|07.08.15 at 3:20 pm ET|
After Sunday’s 5-4 win over the Astros with David Ortiz playing first base, the Red Sox will have the alignment once again Wednesday against the Marlins in the second game of a two-game set.
With Ortiz at first base, Hanley Ramirez will serve as the designated hitter. Alejandro De Aza will play left field and Shane Victorino will play right field as the Red Sox go against Marlins righty Tom Koehler.
Mike Napoli remains out for a third straight game as he continues to work on his issues at the plate.
Ryan Hanigan will catch Red Sox starter Rick Porcello.
For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.
Here is the complete Red Sox lineup:
Mookie Betts, CF
Brock Holt, 2B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
David Ortiz, 1B
Hanley Ramirez, DH
Pablo Sandoval, 3B
Shane Victorino, RF
Alejandro De Aza, LF
Ryan Hanigan, C
Rick Porcello, RHP
|07.08.15 at 1:50 pm ET|
ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the AL East, Red Sox pitching and the team’s options at the trade deadline. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
Now 8-4 in their last 12 games, the Red Sox have managed to climb to within five games of first in the AL East. It helps a bit that no other team in the division has a record above .500 in its last 10 games, making the margin between first and last even smaller than it previously was.
“Welcome to the division,” Olney said. “The issues going on with all the teams, they’re going to continue because there’s no great team in this division, and there’s going to be an opportunity, and it’ll be interesting to see if the Red Sox ride it out and what their approach will be with 23 days left to the trade deadline.”
Olney pointed out that heading into Monday evening, everyone in the American League was within 6 1/2 games of a playoff spot. Because of how tight the league is, there isn’t much happening in terms of trades. Teams will start declaring themselves buyers or sellers within the next few weeks, according to Olney, but for now there isn’t much more than a few rumblings.
“When you talk to general managers, they say in general, the trade market continues to be frozen in place. There are very few teams that are actually out there willing to talk,” he said. “There has been, from what I understand, some movement. The perception of the Reds, for example, is that they are doing preparation work for the possibility of trading Johnny Cueto, maybe Aroldis Chapman, but for the most part, there’s not a lot going on right now.”
Olney added that the Red Sox could use help in the bullpen, one of the issues they might not be able to fix based on who they have in the system alone. A relief arm might be harder to come by for the Sox than an addition to the rotation might be, though.
“For the most part, except for a case like Andrew Miller, an isolated instance, you don’t see a lot of return [for relief pitchers],” he said. “Some teams in recent years have hung onto the relievers because what you get back from the general managers is you know what, we’re not being offered that much because of the volatility of relievers and the work that they do, and some teams just decided in the end, ‘You know what, we’ll just hang onto them for the rest of the year and he can help us win a few more games.’ ”
|07.08.15 at 10:28 am ET|
For the Red Sox and Rick Porcello, it would seem to be an uncomfortable situation leading up to his Wednesday night start.
Would the club’s highest-paid pitcher be forced to skip a start heading into the All-Star break in an effort to uncover what has been sending Porcello down the right path?
He hasn’t won since May 16 and is coming off one of the worst starts of his career, giving up seven runs over two innings.
But Porcello is pitching against the Marlins, and he’s confident that the decision will be the right one.
“That’s something that’s between me, John [Farrell] and Carl [Willis],” Porcello said when asked about the conversations regarding making his start this week. “I want the ball.”
The last time Porcello went through the kind of ordeal experienced at Rogers Centre was April 20, 2013, when he allowed nine runs over two-thirds of an inning. The following start resulted in a win, with the righty allowing three runs over 6 1/3 innings. In fact, he ended up totaling a 2.73 ERA over his next five starts after the disaster vs. Atlanta.
Should the Red Sox have skipped Rick Porcello's start Wednesday?
- No, let him pitch through it (57%)
- Yes, he clearly needs some time off to figure out his issues (43%)
Along with being reunited with catcher Ryan Hanigan — Porcello has a 3.79 ERA and .200 batting average against when teaming with the backstop — the 26-year-old is confident he has taken the right approach heading into Wednesday.
“It’s just a matter of going out there and executing pitches. I’m going to do that, keep it simple, and do my thing,” Porcello said.
“To me it’s just relaxing and executing pitches under control. I’ve practiced in the bullpen trying to simulate game situations and doing different things to prepare mentally. I feel really positive about that. That’s all it is. Just go out there and do it now.”
|07.08.15 at 10:08 am ET|
ESPN analyst and former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling called in for his weekly appearance with Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to talk about the Red Sox and the Rick Porcello problem. To listen to the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Porcello has struggled mightily this season, posting an AL-worst 6.08 ERA and having not recorded a win since May 16. According to Schilling, misfortune can account for some of the ground ball pitcher’s troubles.
“When you have a guy that’s a contact pitcher, and for the most part that’s exactly what he is, his five-game horrible streak can encompass the same amount of ground balls as his five-game dominant streak. When you don’t make people swing and miss and when you can’t consistently make people swing and miss, there’s a luck factor involved,” Schilling said, adding, “Any time you get into talking about a pitcher who relies on contact for success, you’re coin-flipping.”
Porcello will make his final start before the All-Star break on Wednesday night, and Schilling regards the outing as one of the more pressure-filled non-playoff situations possible.
“He knows, he’s going out there today, they’ve righted the ship, he’s the one guy that’s still floundering,” Schilling said. “He’s going out there knowing he has to be good tonight, knowing he has to protect his turf, protect his spot.
“I love it because now you’re going to find out how Rick Porcello feels or pitches under pressure. This is pressure. This is as much pressure as you can get, I think, besides a playoff game.”
|07.08.15 at 8:59 am ET|
A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Tuesday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (38-49): L, 9-6, at Lehigh Valley (Phillies)
— Lehigh Valley jumped on PawSox knuckleballer Steven Wright for five runs on five hits and a walk in a 34-pitch top of the first in which nine batters came to the plate. Three of the five hits were doubles, two that found the left-field line, along with two bloop singles. The inning ended with center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. throwing out a runner at the plate.
Wright stayed in to finish six innings of work, retiring 11 in a row after the first before giving up an unearned marker in the fifth on back-to-back singles and a throwing error by shortstop Jemile Weeks. Wright’s final line read: 6 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO (117 pitches, 73 strikes). With the loss, Wright’s record dropped to 2-4 with a 3.60 ERA in seven Pawtucket starts.
The 30-year-old Wright, who was optioned back to Pawtucket from the majors on Tuesday, has had four stints in Boston this season where he’s had 11 appearances and four starts and compiled a 3-2 record with a 4.15 ERA (20 ER/43 1/3 IP).
— RHP Pat Light (Boston’s No. 25 prospect at MLB.com) entered in the eighth inning with Pawtucket trailing 6-5 for his first appearance since walking three straight batters and being pulled on July 4. Light ran into more problems in a 24-pitch inning, giving up a leadoff home run on a 97 mph fastball, and then two more runs after a walk, a pair of singles and a double over the head of right fielder Quintin Berry. Light did touch 100 mph on the Lehigh Valley stadium radar gun.
The 24-year-old Light, a first-round draft pick by Boston in 2012 (a compensation pick for losing Jonathan Papelbon in free agency), surged in Double-A Portland this year after being converted from a starter to a reliever before the season. So far with the PawSox, in 10 appearances, he’s allowed nine earned runs in 10 innings of work (8.10 ERA), striking out nine and walking eight.
— Despite losing for the 10th straight game, Pawtucket did see its offense did break out for six runs on 13 hits. Left fielder Garin Cecchini (Boston’s No. 7 prospect at MLB.com) went 4-for-5 with an RBI single in the second and a stolen base; Bradley Jr. drilled a solo home run on a 3-2 pitch to lead off the ninth, finishing 2-for-5 and raising his average to .321; Right fielder Quintin Berry went 2-for-5 from the leadoff spot and stole a base, his 27th of the season in 32 attempts; DH Carlos Peguero reached base four times with a double, single and two walks; first baseman Allen Craig doubled and walked, scoring two runs.
— Infielder Reed Gragnani was promoted to Pawtucket from Double-A Portland with 1B/3B Travis Shaw getting the call-up to Boston and Sean Coyle (Boston’s No. 12 prospect at MLB.com) being placed on the seven-day disabled list with a lower back strain. The 24-year-old Gragnani played third base on Tuesday and went 0-for-4 in his Triple-A debut.
|07.08.15 at 8:11 am ET|
Rick Porcello will try to get back on track against the slumping Marlins on Wednesday night when he toes the bump opposite Tom Koehler.
There’s no other way to put it — Porcello has been a terrible acquisition during the first chapter of his Red Sox career. His last month can be considered nothing other than an unmitigated disaster as he’s racked up a 9.12 ERA on 40 hits in 24 2/3 innings, prompting questions about whether he should make this start against Wednesday.
Porcello was demolished in his most recent start last Wednesday against the Blue Jays. The $82.5 million man imploded to the tune of a two-inning start in which he gave up seven earned runs on three dingers. After the game, Porcello could not conceal the blame he carries for himself.
“The most disappointing [thing] through all of this, especially this one, is how well we’ve been playing as of late,” Porcello said. “I’m letting my teammates down. That’s it.”
For the season, Porcello is 4-9 with an AL-worst 6.08 ERA and 63.8 percent strand rate. Simply put, the 26-year-old right-hander has had trouble keeping batters off the basepaths and even more trouble emerging unscathed when they reach. He owns a 1.40 WHIP and is giving up home runs at a career-high rate (1.5 HR/9). Porcello’s future as a starting pitcher for the Red Sox is in jeopardy, and it may hinge on how he responds Wednesday night.
|07.08.15 at 2:32 am ET|
A familiar face visited the WEEI broadcast booth on Tuesday night — The Rocket.
Roger Clemens was in town to throw batting practice as part of a Jimmy Fund event, and after broadcasting a couple of innings with Joe Castiglione and Dave O’Brien, and before heading out for dinner, he stopped to discuss his feelings for Boston, his thoughts on Pedro Martinez heading into the Hall of Fame, and his own hopes of one day reaching Cooperstown.
Now a special assistant to Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, Clemens was making his first visit to Boston since being inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame last August.
“Boston’s always been great to me, every time I’m here,” he said. “This is where I got started. I have wonderful memories here, you bet.”
With so many former Red Sox stars now regular visitors to the park — including Carlton Fisk, Fred Lynn, Jim Rice, Dennis Eckersley and Tim Wakefield — Clemens was asked if he could envision being a more visible presence locally at some point, too.
“I’m pretty visible everywhere,” he said. “I’m pretty busy. Anytime we come up, we do all kinds of things in the city.”
As for Martinez heading into the Hall of Fame later this month, Clemens praised his one-time rival.
“I think it’s great,” he said. “Pedro had a wonderful career and it’s a well-deserved honor. It was fun doing the little deal that we did here with him a little while back.”
That leads to Clemens’ own Hall candidacy. Because of his links to performance-enhancing drugs, the seven-time Cy Young winner has never received more than 37.6 percent of the vote. He hopes that changes, but realizes it’s out of his hands.
“I don’t worry about it too much,” he said. “I don’t have a say in it. I appreciate [people saying he’s deserving], but it’s not going to change who I am as a person.”
|07.07.15 at 11:59 pm ET|
In calling up Travis Shaw after optioning Steven Wright back to Pawtucket, the Red Sox presented Shaw with another opportunity. He had been given a chance twice earlier in the season — once at the beginning of May and again in the middle of June.
He had been unable to capitalize so far, but on Tuesday night, as the Sox pieced together a 4-3 comeback win over the Marlins, Shaw got his first major league hit, and there’s a ball in his locker saying so.
“When you go back down and it’s just like ‘ugh,’ you missed an opportunity to get that first hit,” he said. “That’s what everybody searches for, but this year’s been a little different for me. I’ve never experienced any of the up and down stuff or the come up here and not play as much as you used to, so it’s, for me, just trying to stay in a rhythm as best as I can so I’ve been able to do that. I’ve been grateful for my opportunity up here so far and just hopefully we can keep this rolling.”
But Shaw’s night didn’t end with his single to right-center field in the second inning. He recorded hits two and three of his career as well, both of which were singles. The second one had enough on it to be a double, hitting off the center field wall, but Shaw tripped rounding first and fell down. Shaw said he just tried to replicate the same strategy in every at-bat, trying not to do too much and getting pitches in his zone that he could hit.
It wasn’t a question of comfort, though. There wasn’t anything inherently different about the way he approached the plate than when he had in his previous appearances when he was 0-for-9 to start his career.
“Honestly it’s been the same,” he said. “I’ve hit two or three, four balls hard before and just haven’t had any luck, just hit it right to guys so tonight though, obviously once you get that first one the confidence level goes up.”
|07.07.15 at 11:45 pm ET|
The Red Sox couldn’t get a hit when they needed it Tuesday night against the Marlins — that is until Xander Bogaerts stepped to the plate in the seventh inning.
The Red Sox had first and second with one out in the second inning, but Mookie Betts hit into his first double play of the season. In the third inning, the Sox had second and third with no outs and their best three hitters up in David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, but they couldn’t score in that inning either.
Then came the seventh inning with the bases loaded and no outs. Brock Holt struck out against weird-throwing reliever Carter Capps, which left it up to Xander Bogaerts who came through with a three-run single to put the Red Sox on top 4-3, a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“Right man, right spot,” manager John Farrell said. “Against a power arm with a very unorthodox delivery, who has been dominant in his time in the big leagues here with them. But, to put up an eight-pitch at-bat like he did, fought off a number of fastballs. The key to me in that spot was we get to a 3-2 count and Mookie has a chance to be on the move. That’s why we’re able to score three runs on a base hit. Like I said, right man, right spot for Xander.”
Capps, whose delivery looks almost like he’s jumping at the hitter, was touching 99 mph, but Bogaerts remained calm, even when the count went from 3-0 to 3-2, fouling off a number of pitches before he lined a fastball with the runners off with the pitch into the right center field gap. With the runners off with the pitch, Betts was able to score the winning run from first base.
“You don’t even know what you’re doing up there against that pitcher,” Bogaerts said. “You don’t want to stay inside, outside, you just want to hit it. He’s throwing 100 so, just put the ball in play. All I was thinking was just tough it and hit it hard, not swing hard, just try and hit it hard. Sort of just touching it.”
|07.07.15 at 11:30 pm ET|
The big piece in the trade was going to be Joel Hanrahan.
Back in December 2012, the Red Sox sent pitchers Mark Melancon and Stomly Pimentel to the Pirates along with infielder Ivan De Jesus and utility man Jerry Sands in exchange for a two-time All-Star closer in Hanrahan and Brock Holt, a 24-year-old infielder with a hot bat and an All-Star minor league pedigree.
Hanrahan made nine appearances for the Sox in the 2013 season before sustaining an elbow injury in early May, ending his season. Holt appeared in just 26 contests that year, slashing .203/.275/.237 as a third baseman who got a handful of looks at second.
Hanrahan was released after the season ended, but Holt still hangs around Fenway and has a trip to Cincinnati scheduled next week to represent the Sox at the All-Star Game.
He didn’t make an immediate impact in 2014, not seeing time until he was called up from Pawtucket 16 games into the season. He played seven straight for the Red Sox before being back sent down to Triple-A. After that, he earned his keep as a regular in the Sox lineup, providing a type of energy and durable style of play that took him on a tour of positions three through nine. If it didn’t take place on the mound or behind the plate, Holt had a go at it.
“Because of injuries last year, just threw him in the situation of, ‘What do you think about playing left field?'” manager John Farrell said. “Don’t you know the first hitter of the game hits a sinking line drive, he dives for and makes the catch. Whether or not that was some instant belief that he could play an outfield position, but what we’ve seen is all three have been played extremely well. How he’s been able to stay sharp and get enough work to feel comfortable enough in a major league game to go to those positions is really what stands out.”
But it’s not just Holt’s ability to pick up new positions with ease that makes him such a valuable player, according to Farrell. It’s his demeanor and overall approach to taking on new endeavors on the field.
“Because of that he wasn’t concerned about being embarrassed defensively when he went to new positions for the first time and the first time at the major league level,” he said. “To me, his attitude is the thing that stands out and is so significant while being so successful in the role.”
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