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Friday’s Red Sox-Mariners matchups: Joe Kelly vs. Felix Hernandez

08.22.14 at 8:33 am ET
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Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly

The Red Sox will close out their 11-game homestand when they host the Mariners for a three-game set at Fenway Park. Boston will send Joe Kelly to the mound against Seattle ace Felix Hernandez in the series opener Friday.

Kelly (0-1, 5.29 ERA) will be looking to rebound from a rough Fenway debut Sunday, as the righty gave up seven hits and seven earned runs while walking six in just four innings against the Astros.

“Plenty of stuff. Plenty of power. Plenty of action to his secondary pitches,”€ said Red Sox manager John Farrell when asked about Kelly’€™s outing after the game. “Just his command was not as its been in the first two outings for him.”

While Kelly has turned in both promising and discouraging outings during his brief Red Sox career, one recurring trend for the 26-year-old has been issues with command. Kelly has walked 13 batters in his last 17 innings of work.

Friday will stand as Kelly’€™s first career start against the Mariners.

The Red Sox certainly have their work cut out for them against Hernandez (13-4, 1.99 ERA), who has once again solidified himself as arguably the top pitcher in the American League this season.

Hernandez is the clear frontrunner to secure his second Cy Young Award this season, as the right-hander leads the league in ERA and WHIP (0.87) while ranking second in innings pitched (185 1/3), wins (13) and strikeouts (197).

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Read More: felix hernandez, Joe Kelly, Mariners, Red Sox

Video: Red Sox executives take ice bucket challenge

08.22.14 at 7:41 am ET
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A large contingent of members from the Red Sox front office, including chairman Tom Werner and CEO Larry Lucchino, took the ALS ice bucket challenge Thursday.

COO Sam Kennedy, speaking on behalf of the group, nominated the Pawtucket Red Sox, Liverpool FC and The Boston Globe to take the challenge.

David Ortiz was on hand to help douse the executives and other personnel with buckets of ice water.

Read More: David Ortiz, ice bucket challenge, Larry Lucchino, Red Sox

Sources: Red Sox seen as favorites to land Rusney Castillo

08.22.14 at 6:24 am ET
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Free agent outfielder Rusney Castillo is expected to be close to signing with a major league team. (Getty Images)

Free agent outfielder Rusney Castillo is expected to be close to signing with a major league team. (Getty Images)

According to sources with multiple major league teams that have been involved in the sweepstakes, the Red Sox are considered the favorites to land Cuban free agent outfielder Rusney Castillo. While one industry source cautioned that, as of late Thursday night, Castillo had not yet agreed to a deal with any team and remained in “active” dialogue with multiple clubs, multiple teams believe that the Red Sox may be close to a deal for the athletic, speedy outfielder.

Earlier this week, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington acknowledged that the Red Sox had worked out the 27-year-old (Cherington himself attended the workout) and had talked to him, but didn’t elaborate.

“He’€™€™s a player we’€™€™ve seen and we’€™€™ve talked to, but we’re just one of several teams that have done that,” Cherington said Tuesday at Fenway Park. “There’€™€™s nothing more I can say.”

The 5-foot-9 Castillo is viewed as a player with elite speed that allows him to be a game-changer on the bases and also permits him considerable range in the outfield, where he can play center or right. He also shows the ability to impact the ball as a line-drive/gap hitter.

Castillo’s former teammate Yoenis Cespedes offered the following description of Castillo to WEEI.com earlier this month: “If he’€™€™€™s not a five-tool player, he’€™€™€™s a least a four-tool player. He’€™€™€™s very comparable to [Dodgers outfielder Yasiel] Puig. Obviously a different height and size, but very similar qualities.”

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Rubby untarnished: De La Rosa ‘strong’ in face of career-high workload

08.22.14 at 12:52 am ET
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Rubby De La Rosa didn’t try to hide the frustration of Thursday’s end result.

Rubby De La Rosa

Rubby De La Rosa

The right-hander gave the Red Sox a solid 6 2/3 innings, holding the Angels to two runs on eight hits and three walks on 111 pitches. But he took the 2-0 loss after being outdueled by Angels starter Matt Shoemaker, who tossed a one-hit shutout over 7 2/3 innings against an anemic and shorthanded Red Sox offense. There was only so much De La Rosa could do.

“I tried to do my best,” De La Rosa said. “I tried to push myself.”

All disappointment aside, it was another significant night for De La Rosa, who threw over 110 pitches for the third time in his last five starts.

This August has been unlike most for De La Rosa. This August, he said, he feels strong, maybe stronger than he’s ever been in his major league career. His 6 2/3 innings Thursday puts him at 78 innings pitched for the season, more than he’s ever tossed in his first three years combined. Add that to the 60 innings he’s thrown in Triple-A Pawtucket and he’s at 138 for the year, after never having surpassed 110 1/3 in his pro career entering 2014.

The closest he’s come to this year’s big league workload came in 2011, when he pitched 60 2/3 innings for the Dodgers — he pitched 40 innings in the minor leagues that season — before suffering a partially torn ligament in his elbow that required Tommy John surgery, which he underwent on Aug. 9, 2011. De La Rosa blew opponents away that season with his 100 mile-per-hour fastball, going 4-5 with a 3.71 ERA for the Dodgers and looking like a star on the rise.

All of that potential was seemingly in jeopardy.

“I have to make it back,” De La Rosa, then 22, said at the timeRead the rest of this entry »

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Will Middlebrooks: Hamstring ‘wasn’t 100 percent … but I was good enough to go’

08.21.14 at 11:35 pm ET
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Will Middlebrooks

Will Middlebrooks

Will Middlebrooks, out since Monday due to an injured hamstring, wasn’t scripted to be a part of Thursday’s game — or at least, not as early as the fourth inning, when he came in as the Red Sox third baseman. Manager John Farrell had said that Middlebrooks would be available off the bench, but his early entry became necessary when outfielder Yoenis Cespedes had to leave the game after the third inning due to what was described as a family medical emergency.

Mike Napoli was unavailable to play first, and David Ortiz had a scheduled full day off. With Allen Craig already in the game as DH, the team couldn’t put him at first base (moving Kelly Johnson to third) without losing its DH.

Enter Middlebrooks, who went to third base, with Brock Holt shifting from third to right field and Daniel Nava heading from right to left. The third baseman said that his hamstring was feeling “a little tight. Wasn’€™t 100 percent coming into the game but I was good enough to go. It was fine, just a little tight.”

And Middlebrooks ended up helping the Red Sox to preserve a measure of dignity, as his two-out, seventh-inning double to left off Angels starter Matt Shoemaker proved Boston’s lone hit in a 2-0 loss.

“As a guy on the bench you start getting loose around the sixth inning for a possibly pinch hit, maybe the sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth inning,” Middlebrooks said of his rushed entry. “In the third it was kind of out of nowhere. I had to get as loose as I could and get out there to try to help us win.” Read the rest of this entry »

John Farrell: Yoenis Cespedes left game due to ‘family medical emergency’

08.21.14 at 11:12 pm ET
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Yoenis Cespedes left Thursday’s game after the third inning due to what the team deemed a “personal matter.”

Yoenis Cespedes

Yoenis Cespedes

Red Sox manager John Farrell echoed similar sentiments after the game, saying the outfielder was removed from the game because of a “family medical emergency.”

“[It's] a personal matter that he’s dealing with and we’re hopeful he would be back in the lineup tomorrow, but that’s probably the most I can tell you right now,” Farrell said.

Farrell wouldn’t go into further details about Cespedes’ situation, opting to keep the situation private.

“I think at the appropriate time, if there are questions that Yoenis feels like he’s willing to answer — I think at this point we probably need to respect his privacy at this point,” he said.

Cespedes struck out in his lone plate appearance in the Sox’ 2-0 loss to the Angels Thursday. He gunned down Josh Hamilton at the plate in the first with a strike from left field off a single by Howie Kendrick.

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Closing Time: Matt Shoemaker shuts down Red Sox offense as Angels complete sweep

08.21.14 at 10:24 pm ET
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Matt Shoemaker

Matt Shoemaker

Rubby De La Rosa was strong for the Red Sox Thursday night. But he couldn’t match the masterful effort of Angels starter Matt Shoemaker.

Shoemaker outdueled the Red Sox righty with a one-hit shutout over 7 2/3 innings to lead the Angels to a 2-0 win to complete the four-game sweep of the Sox.

Shoemaker worked a no hitter into the seventh inning before Will Middlebrooks broke it up with a two-out double in the seventh. The Sox avoided being no-hit for the first time since April 22, 1993, when Chris Bosio achieved the feat for the Mariners. The last pitcher to come that close was Cubs pitcher Jake Arietta, who lost a no-hitter in the eighth June 30 at Fenway Park. Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman no-hit the Sox through six innings July 26.

It was another tough night offensively for the Red Sox, who managed just three baserunners for the game and were shut out for the 12th time this season. They were outscored 18-8 over the four-game series against the Angels.

Shoemaker dominated a shorthanded Red Sox offense that was without three of its best sluggers for most of the night – David Ortiz had an off day, Mike Napoli continues to be day-to-day with back spasms and Yoenis Cespedes left the game after the third inning for what the team called a “personal matter.” The undrafted pitcher out of Eastern Michigan University walked one and struck out nine. It was the lowest single-game hit total in a major league start for Shoemaker.

It was an especially disappointing outcome for De La Rosa, who bounced back nicely coming off an outing last Saturday in which he gave up six runs over four innings to the Astros. De La Rosa gave up two runs on eight hits over 6 2/3 innings Thursday night. He struck out a season-high eight batters for the third time this season and walked just three. He threw 111 pitches for the game, marking the third time he’s reached the 110-pitch mark in his last five starts.

The loss is the Red Sox’ fifth straight, dropping them to 56-71 for the season.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

– Brock Holt was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the first inning, and the Red Sox didn’t have a hitter reach base over the next 20 plate appearances.

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