|06.23.16 at 9:04 am ET|
The finale of the Red Sox-White Sox four-game series will take place Thursday afternoon with the Red Sox sending Rick Porcello to the mound and the White Sox calling upon struggling right-hander James Shields.
Porcello is 8-2 with a 3.76 ERA and a 1.094 WHIP in 14 starts. Porcello finally added a win to his record in a 6-2 Red Sox victory last Saturday against the Mariners. It was the first time in four starts that Porcello got a decision. It was Porcello’s sixth straight victory at Fenway. In the victory against the Mariners, Porcello threw six innings, allowing two runs on eight hits and no walks with six strikeouts.
“I had a good one in the bullpen, so I knew it would be good, but I didn’t want to show it too early,” Porcello said of his changeup. “It was the difference-maker.”
Against the White Sox, Porcello is 10-8 in 21 career starts with a 4.09 ERA and a 1.273 WHIP. Porcello made his last start against Chicago in August of last year. That outing was Porcello’s first after a stint on the DL with a strained right triceps. In a 3-0 Red Sox win, Porcello threw seven innings, allowing no runs, five hits and no walks with five strikeouts.
|06.23.16 at 7:00 am ET|
1. As soon as Yoan Moncada was promoted to Double-A Portland, you knew the question was coming: When will the second baseman be exposed to a new position?
Double-A is typically the level where positional players typically begin the shift to new positions and with Dustin Pedroia being under contact until 2021, Moncada likely will not stay at second base his entire career.
“We don’t have a specific time frame for him being ready,” president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Monday. “He’s a very good offensive player. He drives the ball. He hits for an average. He’s walked a lot this year. He probably [needs to work on] just his overall skills of the game. He probably needs to work defensively rather than offensively. He’s a situation where he’s a fine offensive player. He steals a lot of bases — probably going to learn some of the nuances of stealing bases.
“He’s a fine skilled offensive player and he has defensive abilities too, but the thing is as time goes on the question is inevitable, well, where are you going to play him? We’ll just wait and see that. We’ll probably get his feet wet at Double-A at second base, the position he’s most familiar, and those are questions that we’ll tackle in the future.”
One of the best examples of a player getting to Double-A and moving positions is Mookie Betts, who transitioned from second base to center field. He began his Double-A career at the start of the 2014 season and after roughly 35 games, he started playing center field for the first time.
“You have to kind of get acclimated to hitting first,” Betts said this week. “Before you make a position change you need to be fully acclimated to everything that is going on first before that change. They know what they are doing.”
It would seem that is the same approach the organization is taking with Moncada because as of now, there are no immediate plans to have Moncada be exposed to other positions.
“We don’t have any plans at this point,” Red Sox director of player development Ben Crockett said. “I think we’re kind of taking it one step at a time and he’ll be playing second base here in Portland as he makes that transition.”
“Any time you move into a new level I think having some familiarity of where you are playing defensively is important,” he added. “When you’re in a more challenging environment on the field, as you’re making that initial adjustment, you’re not making an adjustment to a new position.”
|06.22.16 at 11:10 pm ET|
Wednesday night started innocuously enough for Dave Gallagher and his father, David. Dave, a native of Bristol, N.H., who now lives in Georgia, made his annual trip north to see a Red Sox game. He even had a Father’s Day surprise for his dad — four tickets in the front row of the Green Monster.
Then things got interesting.
With the Red Sox down 7-6 in the bottom of the eighth after an implosion by reliever Koji Uehara, Xander Bogaerts clubbed a pitch to left-center field, directly at the Gallaghers.
Dave reached down. The ball glanced off his hands and dropped onto the field. Bogaerts stopped at second with a double. And then the Gallaghers found themselves in the center of an unexpected controversy.
“The ball wasn’t coming in [as] a home run. It wasn’t,” Dave Gallagher told WEEI.com and the Boston Herald. “It wasn’t going to be — it wasn’t going to hit the top of the wall coming to me. So I had to reach out to get it.”
Red Sox manager John Farrell complained, the umpires conferred, and after a five-minute delay, ruled both fan interference and a double, but no home run.
“When we went to replay, replay said the original call is overturned,” crew chief Dana DeMuth told a pool reporter. “A fan did touch it. However, placement of the runners was it’s not a home run. The fan did not prevent it from being a home run.”
That was no consolation to the Gallaghers, who were promptly ejected by stadium security. That meant no ninth inning for Dave, his father, Dave’s uncle Ron, or a fourth member of the group who declined to be identified.
“They said if you touched it you’re out,” Dave Gallagher said. “They said if you touched any part of it, you’re out. And it didn’t make any sense to me. If it touched us, and we held on to it and grabbed on to it as a home run, it would have been fine.”
Dave spent roughly $200 per ticket, running him north of $800, plus the cost of airfare. Whatever the cost, it’s safe to say it turned out to be a night none of them would forget, though he wondered, “Are we going to be the bad guys?”
“I’m actually from Georgia,” he added. “I came up for the game and they kicked me out. So that’s a story to tell.”
|06.22.16 at 10:50 pm ET|
Koji Uehara allowed a pair of eighth inning home runs to blow a lead and Xander Bogaerts lost a potential tying blast on fan interference as the Red Sox suffered a wild, demoralizing 8-6 loss to the White Sox on Wednesday night.
Summoned to protect a 6-4 lead, Uehara hung a pair of splitters that got crushed. Melky Cabrera hit the first out to right field for a game-tying two-run homer, and then Brett Lawrie launched the game-winner over everything in left.
The Red Sox looked like they had potentially tied the game when Bogaerts lifted his third hit of the night towards the Green Monster, but it skipped off the top of the wall for a double. On replay, however, it appeared that a fan reached over the fence and touched the ball, possibly keeping it from clearing the red line that would make it a homer.
After a lengthy review, umpires left Bogaerts on second. There was more drama two batters later when Chris Young launched a potential three-run homer to left, but it drifted just a couple of feet foul in the gap between the pole and the roof box seats. Young then struck out.
Uehara’s implosion erased a solid start from left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (6 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 7 Ks), who featured his best fastball of the season, routinely hitting 95-96 mph. It also negated a strong night from the offense, which got multiple hits from the first three members of the order and a home run from struggling first baseman Hanley Ramirez.
Ramirez’s homer into the Red Sox bullpen in the sixth on a 1-2 count broke a 4-4 tie.
But Uehara had nothing on his splitter, which spun in the heart of the strike zone, and the White Sox made him pay while dealing the Red Sox their third straight loss and seventh in 10 games.
It did not take long for the Red Sox to find their stroke against one of the American League’s best pitchers. Jose Quintana began the night with a 2.63 ERA, but the Red Sox posted a four-spot in the third on a Sandy Leon walk and five singles.
After combining for 11 hits and two runs in the first two games of the series, the Red Sox put together ten hits and six runs on Wednesday night alone.
Eduardo Rodriguez showed much needed improvement, going six innings with his old delivery. Rodriguez’s last four starts were marred by a modified delivery that did not pan out well in addition to possibly tipping his changeup.
However the 23-year-old found what had made him successful in previous outings and let it take care of itself from there. He was blowing his fastball by batters in the 95 to 96 mph range, and occasionally subtly and effectively mixed in his changeup as well. He established the pitch early by starting the game with three consecutive changeups to leadoff hitter Tim Anderson, who took Clay Buchholz long on a first-pitch fastball to start the game Tuesday night.
However he was not exempt from exhibiting flashes of what’s gone painfully wrong for him this season. He left a fastball right over the heart of the plate to Todd Frazier, who hit his second home run in as many nights into the Monster seats. He also allowed a pair of hard doubles, including an RBI two-bagger to Cabrera.
Wednesday was Rodriguez’s first start of more than 100 pitches this season, tossing 102. It was his first outing north of 100 pitches since September 14 of last season.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
— Mookie Betts went 2-for-5 with a double to record his 30th multi-hit game of the season.
— Ramirez hit his sixth home run of the year and his second in eight games. He hit a 1-2 pitch into the Red Sox bullpen to give Boston a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the sixth.
— Eduardo Rodriguez brought his velocity back up consistently, clocking 95 to 96 mph routinely.
— Dustin Pedroia (2-for-4) and Bogaerts (3-for-5) recorded multiple hits, raising their averages to .306 and .351, respectively.
WHAT WENT WRONG
— Koji. The formerly reliable reliever saw his ERA climb to 4.78 after he allowed three runs on two homers.
— Reliever Heath Hembree allowed an insurance run in the eighth.
— The Red Sox lost a pair of home run challenges, first on Bogaerts’ blast, and then on Young’s near go-ahead shot in the eighth.
— Sandy Leon got picked off at third base in the fourth inning with one out, killing all momentum for the Sox in the frame.
— Travis Shaw exited the game in the fourth inning with a right shin contusion, no doubt a holdover from the ball he fouled off his leg on Tuesday.
|06.22.16 at 10:08 pm ET|
The Red Sox need pitching help and Eduardo Rodriguez took his first real step on Wednesday towards being a solution.
Featuring last year’s delivery for the first time this season, the 23-year-old southpaw put together an encouraging outing in an 8-6 loss to the White Sox. Featuring a fastball that routinely reached 96 mph, he allowed just three earned runs on four hits in six innings, striking out seven and walking two.
The numbers may not jump off of the stat sheet, but Rodriguez looked increasingly like a viable fourth starter as the game progressed.
The four hits allowed tied his season low, while the seven strikeouts were his season high.
“I thought Eddie tonight was a step in the right direction,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “Better power, better overall stuff, a lot of swing-and-miss to what I thought at times was an explosive fastball.”
Before Wednesday’s game, he opted to revert his delivery to his form of last season, when he went 10-6 with a 3.85 ERA. The payoff was more fastballs consistently thrown at 95 mph, which he used to his advantage against the White Sox. Seventy-seven of Rodriguez’s 102 pitches were heaters, which produced 12 swings and misses.
“You saw his delivery go back to what he used prior to the knee injury,” Farrell said. “I think it allowed him to gain a little rhythm and momentum over the rubber. He kept himself together [and was] able to generate better power overall. [It] translated into velocity, and I think it also translated into some swing-and-miss for him.”
Rodriguez’s outing, however, was far from perfect. Of the four hits he allowed, three went for extra bases, and one left the park. He allowed a sixth-inning blast to Todd Frazier that tied the game 4-4. Farrell lifted him after the frame.
“I just wanted a fastball away, and I just missed right in the middle of the plate,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez may still have plenty to work on, including his offspeed pitches, but he’s feeling — and looking — more like his old self with each start.
“I think it’s working better,” Rodriguez said. “You can see the velocity’s back, [I was] consistent with both sides of the plate better, so I think it’s coming back, day-by-day.”
|06.22.16 at 6:04 pm ET|
Red Sox manager John Farrell explained why Hanley Ramirez will be dropped from fifth to seventh in the order for Wednesday’s game against the White Sox.
Ramirez is hitting just .179 with 11 strikeouts in 18 games in June. Since homering on June 15 to end a 35-day drought, Ramirez has gone 4-for-24 with six strikeouts.
As a result, he’ll be hitting as low as seventh for the first time since his rookie year of 2006. Chris Young moves up to the fifth spot in his place.
“Hanley has been working through some things to try and get his timing on track,” Farrell said. “Players are going to kind of tell you where they hit in the order. Chris has done an outstanding job this year, particularly against left-handed pitchers. And while Hanley works through the timing issues, well, we needed a little bit of a jumpstart or a spark potentially.”
Ramirez’s June 15 homer was his first since May 10 and one of the first true displays of hard contact Ramirez had shown in some time — a positive indication for Farrell.
“Even if it wasn’t a home run, you saw hard contact, and really that’s kind of what you’re looking for,” Farrell said. “When timing is a little bit more consistent or on the mark, the fact that it went out of the ballpark in my mind is irrelevant. The leg kick, the timing, the bat path, that’s all being worked on.”
|06.22.16 at 5:54 pm ET|
It’s no secret the Red Sox are struggling at the plate. They’ve scored no more than three runs in five of their last eight games, which has focused the spotlight on manager John Farrell and some of his late-game decisions.
The numbers suggest the issue isn’t managerial, however, but personnel-related — specifically, the bottom of the lineup.
The seventh, eighth, and ninth spots were a strength for two months. Brock Holt hit .306 batting seventh. Bradley flourished in the nine-hole, batting .363 in 26 starts.
However, faced with injuries to Holt (concussion), Blake Swihart (ankle) and Hanigan (neck), Farrell has been forced to use inexperienced batters in high-pressure situations, with predictably poor results, which have landed the manager on the hot seat.
“You’re trying to create some matchups in your favor,” Farrell said before Wednesday’s game. “I think that the entire intent is to get the right matchup. It’s clear that’s debatable for some, but still, you’re in a situation where you’re reliant on multiple guys, not just one individual. Not every decision was inside a vacuum, it’s within the context of the lineup, who’s available to you, and what the bottom line score is.”
An obvious example comes from Boston’s 3-1 loss to the White Sox in 10 innings on Monday night. With the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth, Farrell pinch hit Ryan LaMarre for Marco Hernandez. LaMarre, summoned from Pawtucket on Saturday, struck out on three pitches in his first at-bat this season.
Another example came Tuesday night, another 3-1 loss. Hernandez pinch hit for Deven Marrero with two outs in the ninth, and struck out swinging to end the game.
Farrell has had a difficult time navigating the bottom of the order since the injuries began to pile up. Hernandez is hitting .188 batting eighth or ninth. Marrero is 0-for-3 in the ninth spot, and LaMarre struck out his only at bat at the bottom of the order.
The Red Sox need Holt and Swihart back to bolster depth. Holt began his rehab assignment in Pawtucket on Monday, going 2-3 with two doubles. Swihart remains in a walking boot and will need to be reexamined before he is given a date to return.
“Particularly in Brock’s case, his versatility, his competitive at-bats and his baserunning, he made an impact when he was on the field,” Farrell said. “Unfortunately, injuries take guys away from you, and how guys step up to contribute in their absence, that’s a key for our team. Both guys are on the mend, looking forward to getting them back.”
|06.22.16 at 5:28 pm ET|
But after Red Sox manager John Farrell putting Ramirez in the No. 7 position in the batting order Wednesday, the first baseman still seemed unfazed by the move.
“I’m playing. That’s what’s important,” Ramirez said prior to taking batting practice, adding, “We have to win. Why not? Try some changes.
“Whatever John decides. He’s the manager. Wherever he thinks I can help the team win.”
Ramirez came into the third game of the series against the White Sox hitting .179 with a .541 OPS. For the season, he is hitting .265 with a .711 OPS and five homers.
Ramirez also insisted his shoulders, or any other physical ailment, aren’t issues when it comes to his struggles.
“That’s the main thing I’m concerned with,” said Ramirez of his health. “That’s why my mind is relaxed.”
Asked what would be key in turning things around, Ramirez responded simply, “Don’t miss my pitch.”
|06.22.16 at 2:48 pm ET|
Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski called in to the Ordway, Merloni & Fauria show on Wednesday to discuss Boston’s bench and other team news. To hear the interview, go to the OM&F audio on demand page.
The Red Sox offense has fallen quiet as of late, scoring less than three runs in five of the team’s last eight games. Part of the funk at the plate is due to a thin bench coming in to pinch-hit late in games. However, Dombrowski said there is no rush to bolster the team’s depth.
“I don’t think you immediately have to do anything,” Dombrowski said. “I think it’s a situation where we’ve been hit by injuries, there’s no question, and sometimes it’s hard to make moves while you’re still waiting for guys to come back. We’ve been tested by the depth of the organization, we have Brock Holt on the DL, Josh Rutledge, who did a good job for us early is on the DL, Blake Swihart’s on the DL, Ryan Hanigan is on the DL, so you do get tested at times like this. It’s something we’ll keep an eye on as time progresses, but I think it’s a situation from an immediate perspective, you have to kind of let those guys play themselves back. We want to see how quickly Brock can get back [from his rehab assignment in Pawtucket], he’s played two games, he’s had a good couple of days. He’ll be off today, going to play again tomorrow, so it’s something we’ll stay on top of and continue to visit the topic.”
Besides the cold hitting streak, the Red Sox are still searching for a reliable starter to put int the rotation. Dombrowski said that the team’s front office is more focused on the starting rotation than upgrading any other part of the roster.
“I think we’re still in our starting rotation perspective,” Dombrowski said. “I think tonight’s performance against [the White Sox] is very important, with Eduardo Rodriguez pitching. We think Eduardo can be an important part of our rotation, but he does have to go out there and he has to do it. His stuff keeps getting better, his velocity has picked up, so that’s not a problem. I’m anxious to see him tonight to see how his delivery is, he is going back to his old delivery. … We’re very happy that he’s going back to his old delivery. He pitched very well for us last year, it’s hard to find guys like Eduardo Rodriguez out there with their ability.”
Added Dombrowski: “So he’s the real key because when you look at Price, who is pitching very well for us right now, Wright’s been outstanding, Porcello has been consistent, the four and five spots have been the parts that we need to look. Eduardo can step forward, but we’ll see. Clay Buchholz pitched better yesterday, he’s still not quite there, but he did pitch better so I think it’s a matter of, we need to have one of those guys step forward and be a real solid four for us.”
|06.22.16 at 12:59 pm ET|
Here is a look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Tuesday.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (38-34): W, 2-0, L, 3-2, vs. Syracuse (Nationals)
— In Game 1 of a doubleheader, Henry Owens allowed only one-hit and no runs in seven innings of work. The left-hander started the game on a strong note by retiring the first 11 batters he faced. He didn’t allow his first hit until there was one out in the seventh inning.
“It felt really good and it’s definitely getting better every start,” said Owens via MiLB.com. “The game plan was just to attack the zone from the first pitch to the last and I think [catcher Ali] Solis did a great job of putting down some good pitches and we just kind of rolled with it from the first inning on.”
“He had better command of the zone and I thought his overall mix was better,” added manager Kevin Boles. “He established the fastball, threw it for more strikes and he did a terrific job.”
Owens went all seven innings (doubleheaders are seven inning) allowing no runs, one hit and three walks with five strikeouts. The 23-year-old lefty is 5-3 in 12 starts with a 3.24 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP.
— The PawSox’ two runs came when Justin Maxwell drew a walk in the fourth inning and eventually came around to score on a Jantzen Witte single and then in the sixth inning, Maxwell hit a double to right field that scored Chris Marrero. Maxwell is hitting .230/.325/.337 in 55 games this season.
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