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Fenway Park traditionally has provided one of the best home-field advantages in baseball. The Red Sox construct teams with power to left field, and their players usually adapt to the quirks of the old ballpark better than their opponents do.
But that hasn’t been the case this season. With Thursday night’s 14-13 loss to the Angels, the Sox are 29-37 at home.
Only two other teams in the American League — the Royals and Twins — have a losing record at home.
The Sox have not had a losing record at home since 1997 (39-42). It has happened only nine times since 1934.
“I’m surprised,” said shortstop Mike Aviles. “It’s a great place to play, and we always get the fans. It’s frustrating for us because we want to play well in general but obviously at home in front of our own fans. You want to reward the fans.”
Clay Buchholz believes some of the players are pressing.
“It’s the way it’s happening right now,” said Buchholz. “A lot of guys are going up to the plate and thinking they have to do something right now. When you’re losing, that’s just the way it goes. When you’re winning, you don’t even think about it. You just go up there and hit or go out there and pitch.
“It’s different for me, being here the last four or five years and always winning [at home]. It’s a little bit different for everybody. You expect to play well at home. You expect to play well everywhere, but especially at home.
“It’s frustrating that it hasn’t been going the way we want it to go. But we have to find a way to get through it.”
Jarrod Saltalamacchia said there is no explanation for the team’s poor record at home.
“I don’t feel any differently,” he said. “I feel like we’re amped up to play here because we know how to play here. We know how the ball caroms off the wall, all of those things.
“For some reason this year, it’s not working out for us. We should be piling up wins here and we’re not, and I have no explanation for it.”
A routine question about what the rotation would be for the four-game series against the Royals that starts Friday set off manager Bobby Valentine.
“Who cares who’s pitching? Why is this such a big thing?” he said. “There’s a lot of things going on that, unless we just want to start some stir on something, I don’t think there’s any reason to talk about it.”
For those who may be interested, it appears that Jon Lester will start Friday and Josh Beckett Saturday. Valentine did say that Felix Doubront would come off the disabled list to start on Sunday.
Aaron Cook could start Monday, although Daisuke Matsuzaka is an option.
Valentine indicated that Matsuzaka would pitch another game for Pawtucket Monday instead.
Matsuzaka is in the final year of his contract and unlikely to return in 2013. The Sox may feel they are better served getting a look at other pitchers instead of Matsuzaka.
The Royals will start Bruce Chen, Jeremy Guthrie, Will Smith, and Luke Hochevar in the series.
Crawford has surgery
Carl Crawford underwent what the Red Sox said was “successful” Tommy John surgery, performed by Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla. Crawford is expected to need 7-9 months to recover. He had surgery on his left wrist in January. Since being signed to a seven-year, $142 million deal, Crawford has played in 161 games over two seasons and hit .260 . . . Albert Pujols was out of the Angels’ lineup with a strained right calf. An MRI showed no structural damage and Pujols isn’t expected to miss more than a few days. “I feel way better today,” Pujols said. “I’m walking better, and I have some strength. Hopefully, it’s nothing too bad.” Pujols was 4 for 6 in the series with two doubles . . . Lefthanded reliever Rich Hill, on rehab assignment, pitched a scoreless inning for Pawtucket . . . Adrian Gonzalez was the designated hitter Thursday, just to give him a little rest from playing defense. “He’s the Gold Glove in the American League, I think, without a doubt,” Valentine said. “He has saved, I can’t even imagine how many, balls in the dirt that are tough hops. There are a lot of easy hops that are thrown in the dirt. He catches the tough ones.”