|08.30.16 at 11:44 pm ET|
Don’t let the Red Sox’ 3-3 record when he’s on the mound fool you, Drew Pomeranz put together a solid month of August.
After a rocky start to his Red Sox career, Pomeranz has settled in nicely, allowing a pair of runs three times, one run twice and three runs on one occasion this month. In other words, he gave the Red Sox a chance to win all six of his starts.
The latest decent effort — save for his last pitch — came on Tuesday. One out away from closing the seventh with a 3-1 lead, Pomeranz instead allowed a two-run homer to Luke Maile and ended up taking a no-decision the disappointing 4-3 loss.
“I feel like I’ve done pretty well,” Pomeranz said. “But there’s certain points in the game, like tonight, that I can improve on and give us a better chance to win. And that’s what I need to do and what I need to get better at.”
If there’s a disturbing trend, it’s that the southpaw has fallen victim to an inning that lets the game slip from his grasp.
On Tuesday, it was a hanging breaking ball to Maile — whom he had already struck out twice — that he blasted for a two-run shot to knot things up in the seventh inning. The start prior, it was a game-tying double at the hands of the less-than-stellar-hitting Mikie Mahtook — who has since been optioned to Triple-A.
“It’s a tough way to lose,” Pomeranz said. “I was pitching so well, it just really sucks sometimes when that one pitch comes back to bite you.”
Forgettable innings aside, if there is anything lacking from Pomeranz’ starts, it’s run support. During his six August starts, the Red Sox averaged a mere 2.83 runs per game, never amassing more than four runs. Even still, it has been a collaborative effort that has led to the seemingly-incessant dropping of close games.
Moving forward, valid concern has been raised about how long Pomeranz can continue to go deep into games as a starter. Formerly a reliever, the 27-year-old has already tossed 153 innings, nearly 60 more than his 2012 career high of 96 2/3.
|08.30.16 at 11:26 pm ET|
This time, it was Clay Buchholz’s turn.
For months, the Red Sox have searched for a reliable arm to pitch the eighth inning and bridge the divide to closer Craig Kimbrel. And for months, applicants have failed.
Koji Uehara got hurt. Junichi Tazawa flamed out. Brad Ziegler walked too many lefties. Matt Barnes and Robbie Ross have intermittently struggled with command.
On Tuesday, with Ziegler sent home because of illness, manager John Farrell handed the ball to Buchholz in the eighth inning of a 3-3 game against the Rays. Buchholz had pitched well recently as a starter and returned to the pen hoping to nail down this most vexing inning.
One mislocated fastball to Evan Longoria later, Buchholz had failed in his audition, too.
Longoria’s massive home run over everything in left lifted the Rays to a 4-3 victory that denied the Red Sox an opportunity to pull within a game of the Blue Jays in the American League East. It was just another crushing late-innings loss from a bullpen that has accounted for far too many of them.
“You can’t let one of their big sticks beat you,” Buchholz said, “and I did.”
Ahead in the count 1-2 after spotting a pair of pitches low and away on the outside corner, Buchholz attempted to go up and away with a fastball. It instead tailed back over the heart of the plate, and Longoria murdered it, smashing it an estimated 434 feet deep into the night.
“It was a fastball, trying to throw it up and away and I pulled it more inner third, and that’s his spot where he hits the ball a long way,” Buchholz said. “He didn’t miss it. I was going to go with the changeup after that, but obviously didn’t get to it.
“You never want to give up home runs to lose the lead. The way our offense has been swinging the bat, I think we were pretty confident we had a run in us in the ninth. It didn’t happen. I guess, it’s hindsight now, but I’d probably throw another changeup in that position.”
And so now the Red Sox go back to the drawing board, searching in vain for the arm that will get them to the ninth unscathed. Uehara could return as soon as Labor Day in San Diego. Otherwise, there’s also Joe Kelly blowing hitters away at Triple-A Pawtucket.
“It comes down to execution of pitches,” Farrell said. “Yeah, it’s difficult when you’ve got a lead going into the last couple of innings. You’re looking to bridge it to Kimbrel, and those are tough ones. You know, we’re putting ourselves in a position to close games out, and yet we’ve found ourselves a pitch or two from finishing off the job.”
|08.30.16 at 10:23 pm ET|
The eighth inning remains a major problem for the Red Sox.
On a night when the Red Sox offense required Drew Pomeranz to produce a solid start, the lefty answered the call.
Clay Buchholz, on the other hand, failed in his first foray into a late-inning pressure situation, serving up Evan Longoria’s go-ahead homer as the Red Sox suffered a 4-3 loss to the Rays on Tuesday.
Mere hours after manager John Farrell said Buchholz would likely become the team’s eighth inning and high-leverage option in many cases, Buchholz failed to maintain a 3-3 tie, surrendering a solo shot to Longoria over everything in left.
“It was a fastball, I was trying to put it up away, [but I] pulled it,” Buchholz said. “He didn’t miss it.”
Added Red Sox manager John Farrell, “Obviously Evan Longoria has done a lot of damage against us, and the last couple of times that we’ve had eighth inning situations he’s come up big. Down there against Porcello hanging breaking ball, today fastball that doesn’t get to the spot is the difference in this one. Other than that I thought Clay was throwing the ball very well in the eighth, but still, that’s part of that job late in games is if you miss, you’ve got to miss to the extreme.”
That ruined what looked like it would be the team’s second straight victory. The Red Sox led 3-1 in the seventh before Pomeranz faltered on his final pitch, a two-run homer by Luke Maile. Pomeranz similarly faltered recently in Tampa, when Mikie Mahtook drilled a go-ahead double.
“The last inning I got two strikes on a guy, I’m trying to bounce a curveball and I just left it up too much and he got it, that’s all there is to say about it,” Pomeranz said. “It’s a tough way to lose. I was pitching so well, it just really sucks sometimes when that one pitch comes back to bite you.”
Pomeranz struck out eight while allowing five hits and a pair of walks in 6 2/3 innings.
“I thought he was strong once again,” Farrell said. “Even into the seventh inning, where he’s got leadoff base hit, he records a couple of outs, he’s in pretty good shape getting into a 1-2 count once again to Maile, who he had struck out his first two at-bats. Struck out one of the two times he faced him down in Tampa. And again a 1-2 count, curveball stays up to tie it up.”
Things did not get off to a good start for the Red Sox defense, as Brock Holt mistimed a fly ball near the Green Monster in the first inning, resulting in a double for Kevin Kiermaier after the ball bounced off the outside of Holt’s glove. Kiermaier scored two batters later on a Brad Miller grounder that snuck past Dustin Pedroia’s diving glove.
“After [the first inning] I felt like I settled down pretty good,” Pomeranz said.
Quiet offensively most of the night, the Red Sox recorded some timely hits, especially in the sixth, when Dustin Pedroia walked, Xander Bogaerts doubled, and David Ortiz broke a 1-1 tie with a sacrifice fly to right that could’ve been more, except for a diving catch.
Hanley Ramirez, who earlier homered around the right field pole, then blooped a single into no-man’s land to give the Sox a seemingly comfortable 3-1 lead.
But then the eighth-inning troubles continued, and the Red Sox dropped a tough one.
The rubber match will start at 1:35 on Wednesday.
Mookie Betts’ intentional walk in the sixth inning was the second time in career he’s been deliberately put on. The first time also came against the Rays, on June 28, 2015.
WHAT WENT WRONG
— Buchholz. After seeming to get the vote of confidence from John Farrell, Buchholz threw it away, showing flashes of early-season Buchholz in allowing the 434-foot-estimated dinger to Evan Longoria.
— Brock Holt continues to have some struggles in left field, misjudging another ball on Tuesday that ultimately led to a run.
— Strikeouts keep persisting for Jackie Bradley Jr. and Travis Shaw. Bradley Jr. leads the league in strikeouts in the month of August with 39, including a trio of strikeouts on Tuesday. Shaw has 21 of his own, including three on Tuesday.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
— Drew Pomeranz capped off an outstanding August with a solid outing Tuesday. Tuesday was the only instance over his sixth starts in the month in which he allowed more than two runs.
— Hanley Ramirez continued a strong month, notching his 9th multi-hit game of August by going 3-for-4. He advanced as far as second after singling in the ninth, but was stranded to end the game.
— Bryan Holaday saved Matt Barnes from a potentially dangerous situation, catching Logan Forsythe attempting to steal second to end the seventh inning. The play was reviewed but took just 43 seconds to confirm.
|08.30.16 at 6:28 pm ET|
If you were hoping to see Tim Tebow in a Red Sox uniform, it’s time to let that dream go.
President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, appearing on the NESN pregame show, made it clear that after watching Tebow work out on Tuesday in California, the Red Sox won’t be jumping into those waters.
“I don’t think we’ll be rushing out to make a signing,” Dombrowski said.
The Red Sox had two scouts in attendance at Tebow’s workout, a source told colleague Rob Bradord, which seemed to attract as many media members as scouts. Tebow reportedly faced former big leaguers David Aardsma and Chad Smith and appeared overmatched, though he showed better bat speed in batting practice.
Scouts in attendance told USA Today that Tebow graded out well defensively from a movement perspective, though his throws lacked bite, which was the same criticism he endured in the NFL as a quarterback.
The 29-year-old hasn’t played baseball since 2004, but is attempting to make it in the sport after his NFL career came to an end.
|08.30.16 at 5:35 pm ET|
It looks as if starter-turned-reliever Clay Buchholz may soon be finding his niche in the Red Sox bullpen.
Though manager John Farrell stopped short of declaring Buchholz his eighth-inning guy, it’s clear he’ll get his opportunities there.
“Against certain lineups, that clearly could be his role,” manager John Farrell said. “If we’re in a heavily right handed-hitting lineup, likely to position [Brad] Ziegler to be in that spot. I want Clay to feel like that’s his place in this bullpen right now. The last couple times he’s pitched out of the bullpen it’s been in the eighth inning.
“We’ve been in games where it hasn’t been as tight as we will see going forward in terms of run margin, but want him to feel comfortable in that spot, because we’re going to lean on him on lineups such as Tampa’s or New York’s or where you’ve got a number of right left combinations in there. We need him to grow into that comfort level of being in that spot.”
In Buchholz’s last two appearances, he pitched in the eighth inning, blanking the Royals with a walk, while allowing one run on two hits on Monday against the Rays. This season, the 32-year-old has a 2.35 ERA in eight eighth-inning appearances, with an opponents batting average of .222.
As a result, the inning appears to be his if there is any fluctuation between left- and right-handed batters due up. But it is still his job to secure.
|08.30.16 at 3:41 pm ET|
Following a two-game absence for a funeral, Dustin Pedroia is back in the lineup and will continue batting leadoff.
Pedroia has thrived in the leadoff spot this season, hitting .458 in 72 at-bats with 9 RBI. Brock Holt — who took Pedroia’s place in the leadoff spot the past two games — will stay in the lineup, hitting seventh and playing left field.
Sandy Leon will also get the night off, with Bryan Holaday getting the start.
Here is the Red Sox’ lineup with Drew Pomeranz on the mound.
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Travis Shaw 3B
Brock Holt LF
Bryan Holaday C
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
|08.30.16 at 11:06 am ET|
The Royals, fighting to claim a wild card spot, acquired former Red Sox outfielder Daniel Nava from the Angels on Monday night for cash or a player to be named later.
Nava, 33, is expected to report to Triple-A Omaha. He had a disappointing season in Anaheim, where he hit .235 with one homer and 13 RBIs in 45 games. He also missed 46 games with a strained groin.
He could bolster the Royals as a September call-up, and he has pennant-race experience. His best season came in 2013 with the Red Sox, when he hit .303 with 12 homers, 66 RBIs, and an .831 OPS.
His signature moment came on April 20 of that season, in the first game at Fenway Park after the Marathon bombings, when his three-run homer off Kelvin Herrera with two outs in the eighth lifted the Red Sox to a 4-3 victory.
|08.30.16 at 10:44 am ET|
When asked why, Ortiz was also decisive in his explanation of taking Betts. “He’s having a great season.”
Reminded that the designated hitter’s candidacy is right up there with the Sox’ outfielder, Ortiz said, “I’ll take it, too, but I don’t play defense. If you don’t play defense, it doesn’t help you unless you double everybody’s numbers and hit like 60 homers and have 200 RBIs. I’ll take a Silver Slugger.”
Ortiz has never won the American League MVP, finishing second in 2005, third a season later and fourth two other years. This year, however, he is leading in doubles (42), slugging percentage (.632) and OPS (1.038), while totaling the third-most RBI (101) and fifth-best batting average (.318).
|08.30.16 at 9:32 am ET|
Here’s a look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Monday.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (71-64): W, 9-3, at Syracuse (Nationals)
— Right-hander Sean O’Sullivan paved the way with 6 1/3 scoreless innings. The 28-year-old gave up five hits and four walks while striking out five. O’Sullivan has won his last two starts and is 8-6 with a 4.14 ERA in 18 minor league starts.
— The PawSox collected 16 hits, led by Ryan LaMarre, who went 3-for-4 with an RBI and three runs scored. He finished the series against the Chiefs 7-for-16 with four RBIs and five runs. The 27-year-old outfielder, who has played five major league games with the Red Sox this year, has five multi-hit performances in his last seven games. He is slashing .308/.374/.457 in 82 games with the PawSox.
— Chris Marrero finished the night 2-for-4 with four RBIs and a run scored. It is his first four-RBI game since July 7. Marrero, 28, has collected two hits in each of his last three games. He now is batting .287/.344/.501 in 467 at-bats.
— Noe Ramirez pitched the last 1 2/3 innings for Pawtucket, holding Syracuse hitless while fanning two. The 26-year-old right-hander now has three consecutive outings without an earned run. He is 2-3 with a 1.94 ERA in 29 appearances.
|08.30.16 at 8:57 am ET|
In Tuesday’s middle game of a three-game series with the Rays, Red Sox lefty Drew Pomeranz will get the start opposite Tampa Bay right-hander Jake Odorizzi for the second time in six days.
Pomeranz sits at 10-10 with a 2.95 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 25 starts with both the Padres and Red Sox. The 2016 National League All-Star has not given up more than two runs in each of his last five starts, but still picked up the loss in his last appearance, a 2-1 loss to the Rays on Thursday. The 27-year-old gave up two runs on seven hits through six innings while striking out a career-high 11 batters.
“A lot of strikeouts. Sometimes I like that, sometimes I don’t,” Pomeranz said. “I could have took a few quick outs in places to get a couple more innings out there.”
Pomeranz has faced the Rays three times in his six-year career. He is 1-1 with a 1.54 ERA and 1.20 WHIP.
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