|09.06.14 at 8:27 am ET|
The Red Sox will play the Blue Jays in the second game of their three-game series Saturday night, sending out pitcher Clay Buchholz to oppose J.A. Happ. This comes after the Red Sox won a thrilling, walkoff win Friday night.
After his ERA eclipsed the six mark in early August, Buchholz (6-8. 5.40 ERA) has pitched well over the last month. He’s thrown at least six innings in each of his last five outings, including a complete game last time out against the Rays on Sunday.
Buchholz kept the Rays off balance all game long, striking out six and scattering three hits. Catcher Christian Vazquez credited Buchholz’s pinpoint location throughout the contest.
“He was hitting all the spots, every pitch,” Vazquez said of Buchholz. “He was painting every pitch. He was pitching to his best, and it was easy for me.”
The Blue Jays saw the resurgent Buchholz firsthand when they faced him on Aug. 25. The right-hander was nearly as good that outing with 8 1/3 innings of three-run ball, however he did not factor into the decision because he gave up the lead in the last half of the ninth inning.
Buchholz said he was disappointed by letting the lead slip away but was happy the Red Sox came away with the victory in extra innings.
“The most important part is winning ball games, regardless of individual stats or whatever,” Buchholz said. “You definitely don’t want to go out there and give it up in the ninth, but the team was able to fight back.”
This will be the sixth time this season that Buchholz will duel against the Blue Jays. After winning his first start against Toronto in April, he dropped three consecutive decisions against the Blue Jays between May and July. In the three losses, he was charged with at least four runs each time out.
One batter Buchholz might want to be especially careful with is Adam Lind, who has 17 hits in 49 at-bats against Buchholz, including two home runs and three doubles. Shortstop Jose Reyes has a .304 batting average against Buchholz in 23 at-bats.
|09.05.14 at 11:07 pm ET|
(For the final month of the regular season, “Closing Time” will be called “Why You Should Have Cared,” looking beyond the final score — at a time when losses are arguably more valuable to the Sox than wins (for draft and waiver position) — for either meaningful signs for 2015 or simple aesthetic considerations.)
Heading into the month it was a real issue for the Red Sox: How could they get the young players on this roster to actually offer some certainty heading into 2015.
Finally, Friday night offered a big step in that direction.
The grouping of Mookie Betts, Christian Vazquez, Xander Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks all offered something in the Red Sox‘ 9-8, 10-inning win over the Blue Jays that suggested better times were ahead.
The signature moment came in the Sox’ three-run 10th, which led off with the trip of Betts, Bogaerts and Vazquez.
With the hosts trailing by a pair of runs, Betts kicked things off with a single up the middle.
“Leading off an inning, it’s a big confidence booster,” the center fielder said. “Going into the rest of the games into next year, being comfortable late in game situations against their closer, one of their best pitchers, I think it’s a good thing.”
He was followed by Bogaerts’ base hit into left.
“Just coming up that inning it was like Mookie, me and then Vazquez. I was like, ‘Wow, we’ve got three young guys to start something going,’” said Bogaerts, who came into the night hitting .126 with runners in scoring position. “I’m glad all of us got something done so the other guys could drive us in.”
Then came Vazquez’ push bunt — into the air and over the charging first baseman — loading the bases. (Earlier in the game the catcher tied Rich Gedman’s club record for most pickoffs in a season, nabbing Melky Cabrera at first.)
“He’s an intelligent player,” said Bogaerts of Vazquez. “That was probably on purpose. Smart baseball guy. You don’t see that often.”
|09.05.14 at 8:26 pm ET|
When Edward Mujica signed his two-year deal with the Red Sox, he knew this was going to be a possibility — filling for Koji Uehara as closer.
How he got to this point, however, wasn’t exactly what anybody expected.
“When I signed here they told me I was going to be backing up Koji sometimes when he had a day off,” Mujica said before Friday night’s Red Sox tilt against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park. “Right now, he’s had some rough outings and they’re going to give me the opportunity to go out there and try to pick up Koji in that situation.”
Earlier in the season, it would have been difficult to imagine either Uehara leaving the closing role, or Mujica sliding in. The former Cardinals closer struggled through the first three months of his Red Sox career, with Mujica totaling a 5.65 ERA and .297 batting average against on July 1.
But since then, the 30 year old has figured some things out. After the first day of July, Mujica has compiled a 2.28 ERA, walking three over 26 appearances.
“Adjusting to the American League, for me, was different,” Mujica said. “The last month I’ve just been doing the same thing, working hard every day. Nothing has changed, but the results have come out a little bit better.”
The comeback was punctuated, of course, with the announcement Friday that Uehara — who has allowed opponents a .500 batting average over his last six appearances — would be handing off the closing duties for Mujica.
“I’m going to be here next year and this opportunity for me is going to be big,” said the reliever, who compiled 37 saves in 41 chances for St. Louis in 2013. “I have to just go out there, try and do my best and see what they’re going to do next year.”
|09.05.14 at 4:35 pm ET|
Farrell made it clear that Uehara wouldn’t be shut down, and the team’s hope that he would reclaim the role before the end of the season.
(Update: According to Tokyo Sports, Uehara asked Farrell to be taken out of the closers role, but not be shut down for season.)
“After having a chance to sit with Koji he was understanding,” Farrell said. “He understands the reason for it. We’ll probably give him a couple of days to regroup some and then look to get him back in some lower-leverage situations.”
Uehara has struggled mightily over his last six appearances, totaling a 19.29 ERA (10 earned runs in 4 2/3 innings), with opponents hitting an even .500 (14-for-28) against the righty.
The reliever’s latest hiccup came Thursday night in Yankee Stadium when he failed to hold a one-run lead against New York, allowing the hosts a walk-off victory thanks to solo home runs from Mark Teixeira and Chase Headley.
“First of all he’s healthy, and there’s no reason to shut down a healthy player,” Farrell said. “There’s no physical ailments. He doesn’t complain of anything. He downplays the fatigue that has been written about and reported. So we have to factor all that in and yet not be blind to the number of appearances he’s had over the last two years. There’s no intent to shut him down, but with the stretch of games that might be similar to the he had when he first started in Texas, and we’re working with him to get through this.”
In other Red Sox news, outfielder Jackie Bradley has been recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket. Bradley had hit .213 in his last 10 games, striking out 12 times and drawing three walks.
“When we sent him out we said we would bring him back in September,” Farrell said, “and we feel the work he’s been doing in Pawtucket will continue with us here in Boston. … It will be a balance to get everybody equal playing time, and I can’t even guarantee it will be equal because we’re trying to get a read on multiple guys.”
Also getting the call is lefty reliever Drake Britton, who totaled a 5.86 ERA in 45 appearances out of the PawSox’ bullpen this season. The lefty struck out 37 while walking 38.
|09.05.14 at 3:37 pm ET|
Dustin Pedroia is back in the lineup for the Red Sox‘ series-opener against the Blue Jays Friday night at Fenway Park. Pedroia had missed the previous five games with concussion-like symptoms after a collision in last Saturday’s game against the Rays. Pedroia is hitting second, with Mookie Betts dropping down to seventh in the lineup after hitting second each of the last three games. Brock Holt remains in the leadoff spot.
RED SOX LINEUP
Brock Holt, 3B
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Yoenis Cespedes, LF
Mike Napoli, 1B
Danial Nava, RF
Mookie Betts, CF
Xander Bogaerts, SS
Christian Vazquez, C
Allen Webster, SP
For complete batter matchups vs. Blue Jays starter Drew Hutchison, click here.
|09.05.14 at 2:37 pm ET|
A brief look at the action in three playoff games among Red Sox affiliates on Thursday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 8-2 WIN VS. SYRACUSE (NATIONALS); LEAD BEST-OF-FIVE SERIES, 2-0
– Matt Barnes continued his recent run of Triple-A dominance, logging seven shutout innings in which he gave up three hits (a double and two singles), walked none and punched out six. It marked the sixth time in eight outings that Barnes had pitched into the seventh inning, something he’d done just four times in his first 65 pro games. He threw 65 of 101 pitches (64 percent) for strikes.
In nine starts since the All-Star break including the regular season and Thursday’s outing, Barnes now has a 2.10 ERA with 7.8 strikeouts and just 2.3 walks per nine.
– Garin Cecchini went 4-for-4 with a triple. It was his first four-hit game of the year; he’s had one game of at least four hits in each of his four pro seasons. In 27 games since Aug. 1, Cecchini is now hitting .352/.424/.524. Read the rest of this entry »
|09.05.14 at 12:29 pm ET|
MLB Network’s Kevin Millar made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Friday to discuss the Red Sox following Thursday’s disappointing loss to the Yankees. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
In Thursday’s game, Sox closer Koji Uehara continued to struggle, allowing a pair of solo home runs in the ninth inning as New York walked off with a 5-4 decision. There has been discussion that the team might shut down Uehara and let him rest up for next season.
“There’s nothing to lose now,” Millar said. “It’s kind of an odd season, guys, let’s get it straight. From last place, first place, last place. You’ve got things to address, go ahead and address them. He’s given up big-time home runs this year; last year he was invincible. It’s pretty funny how the years are different. Everything went right last year and now he’s in the scuffle mode. I’m a big fan of Koji, but he’s had a tough time getting some outs late in the game.”
The Red Sox have expressed an interested in having Will Middlebrooks play winter league in order to be better prepared for next season. It’s not clear that Middlebrooks is on board with that idea, but Millar supports it.
“He’s still got to look in the mirror and say, ‘Listen, I’ve got to get something done. I’ve got to get something right.’ Whether that’s your swing, whether that’s your defense, whatever you’ve got to work on,” Millar said. “I think winter ball’s great. I played it a lot. I played it everywhere but Venezuela. It gives you the chance to basically get that confidence back. Because you see the talent, you see the ceiling. This is a guy, if he hits 25-30 home runs at some point in his career it wouldn’t shock you. But he hasn’t produced. He produced his first three, four months up in the big leagues, and got everybody fired up. But it’s been a struggle-bunny since. So I think winter ball’s a great call.”
Added Millar: “I don’t think you give up on a Will Middlebrooks. I like the size, I like the talent I see. ‘¦ I don’t think you give up on a kid, because corner guys, right-handed power right now, aren’t out there. Will hasn’t shown a whole lot of consistency at this level, but you also understand if something clicks he can become a guy that’s above average to a star. And it wouldn’t shock you, would it? We’ve seen a little bit of it.”
There has been some speculation that the Red Sox might considering trading Dustin Pedroia as part of their move to a younger lineup.
“No, you don’t trade Dustin Pedroia. You don’t even mention trading Dustin Pedroia,” Millar said, adding: “I’m not saying he’s untouchable, but he’s your makeup of the club. So if he has an off year this year, yeah, OK, now we’re going to trade Dustin Pedroia? He’s the only makeup and the grit and everything about the Red Sox.”
For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.
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