|08.22.15 at 11:49 pm ET|
As the Red Sox close out the 2015 season, it’s more about the future and having their younger players play and learn from certain types of situations. After all, nothing is more valuable than actual game experience.
That is what happened with Matt Barnes Saturday night against the Royals, as he was making just his second major league start following moving from the bullpen to a starter in Triple-A at the end of July after being a starter for the bulk of his minor league career.
Barnes threw 96 pitches, a season-high between Triple-A and the majors, and it was the final one that was the most costly.
In the sixth inning after walking Kendrys Morales and allowing a single to Mike Moustakas, Salvator Perez crushed a three-run home run into the Royals bullpen, which gave the Royals a 5-0 lead and chased Barnes from the game.
Interim manager Torey Lovullo said the inning was part of the 25-year-old’s growth in becoming a successful major league pitcher, as he didn’t take him out and wanted him to pitch through it.
“He had pitches left and we felt he didn’t reach the number we were looking at,” Lovullo said. “Any time you have a young pitcher that is working though lineups and having success, the last thing you want to do is pull the rug out from under them. You want to let them feel situations, you want to let them work through and have success in certain situations. In this case it works a little bit in the opposite way. I know this is going to sting a little bit and he’s going to remember it and he’s going to grow and learn, and that’s the key for a young pitcher.
“I don’t think it has anything to do with where he’s at pitch-count wise. I know he had something in the tank, I know he had a few extra moments there where he could have got some outs. He just made some mistakes at the wrong time.”
|08.22.15 at 10:39 pm ET|
A night after scoring seven runs off Johnny Cueto, the Red Sox couldn’t keep the offensive momentum going.
Royals starter Yordano Ventura was able to keep the Red Sox in check as he limited the Sox to one run over six innings, as the Royals topped the Red Sox, 6-3.
The loss snapped the Red Sox’ season-high four-game win streak.
The Sox’ offense finally was able to get on the board in the sixth on a Travis Shaw fielder’s choice, which scored Xander Bogaerts. Mookie Betts added a solo home run in the seventh inning, which cleared everything in left field and then Bogaerts added an RBI-single in the ninth.
Although they finished with just three runs, they had their chances.
In the first inning Shaw flew out to left field with runners on first and second with two outs. Then in the fourth, Jackie Bradley Jr. struck out with runners on first and second to end the frame. Also, in the eighth Blake Swihart popped out to second base with runners on second and third to end the threat. Finally, Shaw ended the game with the bases loaded and the tying run at first base. The team left 11 runners in base.
Matt Barnes pitched well until he got to the sixth inning when he allowed a three-run home run to Salvador Perez to break the game open and give the Royals a 5-0 lead. Barnes finished the game going 5 1/3 innings, allowing five runs on eight hits, while walking a batter and striking out two.
Barnes allowed the other two runs in the first inning on a two-run double by Kendrys Morales.
Kansas City added another run in the eighth, which was charged to Heath Hembree.
Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ loss:
|08.22.15 at 5:57 pm ET|
According to those at the event, Cherington joked, it’s “a progressive event that even invites the unemployed.”
Conducting a Q&A with those attending, Cherington was asked a number of questions about the Red Sox‘ organization and some of the recent moves that he and the organization made.
Cherington signed Hanley Ramirez to a four-year, $88 million this offseason, as he would make the switch to being an infielder his entire career to the outfield. Although he’s only been charged with four errors, it hasn’t gone as planned in left field.
“Nobody knew. We didn’t know what he would be defensively in left field,” Cherington said to those at the event. “He’d never done it. So it’s impossible to know. We made a bet based on history of what players look like moving from a middle infield position to another position. And there’s data that can help us make an educated guess. He wanted to and seemed committed to doing it … It hasn’t gone well.”
Also this offseason, the team signed Pablo Sandoval to play third base and help improve the offense. Cherington described the Red Sox‘ third base position as “a black hole” before the signing of Sandoval.
“We actually didn’t think that Fenway Park would have as positive an impact on Pablo as it might for some other hitters,” he said. “That was not the driving force behind signing him. The driving force behind signing him is we’re trying to build a winning team, we had a black hole at third base for two years, he was the right age and we’re trying to improve that position.”
Another third baseman — Josh Donaldson — was traded in the offseason as the Blue Jays were able to strike a deal with the Athletics. Cherington acknowledged the Red Sox inquired about him, but nothing ever came about.
“Yes, called Oakland early in the offseason as we normally would,” Cherington said. “Was told at the beginning of the offseason that they weren’t moving him. So give Toronto credit. They persisted.”
With the former general manager currently out of a job as he declined to stay with the team after they hired Dave Dombrowski as president of baseball operations this week, Cherington was asked what he would do differently in the future.
“I do feel like a couple mistakes we’ve made the last few years is when we got in a rush,” he said. “That’s the one, I am going to try to not be in a rush. But I don’t know what will happen [in the future]. There’s lots of hard parts about not being there. And then there’s hopefully some good stuff, an opportunity to learn something else, try something new. We’ll see. I think in time I’ll be able to answer that question.”
|08.22.15 at 5:20 pm ET|
Rick Porcello is nearing a return to the Red Sox‘ starting rotation.
Making his second rehab start Friday night, after throwing 3 2/3 innings (rain-shortened) in his first rehab start with Single-A Lowell, Porcello went 5 2/3 innings, allowing three runs, three hits and striking out six on 81 pitches with Triple-A Pawtucket as he works his way back from a triceps strain.
He allowed two runs in the first inning and another in the second, but settled down, retiring the final 13 batters he faced.
“He did well yesterday,” interim manager Torey Lovullo said. “A little bit more conversation that I had with him — the first couple of innings had trouble finding some rhythm, which is to be expected just getting back into the flow and rhythm. The remaining innings that he threw and up to the final pitch, he said he felt great. He had command of all three pitches. He was throwing them where he wanted to. His two-seam fastball had the action that he wanted.”
Porcello will throw a bullpen Sunday and then a final decision will be made on what’s next for the right-hander.
Lovullo indicated it’s likely he throws on the upcoming road trip and Porcello told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford earlier in the week the expectation is he would start Wednesday in Chicago.
“Anticipating that the bullpen goes well, he will probably throw sometime on this road trip,” Lovullo said.
— Left fielder Hanley Ramirez is batting just .191 with four extra-base hits (no home runs) since the All-Star break. Most recently, he’s 0 for his last 13 and has just one walk in his last 72 plate appearances.
“I think his timing is a little off right now,” Lovullo said. “His timing, his rhythm is a little off. He’s tinkering with his swing trying to find out where his lower half is. As I’ve been saying the past couple days, things ebb and flow when you’re at this level. He’s probably not getting to the pitches that he can get to and maybe missing a couple of pitches and then frustration is building. It’s about the grind. It’s about working through the grind and that’s where he’s at right now.”
Ramirez has slid down to the No. 6 spot in the order.
— Since Lovullo has taken over as interim manager, the Red Sox are 6-2 and have won four straight. What’s even more impressive is their two best hitters — Ramirez and David Ortiz — are a combined 0 for their last 20.
So why has the team been so successful of late?
|08.22.15 at 3:26 pm ET|
Jackie Bradley Jr. and Brock Holt are back in the lineup as the Sox go against Royals right-hander Yordano Ventura. Holt slides down in the order as Pablo Sandoval will hit second for a third straight game.
[UPDATE 6:15 p.m.: Holt has been scratched from the lineup with left oblique tightness. Josh Rutledge will play second base.]
Hanley Ramirez will be in left, Mookie Betts in center and Bradley Jr. in right. Ramirez is hitting sixth, as Travis Shaw slides up to fifth.
For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.
Here is the complete updated Red Sox lineup:
|08.22.15 at 12:17 pm ET|
A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Friday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (49-78): W, 7-3, vs. Lehigh Valley (Phillies)
— Rick Porcello made a rehab start for the PawSox and went 5 2/3 innings, allowing three earned runs on three hits, including a home run. He walked none and struck out six and did not factor into the decision. Porcello made 20 starts for Boston this season before he was placed on the DL with a right triceps strain. The righty has a 5-11 record and a 5.81 ERA.
— Right-hander Jorge Marban picked up the win after relieving Porcello in the sixth inning. He allowed just one hit in 2 1/3 innings of work. He struck out four and walked none. Marban has appeared in three games for Pawtucket this season and is 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA.
— Righty Noe Ramirez closed out the game with a scoreless ninth inning. He allowed one hit and recorded one strikeout. Ramirez has made 27 appearances for the PawSox this season and is 4-1 with one save and a 2.54 ERA.
— Humberto Quintero got Pawtucket on the board in the second inning with his seventh home run of the season, a solo shot to left-center field. Quintero, who was the designated hitter Friday, finished the game 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored. He is hitting .252 with 30 RBIs after 70 games.
— The PawSox combined for 13 hits as five members of the lineup recorded two-hit games, including Quintero. Shortstop Deven Marrero went 2-for-4 with a walk, an RBI and two runs scored. Catcher Sandy Leon went 2-for-4 with a double, a walk and a run scored. Second baseman Jeff Bianchi and right fielder Jonathan Roof both went 2-for-4 with a run scored.
|08.22.15 at 7:49 am ET|
Barnes has been back and forth between Boston and Triple-A Pawtucket this season. The 25-year-old has accrued a 3-3 record to go along with a 6.59 ERA this season in the majors. He sports an unseemly 1.866 WHIP, allowing 13.2 hits per nine innings. He has also demonstrated the ability to put hitters away, compiling 29 strikeouts in just 27 1/3 innings of work. He has an average fastball velocity of 94.9 mph.
Barnes has made 22 major league appearances on the season, all but one of which has come in relief. He spent the beginning of July with the Sox before being sent to Pawtucket. His return to Boston came in the form of his first career start on Monday.
The right-hander took a loss at the hands of the Indians by a score of 8-2. He threw five innings, allowing six runs on six hits and three walks. He allowed a home run and struck out seven. Despite the less-than-gaudy results, Barnes felt confident about his starting debut.
“I felt really good out there,” Barnes said. “I thought I had really good command of all three pitches.”
“I thought Matt threw the ball really, really well,” interim manager Torey Lovullo said, echoing his starter. “He gave us everything we expected. He was commanding his fastball. Everything was crisp and downhill. He was effective. He did his job for us tonight.”
|08.21.15 at 11:03 pm ET|
Left-hander Henry Owens has made four major league starts including his debut Aug. 4 in New York against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium so it’s not like he’s been eased into the big leagues — he’s been thrown right into the fire.
Over those four starts the 23-year-old has faced two first place teams, including Friday night when he went eight strong innings picking up the win in the Red Sox‘ 7-2 win over the Royals and Johnny Cueto.
“Not thinking about really who’s pitching — I’m thinking about who’s hitting more, and that’s a good ball club, they’ve proven it the last two years or three years,” Owens said. “I knew I had a tough task tonight and Wade [Miley] went out and set the tone yesterday so I just tried to compete and try to match him the best I could.”
Against the Yankees — the other first-place team — he went five innings and allowed just three runs, leaving when the score was 2-1, so clearly he hasn’t let who he’s faced effect him on the mound.
The lanky left-hander went eight complete innings and allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits, while walking a batter and striking out four against the AL Central leaders. By going the full eight innings, it was the second-longest outing by a Red Sox pitcher within his first four major league games since 1994. The longest in that stretch was Clay Buchholz‘s no-hitter in 2007.
Owens said it was the best stuff he’s had in any start this season.
“Yeah, definitely,” he said. “Collectively minor leagues and big leagues I felt like I was pretty comfortable early on and just took it inning and by inning and ended up throwing eight [innings.]”
|08.21.15 at 10:52 pm ET|
If that was an audition, Johnny Cueto may want to petition for a do-over.
The Royals ace acquired from Cincinnati on the Sunday before the trade deadline was racked for a career-high 13 hits and seven runs – six earned – over six innings in a 7-2 Red Sox win Friday night at Fenway Park. For some perspective, Cueto hadn’t allowed double figure hits in a single outing since June 21, 2013, when he was tagged for 11 hits and seven runs in a loss to the Diamondbacks. One outing later, Cueto headed to the disabled list for two months with a lat strain, derailing Cincinnati’s hopes of a division title.
Both Cueto and his manager Ned Yost insisted afterward this was a one-game blip and not a warning flag.
“[He looked] completely comfortable,” Yost said. “He kept competing his tail but just wasn’t really sharp. He never stopped competing but he just wasn’t exceptionally sharp. He was competing through it. He just got some pitches up and got slapped the other way. Pitches hit up the middle. It was one of those nights.”
Cueto, who appeared to be stretching his side occasionally on the mound, said the outing was more about the Red Sox batters than his ineffectiveness.
“First of all, they made adjustments to me,” Cueto said. “I didn’t leave too many [pitches] up. But the ones I did leave up, they put good swings on them. They just beat me today. Those guys are major league baseball players and they’re in a major league lineup and they just beat me.”
To Cueto’s point, Mookie Betts set the tone by taking a Cueto slider the other way to right-center for a double to open the Boston first inning. He didn’t score but it was one of three hits for Betts on the night off Cueto. Blake Swihart went the other way in his first two at-bats against Cueto for base hits. The big adjustment? Look for Cueto’s nasty off-speed stuff and go to the opposite field and up the middle. It worked all night for the Red Sox, who made Cueto sweat on a humid night in Boston.
The capper was Josh Rutledge crushing a pitch from Cueto over the Green Monster in the sixth for a two-run homer that salted the game away. It was the fifth hit in six career at-bats for Rutledge off Cueto.
“It just a bad outing. I’m going to keep my head up and get ready for the next start,” Cueto said.
Just on Thursday, Cueto, who turns 30 in February, said he would want to come to Boston in 2016 as a free agent because the Red Sox are a championship-caliber contender. Maybe Cueto is also aware of just how much the Red Sox have hammered other “aces” this season, with the likes of Sonny Gray, Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez (2x), Chris Sale and Cole Hamels all going down to defeat to Boston.
|08.21.15 at 9:41 pm ET|
Ace, what ace?
For the third time in a week, the Red Sox were able to make an opposing team’s ace look like just an average pitcher.
After tagging Felix Hernandez for 10 runs Saturday and Corey Kluber for six runs Wednesday, Friday it was Johnny Cueto’s turn, as the Red Sox scored seven runs off the new ace of the Royals staff.
The Red Sox beat the Royals 7-2 Friday night for their fourth straight win and was the first time they’ve won four straight since July 4-8. It’s the second time all season they’ve won four straight games.
“We beat Archer, we beat King Felix, we beat Cueto tonight, I just think this team is capable of doing special things in any special moment,” interim manager Torey Lovullo said. “It doesn’t matter who is on the mound. Tonight we rose to the occasion. Tonight we hit some quality pitches. I think tonight Johnny gave up a season-high 13 hits. We just had some quality at-bats. Our guys are locked in.”
Five straight base hits in the second inning got the Red Sox three runs. Travis Shaw started things off with a one-out double and then Blake Swihart had a double that scored two runs. Mookie Betts closed the scoring with an RBI-single to left that Paulo Orlando couldn’t come up with.
They added two more in the fourth thanks to some spotty defense in center field by Lorenzo Cain. Rusney Castillo tripled on a ball that had a chance to be caught (although it would have been a nice catch) and then he scored on Swihart’s single. Swihart came around to score when Betts singled to center and Cain kicked the ball around, allowing him to plate the fifth Red Sox run.
Josh Rutledge — who is 5-for-6 lifetime against Cueto — added a two-run homer in the sixth. Cueto departed after the inning, allowing seven runs on 13 hits.
Making his fourth major league start and second against a first place team, Henry Owens was very effective. The lanky left-hander went eight strong innings allowing two runs on just four hits, while walking one and striking out four.
“Quality outing for Henry,” Lovullo said. “What’s there not to say about what he did? Eight innings, one earned run, got into a great rhythm. Him and Blake were solid together. A two-pitch, at times three-pitch mix. It just seemed to really all click for him. He got into a great flow and a great rhythm. We wanted him to touch the eighth inning, those were some of the conversations we were having in the dugout, but he was so efficient that he worked through the eighth inning. That was a special night for him.”
He got some help with some terrific defense behind him, but the 23-year-old was on his game.
Health Hembree pitched the ninth inning to finish things off.
Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ win:
Latest from Bleacher Report
- Weekly Notes: Season end awards & front office changes
- SoxProspects.com 2015 season-end award winners
- Travis, Moncada highlight Red Sox minor league awards
- Podcast Ep. 86: Season in Review, Pt. 1
- Weekly Notes: Moncada to play winter ball in Puerto Rico
- 2015 SoxProspects.com All-Stars
- Weekly Notes: Front office moves, Fall Instructs rosters announced
- Podcast Ep. 85: Final Notes from the Field, Sept. Rankings, Wendell Rijo
- 2015 Fall Instructional League rosters and schedule take shape
- Red Sox announce trio of front office moves