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Sunday’s Red Sox-Angels matchups: Eduardo Rodriguez vs. Hector Santiago

07.19.15 at 10:03 am ET
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Eduardo Rodriguez

Eduardo Rodriguez

Two southpaws will toe the rubber Sunday night in Anaheim, as Eduardo Rodriguez and the Red Sox look to get back on the winning track against AL All-Star Hector Santiago and the streaking Angels.

Rodriguez has had an up-and-down rookie season to date. He came on strong with a 0.44 ERA through three career starts, but in the three starts following, he sported more earned runs than innings pitched.

One of the issues that has troubled Rodriguez through his rough patch is pitch-tipping. From the stretch, Rodriguez would hold his head differently depending on whether he was throwing a fastball or an off-speed pitch. His veteran teammates and coaches alerted him to the problem and he has since taken measures to prevent it.

“Working on all those four days before today. I tried to work on not tipping pitches to the hitters,” Rodriguez said after his June 30 start against the Blue Jays, a six-inning, one-run performance. “Working in my bullpen, every time I threw the ball, I worked at that, so that’€™s what I did better today.”

Since correcting his pitch-tipping issue, Rodriguez has gone 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in three outings. He’s improved his season record to 5-2 and has brought his ERA down from 4.33 to 3.59. During his last start before the All-Star break on July 11, Rodriguez held the Yankees to just two runs over 6 1/3 innings pitched en route to a 5-3 victory.

After the game, Red Sox manager John Farrell praised the rookie for his composure on the mound.

“One of the things that really stood out, a couple times he gives up solo home runs and he executes a first-pitch strike to the next hitter,” Farrell said. “He didn’€™€™t fear the strike zone. He attacked the strike zone with quality stuff. A lot of stuff and for the most part was in command of the count.”

It will be interesting for the Red Sox to see how Rodriguez and his dominant raw stuff fare against the veteran lineup trotted out by the Angels, led by Mike Trout and Albert Pujols.

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Closing Time: Red Sox’ bats go silent for second straight game in another loss to Angels

07.18.15 at 11:45 pm ET
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Rick Porcello allowed three runs over five innings in taking the loss Saturday night. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Rick Porcello allowed three runs over five innings in taking the loss Saturday night. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

ANAHEIM — It would seem that the Red Sox needed to shake things up a bit heading into their game with the Angels Saturday night. They had entered the All-Star break with demoralizing loss to the Yankees, and exited the hiatus Friday night the victims of a Mike Trout walk-off homer.

Perhaps the weather would offer a sign that things might be a bit different.

Prior to the game, the rarest of sights could be seen — the Angel Stadium tarp on the field. It was an image former Angel Mike Napoli had witnessed just one other time, with Red Sox manager John Farrell, who also played here, never remembering such an occasion.

And while the game did start on time, even whispers that this might be the first rainout at the park since 1995 offered some intrigue.

But then, unfortunately for the Red Sox, things reverted back to normal.

The Sox were shutout for a second straight game, dropping a 3-0 decision to the Angels thanks to the standout pitching performance of Garrett Richards. The Los Angeles starter held the Sox to just two hits, both coming from Pablo Sandoval.

Richards finished with a complete game shutout,

It marked the seventh time the Red Sox were shutout this season.

While the Red Sox were coming up empty against Richards, the Angels — and Kole Calhoun in particular — weren’t having such difficulties against Sox starter Rick Porcello.

While the Angels’ initial run came via Porcello’s eighth wild-pitch of the season, allowing the hosts to score without notching a hit, there was nothing subtle about LA’s next two runs. Those were plated thanks to a pair of solo homers from Calhoun, in the third and fifth innings, respectively.

Calhoun, who came into the game 3-for-6 against Porcello, reached base in all four of his plate appearances.

“It was just falling behind in the count,” said Porcello of the two Calhoun home runs. “Obviously with the guys coming up behind him I dont want to walk him. Was hoping to execute some sinkers down and away, get a rollover into the shift and he put a good swing on both pitches.”

One positive for the Red Sox was the relief work turned in by Justin Masterson, with the righty giving up just one hit over his three innings, striking out four.

“Tonight was very encouraging for him,” Farrell said of Masterson. “Better stuff, more consistent late action to his two-pitch mix. He’s thrown twice out of the bullpen now, and tonight was better stuff all the way around. More velocity, more late action.”

The Red Sox remain 7 1/2 games in back of the first-place Yankees, who lost to Seattle earlier in the day.

“We just had a tough three games, that’€™s all it is,” Porcello said. “We can turn it around tomorrow and go on a 10-game run. You never know you just have to keep playing.”

“We’ve been having those times where it doesn’t matter what you do, it doesn’t work out,” said Red Sox DH David Ortiz. “We finished the first half good, and hopefully we can blame things to the four days off. We’ll see how it goes but hitting is something it’s a continuation of what you do the day before, you know what I’m saying? That’s only way you can stay consistent. Seems like four days off pretty much affected pretty much everyone around here so hopefully tomorrow we bounce back and have a better game.”

Red Sox notes: Steven Wright to start Monday; Noe Ramirez makes his return; Mike Trout equals Bo Jackson?

07.18.15 at 8:11 pm ET
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Steven Wright

Steven Wright

ANAHEIM — The Red Sox have officially filled out their starting rotation.

Manager John Farrell announced prior to this team’s game Saturday night against the Angels that Steven Wright would be getting the start in the series finale Monday night.

It will be the second time this season Wright has pitched against the Angels, having turned in a 6 1/3-inning outing May 23 at Fenway Park in which he surrendered two runs on four hits while getting the win.

In his four starts this season with the Red Sox, Wright has compiled a 3.91 ERA, totaling 23 innings, 12 strikeouts and three walks.

“Even at the time when he was optioned out he was throwing the ball well and the choice was to go with Joe Kelly at the time,” Farrell said. “But with our approach to keep Justin Masterson in the bullpen, Steven was the next guy to come to us and will.”

The knuckleballer last pitched July 12, allowing four runs over seven innings for Triple-A Pawtucket against Lehigh Valley. In eight starts for the PawSox this season, Wright’s ERA stands at 3.81.

– Farrell also offered an update on the progress of Joe Kelly, who allowed two runs over five innings Friday night. Kelly has a 2.84 ERA in four starts with Pawtucket, striking out 18 and walking six.

“First two innings were efficient, powerful,” the manager said. “The last three innings, the pitch count climbed, more deep counts. But all in all, he pitched into right-handers more effectively, which was part of the intention when we sent him out to build that into his game. But powerful stuff. but a lot of foul balls in deep counts the last three innings.”

The manager noted that if it was determined that Kelly should be transitioned to the bullpen, he wouldn’t need time at Pawtucket to adjust the role considering he served as a reliever for 30 games with St. Louis after spending his entire college career in the bullpen.

One reason the Red Sox may currently be hesitant to move Kelly out of his role is due to the team’s lack of starting depth with the promotion of Brian Johnson and Wright, along with Clay Buchholz‘ elbow injury.

– One reliever who did get the call back to the majors is Noe Ramirez, who pitched in one big league game — July 3 against Houston — before being shipped back out to Pawtucket.

In the outing against the Astros, Ramirez took the loss after allowing four runs on three hits while pitching the 10th inning.

Ramirez takes the place of Travis Shaw, who was sent back to Triple-A.

“I dont know if it’€™s swing and miss, it’€™s just a contrast of styles,” Farrell said of the right-hander. “The arm slot is unique to the other guys in the bullpen and there’€™s a fit, particularly when you get into more heavily right-handed laden lineups. We have that here this series, there’€™s a spot particularly in the middle of the order where Houston is and Detroit on top of that. There will be some right-handed hitting lineups that the additional right-hander we’€™re seeking to spread out the workload. He’€™s a candidate for that.”

– Comparing Mike Trout‘s skill-set is a tall task these days. But Farrell still gave it a try …

“He’s unique in a way,” the manager said. “You see a guy that’€™s that strong, that explosive. He didn’€™t play two sports, but when you think about Bo Jackson and that type of baseball player, he’s got a lot of similar skills.”

– For the first time since heading out to San Francisco in 2013, the Red Sox will fly the same day as their game, leaving for Houston Tuesday morning.

“The tradeoff is you get into the next city at six in the morning, and you start to weigh, is it best to sleep then? You’re not going to sleep much on a plane in a pressurized cabin,” Farrell said. “There’s a number of effects on the body.”

Red Sox lineup: Brock Holt gets start at first base

07.18.15 at 5:15 pm ET
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ANAHEIM – With Angels right Garrett Richards on the mound for the hosts Saturday night, Red Sox manager John Farrell has added a few lefties to his lineup.

Getting the start at first base will be Brock Holt, while Alejandro De Aza will man right field.

Here is the Red Sox lineup with Rick Porcello pitching for the visitors:

Mookie Betts CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez LF
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Alejandro De Aza RF
Brock Holt 1B
Ryan Hanigan C

Saturday’s Red Sox-Angels matchups: Rick Porcello vs. Garrett Richards

07.18.15 at 12:37 pm ET
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Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello

In the second game of the season’s unofficial second half, the Red Sox will send Rick Porcello to take on Garrett Richards of the Angels.

The Red Sox hope that a few extra days of rest over the All-Star break will allow Porcello to right himself for the remaining 2 1/2 months of the season. The first half of Porcello’s first season in Boston was abysmal, as the right-hander struggled to a 5-9 record and a 5.90 ERA.

After trading for Porcello in the offseason and subsequently signing him to a four-year, $82.5 million contract, the Red Sox have seen that their investment has not yielded worthwhile returns to date. Among qualified starters, Porcello’s ERA is the highest in the American League and third highest in all of baseball.

Despite owning some ugly stats thus far, Porcello was able to record a win in his final start before the break on July 8. Prior to that contest, his last victory came on May 16, a span of almost two full months. Porcello, 26, snapped a streak of eight straight winless starts, during which he lost seven consecutive decisions.

The win came against the Marlins, a game in which Porcello hurled six innings and allowed two runs while striking out four. He did allow eight hits, but none went for extra bases and Porcello was able to work his way around baserunners while limiting the damage. The Sox won by a 6-3 margin and swept the two-game set against Miami.

For Porcello, the game was the first opportunity to work with Ryan Hanigan since the catcher returned from a broken hand. Porcello had pitched better with Hanigan behind the dish prior to the injury, and the pattern continued against the Marlins. In four starts with Hanigan, Porcello has a 3.60 ERA as compared with a 6.70 ERA in 13 starts with either Sandy Leon or Blake Swihart catching.

“With Porcello, we had a good thing going before I got hurt so I think that is a little bit of a bond we built,” Hanigan added. “Nothing against the way these other guys are doing their job, they are doing a good job. I feel in a groove with him. I like catching him. I was really happy for him tonight. Quality start and we’ll build from it,” Hanigan said afterward.

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Saturday Red Sox Farm Report: Joe Kelly earns first Pawtucket win; Jackie Bradley Jr. hits 2 homers; Portland loses on walkoff walk

07.18.15 at 12:17 pm ET
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A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Friday:

Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (40-53): W, 13-4, at Durham (Rays)

— Joe Kelly picked up his first win in a Pawtucket uniform with a five-inning effort Friday, giving up two earned runs on four hits and one walk with seven strikeouts. The righty is 1-1 with a 2.84 ERA after four starts for the PawSox.

— Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a pair of home runs, a two-run shot in the first inning and a solo home run in the sixth, and finished the day 3-for-5 with a walk. Bradley is hitting .311 with seven home runs and 22 RBIs in 61 games for Pawtucket this season.

— Marco Hernandez, playing in just his second game with Pawtucket since his promotion from Portland, picked up where he left off in Double-A, going 4-for-5 with a three-run home run in the third inning. The 22-year-old shortstop also doubled and scored three runs. Hernandez, who has five hits in nine at-bats in his first two games in a PawSox uniform, was hitting .326 with five home runs and 31 RBIs through 68 games with Portland.

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Closing Time: Red Sox doomed by Mike Trout walk-off homer

07.18.15 at 12:36 am ET
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Wade Miley allowed one hit through seven innings Friday night. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Wade Miley allowed one hit through seven innings Friday night. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

ANAHEIM — This just in: Mike Trout is really, really good.

Trout deposited an 0-1 fastball from Koji Uehara over the center field with two outs in the ninth inning to give the Angels a 1-0 win over the Red Sox Friday night at Angel Stadium.

With the one swing of the bat, the Red Sox now find themselves 7 1/2 games out of first-place in the American League East thanks to the Yankees‘ 4-3 win over Seattle.

“I was trying to go a little bit more outside than that pitch,” said Uehara, who threw back-to-back fastballs to Trout. The Angels’ star slugger came into the game 0-for-5 with three strikeouts against Uehara.

“I was trying to go way outside,” said Red Sox catcher Ryan Hanigan. “If you saw where I set up, it was three or four inches off. It just kind of came back.”

It was the first home run allowed by Uehara since May 19, with the closer not having allowed a run in his previous 10 outings.

Prior to Trout, it was Wade Miley who was the game’s headliner.

The Sox starter carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning, having thrown 84 pitches. To that point he had only allowed one baserunner, walking Chris Iannetta with one out in the sixth.

But Miley’s big moment was ruined when Kole Calhoun jumped on a 90 mph, first-pitch fastball to lead off the seventh, finding the center field wall for a double and the hosts’ first hit.

“Trying to go down and just left it up a little bit,” Miley said.

“I thought he was going to get it,” said Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli of the Sox’ pitcher vying for the no-hitter.

To Miley’s credit, he kept his composure and got out of a tricky situation later in the frame. Calhoun had reached third after a Mike Trout sacrifice fly, but a pop up to shallow right field by Albert Pujols would be followed with Erick Aybar’s inning-ending ground out to shortstop. (The inning-ending play was made possible by Xander Bogaerts’ fine execution of the grounder in the third base-shortstop hole.)

“That’€™s a play he doesn’€™t make a year ago,” said Farrell of Bogaerts’ back-handed stab. “To preserve a scoreless tie to end the seventh inning, he ranges far to his right to get a speedy runner by a good step, that’€™s an outstanding major-league play.”

Miley would finish his outing having gone seven innings and one batter, being replaced by reliever Junichi Tazawa after the starter issued a leadoff walk in the eighth inning to David Freese. He ended up throwing 101 pitches, striking out six.

The outing marked just the second start in Miley’s career he allowed only one hit, having held the Marlins to the same offensive output April 29, 2012. Against the Angels this season, the lefty has allowed just one run on five hits over 15 innings.

“We had a plan, it was a little unconventional but the lineup’€™s tough so we’€™ve got to create some things, read their swings and see what they’€™re trying to do,” Hanigan said. “We were able to be one step ahead. And he executed, obviously.

“We threw five, six changeups in a row at one point. Three or four heaters in in a row. I was going off what I thought they were looking for, what they were trying to do. It was fun.”

While Miley was dominating, the Red Sox were finding moderate success against Angels starter C.J. Wilson, managing at least one baserunner in each of the lefty’s eight innings. But the Sox never could mount any serious threats against Wilson, who didn’t allow any runner to reach third.

“Wade was outstanding,” Farrell said. “That was a well-played game, and unfortunately we come up on the wrong side of a 1-0 score. He was aggressive. He threw a lot of strikes. There were some at-bats he got behind in the count but found a way to get back to salvage an at-bat. He makes a big pitch a couple of times on 3-2 counts. He was very good. But like I said, a well-played game and unfortunately we come up on the short end.”

Red Sox notes: Brian Johnson to start Tuesday; Ryan Hanigan linked up with Rick Porcello

07.17.15 at 9:10 pm ET
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Brian Johnson

Brian Johnson

ANAHEIM — Part of the mystery surrounding the Red Sox‘ starting rotation was cleared up prior to their series opener against the Angels Friday night.

Red Sox manager John Farrell announced that Brian Johnson would be making his major league debut Tuesday, when the Sox take on the Astros in Houston. It will be more than two weeks since the lefty made a start, last appearing for Triple-A Pawtucket July 6.

“Just the way things are falling,” Farrell said in regards to the decision. “Brian’s on that extended rest at this point, he threw an extended bullpen yesterday in advance of Tuesday, probably get in a light one on Sunday before Tuesday’s start.”

Farrell still wasn’t letting on whom might get the nod in the series finale, Monday night. With Joe Kelly pitching for the PawSox Friday night, and Justin Masterson remaining in the bullpen, it would appear that Steven Wright might be the favorite to fill the role.

– As has been the case with Sandy Leon catching Clay Buchholz, Farrell suggested Ryan Hanigan would be linked up with Rick Porcello going forward.

In the four games the two have teamed up, Porcello has managed a 3.60 ERA over 25 innings.

“It’s more the expressed confidence that Rick has got when Ryan’s behind the plate,” Farrell said. “And I realize when you say that it’s got the sound where it might slight some others but I think in those key moments, that’s where in those key moments the experience of Ryan has helped out Rick and we saw it in spring training, we saw it in the first few starts of the season, we saw it again in the start right prior to the break. There’s always going to be those three or four pitches inside a given game where any starting pitcher’s got to make those and if that matchup allows Rick to execute in those moments, that makes us a better team.”

Dustin Pedroia was back in the Red Sox’ lineup Friday, hitting second behind Mookie Betts and in front of Xander Bogaerts.

As for how much Pedroia will be playing now that he is coming off his right hamstring injury, Farrell was non-committal.

“I think in Pedey’€™s mind, coming back it was the thought he’€™d go every day,” the manager said. “That’€™s the way he’€™s wired as we know. But we also have to be cognisant if there’€™s a day of rest to give him a day of recovery when the action has picked back up so we’€™ll see it as we go.”

Here was the Red Sox lineup for their series-opening game against the Angels and C.J. Wilson: Betts, Pedroia, Bogaerts, David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Hanigan.

Clay Buchholz headed for second opinion with Dr. James Andrews

07.17.15 at 7:12 pm ET
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ANAHEIM — Clay Buchholz is leaving nothing to chance.

The Red Sox righty, who has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained flexor tendon in his right elbow, will visit Dr. James Andrews Wednesday for a second opinion on the original diagnosis.

“Not that the medical staff here hasn’€™t told me exactly what’€™s going on, but sometimes it’€™s good to hear from multiple people. That’€™s what it is,” said Buchholz prior to the Red Sox’ series opener at Angels Stadium.

“Just having somebody else give you a direct response, given who he is and what he’€™s done over his career, it really the only option for me. If I was going to do it, that’€™s the guy I was going to see. It’€™s a peace of mind thing for me going forward. I don’€™t expect him to find anything else that they’€™ve found. It’€™s more that I can get going going forward and not have to look back.”

Buchholz does have a history with Dr. Andrews, having first worked out at one of the doctor’s medical facilities in Pensacola, Florida following the 2007 season. The longtime elbow and shoulder specialist also offered a second opinion for Buchholz in 2013 after the pitcher’s right shoulder ailment.

The advice Buchholz received from Dr. Andrews two seasons ago was a chief reason the righty felt comfortable executing a similar strategy this time around.

“Instead of throwing, which is what I was doing, trying to build back up, he told me I needed to take an extended break. So that’€™s what I did,” Buchholz said. “Given the point in our season, it was getting late, I probably didn’€™t take the exact amount of time and probably got back in there a little quick.

“This is my last guaranteed year here so if something crazy were to happen I need to know from an outside source, a guy that I’€™ve gone to who has led me in the right direction every time I’€™ve seen him.”

Buchholz said he has seen progress from his injury since exiting last Friday night’s game against the Yankees.

“I was pretty sore the couple of days after that start,” he said. “Our doctors said that rest is the best thing for something involving an elbow or shoulder when it doesn’€™t involve any kind of damage structurally. It definitely feels a lot better.”

Red Sox-Angels series preview

07.17.15 at 10:28 am ET
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Mike Trout is coming off an MVP performance in the All-Star Game as he prepares to lead the Angels into action against the Red Sox this weekend. (Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Mike Trout is coming off an MVP performance in the All-Star Game as he prepares to lead the Angels into action against the Red Sox this weekend. (Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images)

Coming out of the All-Star break, the Red Sox open the unofficial second half of the season on the West Coast. While their home diamond at Fenway Park is occupied by the likes of Billy Joel and the Foo Fighters, the Sox are in Southern California to take on the Angels.

After a dismal first half, the Red Sox were able to gather some momentum in advance of the break. The Sox won nine of their last 13 contests, improving their record to 42-47 on the season. However, they dropped two of three to the Yankees in the final series before the break and remain 6 1/2 games behind New York and in last place in the AL East.

The Red Sox are, however, closer to the other teams in the division. The Rays, Orioles and Blue Jays have stumbled lately, and the Sox now are just three games behind the Rays for second place in the division.

Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino told Dennis & Callahan on Thursday that he has been unhappy with the team’s first half.

“I am a bit disappointed,” Lucchino said. “We showed flashes of what he hoped for in the last month or so. The team has been playing awfully well going back a month or so. It’s been more like the team we expected to have. Things happen. No one in the front office is going to get it right 100 percent of the time and you’re going to have unexpected things occur during the course of the season. On balance, we expected to be closer than 6 1/2 games at this point.”

The Angels, meanwhile, surged to a lead in the AL West late in the first half. The Astros had surprised the American League and all of baseball by taking a lead in the division into July. However, Houston then stumbled and Los Angeles heated up.

The Angels are owners of a 48-40 record and a half-game lead on the Astros (who have lost six straight and eight of 10). The Angels have won 11 of their last 14 games.

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