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Sunday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Steven Wright vs. Aaron Sanchez

04.17.16 at 8:26 am ET
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Steven Wright

Steven Wright

The Red Sox will send knuckleballer Steven Wright to the hill Sunday afternoon opposite Blue Jays right-hander Aaron Sanchez in the third game of the teams’ four-game series at Fenway Park.

Wright faced the same potent Blue Jays lineup in his first start of the season on April 1. It also was his first career start against Toronto. Despite a solid outing, he came away with the loss. He went 6 2/3 innings, allowing three runs (only one earned) on six hits, while walking three and striking out five. He kept the Red Sox in the game as long as he could, but the team could not get the bats going and went on to lose 3-0.

“Outstanding job on his part,” manager John Farrell said of Wright’s performance. “Kept us in the game into the seventh inning. He minimized the damage as much as possible in the first, but after that first inning, he settled in and controlled and commanded the knuckleball very well. He used his fastball at times to get ahead in the count, to get back into counts. But we ran into an outstanding pitching performance by [Marco] Estrada today.”

Sanchez will try to be the next Blue Jays pitcher to outduel Wright. He has been very effective in his two starts this season, posting an ERA of 1.38 and a WHIP of 0.846, but has yet to factor into a decision. In his last start on April 12 against the Yankees, Sanchez went six innings and allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits. He struck out five and walked three in a game the Blue Jays would go on to lose, 3-2. He was solid for most of the game but struggled with his command at times, which resulted in a high pitch count.

“You don’t expect to be good in the major leagues going ball, ball, ball, then strike, strike, strike,” Sanchez said after the game. “Maybe I wasn’t getting calls, but at this level, you can’t let things like that get to you. I’ll learn from that for the next time.”

In 10 career appearances covering 19 2/3 innings against the Red Sox (including two starts), Sanchez is 2-1 with a 2.75 ERA and 1.271 WHIP, recording 12 strikeouts and 18 walks.

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Read More: Aaron Sanchez, Blue Jays, Red Sox, steven wright

Craig Kimbrel offers another example of him being really good

04.16.16 at 8:46 pm ET
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Craig Kimbrel struck out the side of the 60th time in his career, Saturday. (Bob DiChiara/USA Today Sports)

Craig Kimbrel struck out the side Saturday for the 60th time in his career. (Bob DiChiara/USA Today Sports)

Craig Kimbrel has struck out the side 60 times. That’s 14 more than Yankees flame-thrower Aroldis Chapman and 31 more than Jonathan Papelbon.

Of those, it’s hard to imagine that few were more impressive than what we witnessed Saturday afternoon.

Kimbrel came on in the ninth inning of what would be a 4-2 Red Sox win over the Blue Jays and fanned Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Troy Tulowitzki. It was a group that has 10 top-15 MVP finishes between them.

There were 14 fastballs ranging from 97-99 mph, and a smattering of high-80s curveballs.

“He’s got some of the nastiest [stuff] in the major leagues, no question,” said Red Sox DH David Ortiz. “He don’t care who is up. His stuff is like, ‘Good luck, try to hit this.’ ”

Asked if Kimbrel possessed the best stuff of any pitcher he has caught, Christian Vazquez responded, “Yeah, it’s coming in hard, man.”

Kimbrel has claimed at least one strikeout in 26 straight appearances, the longest active streak for any reliever.

The righty has fanned 12 in his six appearances (six innings) with the Red Sox, having allowed a run in just one of them (coming on Chris Davis’ three-run homer).

“I don’t know that there are many guys in the league that can do it against those three guys,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “That’s two consecutive days in which he’s come out and he generates that high-powered velocity without … he’s so smooth. You’ve got a curveball that’s nearly 90 mph along with a fastball that’s approaching 100. He’s a unique animal, and glad he’s in our uniform.”

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Closing Time: David Price does his ace thing against old team

04.16.16 at 6:49 pm ET
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David Price struck out eight more batters in his win Saturday afternoon. (Bob DiChiara/USA Today Sports)

David Price struck out eight more batters in his win Saturday afternoon. (Bob DiChiara/USA Today Sports)

This was more in line with what the Red Sox were counting on.

After a disappointing home opener, David Price came back to give an ace-like performance against his old team. The Sox lefty allowed just two runs over seven innings, leading his team to a 4-2 win over the Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park.

Price stumbled out of the gate, giving up an RBI double to Jose Bautista in the first. After that, however, the Jays couldn’t muster much at all, with their only other run coming on Edwin Encarnacion’s RBI double in the fourth.

The southpaw struck out nine more batters, now totaling 27 K’s and just four walks in his first 18 innings with the Red Sox. He punctuated Saturday’s 107-pitch outing by striking out the side in the seventh.

“To me, strikeouts are fantastic, especially with a runner on third and less than two outs or a situation like that. I’d much rather them hit that first pitch and get out,” Price said. “Strikeouts are just, that’s something that happens. For me, earlier in my career, I wanted to strike guys out on that first pitch, and you can’t do that. For me, I’d like them on or out in three pitches or less. If it gets to that two strikes, then you can go for it.”

Said Red Sox manager John Farrell: “It’s almost like he gave you the feeling there was that closer mentality in that final inning of work. He finished his game today with a strong exclamation point to a solid outing for him. But anytime you go through that lineup three times you’ve got very consistent location and multiple looks to get through a really strong lineup.”

As it turned out, all the offense Price would need was Xander Bogaerts’ three-run homer off Toronto starter Marco Estrada in the third inning. The Sox added an insurance run in the same frame thanks to Travis Shaw’s RBI single, narrowly scoring Hanley Ramirez.

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It appears Carson Smith is getting closer to joining Red Sox

04.16.16 at 4:44 pm ET
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Carson Smith

Carson Smith

Carson Smith doesn’t appear to be that far off from finally linking up with his new team.

According to Red Sox manager John Farrell, the righty reliever, who has been shelved with a right flexor mass strain in his elbow, is facing a pivotal week in terms of convincing the team he is ready for major league action.

“He threw 35 pitches of live BP [Saturday] and came through that fine,” Farrell said. “His next step would be live BP in a sim game on Tuesday. Tentative plan would be Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday next week of two sim and then potentially a game by next weekend in extended [spring training]. So this coming weekend will be a good test for him.”

While the Red Sox bullpen has held its own despite pitching eighth-most innings in the American League (32), totaling a .178 batting average against, adding Smith would certainly take some pressure off the late-inning arms.

Both Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa have pitched in six of the Red Sox’ first nine games, with Noe Ramirez having to pick up the slack as the specialist against righties.

If all goes as planned, there may be the possibility of Smith joining the Red Sox as early as the final homestand in April.

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Saturday Red Sox Farm Report: Teddy Stankiewicz dominates, but Sea Dogs fall in 17 innings

04.16.16 at 11:13 am ET
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Here’s a look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Friday:

William Cuevas

William Cuevas

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (4-5): W, 6-5, at Lehigh Valley (Phillies)

— The PawSox held on for a 6-5 win against Lehigh Valley to complete a two-game sweep. Pawtucket led 6-2 in the seventh, but was able to hang on for the win.

— William Cuevas gave the PawSox a very good start going 6 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on seven hits, while walking a batter and striking out four. He was able to earn his first win of the season, which was a good sign after a poor first outing last week.

— Rusney Castillo played his first game in Triple-A after being sent down following Wednesday’s game. He played left field and went 2-for-5 with a double and two RBIs.

— After a tough start to the season, Deven Marrero is trying to break out of a slump. The middle infielder went 2-for-5 with a double and two runs scored. He is still hitting just .176 on the season.

— Marrero’s cousin Chris is off to a great start to the year and it continued Friday night, as he went 2-for-3 with two doubles and a walk. He’s batting .375 for the year.

— Anthony Varvaro was once again solid in relief, going 1 1/3 perfect innings. He has allowed just one hit in 5 1/3 innings this season.

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Read More: Andrew Benintendi, Farm Report, Teddy Stankiewciz, yoan moncada

Saturday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: David Price vs. Marco Estrada

04.16.16 at 8:17 am ET
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David Price

David Price

Red Sox ace David Price will take the hill Saturday to face off against his former team, looking to pick up his second win of the season while opposing Blue Jays right-hander Marco Estrada.

Price came away with a no-decision in his last start against the Orioles. In the home opener at Fenway Park, he struggled to find a groove, lasting just five innings. He allowed five runs on five hits, walking two and striking out eight. The Sox would go on to lose the game when Craig Kimbrel allowed a three-run home run to Chris Davis in the ninth inning.

For the second straight start, Price had one inning in which he ran into trouble. In this case, it was the third inning when he allowed five runs, including a three-run home run to Mark Trumbo.

“It’s kind of been my Achilles’ heel — having that one bad inning,” Price said after the game. “That’s all it takes in this game. It can be one pitch, and today it was just that one bad inning.”

Price, who appeared in 11 games for the Blue Jays last season after being traded from the Tigers, has faced Toronto 21 times in his career, recording a 16-2 record, 2.41 ERA and 1.064 WHIP.

Estrada had no trouble in his last start against the Red Sox last Sunday. He shut out Boston through seven innings of work while allowing five hits, walking two and striking out eight in his season debut. The Blue Jays went on to win the game 3-0. Despite the dominant performance, Estrada said there still is room to grow.

“I feel pretty good,” Estrada said after the game. “Still a little off. Things are going to get better. Just not quite 100 percent with the feel for things but it’s really close.”

Said Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia: “The three times I faced him, he didn’t give me one good pitch to hit. He was on the corners, his changeup was great.”

In four career starts against the Red Sox, the 32-year-old Estrada is 3-2 with a 3.67 ERA and 1.444 WHIP.

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Read More: Blue Jays, David Price, Marco Estrada, Red Sox

Pablo Sandoval says he never gave ultimatum regarding playing time, MRI results ‘pretty bad’

04.15.16 at 11:34 pm ET
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Pablo Sandoval will seek a second opinion on his injured left shoulder, Monday. (Dan Hamilton/USA Today Sports)

Pablo Sandoval will seek a second opinion on his injured left shoulder, Monday. (Dan Hamilton/USA Today Sports)

Speaking after the Red Sox 5-3 win over Toronto Friday night, Pablo Sandoval offered some clarity as to where he stood regarding his injured left shoulder, while responding to some of the recent reports portraying his displeasure with the situation with the Sox.

The third baseman refuted the Yahoo! Sports report that stated he had told the organization that he wanted to move on from the Red Sox if he wasn’t going to play on a regular basis.

“They can say whatever they want, it’s going to come from my opinion,” Sandoval said. “I’m just going to work and keep doing the things I’m doing. Keep working hard. I’m happy. I’m not happy. They can say whatever I want, but they aren’t going to get my happiness from me.”

He added, “I was talking the other day and they I told them, ‘I’m happy with all the decisions you guys made.’ The team is going to be better that way. I’m going to be happy. I’m going to continue to work hard, continue to do my job.”

As for the health of his left shoulder, Sandoval didn’t sound overly optimistic.

While he wouldn’t reveal the specific findings of Thursday’s MRI, Sandoval did says that after talking to his family throughout the night it was determined that the best course of action would be to visit Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion. That will take place Monday.

He reported that he was still very sore as of Friday night. Sandoval also said that it was the same sort of injury he had in 2011, although that MRI revealed far less damage.

“I don’t know. I’m just going there to see what’s going on,” said Sandoval when asked if he had an inkling what the end result might be. “I got the first opinion. I don’t want to tell you what’s going on, but it’s pretty bad so I want to get a second opinion. It’s going to take me some time to decide what we’re going to do.”

There were some video showing Sandoval may have hurt his shoulder on a dive in Toronto, Saturday afternoon. But the third baseman explained that most likely wasn’t the impetus for the pain Tuesday morning.

“I had at-bats in that game, so I don’t think it was on that play,” said Sandoval, who went on to pinch-hit Sunday. “We looked at it. We still looking at what caused that problem. After that play I was able to practice for three more days.”

Earlier in the day, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski wouldn’t rule out surgery, while also not getting into specifics about the injury. It was the same tone taken by Sandoval.

“I don’t know if I’m going to have surgery,” he said. “I’m just going to see what happened. What’s the opinion? How can I get back at soon as possible? I just want to know what’s going on in there.”

Rick Porcello off to best start of career following second straight win over Blue Jays

04.15.16 at 11:33 pm ET
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Rick Porcello allowed three runs on two hits in the Red Sox' win over the Blue Jays. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Rick Porcello allowed three runs on two hits in the Red Sox’ win over the Blue Jays. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

This was exactly the start to the season Rick Porcello needed.

Following a disappointing first season in Boston last year where he went 9-15 with a 4.92 ERA, Porcello has started this season 2-0 for the first time in his career.

Porcello was exactly the pitcher the Red Sox inked to a four-year, $82.5 million contract Friday night in the Red Sox’ 5-3 win over the Blue Jays.

The right-hander went 6 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on two hits while walking a batter and striking out eight. The two hits he allowed were both home runs to Edwin Encarnacion — one in the second inning and then a two-run shot in the seventh.

It may have also helped that Friday was the return of Christian Vazquez behind the plate, as he is one of the best young defensive catchers in the game.

“It was a good win for us,” Porcello said. “Good way to open up the series. Keeping guys off base, trying to eliminate big innings and multiple runners on the bases. I can’t say enough about the job Christian did back there blocking balls, calling the game — he was tremendous.”

After Encarnacion’s first home run of the game in the second inning followed by a hit-by-pitch, Porcello settled in nicely retiring 13 straight batters from the second to the sixth innings. It also may have helped the Red Sox jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead.

“We were mixing the ball around,” Porcello said. “Sinker was working well and we were able to get some ground balls.”

His sinker was working so well that he threw it 49 times out of his 100 total pitches.

Friday night was the second straight game Porcello was matched up against the Blue Jays as he allowed four runs over six innings last Saturday in Toronto — an 8-4 win.

Manager John Farrell was impressed with how Porcello attacked the Toronto hitters.

“He did a really nice job of throwing his fastball to both sides of the plate,” Farrell said. “Against a powerful right-handed hitting lineup, I thought he pitched in effectively. He used enough secondary pitches to set up his fastball. He and [Vazquez] hooked up well and the execution on Rick’s part was very, very good here tonight.”

With the rocky start for the Red Sox’ starting rotation overall, Porcello’s start to the season couldn’t have come at a better time.

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Closing Time: Rick Porcello, Christian Vazquez lead Red Sox over Blue Jays

04.15.16 at 10:13 pm ET
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Rick Porcello pitched very well Friday night. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Rick Porcello pitched very well Friday night. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Whether it was the presence of Christian Vazquez or not, it seems like the Red Sox are gaining some momentum.

For the second straight game, the Red Sox got a decent start from their starting pitcher as Friday it was Rick Porcello who went 6 1/3 innings to earn the win in the Red Sox’ 5-3 win over the Blue Jays. It was the second straight win for the Red Sox.

Porcello finished the game going 6 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on two hits (both Edwin Encarnacion home runs), while walking one, hitting two and striking out eight.

The Red Sox scored early allowing Porcello to settle in with a lead. They scored three times in the first inning starting with a David Ortiz RBI double off the top of the wall in dead-center. After Hanley Ramirez reached via a passed ball on a strikeout, Travis Shaw drove in both Ortiz and Ramirez with a two-RBI double of his own.

They tacked on another run in the second inning on a Mookie Betts RBI single.

Porcello gave up his second home run of the game to Encarnacion in the seventh with a runner on. He struck out the next batter and then was lifted at 100 pitches.

Junichi Tazawa, Koji Uehara and Craig Kimbrel (save) in a shaky ninth closed the game out for the Red Sox in relief of Porcello.

Closing Time note

The Red Sox have now not been shutout at home in 60 straight games, which is the longest active streak in the majors. It dates back to June 4 of last year.

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

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Read More: christian vazquez, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, rick porcello

Dave Dombrowski details why Red Sox sent Rusney Castillo to minors, his future

04.15.16 at 6:03 pm ET
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The Red Sox optioned Rusney Castillo to Triple-A on Wednesday. (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports)

The Red Sox optioned Rusney Castillo to Triple-A on Wednesday. (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports)

The entire Rusney Castillo situation this season has been a confusing one.

At the end of spring training, the Red Sox opted to have Castillo on their Opening Day roster over veteran outfielder David Murphy, so Murphy opted out of his contract. There was some skepticism as to why the team went with Castillo as opposed to having him start in Triple-A and getting every day at-bats, which he desperately needs at this stage of his development.

Then, after getting just four at-bats through the first eight games of the season, the Red Sox sent him back down to Triple-A Pawtucket after Wednesday’s game. Why did he even start with the Red Sox in the first place?

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski explained the situation Friday.

“I think really what is difficult — and I have tried to explain without going into, because I am not going to tell you we’re thinking about optioning somebody out because then everyone is going to run to the player and say we’re thinking of optioning him out — you’re roster is a fluid situation and especially your bench guys at times,” Dombrowski said. “For us, we were comfortable with him not starting off playing every single day, but then it was a situation, the more Brock [Holt] played left and has done such a good job, so the combination of Brock and Chris Young out there — and of course we haven’t faced a left-handed starter yet so there’s been no starts available in that role that we just thought that gives us the best chance to win right now and to stay with that. Rusney is sitting there, so let’s get him out and start playing. That is really what it came down to.

“But in the beginning of the year when you think about it, how many games has Pawtucket played? A limited number of games — seven, eight. So we didn’t think it would hurt him to come up here and be part of what we had going on and now we’re in a situation of where we say, ‘OK, let’s have him go out and get some at-bats.'”

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Read More: Dave Dombrowski, Rusney Castillo,
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