|07.27.16 at 12:35 am ET|
Steven Wright will head into his last start of July with a 12-5 record and 3.12 ERA. The outing before Tuesday night was a classic lockdown performance for the knuckleballer, allowing just two runs over eight innings.
Yet, after the Red Sox’ 9-8 loss to the Tigers, there seems to be some uneasiness when it comes to the pitcher who entered this week as this team’s ace.
Wright turned in one of his worst performances of the season in his most rent appearance, giving up eight runs on nine hits over 4 2/3 innings. In short, the wheels just fell off the wagon for Sox starter in this one.
“Tonight was probably the toughest out of all the outings. That’s baseball,” he said. “You’re going to have good days, you’re going to have bad days. This was definitely a bad day.”
It certainly seemed like Wright’s downfall could be attributed to the same sort of factors found in his other bumps in the road. After a rocky first two innings — giving up a pair of runs in each frame — he had seemingly settled down until the fifth. That’s when the Tigers managed four runs, driving Wright from the game.
That sudden loss of effectiveness seemed to coincide with Wright constantly wiping off his forearms, which were becoming increasingly wet due to the hot Fenway Park night. And it had been that kind of moisture which had previously done in Wright.
It was why he had heeded the advice of former knuckleballer Steve Sparks and started using a concoction of glycerin and rosewater to help keep his hands dry. (The rosin bag has an unwanted effect due to the stickiness it provides.)
But, despite the constant wiping in between the three singles and two walks in the fifth, Wright insisted the moisture wasn’t the issue this time around.
“It makes it move a little bit more, but I don’t think that really affected me today,” Wright said. “I felt like the ball was moving. I thought the ball was coming out of my hand really good. Definitely had a little bit of a hard time getting called strikes and they were taking. They had a good approach, especially that last inning. … They put the ball in play and just found holes. When you walk two guys, that’s where the damage comes because that’s where they can hit their way on. All of a sudden you get a few passes and now a single all of a sudden is a single with an RBI instead of just a single. That’s when the floodgates just opened.”
|07.26.16 at 11:46 pm ET|
Within the Red Sox’ 9-8 loss to the Tigers Tuesday night at Fenway Park were a few decisions made by manager John Farrell with the pitching staff worth debating.
The first was with Steven Wright in the fifth inning.
Wright clearly didn’t have his best stuff as he had allowed four runs going into the inning. After the Red Sox had given him a 5-4 lead, the knuckleballer walked the first two batters of the inning, which were followed by two straight singles. An RBI ground out made it a 6-4 game with runners on second and third with one out.
Wright was able to get the next batter to pop out, but then with left-hander Robbie Ross Jr. seemingly ready in the bullpen, Farrell stuck with Wright who allowed a two-out, two-run single to Jarrod Saltalamacchia to give the Tigers a 8-4 lead.
With two relievers unavailable, it seemed Farrell wanted to do anything in his power to get Wright through the fifth inning.
“On a night when [Clay] Buchholz is unavailable, [Matt] Barnes is unavailable, trying to get him as deep as possible to get us in those middle innings and possibility beyond,” Farrell said. “Unfortunately, can’t get through the fifth.”
Buchholz has pitched four times in the last six days, but Barnes being unavailable is puzzling considering he worked 1/3 of an inning Sunday after throwing three innings last Wednesday.
Then in the seventh inning, Ross Jr. was still in the game with the game tied at eight. It was his second full inning of work and after retiring the first two batters of the inning, things started to fall apart.
Ross Jr. hit a batter, allowed a single and then walked two, including the second with the bases loaded to allow the go-ahead and eventual game-winning run to score. Right-hander Joe Kelly was warming and entered following the walks to Saltalamacchia and No. 9 batter, lefty Tyler Collins. Kelly retired Ian Kinlser on one pitch to get out of the inning without further damage.
Farrell defended sticking with Ross Jr. against Saltalamacchia and Collins.
|07.26.16 at 11:46 pm ET|
With the scored tied heading into the seventh inning, the Red Sox reliever started the frame by getting Victor Martinez to strikeout and then Nick Castellanos on a ground out. But then came a pitch that hit Justin Upton, Mike Aviles’ single and a walk to Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
That brought up Tyler Collins with the bases loaded.
In nine at-bats against left-handers this season, Collins had reached base just one time. Ross, conversely, was holding lefty hitters to a .156 batting average, the best mark in the American League.
It didn’t work out as planned.
On a 3-2 pitch, Ross chose to use a slider, but missed badly. The walk forced in what would ultimately be the winning run in the Tigers’ 9-8 win over the Red Sox.
After the loss, Ross explained his thought process:
“I felt great. I just couldn’t command the zone right at the end. I was battling to find the strike zone. I felt good. It was surprising, actually. It was the feeling of, ‘OK, I’m right here. This is a make or break kind of thing. Let’s try and get out of it.’ Then it was like, ball here, ball here, ball here. And I felt myself every now and then pulling off the ball instead of staying through it.
“I felt it was the one pitch I was staying through and I was staying down through the ball. I felt myself drop under it instead of staying through it. It was just laziness right there at the last second. It’s frustrating because I was throwing my slider good so I was like, ‘Dude, if I can just spot this up he might be swinging. Hopefully he’s geared up for a fastball, or he rolls over to [Dustin Pedroia] Pedey or to [Hanley Ramirez] Hanley or he’s out in front of it and hits a pop fly.’ I just didn’t feel my fastball right there. My fastball is one of my best pitches right now, but I just felt myself coming off the ball so I thought if I come off a slider it might still stay in the zone. But it came way off.”
After the Wilson walk, Ross was replaced by Joe Kelly, who got out of the inning with one pitch thanks to a fly out off the bat of Ian Kinsler.
|07.26.16 at 10:43 pm ET|
Even though the Red Sox offense showed plenty of fight coming back from four and three-run deficits in the game, it still wasn’t enough to beat the Tigers.
Detroit scored a run in the seventh inning off left-hander Robbie Ross Jr. to break a 8-8 tie and it was able to hold on for a 9-8 win over the Red Sox Wednesday night at Fenway Park.
Ross was able to record the first two outs of the seventh inning with no issues, but allowed a hit-by-pitch, a single and back-to-back walks to walk in the eventual game-winning run.
The Red Sox had the tying run on the ninth, but Ortiz hit into a game-ending double play.
“It is frustrating when you put that many runs up on the board and come away on the wrong side of it,” manager John Farrell said.
The seventh inning wasted a valiant comeback effort by the Red Sox, which included two home runs. They now have 31 since July 4, which leads the majors in that span.
Trailing 8-5 going into the sixth, the Red Sox scored three times in the inning to tie the game at eight. Jackie Bradley Jr. got the scoring going with a solo homer to lead the inning off, then later Dustin Pedroia had an RBI single and Xander Bogaerts beat out a potential double-play ball to plate the tying run.
It was the worst start of the year for knuckleballer Steven Wright, but because of the Red Sox offense took a no-decision. He allowed eight runs on nine hits in just 4 2/3 innings of work, while walking three and striking out two. His eight earned runs were a career-high.
The most frustrating thing for Wright was the Red Sox had rallied to take a 5-4 lead after the fourth inning, but Wright walked two batters to open the fifth and would go on to allow four runs in the frame.
“Early on didn’t have the same, or typical violence and action to his knuckleball,” Farrell said. “They nick him for a couple of runs in each of the first two innings then I thought he got the touch and feel for it. Started to have his typical action to the pitch and then in that fifth inning, couple of walks to lead things off and we contributed inside the inning with an extra out. A couple of balls found their way through a hole.”
Trailing 4-0 after two innings, the Red Sox rallied with three in the third courtesy of David Ortiz’s 25th home run of the season and then scored two more in the fourth to grab a 5-4 lead at the time.
Ross Jr. has stranded his last 10 inherited runners.
Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ loss:
|07.26.16 at 7:21 pm ET|
According to multiple major league executives who have been in communication with the White Sox, the chances of Chicago dealing Sale remain ‘highly unlikely,’ unless White Sox general manager Rick Hahn is ‘absolutely blown away’ by an offer for the 27-year-old lefty.
This, of course, doesn’t mean Sale absolutely doesn’t get traded before Monday’s 4 p.m. deadline, with one executive with an interested team saying they think ‘there’s a chance’ a blockbuster deal gets done.
Late last week sources told WEEI.com following Sale’s meltdown Saturday, in which he cut up his team’s throwback uniform in protest of having to wear them during his start, the White Sox were still not inclined to trade the ace or his rotation-mate, Jose Quintana.
One of the more interesting names surfaced in rumors involving Sale is pitcher Julio Urias, who the New York Post reported the Dodgers would be willing to include in a deal for the White Sox pitcher. The 19-year-old is considered one of the best pitching prospects in baseball, and has a 4.69 ERA over his nine starts, having struck out 48 in 40 1/3 innings.
Sale is under team control through 2019, while scheduled to not make more than $13.5 million in any season. The final two years of his deal are team options.
|07.26.16 at 6:46 pm ET|
A pectoral strain is extremely rare for a baseball player to suffer, which is why it’s hard to have an idea of what Red Sox reliever Koji Uehara is going through and what a realistic timetable for his return might be.
Although it was two years ago, Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez suffered the same injury when he was attempting a pick-off attempt at first base.
“It was the worst pain I’ve ever felt,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez suffered the injury on Aug. 8 and didn’t return until Sept. 26, but not as a starter.
Coming back from the injury he was switched to the bullpen where he made one regular-season appearance and one postseason appearance against the Orioles in the ALDS as he was never back to 100 percent.
“That injury is the most weird injury that could happen to a baseball player, but that happens sometimes,” he said.
The Tigers starter noted the rehab process took about a month and a half and it was mostly rest. He couldn’t lift any weights or do any throwing. Sanchez received a PRP injection like Uehara and also noted he was nervous returning from the injury as he didn’t want the muscle to tighten on him again.
“I was nervous,” Sanchez said. “You feel weird because you feel everything in the shoulder. Sometimes I felt something, but I think it’s more mental.”
Uehara suffered the injury after throwing seven pitches against the Giants on July 19. Going off of Sanchez’s timeline, Uehara would return to the Red Sox the first week of September, but it’s important to note Sanchez was 30 years old at the time. Uehara is 41 years old, which likely means his recovery time could be a little longer. Also, Sanchez didn’t go back to his normal role either.
Bottom line, don’t expect Uehara back to the Red Sox until at least early September at minimum, but also it’s no guarantee he returns at all.
|07.26.16 at 5:44 pm ET|
Jackie Bradley Jr. got his revenge.
Back in May when Bradley Jr. appeared on MLB Network after winning the American League Player of the Week, Hanley Ramirez appeared in the background distracting Bradley Jr.
— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) May 16, 2016
Tuesday, Bradley Jr. got his revenge by doing the same when Ramirez was on MLB Network after winning the most recent AL Player of the Week.
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) July 26, 2016
|07.26.16 at 5:14 pm ET|
The Red Sox seem to be getting closer to getting back to a full compliment of players as both Blake Swihart and Chris Young are getting closer to returning to the team.
Swihart suffered an ankle sprain on June 5 and hasn’t played since. The catcher-turned-left fielder suffered a bit of a set back last week, but manager John Farrell indicated the next 7-10 days would be important for him.
“He’s ramping up activities and when he first increased the intensity, there was some residual discomfort in just getting past some of the increased change in direction, straight ahead speed, so while he’s making progress, he’s not ready to go out on a rehab assignment,” Farrell said. “I would say these next 7-10 days are going to be pivotal on what the next step would be for him.”
In 19 games at the major league level this season, Swihart is batting .258.
Young, another left fielder, is also getting closer to a return.
The right-handed hitter has been on the 15-day disabled list with a groin injury since June 24, but will go on the 11-day West Coast trip beginning Thursday and start running, which will eventually lead into being ready for a rehab stint.
“He’ll be on the trip increasing the running,” Farrell said. “He’s hitting in the cage. He’s starting to hit on the field. The overall running on ground-base, that is still in the process of ramping up. By no means, he’s jogging. He hasn’t done any kind of sprint work yet. Ideally, a 11-day road trip, hopefully he’s close to getting out on a rehab assignment when we get back from that trip.”
In 48 games, the 32-year-old is batting .277.
Getting both Young and Swihart back would be important for the team as they could potentially have Brock Holt go back to his super utility role, which could prove vital as the team has a brutal schedule upcoming and could be an easy way to give players days off.
OTHER RED SOX NOTES
|07.26.16 at 4:56 pm ET|
It’s always a busy time of the year with the trade deadline less than a week away, especially considering the Red Sox have already made four trades in the month of July.
Prior to Tuesday’s game, manager John Farrell was asked if he could sense a different mood in the clubhouse with the deadline less than a week away and he responded with saying he doesn’t sense a change in the atmosphere and added he isn’t anticipating another trade between now and Monday’s deadline.
“No, I wouldn’t think so,” he said of a possible mood change in the clubhouse. “At this point there isn’t that undertone. The fact that we have been able to acquire players prior to the deadline I think has injected a lot of confidence and I just think an overall upbeat tempo in knowing that there is commitment from Dave [Dombrowski] and ownership to add where the needs exist.
“If anything happens between now and the end of the month — not anticipating it at this point, but I think it’s pretty clear that Dave is always looking for ways to improve this team.”
With Chris Sale’s name being brought up and the Red Sox having the pieces in place to acquire him, there will always be that natural connection, but Sale himself said Monday night he doesn’t want to be traded and the Red Sox already added Drew Pomeranz.
The Red Sox could have the need for another arm in the bullpen, but Craig Kimbrel is progressing faster from his knee injury than many expected and in the field, left fielder’s Blake Swihart and Chris Young are both getting closer to returns, so the team could view those players returning as mid-season acquisitions.
|07.26.16 at 3:21 pm ET|
Tuesday’s Red Sox lineup is much of the same.
With the Red Sox facing Tigers right-hander Mike Pelfrey, they will have Brock Holt in left field and Travis Shaw at third base as the teams will play the second game of a three-game series Tuesday night at Fenway Park.
Mookie Betts will play for the second straight day after missing two games with a knee injury.
Ryan Hanigan was in the original starting lineup, but scratched around an hour prior to game time. Sandy Leon will catch Red Sox starter Steven Wright. Hanigan has flu-like symptoms and is day-to-day.
Here is the updated Red Sox lineup:
Mookie Betts, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
David Ortiz, DH
Hanley Ramirez, 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Travis Shaw, 3B
Sandy Leon, C
Brock Holt, LF
Steven Wright, RHP
For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.
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