybody in our organization said he'd be fine," Francona said. "The alternative, by bailing, is you lose a chance at a good player. That ... would be a mistake."
Road game? When Manny Ramirez stepped into the batter's box, he received a huge roar from the large number of Red Sox fans at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Saturday.
What's even more impressive is that roar came 80 minutes before game time.
A huge part of the Red Sox Nation has been regularly descending upon Oriole Park at Camden Yards whenever the Red Sox come to town. They cheer like it's Fenway Park, and there's no question the Red Sox notice it.
"It's definitely almost like playing a home game here," said first baseman Kevin Youkilis. "A lot of times they'll come down here and support us. I think it's an easier ticket than Fenway Park. It's been a huge thing over the years."
Francona talked before the game about how he's always bumping into Red Sox fans on the road in many places. But a large number of them seem to find their way to Baltimore on a very regular basis.
And they even cheer during batting practice.
Bullpen consistency: Despite giving up five runs in Friday's 6-5 loss to the Orioles, the Red Sox's bullpen remained the best in baseball.
The bullpen has a Major League-best 2.93 ERA this season. In addition, relievers have converted 33 of 38 saves chances, also No. 1 in the Majors.
Still perfect: Youkilis gives the Red Sox fans plenty to cheer about. He's been letter perfect at first base, handling a team-record 1,318 straight chances without an error.
His last miscue came on July 4, 2006, against the Devil Rays. Youkilis now has 152 games without an error at first, shattering the old team record of 1,300 set by Stuffy McInnis in 1921.
That stretch of games without an error is another record, also breaking a McInnis record (119).
On top: The Red Sox now have held the lead in the American League East for the last 118 days, the team's longest hold on that spot since 1995, when it was in first place for the final 141 days of that year.
Coming up: Curt Schilling (6-5, 4.31 ERA) will make his second start since coming of the disabled list earlier this month in the series finale on Sunday at 1:35 p.m. ET. He'll go against Steve Trachsel (5-7,4.97 ERA). Schilling is a former Oriole who is 1-0 against Baltimore this season.
Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.