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Sunday’s Red Sox-Angels matchups: Rubby De La Rosa vs. Hector Santiago

08.10.14 at 12:24 pm ET
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The Red Sox will close out a three-game set against the Angels Sunday, sending Rubby De La Rosa to the mound against Hector Santiago in the series finale.

De La Rosa (3-4, 3.43 ERA) finally appeared to solve his road woes in his last start Tuesday against the Cardinals, holding St. Louis to six hits and just one earned run over six innings of work. Entering the game, De La Rosa had an ERA of 6.04 in four starts away from Fenway Park.

“I feel good,” De La Rosa said after the game. “I feel everything worked. I had a couple of walks. I missed a couple of pitches.”

Despite his struggles in opposing ballparks, De La Rosa has been one of Boston’€™s most consistent starters this season, allowing three runs or less in six of his last seven starts.

In his only career start against the Angels on June 24, 2011, De La Rosa gave up nine hits and five earned runs over six innings.

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Heath Hembree to be optioned to Triple-A after stellar Red Sox debut

08.10.14 at 4:49 am ET
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — After throwing the most innings since sophomore year of college (four), Heath Hembree could take satisfaction that he made quite an impression in his Red Sox debut.

He also had to soak in the reality that Sunday he would be back in Triple-A.

Hembree kept the Red Sox in what turned out to be their 5-4, 19-inning loss Saturday night/Sunday morning with four shutout relief frames, in which he allowed just a pair of hits. Previously, the righty’s longest professional stint had been just two innings.

“It was fun. It was a crazy game tonight,,” said Hembree, who pitched innings 15-18. “That was definitely the longest outing of my career. Just trying to catch my breath and keep going.”

He added, “Honestly I was getting a little tired, but I was just trying to give everything I had and just empty the tank. There wasn’t that much adrenaline, per se. I was just out there pitching, and it just happened I had to go four innings tonight.”

The 25-year-0ld, who came over to the Red Sox in the Jake Peavy trade, had appeared in just nine major league games prior to Saturday night, having totaled 7 2/3 innings of relief for the Giants.

Perhaps Hembree’s most impressive moment came in the 17th inning when the righty was faced with bases loaded and just one out. But, after issuing his second intentional walk of the inning, the reliever came back to induce a shallow fly ball from C.J. Cron and a fielder’s choice grounder by Chris Iannetta to end the threat.

“He was outstanding,” said Farrell of the former fifth-round pick. “We backed them in a corner with a couple of intentional walks there. He’s still able to make the key pitch. We make a good play defensively to prevent a run from scoring with Cespdes throw. He was very good. Swing and miss with his fastball, didn’t feat the strike zone. A very positive first outing.”

Closing Time: Albert Pujols’ homer in 19th inning dooms Red Sox

08.10.14 at 3:43 am ET
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — It came at 3:39 a.m. (ET), with nobody out in the 19th inning.

Finally, the Red Sox succumbed.

Albert Pujols leadoff homer in the 19th off Brandon Workman gave the Angels a 5-4 win over the Red Sox, ending the Sox’ longest game since July 9, 2006. It punctuated a 6-hour, 31-minute game.

While the outcome fell short of the Red Sox record of 24 innings — set on Sept. 4, 1906 — it was the longest game in the history of Angel Stadium. It was also the most innings played in any Major League game this season.

The Pujols blast finalized a roller coaster of a contest.

Newly-acquired Heath Hembree got out of a huge jam in the 17th inning after loading the bases with one out. The former Giant induced a shallow fly ball and fielder’s choice grounder to send the game to the 18th. The righty allowed just two hits over his four innings.

“He was outstanding,” said Farrell of Hembree, who is scheduled to be optioned back to Triple-A Pawtucket to get another arm for Sunday. “We backed them in a corner with a couple of intentional walks there. He’s still able to make the key pitch. We make a good play defensively to prevent a run from scoring with [Yoenis] Cespedes throw. He was very good. Swing and miss with his fastball, didn’t feat the strike zone. A very positive first outing.”

Junichi Tazawa came on in the 14th with the Red Sox having just grabbed a one-run lead. But the reliever would soon be facing Mike Trout with the bases loaded and nobody out. (Farrell later said he was hoping to stay away from using Tazawa, who had pitched in three of the Sox’ last four games.)

Trout’s grounder to shortstop Xander Bogaerts resulted in a force at second base, with Dustin Pedroia‘s throw home not in time to prevent thee game-tying score.

“Yeah, I mean, it’s tough to play infield in. If they hit a chopper, we lose,” Pedroia explained. “Winning run’s on second. But yeah, I told Bogey before, if he smokes a ball, try to give it to me out in front of the base so we could try to get that out at home because Trout runs so good. Iannetta just got a great jump.”

Tazawa managed to escape with the score tied, striking out Josh Hamilton, stranding runners on second and third.

It was Pedroia’s efforts earlier in the 14th inning appeared to be leading to a Red Sox win.

After ripping a 14th-inning single, Pedroia stole second, popped up and raced to third after realizing nobody was covering third. (The Angels had forgotten to cover the bag, having been in a shift on David Ortiz.)

Ortiz punctuated the effort, lofting a deep fly ball to left field that scored Pedroia with the eventual game-winner.

Before the 14th-inning drama, more than an hour earlier it appeared Clay Buchholz would be highlighting the Red Sox’ night. Then along came the starter’s 115th pitch.

With two outs in the eighth inning and the Red Sox leading by a run, Red Sox manager chose to leave in Buchholz to face Mike Trout, who had already notched a pair of hits off the Sox starter. The result was a game-tying, solo home run over the right-center field wall.

“If I’d have known we were going to play 19 innings, I promise you I wouldn’€™t have given up a home run to Trout,” Buchholz said. “I’d have walked him.”

Prior to the eighth, Buchholz had actually out-pitched his Los Angeles counterpart, Angels’ ace Garrett Richards. For six innings, Richards was cruising through a no-hitter against a seemingly lifeless Red Sox team. Then there was what happened after that sixth inning.

The Red Sox exploded for three runs in the seventh against the Angels’ starter, who was coming off a complete game shutout of the Dodgers. It all started when Richards’ no-hitter was broken up by Dustin Pedroia, who singled up the middle leading off the seventh. Up until that point, the Angels’ starter had struck out five and walked two over six innings.

The Pedroia hit opened the flood gates for the Red Sox and completely changed the game’s narrative.

Ortiz immediately followed with an RBI double, which led to Yoenis Cespedes single. The Sox then proceeded to tie things up when Angels shortstop Erick Aybar (whose wife had kindly delivered homemade food to the Sox’ clubhouse before the game), booted a Mike Napoli grounder, allowing Ortiz to come in with the game-tying run.

Los Angeles continued to boot the ball around a batter later, with second baseman Howie Kendrick booting a sure double play ball off the bat of Daniel Nava, loading the bases with nobody out. That led to Xander Bogaerts’ sacrifice fly, giving the Red Sox their out-of-nowhere lead.

Despite’s Trout’s eighth-inning homer, perhaps the best news of the night for the Red Sox was the performance of Buchholz, who settled down after a shaky first inning to match Richards’ early excellence.

The Angels jumped on Buchholz with two runs in the first, with Los Angeles claiming three straight hits to start the home half of the inning. Kole Calhoun led off with a double, and was followed by Trout’s single. After a wild pitch, Albert Pujols ripped a double just out of the reach of center fielder Brock Holt for the early two-run lead.

Buchholz would go on to retire his next 11 batters before Howie Kendrick’s two-out walk in the fourth inning. It wasn’t until Trout’s sixth-inning single that the Sox righty allowed another hit.

The performance was far and away the best for Buchholz sine his complete game shutout against Houston just before the All-Star break. Since that outing against the Astros he had allowed  23 runs on 31 hits and 13 walks over 22 innings (four starts), for a 9.00 ERA. His two most recent outings saw Buchholz give up seven runs in five innings each time.

There was, of course, yet another spectacular catch by defensive replacement Jackie Bradley Jr. This time it was a running grab on a liner to right-center field off the bat of Erick Aybar in the ninth inning.

The Red Sox got out of a major jam in the 10th inning when Craig Breslow induced a foul pop-up off the bat of Josh Hamilton with runners on second and third, ending the frame. Hamilton moved  to 0 for his last 21 after the at-bat.

Also of note was Christian Vazquez catching 18 innings, tying his career-high longest game (accomplished with Double-A Portland). “I’ll be all right,” he said. “I’m young.”

Yoenis Cespedes likes left field, wants to steal more bases, is really fast

08.09.14 at 10:35 pm ET
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Yoenis Cespedes is fast.

As John Farrell explained Saturday, this is a fact the Red Sox have been introduced to during their brief introduction to the outfielder.

“His running speed is better than we anticipated,” the Red Sox manager said. “His range in the outfield, going first to third on a bloop down the right field line. He’s got a very strong work ethic. Those are all things we had a feel for. But the range in the outfield and his running speed has been above what was anticipated.”

The most recent reminder regarding Cespedes speed — (he says his fastest time in the 60-yard dash is a world-class 6.1 seconds) — came Friday night when he tracked down a sinking liner off the bat Chris Iannetta. Then there was the extra gear he exhibited when running the bases in St. Louis.

They knew about the power and the arm, but, for his new team, Cespedes’ wheels were somewhat unexpected.

“I don’t think we know,” said Red Sox first base/outfield coach Arnie Beyeler regarding the impact the outfielder can make with his legs. “He kind of plays pretty easy. He made that catch last night and kind of hit another gear when he got close to that ball. We were playing the wrong way on him, but he came out of nowhere and closed on that ball. Then the other night in St. Louis when he got the triple. He didn’t really start running until the ball hit the ground, I look up and he’s at third base. He shows a little bit more every day. He’s fun to watch play. He’s a pretty exciting guy.”

The mobility leads to a conversation about which position Cespedes might end up at. The original plan was to play him in right field, with newly-acquired Allen Craig shifting over to left field. But with an ankle injury to Craig — and the need for Cespedes to get more practice in right (a position he has never played) — the Red Sox have put that blueprint on hold.

Then there is the intrigue regarding a possible stint in center field, where Cespedes primarily played in Cuba. But even with the experience in center (and the potential team’s need at the position), the power hitter prefers his current spot in left.

“I’ve become accustomed to playing left field,” he said. “If I had to play center field,and they asked me to, I would do it. ‘€¦ I’ve just grown accustomed to playing (in left). I have to run less to get balls. I’ve gotten comfortable.”

The other facet of Cespedes game which might develop with the Red Sox thanks to his speed is an ability to steal bases. In his first season with Oakland, he swiped 16 bases in 20 attempts. But last season that number dropped to seven in as many tries. This season he is 3-for-5 in stole bases tries.

“The first couple of years I stole a few more bases, but I started getting some hamstring issues so i got a little timid about stealing bases,” he said. “But i would like to steal more bases, and I can.”

David Ross wants to play ‘at least one more year’

08.09.14 at 10:02 pm ET
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — David Ross isn’€™t ready to call it quits quite yet.

The 37-year-old Red Sox catcher, who is currently on the 15-day disabled list after rupturing his plantar fascia, said prior to his team’€™s game with the Angels Saturday night that he hopes to play beyond the 2014 season.

“At least one more year,” Ross said.

“It’€™s getting to a point where my kids are at a age where they miss Dad. It’€™s harder to leave. It’€™s not so much the game, but more the off the field stuff. I still love the game. I love competing. I love being in the clubhouse around the guys. I love playing. But my whole thing is the off the field stuff. My kids get to the age where they really miss Dad. Being a father is important.”

Ross has battled through injuries throughout his two seasons with the Red Sox, having played in just 36 games in ‘€™13 due to concussion issues, and then having to manage plantar fasciitis this year.

The Red Sox embrace the dynamic Ross brings on the current roster, with rookie Christian Vazquez learning his trade alongside the veteran.

Ross is, however, a free agent at the end of ‘€™14, having signed a two-year, $6.2 million deal with the Red Sox prior to the ‘€™13 season. According to the catcher, there have been no talks with the team regarding a possible extension.

“If my agent calls and they say they don’€™t know then I might be in a bad mood. I don’€™t want to work in a bad mood or be mad at them,” he said. “If they want me back they’€™ll come to me and if not there’€™s no hard feelings. I love this place. The Red Sox are going to be part of my life for the rest of my life. This is a special place for me. But I try and stay out of that stuff.”

He added, “I had so much fun last year when we were winning. I would like to try and do that again. That was like a band of brothers that I’€™ll have for life. I’€™ve had such good experience in baseball the last five or six years of my baseball career when I became a true back-up and played on winning teams. I want to do that again. It’€™s easier to say it’€™s getting hard and I want to play one or two more years because of the family, but when that time comes it’€™s going to be hard to walk away. It may be easier to say that it is to actually do.”

Ross, who has been playing in the major leagues since ’02, is currently hitting .192 with six homers over 40 games this season.

John Farrell explains Red Sox approach toward Jackie Bradley

08.09.14 at 8:35 pm ET
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ANAHEIM —  John Farrell wanted to make it clear Saturday that the Red Sox are simply taking step back with Jackie Bradley, not running away all together.

Bradley wasn’€™t in the starting lineup for the fourth time in the five games on the Sox’€™ current road trip. And while the center fielder had entered two of the games as a defensive replacement ‘€“ making one of the most spectacular catches of the season in the eighth inning Friday ‘€“ there hasn’€™t been much of an opportunity to get out of what has been a horrific slump (0 for his last 27).

But, as Farrell explained, Bradley and the Red Sox are attempting to use the time out of the lineup wisely.

“Well, one, we need (his playing time) to increase,” the manager said. “And yet there’s a stretch of time here where we’re addressing some things. He’s aware of the approach we’re taking. We sat down and met with him yesterday on what the thought is. We don’t want him to be questioning his abilities or where does he stand. Just emphasizing the need for the early work to make the adjustments.

“We’ve talked about the players we’re trying to get as best and as long a read as we can, and Jackie’s one of them. And that’s going to require consistent playing time going forward.”

There have been signs for Bradley.

This is a player who hit .297 with an .876 OPS in the minor leagues, who also showed some life in July with a .278 batting average in July.

“It’s one of the reasons he moved to the big leagues so quick,” said Farrell of the outfielder’€™s offensive potential. “He’s been a consistent performer and yet the first time he’s been challenged on two occasions as been at this level. And that’s up to all of us involved to make the necessary adjustments, and that’s what he’s working through.”

Until that offense is sorted out, there is always the defense.

“His reads off the bat are better than any outfielder I’ve ever seen,” the manager noted. “Seemingly he’s on the move as the ball’s going through the hitting zone, even before contact is made. There are a lot of other outfielders than are faster than him in the league, and yet I think he’s probably got the most range of anybody in the game, and it’s because of the instincts.”

Red Sox lineup: Brock Holt back in center field

08.09.14 at 5:24 pm ET
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — With Garrett Richards on the mound for the Angels, Red Sox manager John Farrell sends out a duplication of the lineup that took the series opener Friday night.

Most notably is Brock Holt getting another start in center field, with Will Middlebrooks once again earning the nod at third base.

Here is the Red Sox‘ lineup with Clay Buchholz on the mound for the visitors:

Brock Holt CF

Dustin Pedroia 2B

David Ortiz DH

Yoenis Cespedes LF

Mike Napoli 1B

Daniel Nava RF

Xander Bogaerts SS

Will Middlebrooks 3B

Christian Vazquez C

For all the matchups, click here.

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