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Tuesday Red Sox Farm Report: Jackie Bradley Jr. hits 2 home runs in Pawtucket loss; Sam Travis lifts Portland in walkoff win

07.21.15 at 9:40 am ET
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A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Monday:

Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (41-55): L, 7-3, at Norfolk (Orioles)

— Jackie Bradley Jr. carried the Pawtucket offense with a pair of home runs. The center fielder hit a two-run shot to right in the first inning and a solo home run to right-center in the third. He finished the day 2-for-4. Bradley is hitting .315 with nine home runs and 27 RBIs in 64 games in a PawSox uniform this year.

— Including Bradley’€™s home runs, the PawSox offense combined for seven hits. Catcher Humberto Quintero went 2-for-4 with a double and Travis Shaw, Garin Cecchini and Marco Hernandez each added singles.

— Right-hander Jess Todd took the loss, yielding all seven Norfolk runs — five earned — on 10 hits, including two home runs, and one walk. He also recorded two strikeouts. Todd is now 3-4 wth a 5.35 ERA in 11 starts and nine relief appearances for Pawtucket this season.

— The PawSox have just three wins in the month of July.

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Tuesday’s Red Sox-Astros matchups: Brian Johnson vs. Vincent Velasquez

07.21.15 at 8:33 am ET
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Brian Johnson

Brian Johnson

The anticpated major league debut of Brian Johnson will happen Tuesday for the Red Sox as the left-hander toes the rubber in Houston against fellow rookie Vincent Velasquez and the Astros.

Clay Buchholz‘s injury and Joe Kelly’s well-documented struggles in the Sox rotation forced manager John Farrell to call up Johnson, perhaps before the organization intended.

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

Johnson, 24, gets the call after tearing up the minors during his three-year stint in the Red Sox organization. Having spent the season in Triple-A Pawtucket, he has racked up an 8-6 record, a 2.73 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 85 2/3 innings pitched. In 2014, he moved up from High-A Salem to Double-A Portland after five starts, going 10-2 the rest of the way with a 1.75 ERA and just 78 hits allowed in 118 innings.

Known primarily as a finesse pitcher, Johnson does not have overpowering stuff but has solid command over his pitches, according to scouts. His fastball sits in the 89-93 mph range and he uses it to work both sides of the plate. A sweeping curveball is his best secondary offering. The 6-foot-4 southpaw uses the curve to backdoor right-handed hitters on the outside part of the plate and to work the inner half down and in. He also utilizes a changeup in the 83-86 mph range which he throws to keep hitters off balance.

The Red Sox drafted Johnson out of the University of Florida with the 31st overall pick in the 2012 draft. Originally, he was taken by the Dodgers in the 27th round of the 2009 draft, but instead of signing he chose to go to college to refine his skills at the Division 1 level. His successful career as a Gator indicates he made the right decision. He left school as a junior with 22 career wins in hand and a 3.85 ERA. He also earned the 2012 John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award, the first-ever Gator to earn the accolade.

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Closing Time: Red Sox swept in 4-game series by Angels, fall 9 games back in AL East

07.21.15 at 12:41 am ET
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Mike Trout and the Angels took all four games against the Red Sox. (Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)

Mike Trout and the Angels took all four games against the Red Sox. (Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)

It was a four-game series to forget for the Red Sox.

Capped off by Monday night’s 7-3 loss in the nightcap of the doubleheader, the Red Sox were swept in the four-game series by the Angels and were outscored 22-4 in the four games. The Red Sox have now dropped five straight games overall and have fallen nine games behind the Yankees in the AL East.

Also over the four games, the Angels hit nine homers compared to the Red Sox’ one and the Angels starters had a collective ERA of 0.93, compared to the Red Sox’ 7.23.

The team is tied with the Mariners for the worst record in the American League.

Knuckleballer Steven Wright got the start for the Red Sox and couldn’t shutdown the red-hot Angels offense.

Albert Pujols and Mike Trout led the Angels attack with Pujols homering twice and Trout adding one of his own. Overall, the pair finished 3-for-6 with three home runs and five runs scored in the game.

The Angels scored four runs in the third inning against Wright, which was the biggest difference in the game and all the runs came with two outs. Wright finished the night going five innings, allowing six runs on six hits, while walking three and striking out three.

Thanks to David Ortiz, the Red Sox wouldn’t get shutout for the third game of the series.

Ortiz crushed a two-run home run in the sixth inning to get the Red Sox on the board. The Sox added another in the eighth on a Xander Bogaerts sacrifice fly and threatened for more, but Hanley Ramirez grounded into a fielder’s choice with runners on first and third to end the inning.

Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia struggled at the top of the order in the series, as the pair went a combined 0-for-30 over the four games.

Angels prospect Andrew Heaney kept the Red Sox offense in check, as the lefty went seven innings, allowing two runs on five hits, while not walking a batter and striking out four.

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

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Read More: Albert Pujols, David Ortiz, Mike Trout, steven wright

Red Sox lineup: Mike Napoli, rest of regulars back in for Game 2 of doubleheader

07.20.15 at 8:45 pm ET
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After falling 11-1 to the Angels in Game 1 of the doubleheader, the Red Sox are going with their regulars once again for Game 2. The Red Sox are currently 8 1/2 games behind the first place Yankees in the AL East.

After going 1-for-4 with three strikeouts in Game 1, Mike Napoli is back at first base as the Red Sox go up against Angels left-hander Andrew Heaney.

After being activated early in the day on Monday, Blake Swihart will catch knuckleballer Steven Wright.

For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.

Here is the complete Red Sox lineup:

Mookie Betts, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
David Ortiz, DH
Hanley Ramirez, LF
Pablo Sandoval, 3B
Shane Victorino, RF
Mike Napoli, 1B
Blake Swihart, C
Steven Wright, RHP

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Closing Time: Red Sox do everything wrong and get crushed by Angels

07.20.15 at 8:13 pm ET
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Eduardo Rodriguez couldn't escape the second inning Monday. (Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)

Eduardo Rodriguez couldn’t escape the second inning Monday. (Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)

It’€™s easy to get blown out when you don’€™t pitch well, field well or score runs.

The Sox proved that Monday as they dropped the first game of their double-header with the Angels by an 11-1 score. The loss dropped them to 42-50 on the season.

Powered by a seven-run second inning, the Angels took advantage of Boston’€™s mistakes early and chased starter Eduardo Rodriguez before he could record his sixth out. The Red Sox never made a dent offensively, squandering a fourth-inning bases-loaded opportunity in a game (and series) in which they could have used any offense they could get.

The disastrous second inning saw all seven runs charged to Rodriguez, though his collapse was aided by a lapse in left field by Hanley Ramirez. With Los Angeles holding a 1-0 lead with runners on first and second, Ramirez misjudged a ball to left by No. 9 hitter Daniel Robertson. The ball sailed over his head as a result, scoring C.J. Cron. Johnny Giavotella drove in both Chris Iannetta and Robertson on the next pitch, making it 4-0.

The collective lack of execution seemingly got to Rodriguez at that point, as he then served up homers to two of the next three batters before being pulled with two out in the inning.

Monday’€™s game marked the first loss for Rodriguez in nearly a month, as he had earned victories in two of his three starts entering the contest.

Unlike the Sox, the Angels didn’€™t have to worry about their starting pitching (or any pitching, for that matter). Starter Hector Santiago held the Sox to just one run over his five innings of work and was followed up by strong work from Los Angeles’€™ bullpen.

The Sox will try to avoid a series sweep when they send Steven Wright to the mound Monday night against Andrew Heaney.

Player of the game: Sure, he gave up eight hits, but 10 strikeouts and one run (earned) over five innings was a nice way for Santiago to thank his teammates for the run support.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

– The Sox have just one run to show for their last 27 innings of work. Mike Napoli was the hero on Monday, singling in the fourth inning to drive in David Ortiz.

– Speaking of that fourth inning, that was the Sox’€™ best shot at making it a game. Down by six at the time, Boston had the bases loaded with one down against Santiago. Nothing would come of it, as Santiago struck out Ryan Hanigan and Mookie Betts in succession to escape the inning.

– Ramirez wasn’€™t the only one who turned in a costly play in the field, as the left side of the field in general was fair game for players trying to reach base. Pablo Sandoval couldn’€™t secure a hard ground ball from Albert Pujols with two out in the bottom of the fourth. That play allowed Kole Calhoun to advance to third. The next two batters drove in runs (Erick Aybar with a one-run single and David Freese with a three-run homer).

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

– Ben Cherington’€™s phone must be ringing off the hook after Napoli‘€™s RBI, unless the other general managers saw the veteran first baseman’€™s three strikeouts.

– The Sox did manage nine hits on the day, but they didn’t make much out of their eight against Santiago. They had only one hit over the last four innings.

Monday’s Red Sox-Angels Game 2 matchups: Steven Wright vs. Andrew Heaney

07.20.15 at 6:42 pm ET
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Steven Wright

Steven Wright

For the second game of the Red Sox‘ doubleheader with the Angels on Monday evening, Steven Wright will make his first start since June 4 and his first appearance with the big club since June 20, facing off against sophomore pitcher Andrew Heaney.

Boston’s knuckleballer was most recently optioned to Pawtucket on July 5, making two starts in Triple-A and losing both. After giving up nine earned runs over 13 innings in that time, Wright came away with a 6.23 ERA before being called back up and getting assigned Monday’s night game. In the majors this year, the 30-year-old has a 3-2 record with a 4.15 ERA, though as a starter alone he has a 1-2 mark and a slightly better 3.91 ERA. Additionally, batters are slashing .269/.348/.449 against Wright when he’s pitched in relief but are posting a weaker .225/.250/.404 line when he’s on the mound to begin the game.

Before his latest stint with the PawSox, Wright had allowed at least one earned run in each of his past three showings for Boston, recording a 12.27 ERA through his most recent 3 2/3 major league innings. As a member of the rotation for the Red Sox this season, though, the righty has yet to surrender more than three earned runs and averages a little more than 5 2/3 innings per start.

“Even at the time he was optioned out, he was throwing the ball well,” manager John Farrell said. “The choice was to go to Joe Kelly last time, but with our approach to keep Justin Masterson in the bullpen, Steven was the next guy to come to us.”

One of Wright’s four starts this season happened to be vs. the Angels, his first time seeing them in his big league career. He was able to toss 6 1/3 innings — his longest outing of 2015 — and gave up just two earned runs on four hits with one walk and two strikeouts, granting the Sox the opportunity to take an 8-3 win over the Halos. With that victory in the books, Wright has a 2.84 ERA against the Angels with a 0.789 WHIP and an opponent slash line of .274/.208/.261.

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Red Sox still eyeing Johnny Cueto, Cole Hamels

07.20.15 at 5:14 pm ET
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Cole Hamels

Cole Hamels

Even though the trade deadline isn’t for another 11 days, the rumors are just getting started.

According to WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford, the Red Sox still have an interest in pitchers Cole Hamels and Johnny Cueto.

The top priority for the Sox is a young pitcher under team-control, but the issue remains the lack of teams that are willing to start prioritizing beyond this season, which leaves Hamels and Cueto as the two top coveted pitchers at this year’s deadline.

Hamels, 31, has struggled of late, but for the season he’s 5-7 with a 3.91 ERA. Executives from two organizations who have had conversations with the Phillies in regards to Hamels tell Bradford that even with the lefty’s recent downturn, Philly hasn’t come off what has been an aggressive asking price.

The left-hander is signed through 2018 with a team-option for 2019 and hasn’t pitched for another team besides the Phillies in his 10-year pro career.

As for Cueto, his situation is a little different. According to Bradford, Cueto would most likely enter into serious Red Sox consideration if the price was right, but because his contract is up at the end of the year and the 29-year-old is due for a big pay day, the price likely won’t be.

But, if the Red Sox were willing to part ways with top prospects in order to make a late season run at the postseason, Cueto would be an interesting name. If the Red Sox believe they have a minor league surplus and a chance to win this season, Cueto is certainly in play.

Cueto is 6-6 with a 2.79 ERA this season and he too has only pitched for the Reds in his eight-year pro career.

For more on Hamels and Cueto, check out Bradford’s column from earlier today.

Read More: 2015 Trade Deadline, Cole Hamels, johnny cueto,

Christian Vazquez slated to throw Thursday

07.20.15 at 3:18 pm ET
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Christian Vazquez

Christian Vazquez

ANAHEIM — Christian Vazquez, who underwent Tommy John surgery in March, reported he will throw for the first time since his procedure, Thursday in Houston.

“I’ll be nervous, excited, everything. I’m happy,” Vazquez said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve thrown a ball. The last time I threw it wasn’t right so I don’t know how it’s going to feel the first time after surgery. I just hope I don’t spike the ball.”

Vazquez is scheduled to throw 15-20 times from approximately 40 feet.

The 24-year-old is on target to be ready for full participation when spring training begins next February.

The Red Sox have used three catchers this season, with Blake Swihart having appeared in a team-high 40 games, followed by Sandy Leon (31 games) and Ryan Hanigan (28). Leon was designated for assignment Monday, with Swihart being activated from the 15-day disabled list.

Red Sox activate Blake Swihart, Sandy Leon designated for assignment

07.20.15 at 2:50 pm ET
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Blake Swihart

Blake Swihart

ANAHEIM — The Red Sox have a familiar player back on their roster.

Catcher Blake Swihart (foot) was activated from the disabled list Monday and in turn catcher Sandy Leon was designated for assignment.

Swihart was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained left foot on July 3 and after four rehab games he’s back with the major league club. In 40 games this season, the switch-hitting catcher is batting .241.

Leon, who the Red Sox traded for at the end of spring training coming from the Nationals, was designated for assignment after playing in 33 games this season. He batted just .180 and was the personal catcher for Clay Buchholz, but with Ryan Hanigan already on the roster, the team has no need for three catchers.

For more Red Sox news, check out weei.com/redsox.

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Red Sox lineup: Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino back for Game 1 of doubleheader

07.20.15 at 2:31 pm ET
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The Red Sox and Angels will face off twice on Monday, making up Sunday’s rain out and then play Monday’s originally scheduled contest. The Red Sox will need to take both games to split the four-game series.

The Angels will go with left-hander Hector Santiago for the first game, like was the case Sunday night, so the Red Sox will go with the exact same righty-heavy lineup for Game 1 as they had posted Sunday night.

Ryan Hanigan will catch Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez.

For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.

Here is the complete Red Sox lineup:

Mookie Betts CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez LF
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Mike Napoli 1B
Shane Victorino RF
Ryan Hanigan C

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