|07.01.15 at 5:45 pm ET|
TORONTO — If losing 11-2 to the Blue Jays Wednesday afternoon wasn’t bad enough, along came the punctuation for the Red Sox‘ blowout loss.
With two outs in the sixth inning and Josh Donaldson at third base, Edwin Encarnacion lofted a fly ball to center field, which Mookie Betts camped under. But instead of simply catching the ball and running into the dugout Betts launched a throw home.
Betts had become the second Red Sox outfielder in the last four games to lose track of the number of outs, this time thinking Donaldson was tagging up from third.
“I just lost focus for a second,” Betts explained. “At least I caught it, so that’s three outs.” When asked about the miscue again, the center fielder said, “It was three outs. Sometimes you have mental breakdowns, especially after a long game. I messed up.”
“There’s no excuse for that,” said Farrell of Betts’ mistake. “Losing track of the outs in the inning is not something – it can’t be accepted.”
|07.01.15 at 3:36 pm ET|
The Red Sox acquired Rick Porcello this winter in the hopes that he could be a stopper. In a sense he has delivered, except what he’s stopping is any hope of a winning streak.
And now it’s fair to wonder if he’ll even make his next start.
In what goes down as his worst start in a season full of them, Porcello didn’t remotely give the Red Sox a chance on Wednesday afternoon in Toronto. The Blue Jays tagged him for seven hits and seven runs in just two innings, including three home runs. Porcello added three walks and a wild pitch for good measure, throwing just 44 pitches before being lifted to start the third in an 11-2 loss.
“The most disappointing [thing] through all of this, especially this one, is how well we’ve been playing as of late,” Porcello said. “I’m letting my teammates down. That’s it.”
Porcello saw his ERA rise to 6.08, fourth-worst in baseball among full-time starters. He also halted the momentum the Red Sox had built by winning four of five and pulling within six games of first place in the AL East, while simultaneously denying the club its first four-game winning streak of the season.
And make no mistake, even on an afternoon when the offense managed to do nothing against crafty left-hander Mark Buehrle, this one was all on Porcello, who may not get another start for a while. The Red Sox have two off days in the next week and could let Porcello regroup until the All-Star break.
“We haven’t even begun to map out next week,” manager John Farrell said. “Recognize we have two off days on Monday and Thursday, but we haven’t looked at the rotation as we go through to the end of the break. . . . It’s been a tough run for him. It’s been about an eight-start stretch where he continues to battle. His approach in between starts doesn’t change. His preparation doesn’t change and yet the results for the work put in is not there. So we collectively have to work with Rick to improve.”
Porcello let this one get away from him quickly. He allowed a line single to Jose Reyes leading off before Josh Donaldson followed with a bunt single. Jose Bautista struck out looking, but Edwin Encarnacion didn’t get fooled, launching a three-run homer to left.
Porcello then hit catcher Russell Martin before Justin Smoak launched a two-run homer that made it 5-0. It could’ve been worse, but Porcello picked off Kevin Pillar following a double.
If the Red Sox harbored any illusions that Porcello had settled down, Bautista dispelled them in the second with a two-run homer to left-center.
“It was a quick outing,” said Farrell said. “Pitches up in the strike zone against this team on a day when the ball is carrying as it was, that makes for a tough outing. As much as we continually try to simplify his attack plan and become more consistent with fewer pitches the changeup today on two occasions came back to bite him both to Encarnacion and to Smoak. You get five quick runs and that’s a big hole for us to come back to.”
That was it for Porcello. Robbie Ross replaced him to start the third and promptly allowed Smoak’s second homer of the day.
Offensively, the Red Sox were held in check by the soft tosses of Buehrle, who limited them to four hits and one run in seven innings, strike out seven.
Mookie Betts provided the Red Sox with their only offensive highlight with a solo homer in the eighth that made it 9-2, but by that point the damage had been done, courtesy of Porcello.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Justin Smoak entered the game hitting .261 with seven homers, and he improved on both of those numbers significantly by going 3-for-4 with two homers and three RBIs.
|07.01.15 at 1:54 pm ET|
ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Wednesday afternoon to talk about the attention drawn to Eduardo Rodriguez tipping pitches and the flexibility of Clay Buchholz‘s contract among other things. To hear the interview, go to the Middays with MFB audio on demand page.
Going into Tuesday’s game the talk centered around Eduardo Rodriguez and how he tipped his pitches to opposing batters as to what type of pitch he was going to throw. The Orioles managed to figure it out when they were able to chase him after he allowed six earned runs in 3 2/3 innings last Thursday, but he bounced back Tuesday night, tossing six innings, giving up just one earned run on four hits.
During its broadcast of Tuesday’s game, NESN showed exactly what Rodriguez had been doing. He would tilt his head downward when throwing an off-speed pitch, while his head would stay up when he was about to throw a fastball.
Olney said the segment detailing the issue was useful for him as a member of the media, but that it probably wasn’t what people in the Red Sox organization wanted on air during their broadcast.
“As a reporter, of course, I love it,” he said. “Give me as much information as possible. But if you’re actually working for the team, I wouldn’t want it out there.”
“If we broke that down on Baseball Tonight, I’d be excited about it,” Olney added. “If I worked at Major League Baseball Network, you’d be excited about breaking that down, but if you’re within the Red Sox community, you’re probably not thrilled that that’s out there.”
Olney brought up the impression he’s received from other front offices is that the Red Sox will probably look to shed some money during the offseason, most likely via Rusney Castillo and his seven-year, $72.5 million contract.
“Let’s face it, Hanley Ramirez doesn’t have a lot of trade value right now,” he said. “You’d have to eat a lot of money to move Pablo Sandoval given what’s going on there, and there’s not a lot of other ways to do it, which is why people of other teams come back to Castillo. But I still think that it’s early, and even though you look at the standings and it doesn’t look good for the Red Sox, it’s not like there’s some horse running away with the American League, and it doesn’t hurt the Red Sox to wait three weeks.
“If they’re back within four, five games, maybe their perspective changes. If the hole gets deeper then yeah, they could look to do some things, but I think it’s going to be really difficult for them to move some of those pieces that have been written about without eating a lot of money and teams don’t usually do that this early in their contracts.”
|07.01.15 at 12:24 pm ET|
The Red Sox will be going for their fourth straight win Wednesday afternoon in Toronto on Canada Day. Rick Porcello will be opposed by left-hander Mark Buehrle with Hanley Ramirez back in the Red Sox lineup.
Follow all the action from Toronto here:
|07.01.15 at 10:10 am ET|
ESPN analyst and former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling made his weekly appearance on Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to talk about Eduardo Rodriguez, Clay Buchholz and the Red Sox. To listen to the audio of the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
As the Red Sox, particularly the team’s starting pitchers, have struggled this season, many fans have looked to the minor leagues and eyed the various pitching prospects the organization owns, including Brian Johnson and Henry Owens.
Schilling has been impressed with the young arms in the team’s farm system.
“I look at this organization from a pitching perspective like you can kind of look at the Cubs from a player perspective,” Schilling said. “I think they’re stacked. A lot of power arms. … I love the arms, I really do think that they’ve got a ton of development happening and this is just an unfortunate year.”
Rodriguez has made the leap from a prospect to a major league starter and Schilling has been very impressed with what he’s seen.
“Eddie, clearly, is ready,” he said. “He had a bad outing, he was tipping his pitches, he made adjustments, he fixed it. This is your one. When you get back to the postseason, this is the guy you’re going to hand the ball to game one.”
Rodriguez did struggle with tipping his pitches in a June 25 game against Baltimore, but the team was able to diagnose the problem and fix it in advance of his Tuesday start in Toronto.
|07.01.15 at 10:02 am ET|
After missing six games with a left wrist injury, Hanley Ramirez returns to the Red Sox lineup in Game 3 of a four-game set against the Blue Jays Wednesday afternoon. The Red Sox have taken the first two games of the series.
Going against left-hander Mark Buehrle, lefties Brock Holt and Jackie Bradley Jr. get the day off with Deven Marrero getting his first major league start at second base and Alejandro De Aza starting in right field.
Sandy Leon will catch Red Sox starter Rick Porcello.
For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.
Here is a complete Red Sox lineup:
|07.01.15 at 8:51 am ET|
A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Tuesday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (38-42): L, 1-0, at Rochester (Twins)
— LHP Henry Owens (Boston’s No. 2 prospect at MLB.com) pitched into the eighth inning and allowed just two hits, but got no run support and took the loss (2-6, 3.28 ERA) with a final line of: 7 1/3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO (98 pitches, 60 strikes). Owens was perfect through four before walking the leadoff batter in the fifth. He continued with a no-hitter into the seventh before allowing a leadoff double. A ground out and sacrifice fly would bring that runner home and provide the difference on the scoreboard.
It was the fourth straight quality start for Owens, who was selected by Boston in the first-round of the 2011 draft (36th overall). However, Owens has not won a game since May 5, a span of 12 starts. The 22-year-old finished June with an 0-3 mark in six outings with a 3.47 ERA, compiling 27 strikeouts to 13 walks in 36 1/3 innings.
— RHP Pat Light (Boston’s No. 26 prospect at MLB.com) replaced Owens in the eighth after a leadoff double and a strikeout. Light, 24, allowed a single, but stranded two runners as he came back with a strikeout of his own on a split-finger fastball, followed by a pop-out to end the inning. A 2012 first-round draft choice and this year converted to a reliever, Light has now rebounded with two straight scoreless appearances since blowing back-to-back saves on June 21 and June 24.
— Big leaguer Ervin Santana held the Pawtucket offense in check, giving up just five hits while walking not walking a batter over eight scoreless innings. Santana completed his three-game Triple-A build up to rejoining Minnesota after his 80-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance. The PawSox had two aboard in only one inning, the eighth, but second baseman Sean Coyle (Boston’s No. 13 prospect at MLB.com) popped out to end the chance.
|07.01.15 at 7:52 am ET|
Porcello heads into Wednesday’s start saddled with a 4-8 record and a 5.54 ERA, the fourth-worst mark for a qualified starter in the AL. All season long, Porcello has wilted under the weight of his $82.5 million contract, posting career worsts in HR/9 (1.3), ground ball-fly ball ratio (0.80) and line drive percentage (27 percent). Hitters have squared up Porcello for the seventh-highest hard contact percentage in the AL (32 percent).
Somehow, Porcello has gotten worse of late. In his last four outings, the right-hander has gone 0-3 with a 7.15 ERA, touched up for 33 hits in 22 2/3 innings. Porcello has not been helped by a .408 BABIP, nor a 59 percent strand rate, a figure well below the league average of 72 percent.
Not all of Porcello’s issues during this stretch can be traced back to bad luck, though. The 26-year-old has proven time and time again his inability to miss bats. Over his last four starts, Porcello sports a meager 8.2 swinging strike percentage. Furthermore, in two of these four outings, Porcello has allowed contact on more than 95 percent of his pitches in the strike zone.
“I would be lying to you if I wasn’t frustrated and thinking in my head. … You look at the results and you think I’m not putting my best foot forward, but then you break everything down and I know how hard I work and I know I’m doing the right things. But the results just aren’t there yet. It’s just a battle, Porcello said.
“I want to go out there and throw eight zeroes. I want to go on a five-, six-game win streak. You do everything in your power to make that happen, and when it doesn’t happen it kind of beats you down a little bit more. But that’s the game. I don’t know why this stretch has happened. I don’t know what’s going to happen the next month. All I can control is my preparation, my work and my thought process on the mound and delivering the pitch.”
|07.01.15 at 1:58 am ET|
TORONTO — Koji Uehara is cruising.
With his third save in as many days, Tuesday, the Red Sox closer is 18 for 20 in save opportunities this season with a 2.89 ERA. In his last five outings, Uehara has allowed just one baserunner, averaging just 12.6 pitches per inning.
So, what keeps him up at night? Having to pitch early in the day.
“I think the games that I have pitched well are night games, not day games,” Uehara said through a translator when asked what has been key in his recent run. “I think that’s the only difference. I think my ERA shows I pitch better in night games.”
The logical follow-up: Why?
“Because I’m old,” he said. “Older guys need to sleep in.”
All joking aside, the difference in results has been of some concern for the 40 year old. He has allowed 10 runs on 13 hits over 8 2/3 innings during his 10 appearances in day games, compared to just three runs on nine hits over 19 1/3 frames at night.
“What I’m figuring could be in the sunlight can see better and that’s why I’m getting hit a little bit more in day games. That’s the only reasoning I can think of,” Uehara surmised. “Also the fact that my body is not awakened as night games.”
It’s an issue that isn’t lost on Uehara’s pitching coach, Carl Willis.
“That’s where the communication comes in, and the trust factor,” Willis noted. “It’s good to hear him say that because you don’t want that false positivity when you’re not 100 percent, or you are dragging that day. We need to know those things.
“It’s more difficult [when you’re older]. But I think in his case he does everything he can to combat that. He’s very routine oriented and understands what he needs to do. But there are times you can’t avoid it, either.”
The Red Sox and Uehara almost certainly won’t get a chance to see if the trend can be reversed during Wednesday’s day game considering he has worked three straight days.
But perhaps the reliever can find his payoff this weekend at Fenway, when the Red Sox play back-to-back day games.
“There are a couple of things that I’ve tried,” Uehara said.
|07.01.15 at 1:20 am ET|
TORONTO — John Henry has been in town for some Major League Baseball-related meetings. Seemingly, there is no reason to sound the alarm in regards to linking his presence and the Red Sox‘ lot in life.
Tuesday before the Sox’ principal owner’s team beat the Blue Jays, 4-3, at Rogers Centre, he could be seen milling about during batting practice, sitting with Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, eating in the media dining room and then watching the game with Jays president Paul Beeston. (It’s interesting to note that Beeston’s son, David, works for the Red Sox as the Vice President for Corporate Strategy.)
And certainly the Red Sox have eased any edge to Henry’s trip to Canada by winning their first two games of the four-game series against the Blue Jays, closing within six games of first-place in the American League East.
But in between activities, Henry did offer a succinct explanation on why he has taken the approach to keeping the front office and coaching staff intact during the Red Sox’ recent downturn.
“Stability in an organization is a key element,” he told WEEI.com. “Some people thrive on instability, but most organizations, most people, really thrive when there’s stability.”
Asked if staying the course is any more difficult in the baseball world than in his other business interests, Henry responded, “No, it’s just that you have a lot more outside pressure. We don’t really respond to that. We respond to reason rather than pressure.”
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