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Learning curve: Allen Webster’s in-game adjustments highlight progress

08.15.14 at 6:25 am ET
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Through two innings on Thursday night, Allen Webster‘€™s fourth major league outing of the season looked like it would be another discouraging effort. Though he’€™d allowed just one run, an unearned one at that, he’€™d already tossed 30 pitches with just half of those finding the strike zone.

However, as manager John Farrell noted after the Red Sox‘ 9-4 win, Webster “did bend — but he didn’€™t break.”

Thursday night showed evidence of a pitcher who is growing and learning. Instead of continuing the pattern, Webster was able to adjust in the midst of the game. He threw 15 balls through the first two innings, but just 14 through the next four. He was hurt by a leadoff walk in the fourth, allowing a home run to the next batter, but he managed to get into a rhythm and last six solid innings, giving up three earned runs on five hits while issuing three walks. His line may not signal a particularly impressive outing, but coupled with his last start (in which he lasted into the seventh inning for the first time in his major league career while allowing just two runs), Webster is showing signs of progress.

The Red Sox spent 40 minutes racking up runs in the bottom of the sixth, which ultimately factored into the decision to go to the bullpen despite the fact that Webster had only thrown 85 pitches and had settled into a groove, facing the minimum from the first out of the fourth to the last out of the sixth.

“I thought [Webster] got on a little bit of a roll, and then the long inning, it felt like it was time to get him out of there and stay on a positive note for him,” Farrell said. Read the rest of this entry »

Closing Time: Offense backs strong outing from Allen Webster

08.14.14 at 10:40 pm ET
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Joe Castiglione, Roger Clemens, Nomar Garciparra and Pedro Martinez were recognized on the night of their entry into the Red Sox Hall of Fame. (Getty Images)

Joe Castiglione, Roger Clemens, Nomar Garciparra and Pedro Martinez were recognized on the night of their entry into the Red Sox Hall of Fame. (Getty Images)

It didn’t look like Allen Webster would be long for Thursday’s game.

The righty struggled to stay in the zone in the second, issuing back-to-back walks in an eight-pitch span to begin the second. Though he allowed only one unearned run through the first two innings of his outing, he didn’t have his command. Of the first 24 pitches that were not put in play Webster threw on the evening, only nine went for strikes. Three consecutive hits in the third brought in another run.

But, whereas that sort of start has often been a formula for disaster for Webster in the past, this time, the 24-year-old proved able to adjust en route to a 9-4 win over the Astros.

Following a leadoff walk to Jon Singleton and a subsequent two-run blast off the bat of Matt Dominguez, Webster actually settled in quite nicely to finish off his outing, retiring the side in order to end the fourth and facing the minimum through the next two innings, allowing just a single.

After tossing 15 balls over the course of the first two innings, Webster threw just 14 through his remaining four frames and ended up throwing 66 percent of his pitches for strikes on the evening. That efficiency permitted him, for the first time in his big league career, to deliver a second straight quality start, as Webster logged six innings in which he allowed three earned runs (four earned) on five hits and three walks while striking out a pair.

Eventually, Webster got all the run support he would need. Though the Red Sox offense was unable to generate much offense through the first five innings, they put a seven-spot on the board in the sixth with contributions from just about everyone in the lineup. With the exception of Yoenis Cespedes, every member of the starting nine reached either by hit or walk, while seven of the nine reached base at least once during the Red Sox‘ rally in the sixth.

The Red Sox have now won four straight games.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX Read the rest of this entry »

Rich Sauveur on Minor Details: ‘I can see [Henry Owens] being a No. 1 or No. 2 starter for the Boston Red Sox’

08.14.14 at 9:27 pm ET
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PawSox pitching coach Rich Sauveur suggested that left-hander Henry Owens showed top-of-the-rotation stuff in his Triple-A debut. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox)

PawSox pitching coach Rich Sauveur suggested that left-hander Henry Owens showed top-of-the-rotation stuff in his Triple-A debut. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox)

Pawtucket Red Sox pitching coach Rich Sauveur joined WEEI.com’€™s Alex Speier on the Minor Details podcast to discuss his first impressions of Henry Owens with the PawSox and the large influx of plus pitching in the organization. To listen to the interview, go to the WEEI podcast audio on demand page.

Owens, Boston’€™s top pitching prospect, has impressed at the Triple-A level, posting a 1-0 record with a 3.09 ERA and 14 strikeouts in two starts (11 2/3 innings). Owens was particularly dominant in his first outing Aug. 4 against Columbus, holding the Clippers to two hits and no earned runs over 6 2/3 innings while recording nine punchouts.

“Well, being actually the first time I’ve seen him throw, yes, I’ve seen him throw a couple times down in spring training, but to actually see him up here pitching for me was pretty exciting. … Obviously, by the outcome, striking out the side in the first inning, and seeing the poise on the mound was just outstanding. This kid is 22 years old, and again, striking out the side on three plus pitches — the fastball and the curveball and the changeup — it was an outstanding time for me,” Sauveur said.

Sauveur added that both Owens’€™ confidence on the hill and his impressive repertoire of pitches make it easy for him to project the southpaw as a top-of-the-line starter in the major leagues.

“Going on one start, I can say that I see this guy being a No. 1 or No. 2 starter for the Boston Red Sox. … [His] poise on the mound is ridiculous,” Sauveur said. “€œThis kid reminds me of Mark “The Bird” Fidrych. I mean, just a goofball in the clubhouse and having a good time, and when he steps between those two wide lines that go down each side of the field, it’s game on. … Talking about his stuff, the fastball velocity was decent, the command was outstanding … and then he showed two plus pitches. … Of course, if this kid strikes out nine guys in a Triple-A game, something is going on.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Anthony Ranau, henry owens, minor details, Rich Sauveur

Rob Manfred beats out Tom Werner for MLB Commissioner post

08.14.14 at 8:52 pm ET
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Major League Baseball owners elected Rob Manfred to become the 10th commission in the history of the sport, with the current MLB Chief Operating Officer set to succeed Bud Selig in January. While Manfred was ultimately elected by a final 30-0 vote, it was not until the sixth ballot of the sport’s team owners that he beat out Red Sox chairman Tom Werner for the post.

From The Associated Press:

One baseball executive who attended the meeting, speaking on condition of anonymity because details of the 4 1/2-hour session were not be divulged, said Manfred was elected on approximately the sixth ballot. The initial vote was 20-10 for Manfred, three short of the required three-quarters majority.

His total increased to 21 on the second and 22 on the third. While teams put written ballots into envelopes, keeping their choices secret, from team official speeches it was evident that Tampa Bay’s Stuart Sternberg and Milwaukee’s Mark Attanasio likely switched, the person said.

Manfred’s total dropped to 20, then increased to 22 before a dinner break. He got the needed 23rd vote on the next, apparently from Washington. Owners then made the final vote unanimous. The person said it appeared Arizona, Boston, the Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati, the Los Angeles Angels, Oakland and Toronto had been the final holdouts.

For more on the election process, click here. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: mlb commissioner, Rob Manfred, Tom Werner,

Red Sox pregame notes: Alex Wilson back up; Brandon Workman to return to rotation

08.14.14 at 7:40 pm ET
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Anthony Ranaudo has won both of his big league starts. His reward on both occasions? An immediate demotion back to Triple-A.

Ranaudo, who claimed a victory with six innings in the Sox’ 5-4 win in Cincinnati on Wednesday, was optioned to the PawSox following the contest. In his place, the Red Sox recalled right-hander Alex Wilson, who has a 3.38 ERA in three big league games (and four call-ups) this year, with righties having gone just 1-for-10 against him. Wilson has a 4.35 ERA in Pawtucket, including a 2.33 mark over his last 19 1/3 innings.

OTHER RED SOX NOTES

– With Ranaudo being sent down, Brandon Workman is slated to rejoin the Red Sox rotation after having his Wednesday start skipped in favor of his fellow member of the draft class of 2010. Read the rest of this entry »

Red Sox-Astros series preview

08.14.14 at 7:12 pm ET
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For seemingly the first time all season, the Red Sox will return to Fenway Park riding the momentum of a successful road trip.

After posting a 5-3 record during an eight-game stretch away from home, Boston will open up an 11-game homestand with a four-game series against the Houston Astros.

The Red Sox have found themselves on a bit of a roll, winning four out of their last five games.

“Yeah, it was nice, a winning road trip,” said first baseman Mike Napoli, who clobbered a two-run homer in the fifth helped Boston to a 5-4 victory over the Reds Wednesday. “We’re playing better baseball. I feel like there were a couple games we could’ve came away with, too. We’re playing better baseball, the young guys are learning and we’re playing the game the right way. That’s what we need.”

The Astros -€“- sitting at 50 wins on the year — will be looking to match their victory total from last season during their series against Boston. Houston finished the 2013 campaign with a 51-101 record.

Houston will be getting some reinforcements in the outfield, as center fielder Dexter Fowler played his first game in six weeks Wednesday after suffering a back injury June 26.

“Whenever you are athletic and have three guys in the outfield capable of playing center field, we’re improved — cutting balls off, getting to them in the air,” said Houston manager Bo Porter after Houston’€™s 3-1 loss to the Twins Wednesday. “You got a glimpse of that today.”

The Astros are 4-6 over their last 10 games and 1-2 against Boston this season.

Here are the probable pitchers for the four-game series.

Thursday: Allen Webster (2-1, 4.91 ERA) vs. Scott Feldman (6-8, 4.14 ERA)

Friday: Clay Buchholz (5-7, 5.99 ERA) vs. Dallas Keuchel (10-8, 3.07 ERA)

Saturday: Rubby De La Rosa (4-4, 3.21 ERA) vs. Brad Peacock (3-8, 5.25 ERA)

Sunday: Joe Kelly (0-0, 2.08 ERA) vs. Colin McHugh (5-9, 3.08 ERA)

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Astros, Chris Carter, Red Sox, rubby de la rosa

Red Sox lineup: Yoenis Cespedes returns, Xander Bogaerts sits

08.14.14 at 3:24 pm ET
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With a trip of two National League parks in three series behind them, the Red Sox lineup will feature the trio of David Ortiz, Yoenis Cespedes and Mike Napoli in the third, fourth and fifth spots. Cespedes’ presence is noteworthy given that he was removed late from Wednesday’s game due to a hand contusion.

Xander Bogaerts will get a day off, with Brock Holt at shortstop. Will Middlebrooks is at third and Jackie Bradley Jr. is in center field.

RED SOX LINEUP

Brock Holt, SS

Dustin Pedroia, 2B

David Ortiz, DH

Yoenis Cespedes, LF

Mike Napoli, 1B

Daniel Nava, RF

Will Middlebrooks, 3B

Jackie Bradley Jr., CF

Christian Vazquez, C

Allen Webster, SP

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