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Tuesday Red Sox Farm Report: Manuel Margot ‘living up to the hype’ as season ends for 5 affiliates; Marco Hernandez goes out with a bang in Pawtucket

09.08.15 at 8:59 am ET
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A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Monday, the final day of the regular season for all the affiliates listed below:

Marco Hernandez

Marco Hernandez

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (59-85): W, 10-2, vs. Buffalo (Blue Jays)

— Shortstop Marco Hernandez (Boston’s No. 23 prospect at MLB.com) went 4-for-5 with a homer, a double, four RBIs and two runs scored. Hernandez, 23, had a single in the first inning, an RBI single in the third and his fourth Triple-A home run in the sixth as as he turned on a 2-2 pitch and pulled it deep to right over the fence to extend Pawtucket’s lead to 5-1. Then, in the seventh, the lefty-batting Hernandez doubled off a lefty hurler as he sprayed one opposite field down the left-field line to drive in two more.

“He keeps improving,” Pawtucket manager Kevin Boles told the Providence Journal in regard to Hernandez. “This is our first look at him, but you can see why we had interest in him and why he’s in our uniform now. He’s got plus hand speed through the zone. You can see that he can impact the baseball.”

Acquired by Boston in December of 2014 as the player to be named later in the trade of Felix Doubront to the Cubs, Hernandez finished the season with a .305/.330/.454 slash line over 114 games played between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket. In his 68 games with the PawSox, Hernandez slashed .271/.300/.409 and he finished with a .395 (19-for-48) surge over his final 12 games, including four multi-hit games in his final seven contests. Hernandez hit .315 in Triple-A against left-handed pitching, but clubbed all four of his homers against righties. The 6-foot Dominican hit in the two-hole of the lineup for each of the final nine games.

— RHP William Cuevas picked up the win in his final start of the season with a final line of: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 SO (88 pitches, 59 strikes). It was the seventh Triple-A start for Cuevas (3-2, 2.63 ERA), who pitched at least five innings and allowed two earned runs or less in all seven outings. The 24-year-old allowed just two singles and a walk through his first five innings on Monday, allowing a lone run in the sixth on a pair of doubles. Finishing the year with wins in his last three decisions, Cuevas struck out 37 batters over 41 innings with Pawtucket while walking 14. Before being promoted to the PawSox on Aug. 4, Cuevas made 19 starts with Double-A Portland and went 8-5 with a 3.40 ERA (95 1/3 IP, 84 H, 36 ER, 91 K, 41 BB) and was named an Eastern League All-Star. Cuevas also was named Portland’€™s Pitcher of the Year on Monday.

— RHP Matt Barnes relieved Cuevas and struck out two in his lone inning of work after allowing a single. Barnes, 25, finished the year with 17 Triple-A appearances, including five starts, as he allowed 17 earned runs over 37 2/3 innings (4.06 ERA) while striking out 41 and walking 22. Selected by Boston in the first round (19th overall) of the 2011 draft out of the University of Connecticut, the 6-foot-4 Barnes also had four stints in the majors in 2015, going 3-4 with a 6.89 ERA over 23 appearances, with 31 strikeouts in 32 innings to go with 12 walks.

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Tuesday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Henry Owens vs. R.A. Dickey

09.08.15 at 8:20 am ET
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Henry Owens

Henry Owens

For the middle game of a three-game series at Fenway, 23-year-old Red Sox rookie Henry Owens will take on 40-year-old Blue Jays knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.

Owens (2-2, 5.87 ERA) began this year in Pawtucket. He was called up Aug. 4 when Rick Porcello was placed on the DL, and remained in the rotation after Porcello returned. Owens has made six starts, and four of them were promising — three runs or less. However, he struggled in his most recent outing, lasting just 1 2/3 innings against the Yankees and allowing seven runs (all earned) on six hits — including two home runs — and two walks in last Wednesday’s 13-8 loss. Owens retired the first four Yankees but then allowed eight straight to reach base.

“It wasn’t his best day. We all know that,” Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo said. “He started off really strong and it happened pretty quick when they jumped on him.”

Owens was the victim of some rookie hazing on Sunday, as his teammates taped him to a pole in the dugout during their 6-2 victory over the Phillies.

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Offering dose of reality for Red Sox postseason dreamers

09.07.15 at 8:39 pm ET
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Torey Lovullo

Torey Lovullo

Torey Lovullo has now been around long enough to realize the deal.

The question following the Red Sox‘ 11-4 win over the Blue Jays Monday afternoon: Do you think the Red Sox still have a shot at the playoffs?

The answer …

“That’€™s a loaded question,” the Red Sox interim manager said. “If I say, ‘No,’ we have no chance. Then I’€™m a crazy man. If I say, ‘Yes,’ I’€™m crazy for believing. But I will say this, until we have an ‘E’ [eliminated] next to our name our kids are playing aggressive baseball and they believe something special is happening here.”

There was also a smattering of postseason dreaming emanating from the Red Sox’ clubhouse after their fourth straight win.

“I feel very optimistic about this season right here and trying to finish that strong,” said Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. “2016 is too far away for me to think about. You never know what could happen.”

“Rick [Porcello] and I were just talking about it,” said Red Sox catcher Blake Swihart of the team’s recent winning ways. “It’s enjoyable to come to the field every day knowing it’s going to be a good day.”

So, what is exactly the deal? Well, they can dare to dream, but …

The Red Sox stand at seven games under .500 for the first time since July 17, sitting at 65-72 (tied for fourth-place in the American League East with Baltimore). In terms of the final wild card spot, they are seven games out six teams sitting in front of them.

Currently, the two wild card teams are the Yankees and Rangers.

The Red Sox have 25 games remaining. As well as they’ve played of late, they have a 15-10 record in their last 25 contests. During that span they made up just 2 1/2 games in the wild card hunt.

Maybe the Red Sox get even hotter than they have been. It’s certainly trending in the right direction, with the Sox carrying the majors best batting average (.316) and OPS (.888) since Aug. 14. During that span their starting pitchers have the big league’s fifth-best ERA (3.41), with an MLB-best 14 wins.

Heck, if the Sox win their next two games and the Rays, Mariners and White Sox all drop their next pair Lovullo’s club would be sitting just three teams away from that wild card spot.

But it should also be noted that they aren’t alone in finding their stride. The two current wild card teams, the Yankees and Rangers, have been just as hot, each equaling the Red Sox’ 15 wins over the last 23 games. Meanwhile, another team standing in the way, the Indians, have won 14.

There is a more realistic goal for these Red Sox, however … finishing at .500. That would take a run of 16-9 the rest of the way. That is something this team can actually dream about.

Rich Hill is returning to Red Sox

09.07.15 at 8:00 pm ET
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Following the Red Sox‘ 11-4 win over the Blue Jays Monday afternoon, interim manager Torey Lovullo announced the team would be promoting starting pitcher Rich Hill and reliever Jonathan Aro.

For Aro, this is the latest in a series of call-ups this season, having pitched in three big league games this season. The righty has allowed six runs on 12 hits over 4 2/3 innings, last pitching for the Red Sox July 1.

But for Hill, it’s been a while.

The 35-year-old lefty last pitched for the Red Sox in 2012, making big league stops with the Indians, Angels and Yankees over the past few seasons. Hill had been in the Red Sox’ camp in 2014, having to miss some of spring training due to the death of his infant son.

After leaving the Nationals organization earlier this season, and making a stop with the Independent League Long Island Ducks, Hill landed with Triple-A Pawtucket as a starting pitcher. With the PawSox he started five games, totaling a 2.78 ERA in 32 1/3 innings.

Hill’s last outing (Sunday) was by far his worst, giving up six runs on 10 hits over six innings. Prior to that outing, the southpaw surrendered more than two runs in any of his four appearances, reaching six innings in each.

Hill is expected to be a candidate to fill a spot in the Red Sox’ rotation with the team slated to go to a six-man rotation.

Closing Time: Jackie Bradley Jr., Rick Porcello highlight Red Sox’ rout of Blue Jays

09.07.15 at 4:23 pm ET
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Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello

The Red Sox excelled in their first taste of the September pennant race.

Behind another solid outing from starter Rick Porcello, and the latest round of extra-base hits from Jackie Bradley Jr., the Red Sox claimed an 11-4 win over the first-place Blue Jays on Monday afternoon at Fenway Park. It was the Red Sox‘ fourth straight win.

It moves the Red Sox to seven games under .500 for the first time since July 17, and makes them 21-14 since July 30. They have also won 14 of their last 21 games at Fenway Park.

In their last 28 games, the Red Sox have posted a plus-51 run differential, hitting .311 during that stretch. Remarkably, the Sox actually now have scored more runs than the Blue Jays since Aug. 1.

“I think our guys are ready for this challenge,” said interim manager Torey Lovullo. “Our team is playing good baseball. We knew they were coming to town, we’€™re in a good place. Our guys were ready to play and it showed today.”

Porcello allowed two solo home runs — by Josh Donaldson and Justin Smoak — in his 7 1/3 innings, striking out four and walking two while throwing 107 pitches. He would be charged with two more runs after Noe Ramirez came on to give up a two-run single off the bat of Jose Bautista.

Since returning from the disabled list, Porcello has given up seven runs (4 earned) over 22 1/3 innings in three starts for a 1.61 ERA.

Offensively, the Red Sox were led by their outfielders, Rusney Castillo, Mookie Betts and Bradley Jr. The trio combined to go 9-for-13 with six runs and six RBI. In total, the Sox hitters finished with 17 hits.

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Dustin Pedroia on target to play Tuesday

09.07.15 at 12:23 pm ET
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It appears Dustin Pedroia is on the verge of rejoining the Red Sox lineup.

The second baseman, who has been sidelined since July 22 with a hamstring injury, will be back in action for the Red Sox for Tuesday’s game against the Blue Jays if all things check out medically earlier that morning.

“Well, I know that Dustin is real excited about where he’s at right now. We like that,” said Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo. “That’s where we want him to be. His medical evaluation tomorrow with our medical team will be a real important day. If he reaches that final checkpoint, we’ll try to get him in there tomorrow, but everything has got to be all systems go. We’re not going to put him in a situation where it’s a maybe. This has got to be 100 percent yes. If we get that verdict from the medical team, he’ll be playing [Tuesday].”

Pedroia did return for six games following the All-Star break, but was forced out of the lineup due to lingering issues with his hamstring.

The second baseman initially injured the right leg rounding first base June 24.

“There may have been a situation where he was a little distracted by the injury, may have felt a little bit of the injury,” Lovullo said. “We’re avoiding that this time. We are staying 100 percent away from the fact that he might not be ready. We can assume that he’s going to be ready tomorrow, once he gets that final checkpoint. If so, he’s not going to be thinking about the leg, and more focused on being productive.”

Pedroia is hitting .287 with a .774 OPS in 75 games this season.

Red Sox lineup: David Ortiz returns after leaving Sunday game with sore calf

09.07.15 at 11:48 am ET
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David Ortiz, who left midway through Sunday’s 6-2 victory over the Phillies with a calf strain, is back in the starting lineup Monday as the Red Sox open a three-game series against the Blue Jays in a Labor Day matinee at Fenway Park.

Ortiz has been red hot since the All-Star break, hitting .375 with 16 home runs. He hit his 497th career home run — 200th at Fenway — in the first inning Sunday, but he only lasted one more at-bat before departing to rest his leg.

Here is the lineup for the Red Sox, who will try to get a win for the improving Rick Porcello as they face veteran Jays left-hander Mark Buehrle. For a breakdown of the pitching matchups, chcek the Full Count blog.

Mookie Betts, CF
Pablo Sandoval, 3B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
David Ortiz, DH
Travis Shaw, 1B
Rusney Castillo, LF
Brock Holt, 2B
Blake Swihart, C
Jackie Bradley Jr., RF

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Monday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Rick Porcello vs. Mark Buehrle

09.07.15 at 8:55 am ET
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Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello

For the Labor Day matinee between the Red Sox and the Blue Jays, Rick Porcello will pitch against Mark Buehrle, who is enjoying his 15th consecutive season with double-digit wins.

Porcello (6-12, 5.21 ERA) has been outstanding for the Sox in his two starts since his return from the disabled list, allowing just one earned run and one walk vs. 15 strikeouts in 15 innings. He had a career-high 13 strikeouts in a 3-1 loss to the Yankees on Tuesday. Porcello went eight innings and allowed three runs, but only one was earned as the Red Sox defense, like the offense, didn’t help the right-hander’s cause.

Porcello said his pitches finally were acting the way he has been hoping they would.

“It’s just the late movement that I’ve been looking for all year, really,” Porcello said after the loss. “That’s it. And then just locating it and executing the pitches. To me, the biggest thing tonight was getting ahead of hitters, establishing strike one. That sets up the entire at-bat.”

Said Yankees manager Joe Girardi: “Our guys said he had as much comeback in his movement on his fastball as they’ve ever seen. He was really good at front-hipping our left-handers and they said they hadn’t seen his ball move like that before. We knew he had good sink, but they said it was huge tonight.”

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Adhering to work ethic has helped Jackie Bradley Jr. break through in past month

09.06.15 at 11:48 pm ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

A month ago, Jackie Bradley Jr. was batting .102 on the season with just one extra-base hit of five total hits, a home run, four RBIs, seven walks and 15 strikeouts. He was 0 for his last 14 and just 1 for his last 19 since the Red Sox called him up from Pawtucket on July 29.

On Aug. 6, Bradley’s season took a significant turn.

As the Sox faced off against the Yankees in New York that Thursday night, the outfielder recorded his first hit in six games, a single to center field in seventh inning, and drew two walks. Only one run crossed the plate for Boston that night, not enough for a win, but from there Bradley got hot fast.

He tacked on another single the following night and, after going hitless in the next contest, rode a six-game hit streak into the middle of August. Within that streak was a 5-for-6, two-home run night in which his seven RBIs accounted for nearly a third of the Red Sox offense in a 22-10 victory over the Mariners.

“It’s been a pretty solid month,” Bradley said. “Just being able to help the team out any way I can and just trying to get better every single day, continuously working and kind of just staying the same person I’ve always been.”

Four of the games yielded multi-hit efforts from the 25-year-old, and of the 14 hits he collected in those six games, 10 were for extra bases. He also raised his batting average by .090 just in that span.

But Bradley’s success continued long after his streak was snapped. Continuing to find his footing offensively really for the first time in his major league career, he’s raised his slash line from .102/.220/.163 to .292/.369/.591 overall in a matter of 27 games. He bolstered his prior stats in other departments too, adding 28 RBIs for a total of 32 and drove 22 of his 35 hits for extra bases.

Of his most recent 26 hits, 19 of them were of the extra-base variety, and in the last 24 games alone, dating back to the beginning of that streak on Aug. 9, Bradley is slashing .418/.465/.899 with 12 doubles, four triples six home runs and seven walks. He’s also in the midst of a seven-game hit streak and has scored at least one run in each of those games as well, going 11-for-22 with a .955 slugging percentage in that time.

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Closing Time: Red Sox sweep Phillies; David Ortiz hits 497th career home run, leaves game with calf injury

09.06.15 at 4:33 pm ET
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The suspense was taken out of the Red Sox‘ series finale against the Phillies Sunday early.

Not only did the Sox put up six runs in the first two innings against Philadelphia’s rookie starter, Jerad Eickhoff, on the way to a 6-2 win over the Phils, but David Ortiz wasted no time in giving the Fenway faithful what they were hoping to see.

The Red Sox designated hitter took Eickhoff over the right field fence in his first at-bat of the game. It not only led to an early two-run lead for the Sox, but also changed the home run total posted over the left field wall to “497.”

Ortiz now finds himself just three home runs away from becoming 27th major league player to reach 500 home runs, surpassing Dwight Evans for the fourth-most homers at Fenway (200) in the process.

It was Ortiz’s 31st homer of the season, making him one of eight American League hitters to total as many homers.

Ortiz would have to leave the game in the fifth inning, however, due to right calf tightness.

The victory completed a sweep of the Phillies, marking the Red Sox‘ fourth series sweep of the season, and second in a set of three or more games.

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