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Closing Time: Clay Buchholz, Red Sox come up short against Indians

05.20.16 at 10:18 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz suffered his fourth loss of the season, Friday night. (David Butler/USA Today Sports)

Clay Buchholz suffered his fourth loss of the season. (David Butler/USA Today Sports)

Clay Buchholz is still searching.

Buchholz took the loss once again, this time living on the wrong end of the Red Sox’ 4-2 defeat to the Indians on Friday night at Fenway Park.

And since he lasted six innings, and gave up three earned runs (four in total), Buchholz was tagged with his second quality start of the season. The problem was that the appearance included much of the discomfort that has accompanied too many of the the righty’s nine starts this season.

Buchholz allowed five hits and four walks, giving him more this season (24) than his entire 2015 campaign.

Yet, even with the methodical pace and lack of command, the narrative would have undoubtedly been different for Buchholz if not for Jason Kipnis’ three-run homer in the third. The blast came with nobody out, and landed deep into the right field seats.

“I’ve been around long enough,” Buchholz said. “There have been times I’ve felt lost and didn’t feel like I could get anybody out and that’s definitely not the case right now. It’s a matter of one at-bat or a couple walks leading up to one at-bat and giving up a big hit in that situation. That’s something I have to find a way to get better at.”

Kipnis’ sixth homer of the season was the ninth given up by Buchholz, who had been staked to a 2-0 lead. The Red Sox starter has now given up nine homers, which have accounted for 22 runs.

“I mean, the home run was a four-seam in,” Buchholz said. “I looked at it. It was a strike fastball. I wasn’t expecting a swing-in. I was thinking he was looking more out of the plate. Obviously he wasn’t. Other than that, I missed, even the first hitter of the game, [Carlos] Santana, tried to throw a fastball up, threw it up and he still hits it, so. It’s just the way it’s been going. All in all it wasn’t a terrible outing but it’s hard to swallow getting beat on home runs every time out. Keep pushing along and find a way to get through it.”

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Jackie Bradley Jr. extends hitting streak to 25 games with home run

05.20.16 at 7:51 pm ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr. got the hit streak drama out of the way early Friday night.

Jumping on the second pitch he saw from Cleveland starter Corey Kluber, Bradley Jr. launched a 1-0 slider into the center field bleachers. It marked the 25th straight game the outfielder has collected at least one hit.

“Put a good swing on a pitch low and down the middle and it happened to get into the wind and played the course pretty well today,” Bradley Jr. said.

Bradley Jr. is now nine shy of the Red Sox record, with Dom DiMaggio totaling 34 in a row in 1949.

It was Bradley Jr.’s eighth homer since the streak began on April 24. Coming into Friday night, the stretch had included the lefty hitter managing a .407 batting average and 1.240 OPS.

It was also the 20th straight game the Red Sox have hit at least one home run, snapping the previous club record held by the the 1995 club.

The second-inning homer gave the Red Sox a 2-0 lead at the time, with the Sox ultimately dropping a 4-2 decision to the Indians.

Bradley Jr. finished his night going 1-for-2 with two walks, the last coming with two outs in the ninth inning when he worked a 3-2 count against Cleveland closer Cody Allen.

“I just wanted to stay locked in for the last at-bat. I didn’t want to lose,” he said. “In my mind, I was going to give it everything I had. I didn’t want to lose the game. I didn’t want to lose that at-bat.”

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Carson Smith headed for second opinion on elbow

05.20.16 at 6:18 pm ET
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Carson Smith

Carson Smith

It is an uneasy feeling for Carson Smith.

The reliever, who went on the 15-day disabled list Friday with elbow tightness, underwent an MRI prior to the Red Sox’ series opener with the Indians. And while the results weren’t readily available after the Red Sox’ 4-2 loss to Cleveland, the publicized plan going forward can’t be too encouraging.

Red Sox manager John Farrell said that Smith will visit Dr. David Altchek for a second opinion, Monday. The choice to rely on Altchek, and not someone like Dr. James Andrews, is at the player’s discretion.

Before the game Farrell said the ailment is in the same area as when Smith was shut down during spring training, and surmised that the injury — which limited Smith to just three appearances since initially coming off the disabled list — wouldn’t necessitate surgery.

“I would be surprised given what we know right now,” said Farrell of the likelihood of an operation.

Smith, who was feeling the discomfort more when throwing sliders than fastballs, last pitched May 14. Prior to that, he had gone on May 3 and 9.

“I felt healthy my first outing out and felt good for the most part for the first week or so I was back up,” Smith said. “I threw against Oakland and had an extensive outing and a number of warmup pitches to go into that game and since then, there’s been small symptoms of what it was back in spring training.”

The reliever added, “I want to know what’s going on, I want to get it right. I’d rather be broke or just right. It’s frustrating going out there and not being 100 percent every time. I couldn’t do that to the team. That’s when we decided to get another MRI.”

David Ortiz says he’s ‘100 percent sure’ he’s going to retire

05.20.16 at 4:06 pm ET
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David Ortiz

David Ortiz

In the past few days, there has been plenty of conversation concerning the chance that David Ortiz might not actually retire after the 2016 season.

First, there was the fact that he is third in the majors in OPS, heading into Friday night at 1.044. And then there was the comment to Yahoo! Sports recently, saying, “Hopefully nobody comes to me and offers $25 million, either. I don’t even want to talk about it. Like I said, I’m good with the decision that I made right now. But would you leave $25 million on the table? I don’t want nobody to offer me that.”

When asked Friday by WEEI.com if he would indeed start thinking differently if such an offer was extended, Ortiz simply said, “That is not going on right now. I’m not thinking about that right now.”

But then, he offered a more definitive response.

“Listen, the thing is that people need to understand, in my mind I’m 100 percent sure I’m going to retire,” he said. “There are so many reasons for me that I want to retire. That is what is my mind right now. I don’t want people to get the wrong idea.”

Before heading out for treatment, Ortiz finished one last observation.

“If I wasn’t [doing well] people wouldn’t even be talking about it,” he said.

Ortiz is off to the best start of his career, leading the majors in slugging percentage (.652), while hitting .312 with 10 homers.

Red Sox lineup: Blake Swihart gets start in left field

05.20.16 at 3:24 pm ET
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Blake Swihart

Blake Swihart

With right-hander Corey Kluber on the mound for the Indians in their series opener against the Red Sox on Friday night, the Sox will begin the Blake Swihart in left field experiment right away.

Swihart, who played in left for 11 games with Triple-A Pawtucket, gets the start against Kluber, who walked the switch-hitter twice in the season opener.

Here is the Red Sox lineup with Clay Buchholz starting for the hosts:

Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Travis Shaw 3B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Christian Vazquez C
Blake Swihart LF

For a breakdown of the pitching matchup, click here.

Carson Smith (elbow), Brock Holt (concussion) head to disabled list; Noe Ramriez, Blake Swihart promoted

05.20.16 at 12:38 pm ET
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Carson Smith

Carson Smith

The Red Sox will look a little different as they return home Friday.

The team announced that reliever Carson Smith has been placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a right elbow ailment (retroactive to May 15), while Brock Holt will head to the 7-day concussion disabled list (retroactive to May 19).

Noe Ramirez is being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket to fill Smith’s spot, while Blake Swihart may be getting his first opportunity as a major league left fielder, also getting the call from the PawSox.

Smith made only three appearances for the Red Sox since originally coming off the disabled list on May 3. In five games with the PawSox, Ramirez allowed four earned runs over nine innings, giving up 12 hits while going 0-3.

Holt had been struggling mightily as of late, hitting .158 (6-for-38) in his last 13 games. He did participate in both ends of Wednesday’s doubleheader, getting four at-bats in Game 2 after pinch-hitting in the first game.

Swihart had been hitting .243 with a .655 OPS and one home run in 29 games with Pawtucket since his demotion. In his last 10 games, however, the switch-hitter managed a .310 batting average. He has also manned left field for 11 games with the PawSox.

Friday Red Sox Farm Report: Yoan Moncada hits go-ahead RBI, steals 2 to grab minor league lead

05.20.16 at 8:40 am ET
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Here’s a look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Thursday.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (20-21): L, 7-5, at Buffalo (Blue Jays)

— First baseman Allen Craig hit a three-run homer in his second game back after a stint on the disabled list and finished 2-for-2 with a walk and two runs scored. The home run, Craig’s first of the season, came in the first inning on an 0-2 breaking ball pulled over the left field wall and gave the PawSox a 4-0 lead. The 31-year-old Craig walked and scored in the fourth and singled in the sixth before being removed for a defensive replacement in the eighth.

Acquired by Boston in the summer of 2014 along with RHP Joe Kelly in exchange for John Lackey, Craig missed 30 games this season (over a month in duration) before being reinstated from the DL on May 16. In 2015 Craig slashed .274/.368/.350 with four homers and 14 doubles over 93 games played with Pawtucket,

— Third baseman Chris Dominguez doubled home Craig in the fourth and finished 2-for-4 in his second game back off the DL as well. The 29-year-old Dominguez is 12-for-41 (.293) on the season over 11 games, missing 26 games with a right oblique strain. Signed by Boston as a minor league free agent last December, Dominguez made Cincinnati’s opening day roster last year and played in 14 games in the majors, going 6-for-23 with a homer, triple and double.

— Right fielder Bryce Brentz (Boston’s No. 30 prospect at MLB.com) had the other PawSox RBI, with a run-scoring single in the first to plate second baseman Mike Miller. Brentz, 27, has a six-game hit streak and over 10 games in Triple-A this year is 10-for-33 (.303) with three doubles.

— RHP Mike McCarthy took the loss with a final line of: 3 1/3 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 0 SO (66 pitches, 37 strikes). Reliever Mitch Atkins, just called up from Double-A Portland, was sensational in relief of McCarthy as he walked the first batter he faced and then retired 14 straight, with six via strikeout. Atkins, 30, appeared in 10 games in the majors from 2009-12 with the Cubs and Orioles before pitching in the Chinese Professional League last season. In nine games (two starts) this year with Portland, Atkins has struck out 30 over 23 innings of work.

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Friday’s Red Sox-Indians matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Corey Kluber

05.20.16 at 8:33 am ET
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In the first game of a three-game series vs. the Indians, the Red Sox will send Clay Buchholz to the mound Friday night to square off against 2014 Cy Young winner Corey Kluber.

In eight starts this season, Buchholz is 2-3 with a disappointing 6.11 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP. He also has walked 20 batters this year, the 10th-most walks by a pitcher in the American League. In his last start, a no-decision, the right-hander allowed five earned runs and seven hits to the Astros in a 6-5 Red Sox win. Buchholz also let up two home runs in the game, one of them being a grand slam to George Springer.

In his nine-year career, Buchholz is 2-1 against the Indians with a 4.91 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. He last faced Cleveland on April 6 in his first start of the 2016 season. The Texas native lasted four innings and surrendered five earned runs, six hits and three walks.

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Why Red Sox should offer David Ortiz $25 million not to retire

05.19.16 at 11:52 am ET
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David Ortiz

David Ortiz

The Red Sox shouldn’t just look at that Players Tribune video and start planning the ceremonies.

They have to at least make an effort to change David Ortiz’s mind. John Henry and Co. are simply not doing their due diligence if they don’t offer to tear up the designated hitter’s current vesting option for 2017 and offer him $25 million to play in 2017.

This wouldn’t be exactly the kind of shot in the dark former Celtics boss M.L. Carr took when reportedly offering the Bulls a first-round draft pick just for the right to talk to a retired Michael Jordan.

But it would certainly be an outside-the-box — albeit very necessary — last gasp attempt.

Some believe Ortiz opened the door for such a conversation when talking to Yahoo! Sports recently, saying …

“I’m happy with the decision that I made. And my feet are happy with the decision that I made, and my wife is happy with the decision that I made. I’ve got to wait until next year when I ain’t doing [expletive] to see how it’s gonna hit home. Because I’m not gonna lie to you, I don’t know. I think I played enough baseball.

“Hopefully nobody comes to me and offers $25 million, either. I don’t even want to talk about it,” Ortiz said. “Like I said, I’m good with the decision that I made right now. But would you leave $25 million on the table? I don’t want nobody to offer me that.”

I don’t necessarily believe he was trying to send the Red Sox some hidden message, but it did open an interesting discussion.

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Red Sox minor league notebook: Could Sam Travis be Hanley Ramirez’s replacement at first base in 2017?

05.19.16 at 11:31 am ET
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Sam Travis

Sam Travis

1. There will be a lot of questions next offseason with the Red Sox’ big league club.

If David Ortiz does indeed retire, Hanley Ramirez likely will move from first base to designated hitter. Then, with Travis Shaw’s outstanding start to the year at third base and plenty of questions with Pablo Sandoval, it would seem Shaw will stay at third base.

This leaves first base open and the Red Sox may not need to look outside the organization, as prospect Sam Travis is proving he deserves a lot of consideration for the job.

Travis was drafted in the second round of the 2014 draft out of Indiana University and he’s performed well at every level he’s played.

In 40 games with short-season, Single-A Lowell after being drafted he batted .333 and was promoted to Single-A Greenville to end the 2014 season where he hit .290 with a slugging percentage of .495.

The first baseman started last season with Salem before being promoted to Portland at the All-Star break, after being named to the High-A All-Star Game. Between the two teams, the right-handed hitter batted .307 with nine home runs and 78 RBIs.

Now, 38 games into his Triple-A career, he’s batting .281 with five homers and 23 RBIs. He’s been the PawSox’ most consistent hitter to this point in the season despite being one of the youngest players on the team.

“You just get better playing every day and learning through experience, against better competition and getting your practice in,” Travis said. “Trusting the process, you’ll gradually get better.”

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