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Sunday Red Sox Farm Report: Rusney Castillo has another 2-hit game in PawSox win; Jerry Downs walks off Lowell again

07.31.16 at 11:10 am ET
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Here’s a look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Saturday.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (56-52): W, 8-7, vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Yankees)

— Center fielder Rusney Castillo went 2-for-3 with a double and two runs scored. It was his third two-hit game in his last four, and he’s now hitting .232/.278/.306 in 71 games with the PawSox.

— Shortstop Marco Hernandez was 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs. He’s hit in six straight games and 13 out of 14.

— Left fielder Brennan Boesch went 2-for-4 with a two-run home run to right field in the first inning.

— Second baseman Jose Vinicio went 2-for-4 with an RBI single in the eighth inning that put the PawSox ahead to stay.

— Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel, on a rehab assignment, started the game and faced three batters. He allowed a leadoff single, induced a ground out, then hit a batter before being removed.

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Read More: Craig Kimbrel, Jerry Downs, Rusney Castillo, Trent Kemp

Indians acquire reliever Andrew Miller from Yankees to fortify bullpen

07.31.16 at 10:23 am ET
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Andrew Miller

Andrew Miller

The road to the World Series might suddenly pass through Cleveland.

The Indians, already in talks to acquire All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy from the Brewers, struck aggressively on Sunday morning, announcing that they had landed All-Star left-handed reliever Andrew Miller from the Yankees for four prospects.

The deal reunites Miller with manager Terry Francona, who oversaw the very start of his transformation from middling starter to dominant setup man in 2011 with the Red Sox.

It also makes the Indians, who lead the American League Central by 4 1/2 games, formidable contenders. Cleveland is 59-42, two games behind the Rangers for the best record in the American League.

Miller, 31, is in the midst of his best season. He’s 6-1 with a 1.39 ERA and 77 strikeouts in just 45 1/3 innings. He has matched or set career highs in strikeouts per nine (15.3) and strikeout rate (44.8 percent). He is signed through 2018 at $9 million annually.

Whether he closes or sets up for current closer Cody Allen, Miller gives Francona a dominant option at the end of games, as well as a weapon from the left side on an overwhelmingly right-handed staff.

The price was steep and points to the difficulty of completing deals in this current seller’s market. The Indians parted with outfielder and top-25 overall prospect Clint Frazier, as well as left-hander Justus Sheffield, and right-handers Ben Heller and J.P. Feyeresien.

Sheffield, the 31st pick in the 2014 draft, is considered a top-100 prospect by Baseball America and MLB.com.

Read More: andrew miller, Indians, MLB trade rumors, Red Sox

Sunday’s Red Sox-Angels matchups: Steven Wright vs. Tyler Skaggs

07.31.16 at 9:12 am ET
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Steven Wright will get the ball to close out the slumping Red Sox’ four-game series in Anaheim on Sunday afternoon, with left-hander Tyler Skaggs making his second start of the season for the Angels after a two-year absence from the majors due to an elbow injury.

Wright is 12-5 with a 3.12 ERA and 1.198 WHIP, but he’s coming off his worst performance of the season. On Tuesday, Wright last just 4 2/3 innings, giving up a season-high eight runs on nine hits and three walks with a pair of strikeouts as the Sox suffered a 9-8 loss to the Tigers. Wright put the Sox in an early 4-0 hole, and after the Boston offense rallied for a 5-4 lead in the fourth, Wright gave up four more runs in the fifth.

“Early on didn’t have the same, or typical, violence and action to his knuckleball,” manager John Farrell said. “They nick him for a couple of runs in each of the first two innings then I thought he got the touch and feel for it. Started to have his typical action to the pitch, and then in that fifth inning, couple of walks to lead things off and we contributed inside the inning with an extra out. A couple of balls found their way through a hole.”

Said Wright: “This is a tough loss for me because I feel like you can get eight runs, you should get the team a win. You can’t keep asking the offense to score eight, nine runs every night. That’s tough to do for any team.”

Much was made after the game about the challenges of throwing the knuckleball on a hot humid night such as Tuesday’s, but Wright downplayed the moisture issue.

“It makes it move a little bit more, but I don’t think that really affected me today,” Wright said. “I felt like the ball was moving. I thought the ball was coming out of my hand really good. Definitely had a little bit of a hard time getting called strikes and they were taking. They had a good approach, especially that last inning.”

In three career starts against the Angels, Wright is 2-1 with a 6.61 ERA and 1.531 WHIP. On July 1 at Fenway, Wright pitched five shutout innings but then ran into trouble in the sixth, loading the bases on a double, hit batsman and walk before surrounding a grand slam to C.J. Cron that ended his night. However, the Red Sox held on for a 5-4 win. In five-plus innings Wright gave up eight hits and three walks while striking out three.

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Craig Kimbrel slated to rejoin Red Sox in Seattle

07.31.16 at 1:37 am ET
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Craig Kimbrel. (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports)

Craig Kimbrel. (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports)

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The return of Craig Kimbrel appears imminent.

After the closer’s 17-pitch outing with the Pawtucket Red Sox Saturday — in which he allowed a leadoff single, hit a batter and induced a ground ball to first base — Kimbrel is slated to join the Red Sox Monday in Seattle.

“We’ll wait till he arrives before we go through an exam with him, make sure everything is a go,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell after his team’s 5-2 loss to the Angels Saturday night. “And then beyond that, a determination will be made of activation on Monday and a corresponding move at that point.”

The appearance with the PawSox was Kimbrel’s only rehab outing since undergoing surgery on his left knee July 11. Monday would be three weeks out from an operation the Red Sox identified as needing 3-6 weeks to recover from.

Kimbrel had thrown multiple bullpen sessions prior to the Triple-A start, including a session off the Fenway Park mound prior to the Red Sox’ Wednesday afternoon game.

David Ortiz on race getting tighter: ‘They’re sniffing on us’

07.31.16 at 1:13 am ET
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David Ortiz

David Ortiz

ANAHEIM, Calif — The American League East has a new first-place team, and the Wild Card standings are starting to bunch up.

And don’t think David Ortiz hasn’t taken notice.

“(We need to) get better, ’cause we got some other teams right there,” said the Red Sox designated hitter. “They’re sniffing on us.”

The Red Sox continued to teeter on the brink of genuine concern, dropping a 5-2 decision to the Angels to fall two games in back of first-place Toronto. In the Wild Card standings, the Sox are 1 1/2 games in back of the Orioles (who have now lost five in a row), one game up on Detroit and 1 1/2 games ahead of Houston.

Considering the Sox have lost five of their last six, and seven of nine, Ortiz understands urgency is starting to set in.

“Not good,” the DH said of the latest downturn. “It’s just you’re working through that funk, where it’s kind of hard to just put it together. That’s what it has been this past week.”

Asked if the younger players understands the magnitude of what approaches them in what is shaping up to be wild pennant race, Ortiz said, “They do. They better.”

Closing Time: Red Sox, Drew Pomeranz can’t take advantage of Angels

07.31.16 at 12:13 am ET
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Drew Pomeranz had his second subpar as a member of the Red Sox, Saturday night. (Richard Mackson/USA Today Sports)

Drew Pomeranz had his second subpar as a member of the Red Sox on Saturday night. (Richard Mackson/USA Today Sports)

ANAHEIM, Calif. — A lackluster Drew Pomeranz performance, and a bunch of runners left on base.

There’s your answer to why the Red Sox are back trying to rediscover the momentum they thought had been harnessed Friday night.

For the second time in his three starts with his new team, Pomeranz allowed as many as five runs, this time giving up five over 5 1/3 innings (throwing just 79 pitches). That, coupled with the Red Sox the Red Sox going 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, paved the way to a 5-2 Angels win over John Farrell’s team.

It’s not as if Pomeranz and the Red Sox didn’t have their chances. The starter was staked with a 2-0 lead by the time he took the mound in the first (with Mookie Betts hitting a home run to leadoff the game). But the lefty couldn’t hold the lead, giving it up for good on Albert Pujols’ two-run homer in the third inning.

“Missed opportunities. That’s the story of this one,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “We did a fantastic job of once again putting guys on, but to cash in and complete the inning, that base hit has been elusive. Mookie leads off with a home run, we et a quick injection of life in the dugout, we’re building an inning, we could come right back, and unfortunately, we leave the bases loaded in the first. Once again, multiple guys on in multiple innings. It’s been all or nothing, it seems like, this stretch that we’re through offensively right now. We continue to do a very good, a great job, of creating opportunities. They’ve been elusive.”

Pomeranz, who only allowed five or more runs twice in 17 starts with the Padres, now owns a 7.53 ERA with the Red Sox. Coming into the game, the southpaw had posted a 2.32 ERA and .166 opponents batting average in nine road starts.

“The first [start with the Red Sox] wasn’t me, having a lot of time off and a lot of things going on,” Pomeranz said. “Last one was more of myself, I feel like. And tonight I made a bad pitch to Pujols, walked a couple guys. But overall I felt like I did a decent job.”

With the loss, the Red Sox fall two games in back of the new leader in the American League East, Toronto.

For a complete box score, click here.
Closing Time note

Dustin Pedroia has now reached base safely in 33 straight games, walking twice before his sixth-inning single.

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After having breakfast with Charlie Hough, Steven Wright said he’s not changing a thing

07.30.16 at 10:00 pm ET
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Steven Wright is confident he has a solid handle on handling the elements. (David Butler/USA Today Sports)

Steven Wright is confident he has a solid handle on handling the elements. (David Butler/USA Today Sports)

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Since his last start, there has been a lot of talk concerning what went wrong with Steven Wright when he surrendered eight runs against Detroit.

One of the suggestions to help Wright battle the kind of elements (hot and humid) which has usually plagued the pitcher was the idea of helping limit the moisture on the knuckleballers forearms by wearing sleeves.

But Wright said Saturday that when he takes the mound Sunday at Angel Stadium, there will be no differences.

“I don’t feel like I need to wear sleeves,” he said. “I haven’t had an issue with sweat.”

Asked if he has talked through the issue with Red Sox manager John Farrell, Wright said he hadn’t. “I don’t think it’s a discussion that needs to be had,” he said.

But Saturday morning Wright did lean on somebody to help keep trending in the right direction for the regular season’s final two months. That came when he met up with former knuckleballer Charlie Hough for breakfast at the Red Sox’ team hotel.

“He’s awesome. I always make it a point to come out to California to get in touch with him,” Wright said of the 68-year-old Hough. “I definitely talk to [Tim Wakefield] more, but I talk to Charlie to hear his opinions, too, because he was so successful, as was Wake. I like both of their opinions because even thoiugh they threw the same pitch, their terminology and mindset are different.”

The brunt of Hough’s message to Wright this time was that all knuckleballers go through rough spots, like the the Red Sox’ pitcher has in two of his last four outings.

It’s not up to Wright to heed Hough’s suggestion and zero in on what went two starts ago, when the Sox pitcher gave up just two runs over eight innings, instead of obsessing over the last outing.

“They expect us to be robots and be perfect, and when you’re not it’s like, ‘Whoa!’ If you’re doing well and you have a bad outing, people are surprised, which is good,” Wright said. “People expect you to go out and do well every time, which is what I expect, too. But we’re only human.

“Every pitcher goes through it. Just like hitters. They’re going to go through they’re time in the season. It’s baseball. You play the whole season and you hope you limit the damage when you’re having a bad outing.”

John Farrell: Blake Swihart not ‘out of the woods yet’ in terms of coming back from injury

07.30.16 at 8:10 pm ET
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Blake Swihart

Blake Swihart

ANAHEIM, Calif. — As the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, John Farrell is optimistic about what the Red Sox have coming back for the regular season’s final two months.

“You know, I only look at who’s available to us. We’ve got two very important guys who are working their way back from injury and that’s not to take anything away from what guys have done,” Farrell said prior to his team’s game against the Angels Saturday night. “Bryce Brentz has stepped in and given us everything we could have hoped he would do. he’s performed well. Chris Young (hamstring) coming back to us in time will certainly give us that veteran in that spot in that role that accustomed to. We feel like we have a good complement with Brock [Holt] on the left-handed side and Bryce or Chris in that spot. Just look at the guys that are under our control. I feel like we’ve got a good team to not only maintain where we are in this race but to win this division. That’s our thought, that’s our belief and trust in the guys that are here.”

But there was one player Farrell didn’t mention: Blake Swihart.

The catcher/left fielder, who has been out since hurting his ankle June 4, doesn’t appear to be on the same track back as the likes of Young or Josh Rutledge (knee).

“It’s probably too early to tell yet. We felt once we left on the road trip these next seven to 10 days would be pivotal on what his next steps were,” Farrell said in regards to Swihart. “As the intensity ramps up, how he was going to respond physically was going to be the predictor of a rehab assignment and eventual return. I can’t say he’s out of the woods yet with the ankle injury.

The uncertainty surrounding Swihart’s condition is the reason both Young and Rutledge are with the major league team on their current West Coast road trip.

“The fact that the baseball activity for Rut and C.Y. continue here indicates they’re probably ready to go out on a rehab assignment once we get back,” the manager said. “Blake is still in that almost ground-based testing and ramping up of intensity with the cuts and change of direction. That’s been step by step — two steps forward, one step back type of approach.”

Saturday’s Red Sox-Angels matchups: Drew Pomeranz vs. Hector Santiago

07.30.16 at 8:32 am ET
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Saturday night the Red Sox and Angels will meet for the third time at Angel Stadium. This matchup will feature Drew Pomeranz of the Red Sox versus Hector Santiago of the Angels.

Pomeranz is 8-8 in 19 starts this season with a 2.84 ERA and a 1.117 WHIP. Since being traded to the Red Sox from the Padres earlier this month, Pomeranz is 0-1 in two starts with a 7.00 ERA and a 1.778 WHIP. On Monday, Pomeranz pitched six innings, giving up two runs on four hits and two walks with seven strikeouts. The only two runs Pomeranz allowed came in the sixth inning on a Jose Iglesias two-run home run. Until that inning, Pomeranz had prevented any runners from getting to third base and only three balls had left the infield.

“He pitched as we had anticipated at the time of the trade,” manager John Farrell said. “Likely a six-inning pitcher. Chance to go keeper if the pitch count is a little bit shortened from where it was. Don’t want to start him with an inning at over 100 pitches. I thought a very good curveball tonight compared to his last time out. A number of swing-and-miss to it. Unfortunately, the one pitch that cost us was a fastball that stayed up over the plate to Iglesias. He was very good, I thought for the six innings of work.”

In eight career appearances (three starts) against the Angels, Pomeranz is 1-2 with a 4.24 ERA and a 1.157 WHIP. The 27-year-old southpaw last saw the Angels in August of 2015 in a relief appearance, as a member of the Athetics. Pomeranz retired the final two Angels batters by way of ground out in that contest. In April of 2015, Pomeranz made his most recent start against the Angels. In that outing, he went five innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on eight hits and one walk with six strikeouts.

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Story of when Jackie Bradley Jr. sat on curveball for first time this season

07.30.16 at 2:00 am ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Let’s cut to the chase.

Jackie Bradley Jr. is exceeding everyone’s expectations with the bat, particularly when it comes to hitting the ball out of the ballpark. This was once again put on display Friday night when the outfielder went deep for the 17th time this season, during the Red Sox’ 6-2 win over the Angels.

“Tonight was almost a snapshot of it,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell of Bradley’s progress as a hitter. “Early on, he’s aggressive first pitch. They’re throwing some curveballs. In the home run at-bat, he stayed a little more patient. He might have been looking for the same pitch but he got it a little bit later in the sequence and was able to sit on it. I think that’s just speaking to what the attack plan against him is becoming. It’s great to see.”

The manager added, “I thought we always viewed him as a mid- to upper-teens home run capability. That’s what he’s shown the last couple of years. We’re glad he’s on the pace that he’s on. I guess that’s the best way to sum it up.”

Amazingly, since Aug. 9, 2015, 78 of Bradley’s 153 hits have gone for extra-bases. During that span he has hit 26 homers, 10 triples, 42 doubles and 75 singles.

But it was that approach in the at-bat that netted his homer against Angels starter Tim Lincecum that told Bradley’s tale. First-pitch curveball, then two straight fastballs, until he finally got the bender one more time.
 
“I was sitting on curveball,” Bradley explained. “He threw me a first-pitch curveball for a ball, then I took two fastballs — one was a strike, one was a ball. That was probably the first time I sat on an offspeed pitch all year. I took a chance, took a gamble, and I was rewarded for it.”

He had a plan, and he executed. That simply wasn’t taking place during his first few runs through big league pitching.
 
“Pretty confident,” he said of waiting for the offspeed pitch. “At that particular point in the game, I had seen a lot of curveballs, a lot of offspeed pitches. The percentages of me getting one were pretty high, especially since they had gotten me out on it in previous at-bats. Usually when they get you out on it, they feel like they can continually throw it to get you out. I took a calculated risk and was able to put a good swing on it.”

(To watch Bradley’s home run, click here.)

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