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Red Sox-Blue Jays series preview

04.27.15 at 10:24 am ET
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In losing both of their last two series, the Red Sox have fallen to third in the AL East after being leapfrogged by the Yankees and Rays. Every team in the division is neck and neck, just two games separating fifth place from first, with the Blue Jays sitting at the bottom.

Boston will be looking to bounce back from an 18-7 romping at the hands of the Orioles when it hosts Toronto at Fenway Park early this week.

Having just been swept by the Rays after taking all three games from the Orioles the series before, the Jays appear to be having issues with their consistency. Playing Baltimore, the Blue Jays averaged eight runs a game, while they were held to about two per contest at Tropicana Field. They have scored fewer than five runs in 10 of 19 total games, and of those 10 games, nine have been losses.

“I think over the course of the year we have to be consistent,” pitcher Mark Buehrle said after the Jays’ most recent loss on Sunday. “When we’re scoring 10 runs a game it’s good, and I’m not saying we need to score 10 a game, but we just need to be consistent all around, in all aspects of the game, and it seems like we’re not doing that.

“We have a few games good and a few games bad,” he added. “When we’re going good, we’re not that good, and when we’re going bad, we’re not that. We just need to keep an even head on our shoulders and realize we’re not as bad as we’re playing right now.”

While the Red Sox possess the 10th-worst team batting average in the league at .234, Toronto has the 11th-best average at .248. In similar fashion, the Blue Jays also have a top-10 slugging percentage, registering 63 extra-base hits on the year, 25 for home runs. Boston is in the lower tier of the league for this category too as the Sox slug at a .366 clip and have just 41 extra-base hits to their name, though they have just two fewer home runs than Toronto with 23.

Though the Blue Jays are getting hits, they have been without powerhouse Jose Bautista for five games since last Tuesday when he sustained a right shoulder sprain. He was only hitting .149, but he ranks third on the team in RBIs and first in walks. Bautista told Shi Davidi of Sportsnet that he is still day-to-day but aiming for a return to the lineup against Boston.

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Read More: Devon Travis, Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays

Closing Time: Inconsistency continues for Red Sox in latest loss

04.26.15 at 4:50 pm ET
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Wade Miley

Wade Miley

The Red Sox‘ starting pitching roller coaster keeps on rolling.

This time the group’s downturn came in the form of Wade Miley’s 2 1/3-inning horror show. This time the lefty second sub-three-inning outing of the season led to a 18-7 Orioles rout of the Red Sox.

Miley was forced from the start in the third inning, in which the hosts put up a six-spot on the scoreboard. The Sox starter was ultimately charged with seven runs (six earned) on five hits and two walks. His ERA now stands at 8.62, having not pitched past 5 2/3 innings in any of his four starts.

It marks the sixth time in 19 games the Red Sox starting pitcher has allowed five or more runs. The rotation carries a 5.94 ERA, worst in the major leagues, with Joe Kelly leading the way with a 4.08 ERA, followed by Clay Buchholz (4.84), Justin Masterson (5.16) and Rick Porcello (6.48).

The loss hands the Red Sox a 2-4 road trip, having won the first game of both their series against the Rays and Orioles before dropping the final two. The Red Sox starters finished the two-series swing with a 5.31 ERA, coming away with three quality starts.

The Red Sox head home out of first-place, standing at 10-9, as Tampa Bay (11-8) holds that top stop, which has won five straight after losing its season opener to the Sox.

Not helping matters was the ineffective work of the bullpen after Miley, with newly-recalled Heath Hembree taking the brunt of the damage, giving up 11 runs in 6 2/3 innings. The righty let the game get out of hand, giving up six runs in 1 1/3 frames.

It marked the fifth straight game the bullpen gave up at least one run. For the road trip, Sox relievers pitched 20 2/3 innings and allowed 17 runs on 31 hits.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: The entire Orioles lineup. The group batted around twice, with every starter but one coming away with a multiple hit day.

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

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Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, wade miley,

Red Sox recall reliever Heath Hembree, option Matt Barnes to Triple-A Pawtucket

04.26.15 at 12:01 pm ET
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Heath Hembree

Heath Hembree

It was a short stay in the majors for right-hander Matt Barnes.

Needing an extra arm in the bullpen to give the group a rest, the team called Barnes up for Saturday’s game against the Orioles, as he was scheduled to start with Triple-A Pawtucket earlier in the day. Barnes went two scoreless innings, while surrendering just two hits.

Following the game, the team sent Barnes back to Pawtucket and called up reliever Health Hembree. Hembree was acquired from the Giants in the Jake Peavy trade last summer. The right-hander pitched in six games with the Red Sox last season, allowing five runs over 10 innings (4.50 ERA).

‘€œHembree, who has been throwing the ball well, gives us another multi-inning guy with some power out there,’€ Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters in Baltimore.

Barnes will go back to Pawtucket and be inserted back into their starting rotation.

The team still has only three players available off the bench as they have 13 pitchers, and 12 position players.

For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

Read More: heath hembree, matt barnes,

Red Sox lineup: David Ortiz sits, Brock Holt starts in left in series finale vs. Orioles

04.26.15 at 11:27 am ET
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After falling in extra innings Saturday night, the Red Sox will look to take the rubber match of the weekend series Sunday afternoon in Baltimore against the Orioles.

David Ortiz will get the day off, this after going 0-for-5 in Saturday’s loss.

Hanley Ramirez will take his place as the designated hitter and Brock Holt will get his first start of the season in left field. Allen Craig remains in right field with Shane Victorino on the disabled list. With Ortiz out of the lineup, third baseman Pablo Sandoval slides up to the No. 3 spot in the order.

Sandy Leon will catch Red Sox starter Wade Miley as their lineup will go up against Orioles right-hander Bud Norris.

For an in-depth look at the matchups, click here.

1. Mookie Betts, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. Pablo Sandoval, 3B
4. Hanley Ramirez, DH
5. Mike Napoli, 1B
6. Brock Holt, LF
7. Allen Craig, RF
8. Xander Bogaerts, SS
9. Sandy Leon, C
Wade Miley, LHP

Read More: Brock Holt, David Ortiz,

Sunday’s Red Sox-Orioles matchups: Wade Miley vs. Bud Norris

04.26.15 at 11:16 am ET
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Wade Miley

Wade Miley

In the last game of the Red Sox‘ second series with the Orioles in less than a week, Boston has a chance to rebound from an extra-innings loss on Saturday when Wade Miley and Bud Norris get the start for their respective clubs Sunday.

Miley escaped his last start Tuesday against the Rays with a win after tossing 5 2/3 innings of three-hit baseball in which he did not give up a single run. A combined effort with the bullpen, specifically Alexi Ogando (1 IP), Robbie Ross Jr. (1/3 IP), Junichi Tazawa (1 IP) and Koji Uehara (1 IP), kept Tampa Bay off the board. The Rays staff would have held Boston scoreless too were it not for an unearned run the Sox gained after an error from second baseman Ryan Brett in the third inning. With Sox pitching holding down the fort, Boston was able to squeak out a 1-0 win.

“As we’ve expected, [Miley] was down in the zone pretty consistently throughout the time on the mound,” said manager John Farrell. “I think his two-seamer and changeup was good against nine right-handed hitters.”

The unblemished start lowered his season ERA from 10.57 down to 6.08.

Miley hasn’t seen the Orioles all that much, having started just one game against them before, a 103-pitch, no-decision outing on Aug. 12, 2013. In seven innings against Baltimore, the lefty gave up seven hits, four runs, a homer and a walk, and recorded three strikeouts.

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Read More: Bud Norris, wade miley,

Closing time: Koji Uehara yields walkoff shot as Red Sox rally then fall to Orioles

04.25.15 at 10:28 pm ET
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Justin Masterson hurls against the Orioles on Saturday night. (Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Justin Masterson hurls against the Orioles on Saturday night. (Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Do we have a Koji problem?

Red Sox closer Koji Uehara was tremendous in 2013 and an All-Star in 2014, but the warning signs haven’t been hard to spot over the last few months.

First there was the implosion late last season that cost him the closer’s role, though no one really cared, since the Red Sox were hopelessly out of contention.

Then there was the hamstring injury that robbed him of most of spring training, though he hadn’t pitched well to that point in Fort Myers anyway. Coupled with his 40th birthday in April, it was enough to make Red Sox fans at the very least wonder how viable Uehara would be come the start of the season.

And now? Now it’s time to wonder if the Red Sox will be redirecting some of their resources to the closing market in the next couple of months.

Throwing 85 mph fastballs and hanging his formerly devastating splitter, Uehara blew a 4-3 lead in the 10th on Saturday night and allowed David Lough’s walkoff solo homer in a brutal 5-4 loss.

The Red Sox had no business even being in the game after getting shut down by left-hander Wei-Yin Chen for eight innings, but they rallied to tie in the ninth on some atrocious fielding by the normally sure-handed O’s, and then took the lead in the 10th on Xander Bogaerts’ leadoff solo homer.

But Baltimore came right back off of Uehara, who wasn’t helped at all by right fielder Allen Craig, whose diving attempt at Adam Jones‘ leadoff bloop instead sailed over his outstretched glove and rolled into right for a leadoff triple.

But even if Craig had wisely pulled up and held Jones to a single, Uehara didn’t have the stuff to close out the O’s without help. Because his fastball velocity is down 4 mph from last year, he has relied almost excluslively on his splitter, which isn’t nearly the weapon it should be if there’s no fastball behind it.

Chris Davis lofted the game-tying sacrifice fly to left before Lough won it by launching a hanging splitter to right on a full count. He had flailed at two better splits earlier in the count, but Uehara has no margin for error, and when he missed the 76 mph offering up in the zone, the light-hitting Lough pounced.

And so now the Red Sox have lost three of four, with Uehara’s night overshadowing a big hit by Bogaerts, a strong start from Justin Masterson, and an opportunistic rally.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Lough entered the game with nine lifetime homers and a .347 OPS this season, but he made his second hit of the year count, taking Uehara deep to make a winner of the O’s.

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

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John Farrell on Brock Holt: ‘He’ll be on the field (Sunday)’

04.25.15 at 5:46 pm ET
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Brock Holt

Brock Holt

John Farrell has no intentions of leaving Brock Holt on the bench for long.

The super sub, who blasted a game-winning three-run homer on Friday to boost his average to .424, was not in Saturday’s starting lineup against the Orioles. Xander Bogaerts returned to action at shortstop, while Allen Craig filled in for Shane Victorino in right field.

Fans clamoring to see Holt shouldn’t have long to wait. Farrell told reporters in Baltimore that Holt will get the start in Sunday’s series finale.

“Yeah, he’ll be on the field (Sunday),” Farrell told reporters. “I don’t know where, but he’€™s going to be on the field. He comes up big multiple times for us. With a left-hander on the mound, every guy is important to us. We’€™re trying to get Allen Craig going, trying to get Bogey going. At the same time, yeah we’€™re trying to win every night we go on the field, but it’€™s going to take each and every guy on our roster and I can’€™t look past that.”

Holt, who bats left-handed, hit lefties better than righties last year, batting .293 with a .763 OPS against the former and .274-.682 against the latter. Baltimore is starting left-hander Wie-Yin Chen on Saturday night.

Shane Victorino placed on DL with hamstring injury, Matt Barnes joins Red Sox

04.25.15 at 5:26 pm ET
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The Red Sox on Saturday placed outfielder Shane Victorino on the disabled list with a sore right hamstring and recalled right-handed pitcher Matt Barnes from Triple-A Pawtucket in time for their game against the Orioles in Baltimore.

Manager John Farrell told reporters at Camden Yards that Barnes arrives as support for a taxed bullpen. In particular, Farrell said he wants to stay away from right-hander Junichi Tazawa, who has pitched four times in the last five days and leads the league in appearances with nine.

“I’ve been going to Taz a lot,” Farrell said. “I’ve got to be careful with that.”

Victorino is hitting just .143 with a .474 OPS in 12 games. He was injured on Wednesday against the Rays while stealing second base. With Victorino sidelined, the Red Sox could use Daniel Nava, Allen Craig, or super sub Brock Holt to man right field.

Farrell told reporters that the decision to DL Victorino was as much about the bullpen as the outfielder’s recovery.

“I wouldn’t say he stalled, he’s actually improving,” Farrell said. “He worked out today early this morning, ran in the pool, but we felt like with the number of innings our bullpen is pitching that is the overriding thing at this point”

Barnes was scheduled to start the second game of a doubleheader on Saturday with the PawSox. He instead joined the Red Sox and was available out of the bullpen. He’s 0-0 with a 5.62 ERA in two starts at Triple-A. He’ll be used as a long man and in the middle innings.

“Depending on the game situation, but obviously a guy that can give us multiple innings,” Farrell said. “Power stuff. Looking forward to him being available for us.”

Red-hot Brock Holt sits as Red Sox face Orioles

04.25.15 at 3:37 pm ET
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One night after blasting the game-winning three-run homer against the Orioles, Brock Holt finds himself on the bench on Saturday as the Red Sox face the O’s in the middle game of their three-game set.

Xander Bogaerts gets the start at short for the Red Sox, who begin the day tied with the Yankees for first place in the American League East. Also new to the lineup is right fielder Allen Craig, who gets the nod over Daniel Nava with left-hander Wei-Yin Chen on the mound.

Justin Masterson gets the start for the Red Sox. For a look inside the matchups, click here.

Here’s the lineup.

1. Mookie Betts, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Hanley Ramirez, LF
5. Mike Napoli, 1B
6. Pablo Sandoval, 3B
7. Allen Craig, RF
8. Xander Bogaerts, SS
9. Ryan Hanigan, C
Justin Masterson, RHP

Read More: Brock Holt, Red Sox,

Jim Rice defends David Ortiz: ‘Who cried more than Jim Palmer?’

04.25.15 at 12:43 pm ET
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Jim Palmer couldn’t help himself once again when asked about David Ortiz‘ recent ejection prior to Friday night’s game, defending his stance that Ortiz was selfish in his actions.

“To put this to rest, all David Ortiz has to do in this three-game series is watch the way Adam Jones plays the game,” Palmer said. “If he hits a home run, he puts his head down, runs around the bases, doesn’€™€™t show anybody up. To me, that’€™€™s the way you play the game.

“He’€™€™s entitled to do it any way he wants, but when he throws his whole team under the bus, all the fans who came out to Fenway Park, it’€™€™s kind of like a puppy ‘€“€“ unconditional love ‘€“€“ but at the end of the day, if the puppy doesn’€™€™t do the right things, you need to housebreak him.”

That led to these comments from fellow Hall of Famer Jim Rice on the NESN postgame show.

“Regardless if he’€™s a Hall of Famer or not, who cried more than Jim Palmer? I mean, come on. Let’€™s be honest,” Rice said (see video here). “Palmer doesn’€™t have anything on me, and I don’€™t have anything on him, but I would tell it like it is. You cry just as good as anyone else, so quit complaining, and let the guys go out and play.”

When asked about the most recent comments by Palmer after the Red Sox‘ win Friday night, David Ortiz said he hadn’t heard them but still didn’t leave without one last shot.

“I’m not going to add any more followers to his account,” the DH said.

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