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John Farrell on D&H: Red Sox’ troubles coming out of break ‘not foreseen’

07.22.15 at 3:44 pm ET
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Manager John Farrell made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday before the second game of the Red Sox‘ series with the Astros. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

The Red Sox went into the All-Star break with momentum, having won 10 of their previous 15 games. However, they have not been so successful since returning to action, getting swept by the Angels in a four-game series and dropping Tuesday’s contest to the Astros by a score of 8-3.

“You come out of [the break] and run into a hot team out in L.A.,” Farrell said. “We pitch a couple of good ball games and then kind of step on ourselves pitching-wise and we come away down four. That was not foreseen, personally, as we came out of the break.”

Looking to get back in the win column, the Sox will send Joe Kelly to the mound Wednesday for the righty’s first major league start since June 23, nearly a month ago. While he was with the Triple-A club, Kelly made four starts for the PawSox. He had a 1-1 record and a 2.84 ERA over 19 innings.

The outing follows Brian Johnson’s first major league start Tuesday night in which he gave up four earned runs on three hits over 4 1/3 innings. Johnson hadn’t pitched in 15 days because of his call-up and the break, but Farrell said he thought the rookie did some good things.

“In particular he had a well-above-average curveball that he used quite a bit,” the manager said. “I thought he managed the first inning where he’s in a first-and-third situation with nobody out and minimizes the damage to just one run. He settled into a decent rhythm at that point, but unfortunately it looked like the running game was starting to expose itself, and we get a very quirky play where, with one out first and third, we get a stolen base where the throw caroms off [Jake] Marisnick’s helmet and you’re looking at two runs and a tie ball game. I thought he he handled himself all right and, approaching the high number of pitches that he had into that fifth inning, close to 90 pitches, it was time to get him.”

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Report: Red Sox among 6 teams in talks with Phillies for Cole Hamels

07.22.15 at 2:29 pm ET
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Cole Hamels

Cole Hamels

Though Cole Hamels’ career with the Phillies isn’t definitely coming to an end, ESPN’s Jayson Stark wrote that executives around the league could see either fate playing out for the pitcher. Some have been “willing to bet that Hamels will still be a Phillie on Aug. 1″ while others would be “beyond stunned” if the left-hander isn’t traded before the deadline.

“This isn’t do-or-die for us,” Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told ESPN.com. “In the end, it’s about ‘What is the return?’ and, ‘Is this the right return?’ If it is, we’ll move forward. And if it’s not we won’t.”

If Amaro does proceed with the trade, Stark said the Phillies are talking to about a half-dozen teams, and that other clubs think if Hamels is traded this month he will end up as a member of the Cubs, Dodgers, Rangers or Red Sox.

“I still think the Red Sox have the most pieces to make this deal of anyone,” a National League executive told Stark. “But I don’t know how aggressive they are. I know that if I didn’t have expectations of competing this year, I would not do this. If they wait, they’ll have [free agent] alternatives in the winter. So why take on the risks with a guy like this for the next two or three years, without the upside of him helping you be really good this year?”

Though the Sox are on Hamels’ no-trade list, Stark said Boston has “been led to believe he’d go there if his $20 million option for 2017 is guaranteed.”

One of Ben Cherington’s assistants, Allard Baird, went to see Hamels’ start Sunday against Miami and left after the pitcher exited the game. Hamels’ outing lasted three innings, and he gave up five earned runs on eight hits.

Read More: 2015 Trade Deadline, Cole Hamels,

Buster Olney on MFB: ‘Incredible’ that almost every Red Sox move has failed to work out this season

07.22.15 at 1:54 pm ET
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Buster Olney

Buster Olney

ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Wednesday afternoon to talk about where the Red Sox might go from here. To hear the interview, go to the Middays with MFB audio on demand page.

In the midst of a six-game losing streak and now tied for a season-worst 10 games out of first place in the division, the Red Sox are at a bit of a crossroads. They could become sellers at the trade deadline, though Olney said they don’t have much to offer.

“You can call other teams about Shane Victorino,” he said. “I literally hung up the phone with an evaluator with another team before I got on with you guys and I asked about Victorino and he said, ‘Look, he’s hurt a lot and he’s owed a lot of money.’ So if you’re the Red Sox and you want to move him, you’re probably going to have to eat almost all the money, and you’re probably going to get a Grade C prospect in return, some fringey-type guy who might help the organization. The same’s the case with Napoli because he’s playing so poorly and because he’s owed so much money and the Red Sox would have to eat a lot of the money. It’s almost the point where the bigger question is who’s going to benefit from the playing time.”

Olney noted that he’s not sure how Boston could represent Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval as anything other than designated hitters at this point, saying that probably the only way the team could move the two of them was in exchange for an equally bad contract.

Olney pointed out that contrary to 2013 when every move the Sox made seemed to work right away in their favor, 2015 has been almost the opposite, and Olney is incredulous at how poorly the moves coming into this season have worked out.

“It’s incredible,” he said. “It’s like a Murphy’s Law series of moves that every single one, for a lot of different reasons, just haven’t worked out. Look, there was logic behind all them, there’s obviously a lot of thought put into it, there’s obviously a lot of money put into it, but it’s like every single move from Allen Craig, Joe Kelly, Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, Rick Porcello, every single move has not turned out. The best things about this team right now are these young players who were here before they made all these moves. It would be almost impossible to repeat that series of events like they had during the wintertime where Justin Masterson, etc., etc., etc., and have it all fall flat the way that it has.

“You’d think that a longtime shortstop could make a transition to left field, and it just hasn’t panned out, any of those,” he added.

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Will Middlebrooks optioned to minors by Padres

07.22.15 at 1:25 pm ET
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HOUSTON — A change of scenery hasn’t done the job for Will Middlebrooks.

The former Red Sox third baseman, who was dealt to San Diego last offseason in exchange for catcher Ryan Hanigan, has been optioned to Triple-A by the Padres.

The 26-year-old Middlebrooks was hitting .212 with a .602 OPS and nine homers in 83 games with the Padres, striking out 60 times while drawing just 11 walks.

In his first 75 big leagues games with the Red Sox in 2012, Middlebrooks hit .288 with 15 homers and an .835 OPS. He totaled a .191 batting average with a .522 OPS in 63 games with the Sox last season, also playing in 29 games with Triple-A Pawtucket.

The Padres had integrated Middlebrooks at shortstop, playing him there in eight games (including his last three appearances).

Yangervis Solarte has earned the starting job at third for the Padres, who have the sixth-worst OPS at the position (.679) in the majors.

Read More: 2015 Trade Deadline, Will Middlebrooks,

Dave O’Brien on MFB: ‘This is the time’ to audition young players

07.22.15 at 1:06 pm ET
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Dave O'Brien

Dave O’Brien

Red Sox play-by-play voice Dave O’Brien called in to Middays with MFB on Wednesday to talk about the unfortunate status of the team. To listen to the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The Red Sox have torpedoed to the bottom of the American League standings with a six-game losing streak. The team has not yet won since returning from the All-Star break. According to O’Brien, the rest of the season should provide opportunities for the Red Sox to field auditions and take stock of which players in the organization can help them compete in 2016 and beyond. That includes established players like Joe Kelly.

“This is the time to do it, you’ve got 68 games remaining and you’re already starting to see that. Johnson was one of those guys. Unfortunately, a lot of those guys were already here or have been here and played. And this is, by the way, another reason you’re seeing Joe Kelly [start Wednesday night]. You’ve got to find out what you’ve got in Joe Kelly,” O’Brien said.

Brian Johnson had his own such audition Tuesday night with a start against the Astros, lasting 4 1/3 innings and allowing four runs (two earned).

“I thought Johnson looked all right, he wasn’t overwhelming, he wasn’t throwing 95 like Eddie Rodriguez, but you could see there’s upside there. … He dropped in some nice curveballs once the game got going and it looked like he was locating a little bit better. It was hard to tell, it was only 4 1/3 innings,” O’Brien said.

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Craig Breslow not going to be ‘consumed’ by trade talk

07.22.15 at 12:58 pm ET
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HOUSTON — Craig Breslow has gone through this before, so he knows how it works.

Back in 2012, with his Diamondbacks just 3 1/2 games out of first place in the National League West, Breslow was shipped to the Red Sox for Matt Albers and Scott Podsednik.

It was the big non-waiver trade deadline move for the Red Sox that year (with the big Dodgers deal coming a few weeks later).

“I actually felt like that was the least likely year to get traded,” said Breslow, who had a 2.70 ERA in 40 games for Arizona before being dealt. “I thought I was throwing well. We were a few games out. And then I found out when a teammate saw it on Twitter, that kind of thing. It totally caught me by surprise.”

Now, thanks in part to a one-year contract with the Red Sox that runs out at the end of the season, Breslow is a candidate to be dealt at the deadline.

The lefty carries a 3.74 ERA in 28 games this season, carrying good health and better velocity than he has in some time. With the Red Sox floundering at 10 games out of first place, and 10 games under .500, Breslow joins fellow contract-year teammates Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli has potential deadline targets.

For Breslow, this time is a bit different considering he and his wife just welcomed twins into the world. He also feels a connection to the team he helped win a world championship with two seasons ago, re-committing to the Sox this past offseason with a $2 million deal.

Yet the 34-year-old also understands the deal this time of year.

“I feel like it just doesn’t do any good to become too consumed by it,” Breslow said. “I spent some time worrying about what was going to happen, and then some time where it was the furthest thing from my mind. If it happens, it happens. All trades can be taken a couple of different ways. On the one side, a team is no longer interested in your services, and on the other hand there’s a team that’s willing to give up pieces to get you. I feel like we have a handful of games before that and I think we all like the team that we’ve got.

“It’s not a decision I get paid to make.”

Read More: 2015 Trade Deadline,

Wednesday’s Red Sox-Astros matchups: Joe Kelly vs. Collin McHugh

07.22.15 at 10:10 am ET
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Note: Updated with Joe Kelly pitching for the Red Sox instead of Wade Miley.

Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly will lead the Red Sox against Collin McHugh and the Astros on Wednesday night as the Sox attempt to end their six-game skid.

Kelly will take the hill after being called up from Triple-A Pawtucket to rejoin the big league squad. His first stint with the team this season was not a good one and led to his demotion. The right-hander owns a record of 2-5 with a 5.67 ERA in 14 major league starts on the season.

His last start for the Red Sox came on June 23, when he got shelled by the Orioles. Kelly lasted 3 2/3 innings and allowed five runs on eight hits while both walking and striking out two. The Sox and Kelly wound up losing by a 6-4 margin.

Kelly, 27, was sent down after the game and has since made four starts for Pawtucket (though in one of the four he pitched only the first inning). In those outings, he has pitched 19 innings and struck out 18 hitters, earning a 2.84 ERA and 1-1 record. Triple-A opponents have hit .206 against Kelly. In his last start on Friday, Kelly threw five innings and allowed two runs on four hits, striking out seven.

Manager John Farrell and the Red Sox announced on Tuesday that Kelly would be rejoining the team.

“The power is there. There has been, last time out, almost the tale of two performances inside of one game where he was dominant the first couple of innings and then some foul balls, high pitch counts after that,” Farrell said of Kelly. “There’s been more of an effort and emphasis on throwing the ball in to right-handers and using both sides of the plate.”

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Wednesday Red Sox Farm Report: Tzu-Wei Lin wins it for Portland; Anderson Espinoza, Yoan Aybar rising in Gulf Coast League

07.22.15 at 9:24 am ET
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A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Tuesday:

Garin Cecchini

Garin Cecchini

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (41-56): L, 12-2, at Norfolk (Orioles)

— Garin Cecchini (Boston’€™s No. 6 prospect at MLB.com) went 2-for-3 with a walk as the DH to lead the way on an unimpressive night for the Pawtucket offense, as the PawSox managed just five total hits. Cecchini doubled in the second, singled in the seventh and walked to start the ninth before running home on catcher Humberto Quintero’€™s fifth home run of the season. The 24-year-old Cecchini has hit .307 in July (16-for-52), albeit with only two extra-base hits, after his season-long average bottomed out at .186 on July 5. Over the past 10 games Gecchini is hitting .394 (15-for-38).

— Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. was 1-for-4 from the second spot in the batting order, putting his average at an International League fourth-best mark of .314. Bradley is hitting .291 in July over 13 games with five homers.

First baseman Travis Shaw and right fielder Allen Craig hit behind Bradley, going a collective 0-for-6 with a walk each.

— RHP Jonathan Aro (Boston’€™s No. 30 prospect at MLB.com) pitched a scoreless seventh, allowing a double but suffering no damage. Aro has struck out 37 batters while walking just six in 29 2/3 innings in Triple-A this year. The 24-year-old made his major league debut in late June, allowing runs in all three of his big league appearances for Boston.

— Prior to the game Pawtucket promoted LHP Robby Scott from Portland. Scott was an Eastern League All-Star for the Sea Dogs, carrying a 2.06 ERA (43 23 IP, 10 ER) with 41 strikeouts to 13 walks. Left-handed batters hit just .111 off him. Scott has had two prior, brief Triple-A stints this year in April and May, allowing three earned runs while striking out 10 over 10 innings of work.

Pawtucket also placed outfielder Carlos Peguero on the disabled list (wrist sprain) and added infielder Jeff Bianchi from temporary inactive.

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Explaining the play that summed up Red Sox’ season

07.22.15 at 12:26 am ET
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Houston's Jake Marisnick celebrates making it all the way home from first base.  (Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Houston’s Jake Marisnick celebrates making it all the way home from first base. (Bob Levey/Getty Images)

HOUSTON — It was not only the signature play in the Red Sox‘ 8-3 loss to the Astros Tuesday night, but perhaps also helped define the misery of the Sox’ season.

With the Red Sox seemingly in somewhat good shape — leading 3-1 with one out in the fifth inning — rookie pitcher Brian Johnson was faced with runners on first and third and one out.

With the count 0-1 to Houston hitter Jose Altuve, catcher Ryan Hanigan called for a high fastball, sensing the runner at first, speedy Jake Marisnick, was going to attempt a steal. Sure enough, Marisnick took off, with Hanigan gathering in the 83 mph offering from Johnson.

With the slow-footed Chris Carter on third, Hanigan threw what appeared to be a strike to shortstop Xander Bogaerts. But before Bogaerts could receive the ball, it ricocheted off of Marisnick’s left forearm, flying into shallow left field.

Not only did Carter score, but Marisnick — whom Statcast measured as going a top speed of 20.4 mph on the play — had sprung up, raced around third (at third base coach Gary Pettis’ urging) and scored the game-tying run.

“It matters who’s on third,” said Hanigan in regards to why he threw through. “Marisnick’s real fast, so it’s going to be a bang-bang play at second. We were trying to get him. If it was probably a foot to the left, I would’ve got him, I think. I think the ball might’ve beat him there. He got a decent jump. We had a chance at him. It’s unfortunate they got both those runs there. They didn’t have to drive them in. Turned the game around for them. Kind of momentum shift.”

Left fielder Hanley Ramirez couldn’t gather in the errant throw and toss it home in time for a close play to be had at the plate.

“I was playing down near the line,” Ramirez explained when asked about the play. “That’€™s what happens when you’€™re not playing good. Things don’€™t go your way. We’€™re not going to give up. Come to the field. Keep working hard. Hopefully it turns around quick. Nobody in here is a loser. Everybody here knows how to win, and everybody wants to win. When things are going this way you have to just keep fighting and keep playing hard.”

Ramirez then went on to further elaborate on the last-place Red Sox‘ current lot in life, saying, “Talent doesn’€™t mean anything. You have to do work on the field. You don’€™t need talent to see what happened on that play. It doesn’€™t mean anything. You just have to come in with positive thoughts and try and turn things around.”

The Astros went on to score two more runs in the fifth, taking the lead for good while driving Johnson from the game.

(For a video of the play, click here.)

Closing Time: Astros spoil Brian Johnson’s major league debut as Red Sox lose 6th straight

07.21.15 at 11:13 pm ET
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Despite his final line, Brian Johnson deserved a better fate in his major league debut. (Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Despite his final line, Brian Johnson deserved a better fate in his major league debut. (Bob Levey/Getty Images)

At this point in the season, it seems the Red Sox are inventing new ways to lose each night.

Things were looking promising for the Red Sox leading 3-1 in the fifth, but the Astros tied the game without even putting the ball in play, as they went onto win the game, 8-3 and in the process handed the Red Sox their sixth straight loss.

With the loss and the Yankees win, the Red Sox are now a season-high 10 games out of first place in the AL East. They also now officially have the worst record in the American League.

After not pitching in 15 days, Brian Johnson didn’t pitch poorly, but showed some rust in his big league debut. The 24-year-old left-hander went 4 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on three hits, while striking out three and walking four. He settled down after allowing a run in the first, retiring eight in a row at one point before things unraveled in the fifth.

The Red Sox led 3-1, but the Astros tied the game without even putting the ball in play and then scored two more runs to take a 5-3 lead after five innings.

With runners on first and third, Jake Marisnick stole second and the throw hit him on the shoulder and shot into left field, allowing him to come around to score the tying run. It was a freak play as Ryan Hanigan’s throw wasn’t a bad one, it was just the way the ball hit off Marisnick and how deep left fielder Hanley Ramirez was playing, which allowed the two runs to score on the play.

After a walk, Johnson was lifted from the game and Justin Masterson entered, but allowed an RBI double to Carlos Correa (the run was charged to Johnson) and then an RBI groundout, which allowed the Astros to take the 5-3 lead.

Masterson allowed a two-run homer the following inning to Chris Carter, his 16th of the year. The Astros added another run in the eighth off Junichi Tazawa.

After scoring only four runs in four games against the Angels, the Red Sox scored three runs in the third inning. Mookie Betts’ check-swing flare down the first base line that went for a double scored two runs and then Xander Bogaerts’ single up the middle plated the third run. Betts’ double snapped an 0-for-20 skid.

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

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