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Closing Time: Clay Buchholz better, but still not good enough; Red Sox lose to Orioles

04.18.15 at 7:30 pm ET
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It was hard to tell how much of the perception regarding Clay Buchholz was altered Saturday.

The result of the starter’s outing was clearly better than what transpired the last time out, yet much of the six innings in which Buchholz was thick with uneasiness.

The end result of Buchholz’ third start of the season was a Red Sox 4-1 loss to the Orioles at Fenway Park. The righty took the loss, giving up 11 hits and a walk while striking out seven and stranding nine baserunners.

Only one of the hits off Buchholz was of the extra-base variety, and that one — coming off the bat of Jimmy Parades — probably should have been caught by left fielder Hanley Ramirezin the left field corner. (Click here for video of the play.)

Also, seven of the outs Buchholz got on balls put in play were on ground outs.

“Like I said after that outing, the last thing you want to do is just let them hit the ball around,” the pitcher said. “It definitely didn’t feel like I gave up 11 hits. It felt like I won a couple of those battles, and balls just ended up falling in. It didn’t affect me near like it did the other day in New York. I was able to get out of a couple of tight spots. The name of the game is keep your team in the game. They had a couple of chances that they did a good job of pitching out of, too, so you’ve got to tip your cap sometimes.”

Despite Buchholz’ ability to escape major damage, his slow pace and reluctance to use his fastball in key spots later in the game (after using it liberally out of the gate) didn’t paint the exact picture the Red Sox were hoping for coming off 3 1/3-inning, 10-run start in New York.

At the end of the day, Buchholz did keep pace with Baltimore starter Chris Tillman, who cruised through much of his 5 1/3 innings in which he allowed one run on six hits.

Buchholz came away feeling especially good about his cutter, which he broke out multiple times during the uncomfortable fourth and fifth innings.

“Best cutter I’ve had all year,” he said. “I tweaked a couple of things here and there with it over the last two or three days. It had a lot more depth today. I was able to get those swings to the lefty and the balls away from the righty. It was moving regardless of how high or low it was. That’s really the cutter that I had in 2010 and 2013.”

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Tillman. The Orioles hurler kept the Red Sox off-balance for much of his outing. In 17 starts against the Red Sox, the righty has now allowed more than three runs just twice.

WHAT WENT WRONG

– The Red Sox first real chance against Tillman came in the third inning with runners on first and third and two outs. But Dustin Pedroia couldn’t quite beat out his slow roller down the third base line, making the second baseman 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position for the season. The Red Sox had secured the runners on base thanks to a Xander Bogaerts’ walk (giving the Sox most free passes in the majors, 49) and another Brock Holt single.

– The next solid chance the Red Sox had came in the fourth, with David Ortiz standing at third with two outs (thanks to his second single of the game). But Mike Napoli continued to struggle, flying out to second. Napoli — who is 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position — did manage a single in his next at-bat.

– Ramirez continued to play left field (to be kind) cautiously. In this case it led to the Orioles’ first run, with Ramirez allowing Parades’ fly ball bounce in the corner. With two runners on with nobody out, Baltimore managed to plate a pair thanks to a fielder’s choice grounder to shortstop and single. Ramirez would make another subpar play in the fifth, dropping a fly ball at the base of the left field wall (although he insisted after the game it hit the wall prior to his glove).

“It hit the wall and then hit my glove so make sure you see the replay person and ask him about it,” the outfielder said of the second chance.

“There was nothing I could do on that play … I jumped and hit it the wall. I went back inside and saw the replay. You just have to come back tomorrow and win the game. We’€™re playing pretty good baseball right now. There’€™s nothing we have to be concerned about. Everybody is just happy we’€™re here, we’€™re going to keep working and give 100 percent every game. There’€™s nothing we have to be concerned about right now.”

– Pedroia stranded five runners, striking out twice. Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval and Daniel Nava also went hitless. (Nava was a last-minute replacement for Shane Victorino, who injured his ribs going for a ball in the stands Friday night.)

– Robbie Ross Jr. allowed Chris Davis his second home run of the season, with the Orioles first baseman launching a two-run blast over the left field wall to give the visitors some breathing room heading into the bottom of the ninth.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

– Buchholz got out of what could have been a disastrous situation, facing the bases loaded and just one out in what had already become a two-run fourth inning. But after striking out Alejandro De Aza on a well-placed change-up, and Steve Pearce on an 89 mph cutter, the starter got out of what resulted in a 31-pitch inning.

– The righty did it again in the following inning when he escaped a bases-loaded, nobody out jam. In this case, Buchholz induced a 3-2-3 double play and a Ryan Flaherty strikeout to end the frame.

– The Red Sox were finally able to get to Baltimore starter Chris Tillman in the sixth inning, with David Ortiz managing his third hit of the game, a line-drive double to right field, to kick things off. Ortiz was ultimately plated when Tillman mishandled a slow roller off the bat of Sandoval.

– Brock Holt — who was starting in center field — collected another three hits, giving him 11 for the season in just 19 at-bats.

“I mean the biggest thing is just it’€™s hard to keep a rhythm when you’€™re not in there every day,” Holt said. “I do the same thing routine wise I would do if I was playing every day. Sometimes I’€™m not in there. I just try to keep that part of it the same and work on things in the cage and bp and if I’€™m in there great and if not be ready to go.”

Power isn’t everything to John Farrell when it comes to a good bullpen

04.18.15 at 7:18 pm ET
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Edward Mujica

Edward Mujica

As the Red Sox assembled their 2015 bullpen over the winter, there were some questions as to whether they had enough “power” arms in the back end of games.

Power bullpens have become all the rage among those teams who fancy themselves World Series contenders. Kansas City is the most classic example, as the Royals rode a trio of 98-plus arms to the Fall Classic last year. Detroit has had success in the past employing a similar formula. In the National League, St. Louis has had a great deal of success with pitchers who overpower batters at the end of games, led by Trevor Rosenthal and Carlos Martinez (now a starter).

But the Red Sox saw a different way. With Matt Barnes the only true power arm in camp with a shot at the roster, and with names like Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, Craig Breslow and Edward Mujica already with spots on the club, the Red Sox decided to go in a different direction. The Red Sox added Anthony Varvaro, Alexi Ogando and perhaps the hardest thrower of the bunch, Robbie Ross Jr.

The results have not been bad so far. Entering Saturday, in 42.2 innings, they’ve allowed 33 hits and walked 14 for a 1.10 WHIP. The ERA is 2.74 and they allowed four of 12 inherited runners to score. They’ve had just two save chances and converted one, with Mujica’s blown chance in New York being the only missed opportunity.

If Red Sox relievers have proven anything, they’ve shown you don’t have to overpower batters to get good results, including strikeouts, recording 37 so far in 2015 before Saturday.

“Location is important but I think what we have are a number of relievers that use an assortment of pitches rather than rely on arm strength and velocity,” Farrell said. “Bottom line is outs. How they get them, the ability create some mishits. Sure, strikeouts are good but we have guys capable of strikeouts, even though they’re of average major league velocity.”

Another trait Red Sox relievers have is experience. And with experience comes adjustments. Mujica threw mainly fastballs on April 10 in New York before Chase Headley timed one and tied the game. Friday night, he opened with seven straight splitters and recorded a key strikeout of Manny Machado to bail out Joe Kelly.

“His last two, three outings, he’s gone to that pitch a little bit more than the night in New York where there were a high number of consecutive fastballs,” Farrell said of Mujica. “That’s not to say he doesn’t have confidence in his fastball. He’s not afraid to throw it for a strike and put a hitter away with it.”

That was followed by scoreless performances from Tazawa and Uehara, both masters of the split-fingered fastball.

“Well, it says in those games, our bullpen has pitched very effectively, and that was certainly the case [Friday] night,” Farrell said. “We had a lot of experience last year in one-run games. Unfortunately, it might not have always been to our advantage. We have veteran players that made good decisions in moment on the field.”

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Edward Mujica, junichi tazawa, Koji Uehara

Shane Victorino scratched with sore ribs, Daniel Nava starts in RF

04.18.15 at 3:24 pm ET
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Looks like Shane Victorino did pay a price for going after that fly ball in right field Friday night.

Victorino was scratched an hour before Saturday’s game with sore ribs. He was replaced in right field by Daniel Nava, batting seventh.

The Victorino situation appeared encouraging at the start of the day when the outfielder was in the starting lineup, one day after he had one of his trademark collisions with the short wall at the Pesky Corner in right. Victorino made a futile attempt to catch Caleb Joseph’s solo homer in the fifth inning Friday night.

He was shaken up and on the warning track for nearly a minute before getting back to his feet. He stayed in the game and was penciled in the lineup for Saturday before the late scratch.

(Update: Here is what Red Sox manager John Farrell said regarding Victorino after the Red Sox’ 4-1 loss to the Orioles – “When he hit the wall, he made a great effort to try to bring back a home run. The left rib area was sore here today. He was no go. We’€™ll check him in the morning on his availability.”

For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.

Here is the adjusted lineup for the Red Sox:

1. Brock Holt, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Hanley Ramirez, LF
5. Pablo Sandoval, 3B
6. Mike Napoli, 1B
7. Daniel Nava, RF
8. Xander Bogaerts, SS
9. Ryan Hanigan, C
Clay Buchholz, RHP

Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, daniel nava, MLB

Red Sox pregame: John Farrell on Mookie Betts (.209): ‘His batting average isn’t the reason he’s not in lineup’

04.18.15 at 3:11 pm ET
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For as red hot as Mookie Betts was to start the homestand and the season, he has cooled off quite a bit in the last three days. He’s is hitless in his last seven at-bats and just 4-for-17 on the homestand. His average has slipped to .209 on the season and facing a tough right-hander in Chris Tillman, with a heavy sinker and good breaking ball, doesn’t figure to be the right medicine to get him better at the plate fast.

Enter Brock Holt. The super utility man, batting .533 (8-for-15 in five games) made his fourth start Saturday, including his second in center. Holt is also 3-for-5 against Tillman while Betts is 1-for-6.

“A way to get Brock in the lineup,” Farrell said. “He has swung the bat well in limited looks against Tillman and our goal, and my personal goal, is to get Brock [in the lineup] and keep him in the mix as much as possible. That’s his role. We try to do that to the best of our abilities and as frequent as possible. We also have a very deep roster. He accepts his role. He excels at it, and the versatility he provides is a real good fit, given David is our everyday DH on our team.

“I think we’ve seen that so far. He’s hit first. He’s hit seventh. He’s hit ninth. What really stood out last year with Brock is that when we put him in a new position he had never played before, he embraced it. He didn’t make too much of it, in terms of the fact that he didn’t have any previous experience there. It wasn’t any big deal to him. It’s almost the same way he goes about his approach at the plate, regardless of his spot in the order.”

As for Betts, Farrell said he’s still very happy with the way the second-year outfielder is swinging the bat of late.

“He’s squared up some balls that have gone for naught and his approach at the plate hasn’t changed,” Farrell said. “His batting average isn’t the reason why he’s not in the lineup today. This is a matchup I like the way it suits us. Mookie has hit into some tough luck at times. That was more evident in the Phillies series. Still, he is our center fielder.”

The Red Sox are also facing a pitcher in Tillman who controls the bases when runners do get on.

“He does a great job of controlling the running game,” Farrell said. “When you look at the combination of pitches he does have, a guy with a sinking fastball and a good top-to-bottom curveball is a rare combination so he’s unique in that way. He’s pitched for a team that has had airtight defense. So that the combination of all that makes him a pretty complete pitcher.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Brock Holt, mookie betts,

Red Sox starting lineups Saturday: Mookie Betts sits, Brock Holt gets the call in center

04.18.15 at 1:56 pm ET
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Brock Holt

Brock Holt

John Farrell chose Saturday to give Mookie Betts his second off day of the season.

Starting in center Saturday in place of Betts will be Mr. Super Sub, Brock Holt, getting his second start in center this season and leading off. In addition to two starts in center, Holt has started one game at short and one at third base.

The rest of the lineup remains basically in tact, including right fielder Shane Victorino, who will bat seventh.

The Victorino news is encouraging after the outfielder had one of his trademark collisions with the short wall at the Pesky Corner in right, making a futile attempt to catch Caleb Joseph’s solo homer in the fifth inning Friday night. He was shaken up and on the warning track for nearly a minute before getting back to his feet. He stayed in the game and apparently had no ill effects overnight.

Ryan Hanigan will catch right-hander Clay Buchholz, who was beaten up by the Yankees in his last start last Sunday in New York. Baltimore will counter with right-hander Chris Tillman.

For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.

1. Brock Holt, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Hanley Ramirez, LF
5. Pablo Sandoval, 3B
6. Mike Napoli, 1B
7. Shane Victorino, RF
8. Xander Bogaerts, SS
9. Ryan Hanigan, C
Clay Buchholz, RHP

Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Brock Holt, Chris Tillman

Saturday’s Red Sox-Orioles matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Chris Tillman

04.18.15 at 8:46 am ET
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In the second game of this battle for the top of the AL East, the Red Sox will send Clay Buchholz out to the mound Saturday while the Orioles opt for Chris Tillman.

Buchholz got the ball in the first game of the season and put together a scoreless seven innings, striking out nine and allowing just three hits and one walk. His second start didn’t go as well, to say the least. The lanky righty started the final game the Sox’ series with the Yankees last weekend and only lasted 3 1/3 innings. He gave up nine runs, seven of which came in the first inning, and allowed nine hits and two walks, striking out three.

With the result, Buchholz has a 7.84 ERA through his two outings, but he said he’s “not going to let one start affect the way [he feels] about the year that [the Sox] are going to have or how [he feels].”

“He came out and tried to use all his pitches from the get-go, and at times looked to pitch a little too fine,” manager John Farrell added after Buchholz’s outing. “The walks along with some balls that were well placed. They squared a couple pitches up, and before you know it, it’s a seven-run inning. I know he warmed up sharp. I know he warmed up with all his pitches being executed. It was a different story once he got to the mound.”

Buchholz has 100 1/3 innings of experience against the Orioles, registering 16 starts against them with a 9-4 record. He has a 3.86 ERA when facing the O’s and has pitched three complete games against them as well, more than any other individual team he’s seen.

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Read More: Chris Tillman, Clay Buchholz,

Joe Kelly battles to keep Red Sox in game, takes no-decision: ‘It was a grind’

04.18.15 at 12:29 am ET
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Joe Kelly went 5 2/3 innings allowing two runs on four hits taking a no-decision. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Joe Kelly went 5 2/3 innings allowing two runs on four hits taking a no-decision. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Joe Kelly had a strong outing Friday night allowing two runs over 5 2/3 innings in a 3-2 walkoff win over the Orioles.

Most pitchers would be pleased with that as their second outing of the year, but not Kelly.

He wants to be better.

“It was a grind,” Kelly said of the game. “Good hitting team and they were fouling off some pretty good pitches tonight. I was around the zone. I felt pretty good with my stuff. Like I said, they had a good game plan and a good approach. Put together some pretty good at-bats. I was just happy to keep the team close today. [Ryan Hanigan] came up big and our defense came up big too to keep the game close.”

Kelly went 5 2/3 innings allowing two runs on four hits while walking two and striking out three. The issue was he threw 118 pitches, two shy of a career-high, and didn’t make it to the sixth inning. Baltimore’s hitters made him work, working counts and fouling off a number of pitches to drive his pitch count up.

“€œHe had great stuff,” manager John Farrell said. “They did a good job of staying within the strike zone, not chasing some fastballs just off the edge. A number of foul balls that run the pitch, or run some deeper counts. I thought once he got into the fifth inning he started to use his curve ball a little bit more to slow some hitters down. He still maintained his stuff throughout the 118 pitches thrown. Probably a little bit more than I would have liked to take him tonight but still he kept his power throughout.”

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Read More: Joe Kelly, John Farrell,

Pablo Sandoval on being hit by Ubaldo Jimenez leading to ejection: ‘It’s part of the game’

04.17.15 at 11:54 pm ET
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Baltimore starter Ubaldo Jimenez was ejected after 3 2/3 hitless innings after hitting Pablo Sandoval. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Baltimore starter Ubaldo Jimenez was ejected after 3 2/3 hitless innings after hitting Pablo Sandoval. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

If there’s one thing we know about Pablo Sandoval after the first 10 games of the season is he takes his baserunning very seriously.

The 5-foot-11, 255-pound third baseman isn’t afraid to go hard into second base and break up a potential double play.

Sandoval has done it on a few occasions early on this year and did it again Friday night in the second inning, taking out Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop, allowing Mike Napoli to reach first base.

The next time Sandoval stepped to the plate, with Baltimore starter Ubaldo Jimenez not allowing a hit through 3 2/3 innings, he plunked Sandoval on the back of the shoulder. Home plate umpire Jordan Baker immediately ejected Jimenez, as he felt it was intentional.

Many of the Red Sox players didn’t feel like Jimenez deserved to be ejected, including Sandoval.

“It’s part of the game,” Sandoval said. “Just part of the game. Part of the game. Play hard.”

As for his slide into second base?

“It’s a game. Good clean slide,” Sandoval said. “I was sliding through the base. Nothing wrong with.”

Manager John Farrell thought it was a quick ejection as no warnings were issued prior to Sandoval being hit.

“Honestly, yeah. A little surprised,” Farrell said. “Because I didn’t see anything that would have warranted a hit by pitch. But, obviously, Jordan felt like there was clear intent. And whether or not he felt because it was the hard slide at second base, that I don’€™t know. It was quick.”

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Read More: John Farrell, mike napoli, Pablo Sandoval, ubaldo jimenez

Closing Time: Red Sox walkoff against Orioles on Xander Bogaerts’ bloop single

04.17.15 at 10:27 pm ET
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Joe Kelly went 5 2/3 innings allowing two runs on four hits taking a no-decision. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Joe Kelly went 5 2/3 innings allowing two runs on four hits taking a no-decision. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Friday’s Red Sox-Orioles game had a tense moment early on, and a thrilling moment at the end, as the Red Sox picked up their first walkoff win of the year.

Xander Bogaerts’ bloop to shallow right field with one out in the ninth inning scored Mike Napoli, as the Red Sox beat the Orioles 3-2.

Napoli started the inning off with a walk, and got to second base on a perfect sacrifice bunt by Daniel Nava.

“He’€™s doing it in a way where he’€™s not susceptible to any one side of the plate,” manager John Farrell said of Bogaerts. “When Xander has been in good streaks, even in the minor leagues, he’€™s using the whole field. We saw it in Philadelphia in the first series, again tonight. Saw it in New York. He’€™s in a pretty good place offensively.”

Koji Uehara earned the win with a scoreless ninth.

Baltimore starter Ubaldo Jimenez was ejected from the game in the fourth inning with a no-hitter intact after he hit Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval in the back of the shoulder by home plate umpire Jordan Baker. There were no warnings issued beforehand.

The Orioles may have been upset with Sandoval for going hard into second base to break up a double play in the second inning. Jimenez had only allowed base runners on three walks over the first 3 2/3 innings.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Bogaerts. His hit gave the Red Sox the win, and he also had a hit earlier in the game. He became the youngest Red Sox player with a walk-off RBI since Jim Rice in 1975.

Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ win:

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, Joe Kelly, Ryan Hanigan,

Ubaldo Jimenez ejected in 4th inning after hitting Pablo Sandoval with pitch

04.17.15 at 8:33 pm ET
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Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez had thrown 3 2/3 innings of hitless ball against the Red Sox Friday until he was ejected for hitting Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval with a pitch in the back of the shoulder.

There were no warnings issued beforehand, and Kevin Gausman replaced Jimenez.

Jimenez had only allowed base runners on three walks to that point in the game.

Warnings were issued to both teams following the ejection.

Sandoval did go hard into second base to break up a double play in the second inning and that may have been the reason for home plate umpire Jordan Baker to eject Jimenez, as he felt there was intent.

For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

Read More: Pablo Sandoval, ubaldo jimenez,
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