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Red Sox minor league roundup: Matt Barnes’ atypical stretch; Brian Johnson stumbles; Nick Longhi, Yoan Aybar intrigue

07.08.14 at 1:17 pm ET
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Matt Barnes worked around a career-high five walks to limit his opponents to one run. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox)

Matt Barnes worked around a career-high five walks to limit his opponents to one run. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox)

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox minor league system on Monday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 4-1 WIN AT COLUMBUS (INDIANS)

(BOX)

– Though right-hander Matt Barnes matched a career-worst with five walks, he worked around the combination of those free passes and five hits (four singles and a double) to limit Columbus to one run in five innings. After exhibiting tremendous control (one walk in 20 2/3 innings over four starts at the beginning of June), Barnes has struggled to stay in the strike zone in his last three outings, issuing 11 walks in 14 innings.

Meanwhile, the swing-and-miss stuff that was a staple of his arsenal in his first two full pro years hasn’t been present of late. A pitcher who entered the year with 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings in his minor league career has punched out just 6.8 per nine this year, a decrease of roughly 36 percent; he’s struck out two batters in four of his last five starts, with 5.3 strikeouts per nine in that stretch.

Will Middlebrooks went 1-for-3 while playing third base, and is now 4-for-15 with two walks, a triple and a home run in five games during his current rehab assignment, which started July 1.

– Outfielder Andres Torres went 2-for-4 with his second homer and first walk in nine games for Pawtucket. The 36-year-old, signed to a minor league deal last month, is hitting .323 with a .344 OBP, .581 slugging mark, one walk and seven strikeouts since joining the PawSox. But with Mookie Betts now in the big leagues, Torres’ role with the Red Sox is uncertain, and so he could be a low-cost veteran available to other teams looking to gain reinforcements in advance of the trade deadline.

Deven Marrero went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles and a steal, marking his third multi-hit game in six contests since his promotion to Triple-A. Marrero is hitting .409/.435/.500 in Triple-A, and .300/.376/.438 in 74 games overall this year.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 11-4 LOSS AT BINGHAMTON (METS)

(BOX)

– For the first time since his promotion to Double-A, left-hander Brian Johnson had his lunch handed to him. He allowed seven runs on eight hits (including two doubles and a homer) in just 2 1/3 innings, snapping a pair of dazzling streaks. Johnson hadn’t allowed more than two earned runs in any of his first 11 starts in Double-A, and aside from a rain-shortened three-inning outing, he’d logged at least five innings in every trip to the hill. The 23-year-old, named an Eastern League All-Star, saw his ERA sail north of 2.00, jumping from 1.73 to 2.64.

– Center fielder Derrik Gibson went 2-for-5 with a double and triple. The right-handed Gibson had both of his hits against righties, and he’s now hitting a solid .271/.376/.376 against righties — but the 24-year-old has rekindled some prospect status largely on the basis of his dominance against lefties, whom he’s hitting at a .398/.462/.495 clip.

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 9-8 LOSS VS. FREDERICK (ORIOLES)

(BOX)

– Right-hander Joe Gunkel was shelled for nine runs (six earned) on 10 hits, including a pair of doubles and a two-run homer, in five innings. The 22-year-old walked one and struck out three on a night where he gave up more runs and earned runs than he’d allowed in his first three High-A starts combined.

Reed Gragnani, playing left field for the fourth time in 11 games after spending most of the year at second base with a sampling of third, went 2-for-5 and drove in four runs. The 23-year-old is second in the Carolina League in average (.326) and OBP (.419).

Mike Miller, who was playing shortstop, reached base four times, going 2-for-3 with a pair of walks. The 24-year-old is hitting .330/.403/.391 in 30 games since joining Salem following a season-opening spell on the DL with a broken hamate.

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 4-3 LOSS AT CHARLESTON (YANKEES)

(BOX)

– Center fielder Manuel Margot went 1-for-3 with a walk and a steal. Since the start of June, the 19-year-old has walked 12 times while striking out just nine times, a span in which he’s 12-for-14 in stolen base attempts. On the year, Margot’s 29 steals are second in the South Atlantic League, and he’s stealing at a solid 83 percent success rate while hitting .265/.336/.412, in a league where the average line is .262/.332/.382, and where the average position player is two years older than Margot.

– Outfielder Cole Sturgeon, promoted from Lowell to Greenville after just seven games, went 1-for-4 with a single and a walk. The 22-year-old was drafted by the Sox in the 10th round out of Louisville as a senior.

SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS: 6-3 WIN AT VERMONT (ATHLETICS)

(BOX)

Nick Longhi went 2-for-5 with a double to extend his hitting streak to nine games. In 19 games, the 18-year-old is hitting .357/.378/.486 with eight extra-base hits. He’s currently third in the New York-Penn League in average; the two players ahead of him are 21 and 22 years old.

Danny Mars, a 2014 sixth-rounder, checked off another box in his pro career. The 20-year-old hit his first homer for Lowell, and in nine games, the switch-hitter is hitting .405/.450/.622 with a homer, five extra-base hits and two steals.

– Second baseman Raymel Flores went 3-for-5 with a double. The 19-year-old is now hitting .267/.380/.383 with eight steals in nine attempts.

ROOKIE LEVEL GULF COAST LEAGUE RED SOX: RAINED OUT

DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE RED SOX: 10-5 LOSS VS. DSL GIANTS

(BOX)

– Outfielder Yoan Aybar went 2-for-3 with a triple and got hit by a pitch. It was his fourth multi-hit contest in six games in July, during which he’s hitting .474 with a .522 OBP and 1.053 slugging percentage thanks to seven extra-base hits (three doubles, four triples). Though he just turned 17, Aybar has seemed comfortable despite being on the young side of the league, striking out just twice in his last nine games. His lean, athletic frame (listed at 6-foot-2 and 165 pounds), in combination with his age, offers all kinds of grounds for potential upside projection, particularly given what he’s showing early in terms of hand-eye coordination and the ability to barrel the ball. Overall, he’s hitting .329/.376/.518, ranking 21st in average and 12th in slugging.

Jesus Perez, an 18-year-old outfielder who is in his first pro season, continued to show uncommon extra-base ability, going 1-for-4 with a double and two strikeouts. In 14 games, he has six extra-base hits. Though he represents an extremely raw talent whose baseball experience has been geared almost solely towards showcases, he’s made positive first impressions in his acclimation to pro ball.

Read More: jesus perez, matt barnes, nick longhi, yoan aybar

Red Sox not in talking mood about ‘shared frustration’ of offensive woes

07.08.14 at 12:11 am ET
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The Red Sox must face the reality of where they stand in the playoff race. (AP)

The Red Sox must face the reality of where they stand in the playoff race. (AP)

The Red Sox very clearly know where they stand in the race for the American League East. They know that they stand in last place at 39-50, 10 games behind the first-place Orioles. The Red Sox know that with every loss, with every lackluster performance against a mediocre pitcher, their chances at reaching the postseason to defend their World Series championship look gloomier.

The growing unlikelihood of a playoff berth gets more real by the day. It stares them right in the face every day in the form of the standings on the Green Monster scoreboard.

“We don’t need to think about [the standings],” said outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. “We can see it. Every single day we go on the field, we see it out there in left field. I don’t think it’s something that we’re too much focused on. We’re trying to get back to winning, and if you win, it’ll all kind of take care of itself.”

The only problem? The team is grasping for answers as to why it can only muster one hit off a pitcher by like White Sox hurler Scott Carroll, owner of a 4.52 ERA, 1.52 WHIP and .296 opponent batting average.

“I don’t have any answers,” said utility man Brock Holt. “We’ve got guys up and down the lineup that know what to do and have done it before, but we’re just not getting it done right now. It’s not from lack of work. We’re going out and doing what we’re supposed to do. We’re just not getting the results that we want.”

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Closing Time: Red Sox lineup comes up empty against another little-known foe

07.07.14 at 10:44 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz pitched well aside from a pair of long homers, but received no offensive support in the Red Sox' loss to the White Sox. (AP)

Clay Buchholz pitched well aside from a pair of long homers, but he received no offensive support in the Red Sox‘ loss to the White Sox. (AP)

If Monday night’s 4-0 loss at the hands of Scott Carroll and White Sox proved anything, it’s this: The Red Sox are really good at being really bad at hitting mediocre starting pitchers.

The Red Sox consistently have made back-of-the-rotation starters look like bona fide aces, going into Monday’s game hitting .245 with a .322 OBP and .369 slugging mark while ranked second to last in the American League with 3.8 runs per game.

Here are some of the pitchers the Red Sox have faced since their seven-game winning streak concluded on June 2:

Edwin Jackson (Cubs): 5.05 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, .281 opponent batting average, 5-8 record in 18 starts

Kyle Gibson (Twins): 4.17 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, .249 opponent batting average, 7-7 record in 17 starts

Vidal Nuno (Yankees): 5.42 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, .282 opponent batting average, 2-5 record in 14 starts

Kevin Correia (Twins): 4.95 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, .298 opponent batting average, 4-10 record in 17 starts

T.J. House (Indians): 4.24 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, .307 opponent batting average, 1-2 in seven starts

Drew Smyly (Tigers): 3.89 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, .267 opponent batting average, 4-8 record in 14 starts

Scott Carroll (White Sox): 4.57 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, .298 opponent batting average, 2-5 record in eight starts

Against the Red Sox, these seven pitchers have a 1.32 ERA and a 0.965 WHIP while allowing seven runs, striking out 30 and walking 12 batters in 47 2/3 innings. Good teams beat good pitchers; bad teams lose to bad pitchers. Right now, it’s not difficult to identify into which camp the Red Sox fall.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

– Clay Buchholz once again showed flashes that his stint on the disabled list did him well. Although he showed glimpses of what made him one of the top pitchers in baseball during the first half of the 2013 season, Buchholz nonetheless struggled with execution, evidenced by the two mammoth home runs he gave up to Adam Dunn and Dayan Viciedo.

Dunn hit his first career home run at Fenway Park in the second inning. The homer was the 453rd of Dunn’s career, moving him past Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski for sole possession of 35th place for most home runs all-time. Heading into Monday, Dunn was 0-for-7 in his career against Buchholz.

Viciedo – rumored to be on the trade market — showcased his power at Buchholz’s expense. The at-bat was a prime example of failure to execute pitches when Buchholz needed to. After starting the at-bat 0-2, Viciedo worked the count back to 3-2 and subsequently axed an 89 mph cutter into the deepest part of Fenway Park — the triangle in center field. The three-run, fourth inning home run from the 25-year-old put the White Sox on top 4-0.

– The Red Sox now have been shut out nine times, fourth most in the AL. They were shut out just 11 times in all of 2013.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

– The Sox did not get no-hit, thanks to a third-inning single by A.J. Pierzynski and an eighth-inning single by Jackie Bradley Jr.

Xander Bogaerts gets more support, this time from a longtime friend, former teammate

07.07.14 at 10:22 pm ET
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The 2014 Topps "Heritage Rookie" Card of Xander Bogaerts and Jonathan Schoop.

The 2014 Topps “Heritage Rookie” Card of Xander Bogaerts and Jonathan Schoop.

John Farrell is not the only one showing a vote of confidence in struggling rookie Xander Bogaerts.

Jonathan Schoop is someone who’s known Bogaerts even longer than the Red Sox manager.

Schoop played with Bogaerts on the Netherlands national team that competed in the 2013 World Baseball Classic and has played in many competitions with him.

When he went 0-for-27 recently and fell into a 2-for-49 slump, the Orioles second baseman sympathized for a player he came to know through international competition.

“He’s a good player, even if you go through tough times,” Schoop told WEEI.com after Sunday’s game, a 7-6 Baltimore win. “Every player goes through tough times but you have to find a way to make adjustments and come back. He’s a competitive guy, he wants to win, he wants to do good and he’s a good guy, a great guy.”

“His confidence. You cannot see in him that he’s 0-for-20, 0-for-25, 0-for-30. He stands in there like he’s 10-for-10, believing in himself.”

Ironic that Schoop made his comments on the very day that Bogaerts actually snapped his 0-for-27 slide, collecting multiple hits for the first time since June 7. That day Bogaerts was hitting .299 with a .387 OBP and an .839 OPS.

Between then and Sunday, his average plummeted 61 points and there was serious talk about whether he would be better off making adjustments at Triple-A Pawtucket. Farrell said before Monday’s game with the White Sox that there is no such plan in the works. Schoop is no general manager or field skipper but he does agree that leaving Bogaerts up in the majors to learn, even at the tender age of 21, is a good thing.

“I think so,” Schoop said. “You see how he learns from experience. The more experience, the better you get. You have to learn from experience. I think he’s doing a good job. Just keep grinding. Just keep fighting.”

Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, John Farrell, Jonathan Schoop

David Ortiz takes issue with being brought into John Lackey-Nelson Cruz feud

07.07.14 at 10:11 pm ET
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One thing was abundantly clear prior to the Red Sox‘ series opener against the White Sox on Monday night: David Ortiz was not happy he was recently brought into the conversation regarding John Lackey‘s issues with Nelson Cruz.

Following his start Saturday night, Lackey referenced his disapproval of Cruz, making a comment brought on by the pitcher’s issues regarding the Baltimore slugger’s PED suspension of a year ago.

When asked about the comments, Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said, “We need to all make sure we check our own backyard before we start looking at someone else’€™s.”

That led to a conversation on the MLB Network Monday afternoon that Ortiz happened to see. According to the designated hitter, the host on the network’s show (which he couldn’t specifically identify) said the slugger had received a “free pass” for appearing on a list identifying him as one of the major leaguers to test positive for PEDs on the MLB’s 2003 survey testing.

“What pisses me off is the whole thing about, why does my name got to be mentioned in that? What did I have to do with that? I saw on MLB the guys talking about it, and then they brought my name up, and one of the guys said that I got a free pass on that,” he told WEEI.com. “It was the Lackey and Showalter thing, going back and forth. Showalter didn’t say anything about me.”

That, however, was just the beginning of Ortiz’s rant.

“But then, when they are commenting about what Showalter said, they brought my name up,” he added. “Then one of the guys wanted to say that I got a free pass. And to be honest with you, in this country, nobody gets a free pass. He wants to make it sound like I got a free pass because nobody can point fingers at me directly. But the reason why I got that fake [expletive] free pass that he’s saying is because they pointed fingers at me with no proof. It’s easier to do it that way than having something that they can say, ‘Yes, you did this, you did that.’ My [expletive], I call straight up bull. Let me tell you. You don’t get no free pass here, especially a guy like me. I don’t get no free pass. That free pass B.S. that they want to talk about over there, they can shove it up their [expletive].

“That’s reality. You don’t use the words that I get a free pass. You don’t get a free pass on this. MLB don’t play that B.S. MLB don’t play that. There’s a reason why I’ve been drug-tested like eight times and we’re not even at the break. Is that a free pass? There’s a reason why I’ve been tested like 40 times since they approved the policy, the drug policy. Is that a free pass? They can get that free pass and shove it up their [expletive].”

Read More: David Ortiz, john lackey, Nelson Cruz,

Red Sox pregame notes: Mike Carp returns; Shane Victorino to start rehab assignment; Sox ‘remain committed’ to Xander Bogaerts

07.07.14 at 7:57 pm ET
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Mike Carp returns to Red Sox after recovering from a broken foot. (AP)

Mike Carp returns to Red Sox after recovering from a broken foot. (AP)

Just two days after hitting a game-winning bloop single, Jonathan Herrera was optioned to Pawtucket to make room for Mike Carp, who comes off the disabled list after a broken foot sidelined him for a month.

Carp has been on a rehab assignment with the PawSox. During his time in Triple-A, Carp went 5-for-21 with a double and a home run, with four of the hits (and both extra-base hits) coming in his last two games. Red Sox manager John Farrell said that Carp will resume his role as a left-handed bat off the bench in pinch-hit situations while also giving the Sox options at first base and left field.

Farrell had nothing but praise for Herrera, who was acquired in the off-season from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for lefty Franklin Morales.

“He fits the role to a tee, the utility role,” Farrell said. “It was a difficult conversation. He’s a quality person, quality player, stayed prepared and contributed when asked in the role that he was in. He occupied a role that was difficult. He sat for seven or eight days and then to play to the efficiency that he did, we clearly viewed him as a major league player and I would suspect that he would be back with us at some point this season.”

With Herrera no longer on the 25-man roster, Farrell said Brock Holt represents the utility jack-of-all-trades option. The manager added that Mookie Betts is working out solely in the outfield in pregame work, and would not be a consideration for shortstop (a position that Betts last played in Lowell in 2012).

OTHER RED SOX NOTES Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Jonathan Herrera, mike carp, Shane Victorino,

Red Sox game to start at 7:45 p.m.

07.07.14 at 6:41 pm ET
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The Red Sox announced that the start of Monday’s game against the White Sox has been delayed by the threat of severe weather. The Red Sox had already asked fans to clear the uncovered seating bowls at Fenway Park due to lightning in the area. At this time, the starting time of Monday’s game isn’t known. More information will be provided as it becomes available.

UPDATE: The team announced that the game is now scheduled to start at 7:45 p.m.

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