|05.27.16 at 8:39 am ET|
On Friday night the Red Sox will be north of the border to start a three-game series with the Blue Jays. Boston will begin the series by sending Joe Kelly to the mound, while Toronto will be depending on the right arm of Aaron Sanchez.
Kelly (2-0) will be making his second start for the Sox after a stint on the DL with a right shoulder impingement. Kelly had a no-hitter going into the seventh inning in his first start back from the DL last Saturday against the Indians. In that start it didn’t appear Kelly needed much time to get used to facing big league hitters again, as he began the contest by retiring 13 straight. Kelly ended up throwing 6 2/3 innings and giving up just one hit, no runs and three walks while striking out seven. Kelly’s stellar comeback outing lowered his ERA from 9.35 to 5.28 to go along with a 1.82 WHIP.
“Overall command of the fastball was very big today,” Kelly said after the start. “I was throwing it to both sides of the plate. I just felt super strong out there. All the work we’ve been putting in since I went on the DL of getting the shoulder stronger in the training room, it’s just good to go out there and not even think about it and get a little more extension on the fastball and all the other pitches with that strong shoulder.”
Kelly currently is enjoying a 10-game winning streak, dating back to last season. It is the 16th time in Red Sox history that a pitcher has a 10-game winning streak, and Kelly’s streak is the longest since 2013 when Clay Buchholz won 11 straight. Over his last eight starts at Fenway, Kelly is 7-0 with a 2.41 ERA. Toronto’s Rogers Centre has been far less accommodating for Kelly, however. Kelly has started three games at Rogers Centre in his career and in those starts he is 0-1 with a whopping 9.20 ERA and a 1.77 WHIP. Kelly has faced the Blue Jays six times in his career, going 1-1 with 6.96 ERA and 1.57 WHIP. The 27-year-old right-hander faced Toronto in his first start of the 2016 season. Kelly didn’t begin the year the way he wanted, as he gave up seven runs, one home run and three walks with four strikeouts in just three innings.
Something to keep an eye on is who will be catching for Kelly. Ryan Hanigan is supposed to get the start, but it is unclear if he is fully healthy after leaving Wednesday’s game with an illness. If Hanigan is unable able to go, Blake Swihart could get the start behind the plate. Swihart came up through the Red Sox system as a catcher, but has been playing left field for the Sox since his call-up from Pawtucket last week.
|05.26.16 at 10:04 pm ET|
It became apparent this wouldn’t be the Red Sox’ night on the first Sox at-bat of the evening.
Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., looking to extend the longest hitting streak in the majors to 30 games, launched a Jon Gray offering deep to right field. What looked like a surefire homer off the bat instead nestled into the glove of Rockies right fielder Carlos Gonzalez.
Bradley would hit another ball to the base of the center field wall later in the game with the same result, bringing to an end one of the most uplifting stretches of baseball in recent Red Sox history and halting his hitting streak at 29 games.
On the flip side, right-hander Clay Buchholz saw a streak of his own continue, and it might cost him his spot in the rotation. Buchholz allowed a trio of two-run homers and got booed off the field, taking the loss in an 8-2 defeat.
The Red Sox didn’t have a chance in this one because Buchholz didn’t give it to them. After David Ortiz gave the Sox a 2-0 lead with his 12th homer of the season in the first, the Rockies tied it on a Carlos Gonzalez homer in the fourth, and then took control with consecutive two-run homers leading off the fifth as Buchholz saw his ERA climb to 6.35.
The only drama thereafter was whether Bradley could extend his streak. He got his last chance leading off the eighth, but grounded out routinely to second on the first pitch. The game ended with Bradley on deck.
Buchholz has now allowed 28 runs on the 12 home runs he has surrendered. Only two of the 12 have been solo shots.
|05.26.16 at 9:17 pm ET|
Say goodbye to Clay Buchholz?
Taking the mound with his spot in the starting rotation on the line, the Red Sox right-hander instead imploded against the Colorado Rockies on Thursday, done in by his nemesis — the long ball.
Buchholz allowed three two-run homers in five-plus innings. His final line, not surprisingly, was ugly: five innings, seven hits, six runs, all earned. He walked none, struck out two and saw his ERA climb to 6.35.
With Eduardo Rodriguez nearing a return, Buchholz is easily the odd man out of the rotation based on performance. His only hope was to pitch well and delay E-Rod’s return. Now, barring any physical setbacks for the young left-hander, there’s no point in saving the veteran’s spot.
Buchholz’s night actually started in encouraging fashion. He retired the first nine batters he faced before Charlie Blackmon led off the fourth with a single. And then things got hairy. With two outs, Carlos Gonzalez blasted a game-tying two-run homer to right.
The fifth brought more of the same. Gerardo Parra led off with a single and Trevor Story launched his 13th homer to center to make it 4-2.
Daniel Descalso followed with a single before scoring on the first homer of Dustin Garneau’s career. In the span of four batters, Buchholz allowed two singles and two homers while boos rained down from the very restless fans in attendance.
Manager John Farrell visited the mound with Heath Hembree warming, but not only let Buchholz finish the inning, he sent him back out for the sixth. When Gonzalez led off with an infield single, that was it for Buchholz, who left to a cascade of boos.
Was it his final start for the Red Sox for a while? We’ll find out soon enough, but at this point, there’s no point in arguing he deserves a spot in the rotation.
|05.26.16 at 7:34 pm ET|
Jackie Bradley just missed a home run that would’ve extended his hitting streak to 30 games leading off the game and then did so again two at-bats later, halting his hitting streak at 29 games.
Xander Bogaerts, however, extended his hitting streak to 19 games with a sharp single to left field off of Colorado Rockies starter Jon Gray. He then came around to score on David Ortiz’s two-run homer into the bullpen.
While all eyes are on Bradley, who was attempting to become the first Red Sox hitter since Nomar Garciaparra in 1997 to record a hit in 30 straight games, Bogaerts has quietly compiled an impressive streak of his own.
His 19-gamer is the second-longest in the game behind Bradley. The hit raised Bogaerts’ AL-leading average to .353.
Bradley nearly extended his streak leading off the game in place of Mookie Betts, who got a night off. He ripped a Gray offering to deep right, but it fell just short of the fence in right field. He later flew out to the center field fence before grounding out in his final at-bat in the eighth.
The game ended with Bradley on deck.
|05.26.16 at 5:33 pm ET|
As we noted today, Clay Buchholz faces a do-or-die start on Thursday against the Rockies. If he pitches well, he likely keeps his spot in the rotation for at least another start. If he doesn’t, get ready for the return of Eduardo Rodriguez.
It really might be that simple, and Rodriguez feels he’s closer than ever to being big league ready, thanks to a change in mechanics inspired by teammate David Price that led to the best start of E-Rod’s rehab on Tuesday in Pawtucket.
Rodriguez went seven innings, allowing four hits and one run, striking out seven and walking none in a win over Lehigh Valley. He didn’t quite have last year’s power, with a 92 mph fastball, but he attributed the Ks to something else.
“I can say it was better command,” Rodriguez said. “Every pitch was where I wanted. I didn’t push too much, force it too much to get more velocity. I was trying to throw the ball exactly where I wanted. Sometimes you need power, but most of the time you need to throw the ball to the right spot.”
Rodriguez has shortened his delivery, a la Price, in an attempt to keep his shoulder in line with home plate. With a longer delivery, he has a tendency to open up, he said, leading to misses high and wide to right-handed hitters.
“A little bit more of a side drop-step versus stepping back towards the shortstop in his case,” manager John Farrell explained. “He feels like it keeps him on line through his intended target with his front shoulder a little bit more consistently. I think if you look at the command of his pitches the last time out, there was some positive effect to that, but it is still kind of new for him. So there’s still, just becoming more second nature for him with that adjustment.”
|05.26.16 at 3:32 pm ET|
For the first time this season, Bradley Jr. will hit in the leadoff spot, with Mookie Betts starting the series finale against the Rockies Thursday on the bench. Bradley Jr. has four plate appearances in the order’s top spot for his career, over three games.
The Red Sox center fielder is leading the American League in hitting with a .350 batting average, having totaled a .415 clip with a 1.271 OPS over the life of what has become the fourth-longest hitting streak in club history.
The Sox also seemingly dodged a few bullets with ailments, with both Dustin Pedroia (hamstring tightness) and Xander Bogaerts (lacerated finger) getting starts after leaving Wednesday night’s game early.
Here is the Red Sox lineup against Colorado righty Jon Gray, with Clay Buchholz going for the hosts:
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Travis Shaw 3B
Chris Young RF
Blake Swihart LF
Christian Vazquez C
|05.26.16 at 11:02 am ET|
Here’s a look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Wednesday.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (23-23): W, 6-2, vs. Lehigh Valley (Phillies)
— Right-hander Roenis Elias made his second straight strong start to help propel the PawSox to victory. Elias pitched 7 1/3 innings, giving up only three hits and one run while walking two and striking out eight. In three of the first four innings Elias set down the Lehigh Valley batters in order. In his last two starts, both wins, Elias has 21 strikeouts.
“His mound presence has improved these past two outings,” said PawSox manager Kevin Boles. “He has more confidence in his fastball and his arm slot has been consistent.”
Elias pitched one inning for the big league club this year. In a relief appearance against the Astros in April, Elias gave up three runs on four hits and two walks with a strikeout in 1 2/3 innings. With Pawtucket the 27-year-old Cuban is 2-3 with 4.28 ERA and a 1.63 WHIP.
|05.26.16 at 10:16 am ET|
1. Last Friday night when the Red Sox hosted the Indians, nine out of the 10 players in the starting lineup, including pitcher Clay Buchholz were homegrown players — something almost unheard of in today’s game.
Over the years the Red Sox have had great success in developing positional players, but when it comes to pitching, it hasn’t been there. Per Bill Ballou of the Worcester Telegram, going back to 1997, only about 25 percent of Red Sox wins have come from homegrown pitchers and Jon Lester (110) and Clay Buchholz (75) have about half of them.
On the current 25-man roster, only Buchholz is a homegrown talent in the rotation. In the bullpen it’s just Junichi Tazawa and Matt Barnes. In contrast, seven of the 13 positional players are homegrown.
This doesn’t mean it’s harder to develop pitchers, it’s just something the Red Sox haven’t done as good of a job doing over the years.
“I don’t think in general it is,” Red Sox director of player development Ben Crockett said. “I think every organization is different — pitchers and position players. I don’t think it’s by design harder to do.”
With new president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski coming aboard at the end of last season, one of the things he stressed was developing more power pitchers. Top-to-bottom, the organization looked to improve its pitching, which included the hiring of Brian Bannister as the director of pitching analytics.
“I think we spent a lot of time this offseason spending time evaluating our programs and making adjustments where we felt was needed,” Crockett said. “Bringing in new personnel with Brian Bannister on board now, there’s definitely been some smaller adjustments that we’ve made and some refinements in what we’re doing. We have a good crop of guys that are upcoming.”
|05.26.16 at 8:57 am ET|
In the Red Sox-Rockies series finale on Thursday night the Sox will send out Clay Buchholz in hopes of completing the sweep, while the Rockies turn to young right-hander Jon Gray to try to salvage a game in the series.
Eduardo Rodriguez made a quality rehab start on Tuesday in Pawtucket, pitching seven innings and allowing one run while striking out seven, which leads to speculation that Rodriguez will be joining the big league club soon and manager John Farrell will have to make an adjustment to the starting rotation. If Farrell decides to keep a five-man rotation, someone will get ousted. Buchholz has struggled this season and he will need a strong start Thursday to prove he should remain in the rotation.
Buchholz is 2-4 with a 5.92 ERA, one of the worst ERAs in the American League, and a 1.47 WHIP. In five of his nine starts Buchholz has allowed at least five runs. In his last time out he lasted six innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on five hits and four walks with three strikeouts in a 4-2 loss to the Indians. In the third inning Buchholz gave up a three-run home run to Jason Kipnis and a sacrifice fly to Jose Ramirez. It was the fourth time this season that Buchholz has given up at least four runs in one inning.
“All in all it wasn’t a terrible outing, but it’s hard to swallow getting beat on home runs every time out,” Buchholz said afterward. “Keep pushing along and find a way to get through it.”
The 31-year-old right-hander will be making his first career start against the Rockies. In 12 career interleague starts Buchholz is 6-2 with a 4.34 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP. Buchholz’s last interleague start came in April against the Braves. Buchholz went 6 1/3 innings, giving up eight hits, five runs and three walks while recording two strikeouts in a 5-3 Sox loss.
|05.25.16 at 10:20 pm ET|
Same old story.
Red Sox score a bunch of runs. Steven Wright pitches well enough to hold the lead. Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts get some hits.
This time the formula added up to a 10-3 win over the Rockies, giving the Red Sox their 13th win in their last 15 games at Fenway Park. It marked the Sox’ fifth straight home series win.
It was Bogaerts who once again defined the hosts relentless attack, kicking off a four-run fourth inning with his fifth homer of the season, launching a Chad Bettis offering well over the left field wall.
The homer extended the shortstop’s hit streak to 18 games, and increased his American League-leading hit total to 66.
Bradley Jr. also once again did his thing, stretching his hitting streak to 29 games with an opposite field single in the fourth inning. He would add a seventh-inning double to boost his batting average to .350, tops in the American League. and just slightly ahead of Bogaerts’ .349. (For more on JBJ’s hitting streak, click here.)
Also doing his part was Wright, who kept his ERA at 2.52 after allowing two earned runs over seven innings. He struck out seven, and walked two in throwing 117 pitches (the second-most the knuckleballer has totaled this season).
It was the seventh time this season Wright has allowed two or fewer earned runs while pitching 6 2/3 or more innings. With the outing, the Red Sox starters have now managed a combined 2.83 ERA over their last seven appearances.
Wright did, however, have three wild pitches, to go along with Ryan Hanigan’s four passed balls.
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