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Step in right direction for Koji Uehara

04.28.15 at 5:30 am ET
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Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara

It was perhaps one of the more worrisome early-season signs for the Red Sox.

Not only the image of Koji Uehara blowing the save in Baltimore Saturday night, but doing so with an 85 mph fastball that he clearly didn’t feel comfortable throwing. The result was an ineffective primary pitch (split) and outing.

Monday night, Uehara doused some of the concerns.

The Red Sox closer needed 16 pitches to turn in a perfect ninth inning, which included a pair of strikeouts.

But beyond just the result, Uehara’s optimism stemmed from the actual pitches he was presenting. This time there were four fastballs (3 strikes) which lived in the 88 mph area, allowing for significantly different reaction from the Blue Jays hitters.

“With the pitch selection, I told Hani [catcher Ryan Hanigan] that I wanted to throw a lot more fastballs in this outing,” Uehara said through a translator after the Red Sox’ 6-5 walkoff win.

The reliever added, “I recognize the importance of the fastball after the last outing. That’€™s what I took out of that outing.”

Red Sox manager John Farrell, for one, took notice of the difference in the two appearances.

“Second night in Baltimore was first time he’€™s gone back to back all year so hopefully he’€™s gaining some arm strength,” Farrell said. “A couple of days off seemed to be a little bit rejuvenated. Better finish to not only the fastball but to the split. Encouraging night from him as well.”

Uehara knows there is more to prove, having still thrown his fastball just 17 percent of the time compared to the 40-plus percent he had totaled the last two seasons.

“I still don’€™t know if it’€™s good or not because I haven’€™t thrown a lot of the fastballs this season,” he noted. “I think I still need to work on it.”

How Xander Bogaerts has helped Mookie Betts: ‘I talk a lot to Mookie’

04.27.15 at 11:36 pm ET
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Xander Bogaerts has helped Mookie Betts get through the first three weeks of his first full big league season. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Xander Bogaerts has helped Mookie Betts get through the first three weeks of his first full big league season. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts entered Monday 0 for his last 10, and hitting just .171 after going 2-for-4 on Opening Day.

For a 21-year-old outfielder in his first full big league season, this might be reason to get frustrated and continue to scuffle.

But not Betts, as he went 3-for-4, including a walkoff single, giving the Red Sox a 6-5 comeback win over the Blue Jays Monday night.

Fortunately for Betts, he has a teammate and good friend Xander Bogaerts to help guide him through his first full season in the league, and help him when things get tough.

Bogaerts had many ups and downs in his first year last year, so he knows first-hand what Betts is going through.

“I talk a lot to Mookie,” Bogaerts said. “I’ve kind of been through whatever he’s going through now, and probably a bit more. So I really just pass on my advice and my experience to him for sure.”

“Just a lot of the struggles I’ve been through,” he added on what he’s said to Betts. “It’s a long season. No matter what just keep your head up and don’t lose your confidence.”

Monday’s walkoff hit was the first of Betts’ career, as he lined a Miguel Castro offering up the middle, which scored Bogaerts (evidently) capping the come-from-behind win, snapping a two-game losing streak in the process.

“€œIt was short-lived. It was fun,” said Betts. “I kind of knew how to process it. It was fun.”

In the Red Sox‘ 18-7 loss to the Orioles Sunday, Betts had one of his worst games of the season committing an error in center field and going 0-for-5 at the plate. Instead of hanging his head Monday, he went out and had one of his best games of the season, something that drew the attention of manager John Farrell.

“The one thing we’re seeing in the early going here is after a tough day he’s able to put it behind him,” he said. “Even after getting thrown out in the first inning, which [Russell] Martin makes a great throw on, he’s able to put it behind him and put up quality at-bats.”

Just like his ability to put the previous game behind him like a major league veteran, Betts also spoke like one after the walkoff win, knowing it’s just another win in the standings.

“A win is a win. Anytime we win it’€™s important, especially with this division,” he said.

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Even with up-and-down outing, John Farrell has faith in Joe Kelly: ‘He’s got big-time stuff’

04.27.15 at 11:06 pm ET
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Joe Kelly allowed five runs in six innings, while striking out 10 in a no-decision against the Blue Jays Monday night. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Joe Kelly allowed five runs in six innings, while striking out 10 in a no-decision against the Blue Jays Monday night. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Red Sox starter Joe Kelly hit 100 MPH with his fastball a few times in Monday’s game against the Blue Jays.

With most pitchers that would be their go-to pitch, but not Kelly on Monday.

The Blue Jays hitters pounced on Kelly’s fastball and jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning and a 5-2 lead going into the bottom of the fourth. Kelly’s big mistake was to rookie Devon Travis in the second inning when he took a Kelly offering into the Monster seats for his sixth home run of the year.

Kelly managed to settle down (despite 33 first inning pitches) and went six innings, allowing five runs on five hits, while walking three and striking out a career-high 10 batters. He’s recorded at least seven strikeouts in three of his first four starts this season. This comes after not striking out more than six in a game prior to coming to the Red Sox last year.

“I was shaky the whole night with my fastball command,” Kelly said. “It’€™s something that we’€™d call fastball away down and away to righty and it was something that I was missing over the middle or missing in. So from then on out I basically had to go to my off speed, which is the only thing that kept me in that ballgame.”

According to Brooksbaseball.net, Kelly relied on his slider after seeing his fastball wasn’t getting the results he was looking for. He threw the slider 27 times (24 strikes) in the game. This comes after throwing the slider 18, 15, and 12 times respectively in his first three starts of the year.

Even with the up-and-down outing, Kelly drew some praise from his manager afterwards, as through his first four starts of the season, the right-hander has shown he has the “stuff” to be the pitcher the Red Sox need to lead their rotation.

“The positive is you’re not going to find better arm strength, better velocity,” manager John Farrell said. “At times he may over throw occasionally and mis-locate such as the 0-2 pitch to [Devon] Travis (home run). It’s electric stuff and as he begins to harness it and understand when he’s most effective. And that is when he’s using his secondary pitches as well, he’s got big-time stuff.”

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Closing Time: Mookie Betts’ walkoff single leads Red Sox to come-from-behind win over Blue Jays

04.27.15 at 9:33 pm ET
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Monday night’s Red Sox game might be a glimpse into what most games will be like for the rest of the season.

The Red Sox got an average start from Joe Kelly but were bailed out by their offense, as they rallied to beat the Blue Jays, 6-5.

After tying the game at 5 in the eighth inning following deficits of 3-0 and 5-2, the Red Sox capped the rally in the ninth with a walkoff base hit by Mookie Betts.

With one out, Xander Bogaerts and Ryan Hanigan singled back-to-back, and moved up a base on a wild pitch. Bogaerts then scored the game-winning run on Betts’ hit.

“Once again, aided by a couple of wild pitches to advance 90 feet, Mookie with a key base hit late,” manager John Farrell said. “There were so many things inside of this game. Bogey [Bogaerts] makes a great play with two outs in the hole on [Devon] Travis when [Alexi] Ogando was on the mound. Two big innings from Ogando. Much more spark from Koji [Uehara] tonight. A number of key contributors here.”

Toronto scored quickly against Kelly with three first inning runs, and forced the Red Sox right-hander to work hard early on.

Despite allowing three first inning runs on 33 pitches, Kelly settled down and made it through six innings. He allowed five runs on five hits while walking three and striking out 10. The 10 strikeouts were a career-high.

“The positive is you’re not going to find better arm strength, better velocity,” Farrell said. “At times he may over throw occasionally and mis-locate such as the 0-2 pitch to [Devon] Travis. It’s electric stuff and as he begins to harness it and understand when he’s most effective and that is when he’s using his secondary pitches as well. He’s got big time stuff.”

Pablo Sandoval paced the Red Sox offense, going 2-for-2 with three RBIs, but was forced from the game in the top of the sixth inning with neck soreness, which likely occurred after making a diving catch on a pop up bunt in the fourth.

It was the Red Sox’ seventh straight series opening win to begin the year and it’s the third time in franchise history it’s been done (1917, 2013).

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Betts. He gave the Red Sox their second walkoff win of the year. It was his first career walkoff hit. He finished the game 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI. It was his fourth multi-hit game of the year.

Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ win:

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, Joe Kelly, Pablo Sandoval, Toronto Blue Jays

Pablo Sandoval leaves game vs. Blue Jays with neck soreness

04.27.15 at 8:37 pm ET
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Pablo Sandoval

Pablo Sandoval

Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval was having his best game of the season, going 2-for-2 with a single, a home run and three RBI, but was forced to leave the game in the top of the sixth inning.

The team announced he left the game with neck soreness.

The injury likely occurred in the top of the fourth inning when he dove and caught a Dalton Pompey pop up bunt. After making the catch he did a face plant into the ground. He hit his home run after making the play, but then was removed after an inning in the field.

Brock Holt took over at third base with Daniel Nava moving from first base to right field and Allen Craig entering the game at first base.

Sandoval came into the game hitting .273 with a homer and 8 RBI.

For more Red Sox news, check out weei.com/redsox.

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Remembering Red Sox’ semi-courtship of Josh Hamilton

04.27.15 at 7:28 pm ET
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Josh Hamlton was re-introduced to the Rangers media Monday afternoon. (Getty Images)

Josh Hamlton was re-introduced to the Rangers media Monday afternoon. (Getty Images)

We all know how it has turned out.

Josh Hamilton is back with the Rangers with his five-year, $125 million signed with the Angels prior to the 2013 season a thing of the past. In 240 games with Los Angeles, the outfielder totaled 31 homers, hitting .255 with a .741 OPS, to go along with substance abuse incident served as the impetus for Monday’s deal.

Now the Angels are paying approximately $76 million to part ways with Hamilton.

When it comes to reminders about the pitfalls of free agency, this was about as powerful as you’re going to find.

For a moment during those in winter meetings in Nashville back in early December, 2012, the Red Sox were at least kicking the tires on Hamilton. That was evidenced when John Farrell and Ben Cherington had dinner with the slugger off-site at the meetings. They were intrigued, especially considering Hamilton’s success at Fenway Park (.348 career batting average, with a .990 OPS.)

But, according to a major league source, the Red Sox never did make an offer to Hamilton.

There was some thought that the Red Sox might try and lure Hamilton via an offer short on years, and high on AAV. It was the strategy they ultimately took when agreeing with both Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli on three-year, $39 million deals (with Napoli‘s being adjusted to a one-year deal after medical issues).

The Red Sox resisted the temptation to formally enter the Hamilton fray, which in an offseason of making all the right moves might have been the best of the lot.

For what it’s worth, the Red Sox did pay the dinner tab.

Start of Red Sox-Blue Jays delayed due to rain showers in Fenway Park area

04.27.15 at 6:05 pm ET
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The start of Monday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays game has been delayed because of rain showers expected to move through the Fenway Park area.

Currently only the pitcher’s mound and home plate are covered with the tarp. A 6:40 start time has been announced.

When the game does get underway, Joe Kelly will take on Aaron Sanchez.

For more Red Sox news, check out weei.com/redsox.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia designated for assignment; Red Sox don’t appear interested

04.27.15 at 4:47 pm ET
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In a surprise move, the Miami Marlins have designated catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia for assignment.

The 29-year-old is in the second year of a three-year, $21 million deal with the Marlins. With $14.16 million left on his contract, it is expected Saltalamacchia will clear waivers.

According to a major league source, the Red Sox are not currently interested in bringing back their former backstop. The Sox, who offered Saltalamacchia a two-year deal following the 2013 season, would seem to be prioritizing defensive-minded catchers, with Ryan Hanigan and Sandy Leon currently filling the position.

Saltalamacchia, who dealt with concussion issues in 2014, has disappointed in his brief stint with the Marlins, hitting .209 with a .661 OPS in a combined 468 plate appearances.

This season he is just 2-for-29 (.069), having been supplanted by rookie catcher J.T. Realmuto.

Red Sox pregame notes: Why John Farrell isn’t panicking with starting rotation just yet

04.27.15 at 4:35 pm ET
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Wade Miley an ERA of XXX, the worst among Red Sox starters. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Wade Miley an ERA of 8.62, the worst among Red Sox starters. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

There’s no denying the Red Sox‘ starting rotation has got off to a poor start this year.

Through the first 19 games of the season, the rotation has a collective ERA of 5.75, the worst in baseball. There have been 32 starts in baseball this season where a starter has allowed seven or more runs, and the Red Sox are responsible for five of them.

Three of the five Red Sox starters have ERA’s over 5.16 — Justin Masterson (5.16), Rick Porcello (6.48) and Wade Miley (8.62).

Although it’s been a difficult four turns through the rotation, it’s roughly only 8 percent of the season. Prior to Monday’s game, manager John Farrell hinted he won’t be making changes to the rotation just yet.

“To me you’re probably into that 6-8 starts gives you a pretty good snap shot of not only where you’ve been, but where you’re going,” Farrell said when asked about when the results stop being considered a small sample size.

“Hopefully by that time you’re north of 40 innings for a given starter if you’re in that eight start mark,” he added. “That’s roughly 20 percent of the season, so it’s starting to give you a little bit of a gauge of where you are.”

The starters are struggling to go deep into games, as four times over the first 19 games the starter has not lasted five innings. They’ve also had issues within the game, failing to make key pitches when they need to. Opposing hitters against Red Sox starters this year are hitting .337 with runners in scoring position.

“I don’t think there is any added emphasis that we can place or a pitcher can place on how we feed off each other,” said Farrell. “Those things sort of evolve naturally. It goes back to what is that particular starter doing tonight and that might call for some key pitches, three or four times during a game to get through a tough spot, but they can’t look beyond anything they don’t have control over and that is executing this pitch this time.”

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Read More: Brandon Workman, John Farrell, rick porcello, Rusney Castillo

Red Sox recall Steven Wright, option Heath Hembree to Triple-A Pawtucket

04.27.15 at 3:54 pm ET
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Steven Wright

Steven Wright

The revolving door in the Red Sox bullpen continues, as they made another roster move prior to Monday’s game with the Blue Jays.

Following Sunday’s 18-7 loss to the Orioles, the team recalled knuckleballer Steven Wright, and optioned Health Hembree back to Triple-A Pawtucket. Hembree spent only one day with the team, as he was called up for Sunday’s game to provide depth in the bullpen.

“Steven being here in the event something unforeseen takes places we have someone to protect us with length,” manager John Farrell said. “We needed to go to the bullpen early yesterday, but that’s where we are today.”

This is Wright’s second stint with the team as he made the Opening Day roster because of Joe Kelly’s injury coming out of spring training. He made his only appearance with the team on April 10, allowing two runs over the final five innings of the 19-inning game in New York to earn the win against the Yankees.

“It’€™s been up and down the last couple of years and I know that that’€™s my role so if they need innings then I get an opportunity to come up here and pitch some innings,” Wright said. “And then if they need a starter, I’€™m ready. For me, it’€™s just knowing that I’€™m going to come up here just to pitch. I’€™m not going to have a set role, just whenever they need me I’€™m going to be ready to go.”

Hembree appeared in the game Sunday and had some issues, allowing six runs in 1 1/3 frames.

For more Red Sox news, check out weei.com/redsox.

Read More: heath hembree, steven wright,
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