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Sunday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. David Phelps

08.03.14 at 10:51 am ET
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The Red Sox will look to come away with a series win Sunday when they once again play host to the Yankees at Fenway Park. Boston will send Clay Buchholz to the mound against David Phelps in the final game of the three-game set.

Buchholz (5-7, 5.87 ERA) is the lone wolf remaining in a decimated Red Sox rotation that has seen four of its five season-opening starters shipped off over a span of five days.

“It is an opportunity for him to grow into being more of a leader. One of the greatest ways to do that is to go out and do your job first and foremost,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “Clay has shown since the DL stint that he can do that. He also does provide a lot of experience — especially against teams in this division. He can lend first-hand experience to some of the younger guys. I think he’ll relish that role.”

Buchholz has done little to build off an impressive three-hit shutout against the Astros on July 13, posting an ERA of 7.94 (16 runs in 17 innings) and a .903 OPS over his last three starts.

Buchholz surrendered a season-high seven earned runs while walking four over five innings in his last start against the Blue Jays Monday en route to a disheartening 14-1 Red Sox loss.It was the fifth time this season that Buchholz has allowed at least five earned runs in a start. He only allowed more than three earned runs in a start once in 2013. In his five starts after coming off the disabled list June 25, Buchholz walked just one batter. However, Buchholz has walked eight batters over his last 11 innings.

“No, mechanics were fine,” Buchholz said after the game. “Just missed some pitches.”

Buchholz’€™s last appearance against New York was on April 10, when he allowed four runs (two earned) in six innings of work. In 13 career starts against the Yankees, Buchholz is 5-6 with a 5.12 ERA.

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Red Sox option Alex Wilson, call up Steven Wright

08.03.14 at 10:10 am ET
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One day after he threw 2 1/3 innings of relief and logged 38 pitches, right-hander Alex Wilson was sent back to Triple-A Pawtucket, according to multiple sources. With the Sox in need of long relievers on their staff at a time when their rotation is skewing young, the team is calling up knuckleballer Steven Wright, who in 11 starts this year in Pawtucket is 5-2 with a 2.80 ERA. Wright has shown an impressive ability to throw strikes with his signature pitch, punching out 7.1 and walking just 1.9 batters per nine innings.

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For Jackie Bradley Jr., holes in swing ‘starting to emerge a little bit’

08.03.14 at 12:10 am ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr. appeared to have it figured out.

After a nightmarish first three months at the plate in which he hit .208/.291/.260, Bradley opened his stance — an old stance he said he felt more comfortable with — and finally got some results. From July 1-22, Bradley hit .378, had six multi-hit games and raised his batting average to a respectable .234.

‘€œThe extra work that he’€™s been doing has been starting to pay off,” Sox manager John Farrell said during that stretch. “He’€™s starting to reproduce a more consistent swing path, using the whole field, particularly the left side of the field as we’€™ve seen in the past.”

Since then, it’s been nothing but struggles for Bradley once again. And Saturday night may have been its low point.

The center fielder went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in a 6-4 loss to the Yankees. He’s now hitless in his last 20 at-bats with 10 strikeouts and no walks since July 24. He’s 3-for-31 in his last nine games.

“Where he did such a good job leading up to the All-Star break with closing down some of those holes, they’re starting to emerge a little bit,” Farrell said after the game. “There’s a little more swing and miss of late and I know he’s on a little bit of a run here where he’s gone without any base hits. So I can’t say that he’s expanding the strike zone or he’s pressing, but he’s missing his pitch and he’s gotten into some favorable counts along the way as well.”

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Red Sox still waiting for Allen Webster to make big league adjustments

08.02.14 at 9:46 pm ET
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This was not the case that Allen Webster wanted to make for a spot in the 2015 rotation. The 24-year-old has long been viewed as having potentially elite stuff. But on Saturday — in his second start this year, one outing after navigating through five walks to last 5 1/3 innings against the Rays for a victory — he melted down in a four-run third inning in a fashion that raises red flags about his ability to compete at the major league level.

After he opened the contest by breezing through two scoreless frames, Webster could not make it out of the third, an inning in which he issued five of his six walks while losing his release point completely, ultimately becoming the Red Sox pitcher of record in a 6-4 loss to the Yankees.

“I felt good in the first two innings, really struggled with my release point in the third and never got it back,” said Webster. “It was just my fastball. If I could’€™ve found my release point on my fastball I could’€™ve got my other pitches working on it.”

Webster had shown signs of improved control in Triple-A this year. He’d cut his walk rate from 3.7 per nine to 3.2 per nine, and his hit batters from 1.4 per nine innings to 0.4 per nine while showing an improved ability to harness his two-seam fastball in the strike zone.

But in two big league starts, he’s issued 11 walks in just eight innings. And his inability to show an ability to reel in his struggles in the third inning on Saturday bordered on alarming.

“While there’s plenty of stuff in terms of fastball action, swing-and-miss to his changeup, just the ability to make an adjustment from either pitch-to-pitch or hitter-to-hitter was elusive,” said Sox manager John Farrell. Read the rest of this entry »

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Yoenis Cespedes takes stock of Red Sox debut

08.02.14 at 9:43 pm ET
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There was no doubting whether or not Yoenis Cespedes was welcomed in his Red Sox debut Saturday.

The outfielder, who the Red Sox acquired in a trade for Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes Thursday, received a roaring ovation from the crowd as he came to bat for the first time in the bottom of the second inning. The cheers didn’t stop for him the rest of the afternoon.

As for the actual baseball part, Cespedes was fine with that as well.

The slugger went 1-for-4 batting cleanup Saturday with a single in his first at-bat — he scored when Mike Napoli lifted a two-run home run one batter later — and said through a translator after the game that he “felt very comfortable” in his first game with the Sox.

His new manager liked what he saw as well.

“I thought he had quality at-bats,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “I thought he worked the count a couple times, he was aggressive early in a couple of other at-bats.”

Added Farrell: “He’s going to be fine. But to get him in the middle of the order, it certainly lengthens things out. One quick view after four at-bats in one day, I like him in the middle of the lineup.”

Cespedes will primarily play right field for the Sox this season, but played left field on Saturday as a result of not having had an opportunity to familiarize himself with right field (a position he hasn’t played in the big leagues) at Fenway. He saw limited action in the field throughout the game aside from a short fly he let drop in front of him for a single and a ball he played off the Wall on a hit by Martin Prado.

Cespedes will eventually be transitioned to right. But will have no problem playing left if need be. In fact, he said the structure of left field played to his advantage. Read the rest of this entry »

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Matt Barnes throws 7 no-hit innings for PawSox

08.02.14 at 9:10 pm ET
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Red Sox right-hander Matt Barnes, in the strongest outing of his professional career, fired seven no-hit innings for Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday night. Barnes punched out 10 for his fourth career outing of 10-plus strikeouts and his first of 2014 (indeed, his prior season-high had been just six strikeouts), and had just one ball hit out of the infield against him — a fly ball to center by the last batter he faced. Prior to that, his first 20 outs broke down as 10 strikeouts, five groundouts and five infield pop-ups. He walked two.

According to one evaluator at the game, Barnes was up to 97 mph with a curveball (a pitch that has yet to develop into a consistent offering for him) that was a weapon with power break. He was able to generate swings and misses with all three of his offerings (fastball, curve, change), according to the evaluator. MiLB.com’s GameDay had him with 18 swings-and-misses among his career-high 106 pitches, 66 of which (62 percent — a lower-than-expected percentage given the dominance) found the strike zone.

Though Barnes received a no-decision, the start continued what has been a strong beginning to the second half for the 24-year-old. After he entered the All-Star break with a 5.06 ERA, Barnes has a 1.96 ERA with 18 strikeouts and seven walks in 18 1/3 innings to open the second half in Pawtucket.

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Closing Time: Allen Webster loses control as Sox lose to Yankees

08.02.14 at 8:03 pm ET
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It was looking like another good day for the post-trade-deadline Red Sox.

The Sox had a three-run lead after the second inning and Allen Webster was off to a solid start. Thursday’s roster overhaul was not only looking like a starting point for the 2015 Red Sox, but this year’s club was beginning to look more exciting.

Then the third inning happened.

Webster crumbled, the Sox’ bats went cold and the Yankees came away with a 6-4 win Saturday at Fenway Park.

Holding a 3-0 lead, Webster was chased from the game after a disastrous, four-run third inning in which the rookie issued five free passes to Yankee hitters. Webster lasted just 2 2/3 innings, giving up four runs, two hits and six walks for the loss.

At a time when the Red Sox are evaluating their young pitchers to see if any of them can offer reliable performance in 2015, Webster’s loss of the strike zone represented a considerable red flag. His stuff can be electrifying, but if he can’t keep it in the strike zone, it won’t matter.

The loss dropped the Red Sox‘ record to 49-61 for the season.

WHAT WENT WRONG

– Everything appeared to be going well for Webster by the end of the second inning. He had already tossed a pair of clean innings and was given a three-run lead after an offensive outburst off Yankees starter Shane Greene. That all changed for Webster in a horrendous top of the third inning. The rookie gave up four runs on just two hits to give the Yankees a 4-3 lead. Webster faced the entire New York order before being replaced by Burke Badenhop with two outs in the inning. Read the rest of this entry »

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