|07.31.15 at 1:01 pm ET|
Any hope that the Red Sox could make a run to the playoffs has been expunged since the All-Star break. Since returning, the Red Sox have gone 3-11, including most recently dropping three of four to the White Sox.
The prolonged slump has brought the Red Sox‘ record to 45-58, placing them firmly in last place in the American League East, 13 games behind the division-leading Yankees. The Sox are tied for the worst record in the AL with the A’s.
“It [stinks]. Come here every day, work hard to go out there and try to execute as a team,” Mike Napoli said after a loss to the White Sox. “We’re not getting it done. It’s not fun. You need to come in, keep playing hard, play the game the right way and try to make things turn into good things, positive things on the field. Just got to keep going.”
The Sox will be taking on the Rays in a weekend series at Fenway. The Rays are fourth in the AL East. The team has a 51-52 record and is seven games back of the Yanks. The Yankees have started to separate themselves from the pack, as they hold a six-game lead over both the Orioles and Jays.
To stay in the hunt, and at least within reach of those Orioles and Jays, the Rays need to have success in this weekend’s series in Boston.
For the Rays, the problem has been on the offensive side. The team has scored 367 runs, placing it 26th in baseball. As a team, the Rays own a 27th-best .238 batting average and 24th-best .684 OPS.
On the mound, the team has been significantly more proficient. Tampa owns a 3.50 team ERA, which is third best in the American League. The Sox are a full run worse, with a 4.50 team ERA. The Rays have a .233 batting average against, which is tops in the AL. They have allowed the third-fewest runs in the league.
The Rays’ anemic offense has to some degree negated the effectiveness of their pitching staff, as the they have a minus-13 run differential that places them ninth in the AL.
|07.31.15 at 10:19 am ET|
The 2015 season has been far from kind to the Red Sox. Their spot in the standings far removed from the playoff picture, forcing them not to consider trading for short-term rentals before Friday’s deadline. Instead, the team reportedly is interested in starting pitchers that are under team control long term.
That interest has taken hold in a couple young starters of note, including Carlos Carrasco of the Indians and Tyson Ross of the Padres.
‘ Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) July 31, 2015
The #Redsox also like Tyson Ross a lot, says source. They’ve been operating “very quietly” in trade talks for pitching.
‘ Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) July 31, 2015
In 21 starts this season, Carrasco has an 11-8 record and 4.03 ERA. The 28-year-old right-hander owns a 2.82 FIP, seemingly having pitched much better than his ERA would indicate. He is signed through 2018 to a four-year, $22 million contract that also includes $9 million and $9.5 million team options for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. The contract pays Carrasco well below market value for an above-average starter.
The right-hander Ross, 28, owns a 3.38 ERA and 7-8 record so far this season for the Padres. He becomes arbitration eligible in 2016 and the earliest he could hit free agency is 2018.
The Padres are firmly in the camp of sellers at this season’s deadline and own many movable players and contracts. One of those is flamethrowing reliever Craig Kimbrel, who has been linked to multiple teams, including the Red Sox.
‘ Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 31, 2015
word is out red sox could have interest in kimbrel. that would make things interesting for yanks (& astros)
‘ Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) July 31, 2015
The Yankees and Astros also are said to have shown interest in Kimbrel. The Padres reportedly were interested in Yankees shortstop prospect Jorge Mateo, who at one time had been viewed as untouchable.
3 says ago heard “no way” is jorge mateo being traded. today hear “we’ll see.” certainly be way to land kimbrel. #yankees
‘ Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) July 31, 2015
Elsewhere, the Mets are interested in acquiring an outfield bat, particularly after their almost-trade with the Brewers for Carlos Gomez fell through. According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Mets are interested in the Cincinnati’s Jay Bruce.
|07.31.15 at 9:52 am ET|
A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Thursday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (42-63): L, 6-1, vs. Norfolk (Orioles)
— The Pawtucket offense had nine hits, eight of them singles, but finished just 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and scored just one run. The lone PawSox run came in the ninth inning on an RBI single by right fielder Jonathan Roof, scoring DH Allen Craig. Pawtucket’s July record fell to 4-21, with an 0-8-1 record in nine series played during the month.
— Craig finished 1-for-3 with a walk, putting his season-long slash line at .263/.373/.338 with three home runs and eight doubles in 63 games played. After hitting .328 in May, Craig has connected at just a .240 (40-for-167) clip combined in June and July with two homers. The 31-year-old righty bat has particularly struggled against right-handed pitching this year, hitting just .227 on the season compared to .354 against lefties.
— Shortstop Marco Hernandez went 2-for-3 with a double, the lone Pawtucket extra-base hit, to put his average at .298 through 13 games played in Triple-A. It was the third multi-hit game for Hernandez since his promotion from Double-A Portland, where he led the Eastern League with a .326 average. The 22-year-old Dominican was charged with his third Triple-A error as he dropped a throw from pitcher Zeke Spruill at the second base bag after a comebacker in the third.
— Spruill took the loss (4-7, 4.54 ERA) despite allowing just one earned run through six innings of work. His final line: 6 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO (96 pitches, 60 strikes). Spruill also hit two batters. The 25-year-old was making his seventh start of the season, after his first 18 came in relief. As a reliever, the 6-foot-5 Spruill had a 4.21 ERA in 36 1/3 innings pitched. As a starter, he is now 0-5 with a 4.88 ERA. Boston acquired Spruill in a December 2014 trade from Arizona; the Red Sox designated him for assignment and off their 40-man roster on July 3.
|07.31.15 at 9:43 am ET|
Avoiding their third sweep in four series Thursday night, the Red Sox took the final game of their four-game set with the White Sox by a score of 8-2. With the Rays next on the docket, Eduardo Rodriguez will pitch for Boston against Erasmo Rodriguez on Friday evening.
Rodriguez has provided the Sox with a solid option in the rotation, though he’s fallen victim to the occasional bad start. In 11 starts so far this season, the lefty has recorded seven outings in which he’s allowed one or zero earned runs. He also has had three starts lasting fewer than five innings with six or more earned runs. Two of those three came at Fenway Park, but the most recent one was on the road vs. the Angels on July 20, a 1 2/3-inning effort with seven earned runs on six hits.
Most recently, Rodriguez put up seven innings on Sunday, giving up just one earned run, a home run, on three hits with one walk and six strikeouts. After that win, the rookie’s season ERA is 4.26 while his record is 6-3.
“I think [against the Angels], I tried to go too quickly to home plate and made my fastballs in the strike zone,” Rodriguez said Sunday. “Today I just got under control to control my fastball where I want. That’s what I think made it go better.”
In his young career, Rodriguez has not yet faced the Rays, the only team in the division he hasn’t seen. Against other AL East teams, the 22-year-old has a 6.08 ERA in 26 2/3 innings, a number that’s bloated because his other two shaky starts were against the Blue Jays (4 2/3 innings, nine earned runs) and Orioles (3 2/3 innings, six earned runs). The Rays slash .256/.329/.429 vs. left-handed starters compared to their .232/.293/.364 line opposite righties.
|07.30.15 at 11:48 pm ET|
For obvious reasons Steven Wright is most known for his knuckleball, but Thursday night it was his fastball that was able to get him his fourth win of the season.
Wright went seven innings allowing two runs on six hits, while walking two and striking out a career-high eight in the Red Sox’ 8-2 win over the White Sox snapping a three-game losing streak.
Making the win even more impressive was Wright and the Red Sox were going up against ace Chris Sale.
The Red Sox knuckleballer was able to keep the red-hot White Sox offense in check by mixing his fastball and knuckleball more than in any other start this season. According to Brooksbaseball.net, Wright threw a season-high 21 fastballs. His previous high in any other start this season was seven.
“It’s one of those things I don’t go out there thinking I am going to throw fastballs tonight,” Wright said. “The scouting report that I’ve seen on those guys — they are pretty patient early on and I wasn’t throwing a lot of strikes at the beginning so I thought it was a good opportunity to do some fastballs so I tried to get ahead in the count and then later on in the game me and Blake [Swihart] were able to mix it in in good situations to really keep them off the knuckleball. I just go out there and feel it out. Sometimes I throw more than other times. Today I mixed it in a little bit more in the past.”
Things got off to a rocky start as he allowed a two-run home run to Jose Abreu in the first inning, which meant all four Red Sox starters allowed multiple runs in the first inning in the series. But, Wright settled in and didn’t allow a run after that.
The win evens his record at 4-4 after he was winless over his last four starts. It was his first win as a starter since May 23.
|07.30.15 at 10:41 pm ET|
This one came out of nowhere.
Having won just three of their last 16 games, while sitting on the verge of a four-game sweep at the hands of the red-hot White Sox, the Red Sox didn’t have much reason for optimism heading into Thursday night’s series finale. Add in that John Farrell‘s team had to reverse its course against Chris Sale, one of the top pitchers in the American League, and the Sox’ best chance would seem for the rain to pick up steam from 7 p.m. and on.
But the rain did let up, resulting in just a 51-minute delay, and as it turned out the Red Sox were glad it did.
The Sox jumped all over Sale, handing the skinny southpaw with the 2.85 ERA one of his worst results of the season. The Red Sox tagged the White Sox starter for seven runs on 12 hits over five innings on the way to an 8-2 win at Fenway Park.
It marked the most hits ever allowed by Sale, who was chased from the game after not retiring an out in the sixth inning and being charged with four runs in the frame.
Sale’s counterpart, Red Sox starter Steven Wright, conversely turned in one of his best big league outings, giving up just two runs (both coming in the first inning) over seven innings. The knuckleballer finished with career-highs in innings pitched, strikeouts (8), and pitches thrown (115).
“It was just one of those days,” Wright said. “My last outing, it was definitely moving a lot more radically. It felt good coming out of my hand last night, and it felt the same coming out this time. Today it wasn’t moving quite as much. That’s just the way it goes sometimes with the knuckleballs.”
Another positive in Wright’s performance was his cohesion with catcher Blake Swihart after the backstop’s four passed-ball game the last time they got together.
“I think the other day his previous time out, he reached for a number of knuckleballs that were up above the eye level,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “There was a concerted effort on his part to raise his entire body up to maybe keep his eye level above the glove. But he handled him much more clean today. There was an adjustment he made in working with [catching instructor] Dana [LeVangie] in between starts.”
|07.30.15 at 9:26 pm ET|
It was one of the weirdest plays you’ll ever see.
In the fourth inning, Pablo Sandoval struck out swinging against White Sox lefty Chris Sale on a tailing fastball inside, but as he swung and missed, the pitch hit him on the left forearm.
The Red Sox announced he left the game with a left forearm contusion.
“Pablo is probably day-to-day. He’s sore right now,” manager John Farrell said. “That was a fastball that chased him. It look like it might hit him in the throat if [he] didn’t take it on the wrist on the swing. A scary moment. The scan here at the ballpark is clean. But, still day-to-day.”
The third baseman was the last out in the inning and immediately left the game. He was 0-for-2 with two strikeouts. Newcomer Josh Rutledge replaced him at third base.
Sandoval entered the game hitting .262 this season. It was the second straight game he’s been forced to leave the game early as he left Wednesday’s game with dehydration.
|07.30.15 at 9:11 pm ET|
With the non-waiver trade deadline coming to a close Friday at 4 p.m., more and more players will be traded on top of the ones who already have this week.
More often than not, most deals involve minor league prospects being exchanged for big league players, as one team is looking to win now and the other building for the future.
This can be a concerning time for these minor leaguers, as for some they are just getting used to playing professionally and they have only known one organization.
A lot of questions can be going through their heads. Am I not good enough? Why didn’t they want me? What does my new organization think of me? Will I ever make the majors?
All those are all legitimate questions, but ultimately it’s all about realizing baseball is a business and teams want to get better in anyway possible.
“I didn’t really realize until I was in the big leagues for a few years,” Hanley Ramirez said, who was traded as a 21-year-old in 2005 to the Marlins by the Red Sox in the deal that landed Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell. “That’s when you realize teams are just looking to win — anyway you can do it. If you have to trade a good player, sometimes you don’t want to trade that piece, but there’s a back and forth.”
Ramirez acknowledged at first he didn’t like the fact that he was traded, but once he realized he was going to play in the majors, he was all for it. The current Red Sox left fielder said at that point in his career all he was worried about was just getting a chance at playing full-time in the majors.
“You’re just looking to play in the big leagues,” Ramirez said. “At first, I was a little bit upset because coming in watching the Red Sox in the Dominican, but after that I was fine because it was my opportunity to play in the big leagues.”
Ultimately, it comes down to baseball being like any other organization in the world — a business.
“This is business. You want to win. At the same time you’re an employee and you have to deal with it,” Ramirez said.
Rodriguez, who was in Double-A at the time, said he realized at the time of the trade what the Orioles organization wanted — help at the major league level as they were looking to make a playoff run. What he didn’t get was why they picked him.
“I didn’t know how they are thinking,” Rodriguez said. “I just knew they needed a better player in the big leagues last year. That was why I think they traded me.”
|07.30.15 at 7:25 pm ET|
Due to rain sweeping through the Boston area, Thursday’s game will now start at 8 p.m.
Steven Wright will be opposed by Chris Sale once the game gets going.
For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.
|07.30.15 at 5:32 pm ET|
Following third baseman Pablo Sandoval leaving Wednesday’s game due to dehydration, manager John Farrell revealed Sandoval’s conditioning “continues to be addressed.”
Along the same lines, some scouts have said Sandoval has put on some weight this season, which has affected his defense at third base. He is listed at 5-foot-11, 255 pounds.
Sandoval was asked point-blank if he’s gained weight from after last season.
“No. I’m still the weight that I was last year the weight that I finished my season,” he said. “So I don’t get complaints about it. I have to keep working hard, yes I do, but I don’t focus about that, I focus about teamwork and try to do the best out there for my team.”
Following Sandoval’s comments, Farrell was asked the same question.
The manager said his weight fluctuates and the team is working with him on both conditioning and nutrition. Farrell did say the third baseman works hard off the field.
“The one thing we do know is there is a wide range able to fluctuate and that’s been consistent year-to-year with Pablo,” Farrell said. “I do know this, his work ethic in the weight room, his work ethic on the field is consistent. It has been since the first day he got on the field with us here. And yet there’s been challenges that we’ve became aware of over the course of his career that you’re trying to align a number of things and that’s the consistency to the work routine as well as the nutritional side of things.”
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