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Closing Time: David Price ties career high in strikeouts, Travis Shaw drives in 5 runs as Red Sox crush Braves

04.26.16 at 10:04 pm ET
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Travis Shaw's first inning home run keyed the Red Sox' win over the Braves. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

Travis Shaw’s first-inning home run keyed the Red Sox’ win over the Braves. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

One way for David Price to end a thoroughly disappointing first month with the Red Sox: tying his career high in strikeouts in his longest outing in a Boston uniform.

Making his fifth start for the Sox, Price fanned 14 batters over a season-high eight innings and received ample run support in an 11-4 win over the Braves that saw Travis Shaw drive in five runs.

Price settled down from a busy first inning to have what turned out to be a very strong performance against a Braves offense that entered Tuesday 27th in the league with a .227 batting average.

The veteran left-hander loaded the bases in the first inning after allowing an RBI single to Jeff Francoeur, but he escaped without further damage by striking out Drew Stubbs to end the frame.

Price followed up the first by turning in back-to-back 1-2-3 innings with a pair of strikeouts in each. He ran into trouble again in the fourth inning, once again loading the bases and surrendering the Braves’ second run.

From there, Price essentially put the game away by allowing just one hit and walking none over his final four innings. He struck out six of the last seven hitters he faced, all of which he retired. Furthermore, nine of Price’s last nine outs were strikeouts. He finished with a line of six hits and two earned runs allowed over eight innings, striking out 14 and walking two.

Closing Time note

Though runs allowed have been a concern in his early starts (7.06 ERA entering Tuesday), strikeouts have not. Price now has struck out at least eight hitters in four of his first five outings with the Red Sox and leads the league with 46 strikeouts. Price was coming off a season-low five strikeouts in what was his shortest and worst outing of the season, a 3 2/3 inning performance in which he allowed two homers and eight earned runs against the Rays.

With Tuesday’s win, Price is 3-0 on the season with a 5.76 ERA. The Sox improved to 11-9.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Revisiting David Price’s batting practice exploits, love for hitting

04.26.16 at 11:32 am ET
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David Price

David Price

ATLANTA — It wasn’t just one whisper. There were shouts that David Price wanted to sign with a National League team so he could participate in one of his favorite activities, hitting.

When such a notion is brought up now, Price smiles and lets out a quick chuckle.

“Obviously, that didn’t happen,” he said, later adding, “I don’t know if it ever entered the discussion. I enjoyed hitting. I enjoy facing a pitcher more than I enjoy hitting. No, it never came up.”

But it’s undeniable that Price isn’t the norm when it comes to living life as a major league pitcher. He just likes taking batting practice too much.

Price, who hit a home run in his last high school at-bat, has never let the love for swinging the bat go. According to those who have played with the pitcher, it isn’t uncommon to find his way into batting practice groups, even with no interleague action in site.

“It’s fun,” Price said. “I can’t turn down BP in a major league park.”

Is he a good hitter?

“In BP I am,” he responded.

There is proof of that. There was the blast the lefty hitter sent into the second deck at Washigton’s Nationals Park. Or the one that Price hit over the “Belle Tire Blast Zone” in right field at Comerica Park in Detroit.

“Miggy [Miguel Cabrera] said he the only lefty he’d see do that was Prince [Fielder],” Price said.

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Tuesday Red Sox Farm Report: William Cuevas throws 7 shutout innings for PawSox

04.26.16 at 9:37 am ET
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Here’s a look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Monday.

William Cuevas

William Cuevas

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (11-8): W, 5-0, vs. Syracuse (Nationals)

— Starter William Cuevas, back with the PawSox after a brief stint in the Boston bullpen, was dominant in his return to Triple-A. The Venezuelan right-hander threw seven shutout innings, allowing just three hits. He walked three and struck out four in improving to 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA and 1.18 WHIP.

“I felt really good with all my pitches and kept a good tempo tonight,” Cuevas said after the game (via the PawSox website).

Said manager Kevin Boles: “He was terrific, very efficient. He induced contact early and I thought his tempo and pace with [catcher Blake Swihart] was terrific.

— Marco Hernandez (Boston’s No. 19 prospect on MLB.com) played left field and went 3-for-5 with a double and one strikeout. Swihart also finished with three hits, going 3-for-4 with a double, one RBI and one walk.

— Sam Travis had another multi-hit performance, going 2-for-5 with two doubles. He added one RBI and two strikeouts. His average now sits at .306 to go with two home runs and 14 RBIs. Designated hitter Jason Maxwell went 2-for-4 with an RBI, and Jantzen Witte was 2-for-3 with an RBI double and a walk.

— Reliever Kyle Martin threw two scoreless frames, allowing one hit and striking out four to finish off the shutout.

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Read More: blake swihart, Farm Report, Marco Hernandez, sam travis

Tuesday’s Red Sox-Braves matchups: David Price vs. Matt Wisler

04.26.16 at 9:13 am ET
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David Price

David Price

Red Sox ace David Price will look to bounce back on Tuesday night in Atlanta when he takes the mound opposite young righty Matt Wisler and the Braves.

While Price has not yet lost a game this season (his record sits at 2-0 through four starts), his ERA sits at a disappointing 7.06 and he has a 1.38 WHIP. This is due largely in part to his last outing on April 21 at home against the Rays. After the Red Sox offense gave him a five-run lead in the first inning, he lasted just 3 2/3 innings, allowing eight runs on eight hits. He walked two, struck out five and served up two home runs in the outing.

“That’s the best I’ve felt in my four starts here,” Price said after the game. “To me, that’s the most disappointing thing. To feel the way that I felt, [I just didn’t] get the results that I expect.”

In three career starts against the Braves, Price is 2-1 with a 1.89 ERA despite a 1.526 WHIP. Price last faced the Braves on Sept. 16 of last season and led the Blue Jays to a 9-1 win, pitching seven innings of one-run ball, allowing six hits and three walks while striking out nine.

Wisler is 0-1 with a 3.10 ERA and 0.93 WHIP through three starts and one relief appearance this season. In his last start on April 21 against the Dodgers, he lasted 6 2/3 innings, allowing one run (none earned) on four hits. The 23-year-old walked two and struck out six, while the Braves offense could only muster one run of support. Wisler wound up with a no-decision despite an impressive performance, as he came close to outdueling 2014 Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw.

“He matched pitch-for-pitch one of the premier pitchers in our era, arguably, in Kershaw,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said postgame.

Wisler, who has never pitched in a game against the Red Sox, made his major league debut last June 19 and wound up pitching in 20 games (19 starts), going 8-8 with a 4.71 ERA and 1.459 WHIP.

A seventh-round draft pick of the Padres in 2011, Wisler was traded to Atlanta last April in the deal that sent current Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel to San Diego.

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Read More: Braves, David Price, Matt Wisler, Red Sox

David Ortiz offers interesting idiom for Tom Brady’s plight

04.26.16 at 1:01 am ET
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David Ortiz once again expressed his frustration with Tom Brady's situation. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

David Ortiz (here greeting Tom Brady at Fenway Park) once again expressed his frustration with Brady’s situation. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

ATLANTA — Last May, David Ortiz was animated in his defense of Tom Brady when word came down the NFL had suspended the quarterback for four games.

“I think the decision was very poor,” the Red Sox DH said regarding NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s initial mandate that Tom Brady miss the first four games of the 2015 season. “You’€™re not just talking about any football player. You’€™re talking about probably the best player in the game, so what is the message you’€™re sending? I don’€™t think the message they’€™re sending is good. They want to send a strong message to who? The NFL players? How about the fans. What we think of it doesn’t matter?”

Then on Monday, it happened all over again.

Brady once again was tagged with a four-game suspension after the NFL won its appeal of Judge Richard Berman’s ruling. And, like many New Englanders, Ortiz’s reaction was that of frustration … and exhaustion with the situation.

“It’s crazy,” Ortiz said after his team’s 1-0 win over the Braves. “It’s just surprising a year later talking about the same stuff.”

And then Ortiz dropped an apt description of what has unfolded.

“When you fight eggs with a rock, the eggs never win,” said Ortiz, referencing NFL’s stubbornness. “It’s crazy.”

For more on Brady’s situation, check the It Is What It Is blog.

Read More: David Ortiz, Tom Brady,

Christian Vazquez throws out first runner since 2014, proclaims himself 100 percent

04.26.16 at 12:32 am ET
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Christian Vazquez (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Christian Vazquez (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

The praise has been heaped on Christian Vazquez since he was recalled to the major leagues earlier this month.

But there one bit of punctuation the catcher needed before feeling all the way back from Tommy John surgery — throwing a runner out trying to steal.

Monday night, during the Red Sox’ 1-0 win over the Braves, he got to check that last test off his list.

Atlanta’s Jace Peterson decided to be the second runner trying to steal on the Sox catcher this season, and first to not make it successfully. Vazquez gunned down Peterson, who was just 12-for-22 in steal attempts last season, with ease.

“You saw me excited, right? It was an exciting moment,” Vazquez said. “It was a long time until this moment.”

And now Vazquez feels he can make the ultimate proclamation.

“It’s 100 percent,” he said of his surgically-repaired right elbow. “The more I’m playing, I’m getting stronger and stronger. I feel good, man.”

And just for good measure, Vazquez also has seen some modest improvement offensively, claiming a double to raise his batting average to .200. That’s two straight games he has a hit after three straight contests of going a combined 0-for-10 with six strikeouts.

Closing Time: Rick Porcello, Jackie Bradley Jr. all Red Sox need in win over Braves

04.25.16 at 10:05 pm ET
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Rick Porcello improved to 4-0 after another solid outing, Monday night. (Dale Zanine/USA Today Sports)

Rick Porcello improved to 4-0 after another solid outing Monday night. (Dale Zanine/USA Today Sports)

ATLANTA — In case you weren’t paying attention, Rick Porcello has been pitching pretty well.

The righty was one of the chief contributors in the Red Sox’ 1-0 win over the Braves on Monday night, going 6 1/3 innings without giving up a run. After striking out six and walking two, he now has 30 punchouts and just five free passes to go along with an ERA of 3.51 and a record of 4-0.

Since he started teaming up with catcher Christian Vazquez, Porcello has a 2.75 ERA in three starts. Also, it marked the 12th straight start the righty has gone at least six innings, the second-longest active streak (only behind Jake Arrieta).

The win puts the Red Sox over .500 (10-9) for the first time since they were 6-5 on April 17.

The only run the Red Sox would need came off the bat of Sunday night’s hero, Jackie Bradley Jr., who took Atlanta starter Julio Teheran deep over the right-field wall in the seventh inning for the outfielder’s first homer of the season.

Teherhan did his best to keep pace against a Red Sox lineup that was without both David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez, giving up one run over seven innings, striking out eight, walking three and allowing six hits.

The only time the Red Sox were threatened came in the seventh, after Porcello was driven from the game by a Jeff Francoeur double and Freddie Freeman walk. Robbie Ross Jr. came on to get a ground ball to second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who could only get a force out at second.

Ross Jr. ended the Braves’ rally by striking out pinch-hitter Erick Aybar, who came into the game with just one hit in 22 at-bats against left-handed pitching.

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Chili Davis reflects on becoming Godfather of breaking bats over one’s leg

04.25.16 at 8:47 pm ET
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Chili Davis

Chili Davis

ATLANTA — When Carlos Gomez snapped his bat over his leg Sunday night, having swung and missed at a Henry Owens’ changeup, Chili Davis couldn’t help but smile a bit.

The Red Sox hitting coach is, after all, the guy who started the craze.

While many credit Bo Jackson with first executing the fit of rage, it was actually Davis who many believe was the first to snap a bat (that wasn’t previously broken) over his thigh.

“I remember everything about it,” Davis said of the 1983 incident. “I remember Kevin Gross pitching. I remember he had that big rolling curveball, which he threw in the first at-bat. I was at a point in my career where I read curveballs pretty good. I was the kind of hitter if I saw it and I thought I could hit it, I’m thinking, ‘The next time I see that I’ll be ready for it.’ The next time I went up I saw one, threw it again, took it, strike, and then when two strikes I threw right threw it. The third time up he struck me out again because I kept swinging threw it. I just thought, ‘It had to be this bat, time to die.’ It was a brand new bat. Big handle. Big 36-, 37-ounce bat.

“That was just reaction. It wasn’t planned. I had never done it before.”

It wouldn’t be the last time Davis took his frustrations out on the lumber, either.

One offseason, while vacationing in Hawaii, pitcher Frank Viola threw down the gauntlet while playing golf with the slugger.

“He said, ‘If I ever strike you out twice in a game, will you break your bat over your knee for me.’ I said, ‘Frank, you’re never going to strike me out twice in a game. But if you ever do, I’ll do it,'” Davis remembered. “So during the season he struck me out the second time and after I was walking away I kept hearing a voice yelling, ‘Do it! Do it!’ I turned around and he was on the mound yelling, ‘Do it!’ So I broke it over my knee and he was like, ‘Yeah!’

“You do stupid stuff. When you play sometimes you get angry and you do stupid stuff, and then you get back home and you see it on TV and you’re like, ‘Oh my goodness, how dumb was that.'”

But, as awkward as such a maneuver might seem, Davis totally understand why players like Gomez go that route.

“I understand his frustrations,” the hitting coach said. “He’s a good player and there were a few frustrating at-bats for him. He’s a highly temperamental player. And he’s competitive. You put those two together and sometimes you get frustrated an react in that sort of way.”

Red Sox notes: Left-handed outfield options on horizon (and they don’t include David Murphy)

04.25.16 at 7:45 pm ET
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Marco Hernandez

Marco Hernandez

ATLANTA — It’s a hole the Red Sox haven’t filled, and really haven’t prioritized, since the season started — a back-up left-handed-hitting outfielder.

But with Brock Holt the only lefty-hitting outfielder on the roster, and Chris Young showing no signs that he will reverse his struggles against right-handed pitching (against which he’s 1-for-12 with eight strikeouts), there is a hole on the roster.

It was a dynamic that forced Red Sox manager John Farrell to pinch-hit for Young with right-handed-hitting Josh Rutledge, Saturday. (Rutledge ripped an RBI double against righty reliever Ken Giles.)

So when David Murphy — who had been with the Red Sox in spring training — opted out of his contract with the Twins Monday, it potentially opened the door for a move. But according to team sources, the Red Sox don’t have any interest in bringing Murphy back.

The plan, for the time being, will be to integrate both the left-hitting Marco Hernandez and Blake Swihart, a switch-hitter into left field with Triple-A Pawtucket. That process began Monday night, with Hernandez playing his first game in left for the PawSox.

Other than Hernandez and Swihart, the Red Sox don’t have any left-handed-hitting outfield options at Triple-A.

Another possibility to see some action in the outfield at some point this season is the hot-hitting Sam Travis. But while the Red Sox have discussed such a move for the future, the organization is committed to keeping Travis at first base for the time being.

– After an uncomfortable season debut with the Red Sox Sunday night, in which he gave up three runs over just 3 1/3 innings, Henry Owens will get another chance.

Sox manager confirmed that Owens will make another start for the Red Sox, with that turn scheduled to take place Friday night at Fenway Park against the Yankees.

– Eduardo Rodriguez will pitch his first official rehab outing Thursday, as planned. But because of the uncertain weather, the venue for the outing might be changing.

Farrell suggested Rodriguez, who is returning from an injured right knee, may have to join Triple-A Pawtucket instead of Single-A Salem due to the threat of rain.

– Hanley Ramirez and David Ortiz both didn’t start the series opener, with Ramirez’s absence coming as more of a surprise. But with the late arrival after the Sox’s 12-inning game in Houston Sunday night, Farrell decided it would be a good time to give Ramirez his first day off of the season.

Ortiz likely won’t play in either of the two games at the Braves’ home stadium.

The Red Sox got to their hotel just after 5:30 a.m., not scheduled a bus to the stadium until 3 p.m. Dustin Pedroia and John Farrell did take matters into their own hands, however, taking a taxi over to Turner Field at about noon.

– With the addition of hard-throwing Heath Hembree, Junichi Tazawa, Matt Barnes and Craig Kimbrel, the Red Sox all of a sudden find themselves with one of the hardest-throwing bullpens in the majors. And Pat Light, who has hit 100 mph, hadn’t pitched prior to Monday night, while Carson Smith is also on the horizon

According to Fangraphs.com, the Sox relievers average fastball velocity of 94.3 mph, second only to Kansas City’s 94.4.

“The last couple of years, we’ve been in the bottom third in terms of average velocity and all of a sudden with Heath’s evolvement, with Matt barnes, with Carson coming to us, with Craig Kimbrel, we’ve now assembled a power bullpen and it’s got the ability to come in and get a key strikeout,” Farrell said. “That is a clear, distinct advantage.”

Monday’s Red Sox-Braves matchups: Rick Porcello vs. Julio Teheran

04.25.16 at 8:22 am ET
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Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello

Red Sox pitcher Rick Porcello will look to remain perfect when he takes the mound Monday night against the Braves in Atlanta, where he will face off against righty Julio Teheran.

It’s been smooth sailing thus far for Porcello, starting the year 3-0 with a 4.66 ERA and 0.93 WHIP. In his last start Wednesday against the Rays, he went seven innings (his longest outing of the season), allowing three earned runs on six hits. He walked one and struck out nine in the Red Sox’ 7-3 win.

“He’s been very consistent with one, staying out of the middle of the plate,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Porcello. “I think his changeup continues to refine itself. He’s getting some swing and miss. He’s putting away a couple of right-handers tonight with a right-on-right changeup. We stake him to a five-run lead and knowing we needed a deep start he gave us everything we could have asked for, but more importantly, staying in command of the count and using his secondary pitches effectively — curveballs early in the count at times — but the fastball-chanegup combination very good for him.”

In two career starts against the Braves, Porcello is 1-1 with a 4.97 ERA and 1.105 WHIP. He has 10 strikeouts and three walks over 12 2/3 innings.

Teheran, 25, is off to a rocky start in 2016. In four starts he is 0-2 with a 5.64 ERA and 1.39 WHIP. In his last start Wednesday against the Dodgers, however, he was fairly solid. He went 5 1/3 innings, allowing two earned runs on six hits and no walks with three strikeouts. He left with the lead, but the bullpen could not hold it in Atlanta’s 5-3 loss in 10 innings.

“I felt like Julio had given us all he had,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said after the loss about Teheran, who pitched through an illness.

Teheran has started one game against the Red Sox. It came June 16 of last season , when he was hit hard for six earned runs over 6 1/3 innings. He struck out three and walked one in his team’s 9-4 loss.

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Read More: Braves, julio teheran, Red Sox, rick porcello
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