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Closing Time: Red Sox fall to Twins despite late comeback bid

07.22.16 at 10:10 pm ET
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Eduardo Rodriguez was solid for the second straight start. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

Eduardo Rodriguez was solid for the second straight start. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

Apparently the Red Sox offense can’t be red-hot every night.

Coming into the game batting .316 as a team in the month of July, the Red Sox managed just four hits as a team in their 2-1 loss to the Twins Friday night at Fenway Park.

Twins starter Kyle Gibson was very effective as the Red Sox didn’t record a hit after the first inning against him, spanning 24 batters with a walk and an error mixed in. Gibson went eight innings allowing just one run on 96 pitches.

The Red Sox threatened in the ninth with the bases loaded with no outs against Brandon Kinzler, but David Ortiz hit into a double play and Hanley Ramirez left the tying and winning runs in scoring position.

“Loved our chances,” manager John Farrell said. “Loved the chance to tack on some runs in the first inning as well. Stage was set, golden opportunity. David rolled into a ground ball double play and then the line out to finish it. We had quality at-bats in the ninth inning. Up until that point Gibson was very good. Changed speeds, good sinker. Unable to really mount any threat through the first eight innings.”

Eduardo Rodriguez was solid for the second straight outing despite the loss.

The left-hander went 5 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on six hits, while walking one and striking out eight, which were a season-high. He was pulled from the game with one out in the sixth at 95 pitches, suggesting perhaps he was on a pitch count.

Rodriguez was pulled after allowing a one-out walk in the sixth and was replaced by Heath Hembree. Hembree allowed a walk and a double to the only two batters he faced, which allowed the go-ahead run to score as the game was tied at one when he entered.

“Yeah, with those two guys coming that was the spot for Heath and felt like it had makings of a low-run game,” Farrell said. “Where we were in the bullpen, Eddie getting to the point where his night was getting near the end, felt like that was the right time to make a move. Unfortunately, the walk and the double is the difference.”

The first run of the game came in the second inning when Rodriguez allowed a solo homer to Brian Dozier.

For the second time in as many nights, Mookie Betts led the bottom of the first inning off with a homer. Friday it was on the second pitch after Thursday it was on the first pitch. It was his 20th home run of the season.

It was Betts’ fifth lead off homer of the season, but it wasn’t all good news as he left the game in the fifth inning with right knee soreness. Nothing stood out as to how the injury occurred, but perhaps in the fourth inning when he charged a bloop single and threw out Dozier at second base trying to extend it into a double.

Closing Time note

The Red Sox have homered in 13 straight games, their second-longest streak of the season.

Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ loss.

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Mookie Betts leaves game with right knee soreness

07.22.16 at 8:31 pm ET
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Mookie Betts

Mookie Betts

The last thing the Red Sox need is another injury to an outfielder, especially an All-Star outfielder.

Right fielder Mookie Betts left Friday night’s game with right knee soreness prior to the top of the fifth inning with the game tied at one. He’s day-to-day.

Betts was replaced by utility infielder/outfielder Michael Martinez.

It isn’t exactly clear when the injury occurred, but may have happened on a play in the fourth inning when he charged in on a bloop Brian Dozier single and threw him out at second base. It appeared it was a bit of an awkward throw with him being on the run.

Betts led the bottom of the first off with a home run for the second straight day. It was his 20th homer of the year.

He’s started 94 of the 95 games this season.

For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

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Andrew Benintendi starting in left field for 1st time in pro career ‘to prepare for that eventual day’ in Boston

07.22.16 at 5:20 pm ET
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Andrew Benintendi

Andrew Benintendi

The biggest news as it relates to the Red Sox organization on Friday didn’t take place at Fenway Park, it took place in Double-A Portland.

Highly-touted prospect Andrew Benintendi will be making his first professional start in left field, shifting over from his natural position of center field.

Manager John Farrell was aware of the change.

“Aware of position changes, aware of the potential estimated timeline of arrival,” Farrell said. “Again, the player is going to determine when he is most ready. As we’ve seen with a number of guys, we haven’t been hesitant to move them around on the field, change positions. With Andrew going to left, we are looking down the road a little ways. When that day comes that he’s a left fielder here in Boston, remains to be seen, but the way he’s swung the bat, the way he’s advanced this year, you start to prepare for that eventual day.”

It seems like it will be a gradual shift as per source, he’s not expected to play there every day, but will get early work and reps during batting practice there. It also seems likely a potential promotion to Triple-A could come in the coming weeks.

The 2015 first-round pick, No. 7 overall out of the University of Arkansas is batting .277 with six home runs and 31 RBIs over 54 games in Double-A. He started the year in High-A Salem, but was promoted after batting .341 in 34 games.

Farrell added the shift to left field had nothing to do with Blake Swihart’s recent setback in his ankle rehab.

It seems likely the Red Sox are preparing for September when the rosters expand and also looking towards the future as Benintendi is blocked in center field with Jackie Bradley Jr., but left field is up for grabs.

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Koji Uehara receives PRP injection, which suggests his return won’t be soon

07.22.16 at 5:03 pm ET
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Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara

If you were expected Koji Uehara to return from the disabled list after the 15 days, think again.

Manager John Farrell said the reliever received a PRP injection on Friday, which suggests he will be out an extended period of time. Uehara was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday with a right pectoral strain.

“That is going to require a little bit of down time to recover from that,” Farrell said. “Still it doesn’t lend to a return date or really to put a ball back in his hand as of yet. That’s really the most update I can give you.”

While nothing is official, Sept. 1 seems like a good general target date for his return.

The Red Sox will get another reliever back Friday in Junichi Tazawa, who is returning from shoulder impingement. Farrell said there are no physical restrictions for him, but as they do with all relievers, the team will monitor his work load.

“We’ll pick a spot. If Eddie [Rodriguez] goes deep in the game — again, I think it’s all going to be game dependent,” he said. “The leverage to it, the stress to it — put it this way, going into tonight there is no physical limitations. That will be the guide.”

Farrell added he would like to stay away from Matt Barnes again Friday night after he went three innings on Wednesday.

Read More: junichi tazawa, Koji Uehara,

Red Sox lineup: Sandy Leon catching Eduardo Rodriguez

07.22.16 at 4:02 pm ET
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Sandy Leon

Sandy Leon

The Red Sox will look to keep on rolling Friday night against the Twins in the second game of a four-game weekend series.

It’s a standard lineup against a right-hander with Brock Holt in left field and Travis Shaw at third base as the Red Sox are facing the Twins’ Kyle Gibson.

Sandy Leon will catch Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez.

Here is the complete 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
Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP

For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.

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Junichi Tazawa activated to active roster, Noe Ramirez optioned back to Triple-A Pawtucket

07.22.16 at 3:55 pm ET
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Junichi Tazawa

Junichi Tazawa

As expected, reliever Junichi Tazawa is back on the active 25-man roster as he was activated prior to Friday’s game with the Twins. As the corresponding move, Noe Ramirez was optioned back to Triple-A Pawtucket.

Tazawa was on the disabled list with shoulder impingement since July 14, retroactive to July 4. He has made 35 relief appearances for the Red Sox this season, going 1-1 with a 3.62 ERA and 37 strikeouts against only eight walks. Opponents are hitting just .215 this season.

Ramirez didn’t appear in a game during his few days with the club. The right-hander has made 11 relief appearances over seven stints with the Red Sox this season, posting no record and a 6.55 ERA with 11 strikeouts. He has has also made 18 appearances with Pawtucket this year, earning three saves and going 1-3 with a 2.36 ERA and 25 strikeouts compared to eight walks.

For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

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In case you missed it, Jackie Bradley Jr. has some pop

07.22.16 at 11:11 am ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

It’s easy to sleep on Jackie Bradley Jr.’s power.

This is a guy whose reputation was built on defense, with his emerging overall offense offering an added bonus. Oh, and in 21 stolen base attempts he has only been thrown out once.

But what we should be taking notice of is that when Bradley hits the ball, he is usually hitting with some authority. Proof? Only one American League outfielder (Mike Trout) has a higher slugging percentage than the Sox’ center fielder, who is clocking in at .548 after notching 24th double and 15th homer of the season Thursday night.

“No doubt,” said Bradley Jr. after the Red Sox’ 13-2 win over the Twins when asked if this is the most powerful he’s ever felt at the plate. (To watch his latest homer, click here.)

With his rocket into the center field bleachers Thursday, Bradley now has more homers this season than his previous three years combined.

He is just slightly under the slugging percentage Jacoby Ellsbury finished with during the center fielder’s 32-home run season in 2011, with only Ellsbury, Fred Lynn, Carl Everett and Tony Armas ending their respective seasons with higher slugging percentages while playing center field for the Red Sox.

“I could feel it late last year and I just felt very comfortable,” Bradley said. “I felt I was getting stronger as the year went on, where in previous years I felt tired. But I conditioned and worked really hard in the offseason to be able to last through the whole thing.”

The outfielder credits a newfound commitment to weight training, particularly involving his lower half, to the maintained power. Bradley entered the season weighing more than he had at any point in his life (205 pounds), and has managed to keep the muscle despite currently dropping to 195.

And then there is the alteration in his swing, which has the lefty hitter executing a much more pronounced weight shift just before addressing the ball.

“I feel like I’m quicker and stronger,” he said. “I feel like my weight transfer isn’t as sedentary. I’m getting momentum.”

It sure seems that way.

Friday Red Sox Farm Report: LHP Henry Owens struggles in PawSox loss; LHP Logan Boyd records season-high 8 strikeouts for Greenville

07.22.16 at 11:09 am ET
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Here is the look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Thursday.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (51-48): L, 5-4 in 14 innings, at Columbus (Indians)

— On his 24th birthday, Henry Owens pitched 5 2/3 innings and allowed four runs, nine hits and three walks with four strikeouts. One start after taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning, the southpaw showed the inconsistency that has plagued him all season. He’s now 6-5 with a 4.20 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP in 17 Triple-A starts.

— Following Owens, the PawSox bullpen combined to pitch 7 1/3 innings, allowing only one run. Casey Janssen came into the game following Owens, making his second relief appearance for Pawtucket after a rehab stint in Lowell, and pitched 1 1/3 innings, allowing no runs, no hits and two walks with one strikeout. Chandler Shepherd then pitched three innings, allowing no runs, one hit and two walks with two strikeouts. Finally, right-hander Kyle Martin hurled three innings, allowing four hits and three walks with five strikeouts and surrendering the game-winning run via a bases-loaded walk.

— The PawSox offense benefited from several multiple-hit days. Brennan Boesch started the scoring for Pawtucket with an opposite-field double to the base of the wall in left in the first inning that plated Chris Marrero. Boesch finished the game 2-for-5 with a walk.

Third baseman Jantzen Witte drove home a run on a double in the fifth inning. Witte ended the day 2-for-6 with two doubles and a strikeout. Dan Butler drove home Mike Miller in the top of the sixth inning with a single to right field. Butler finished the game 2-for-5 with a walk and two strikeouts, while Miller went 3-for-6 with a double and a strikeout.

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Friday’s Red Sox-Twins matchups: Eduardo Rodriguez vs. Kyle Gibson

07.22.16 at 9:23 am ET
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After opening their four-game series with the Twins with a rout, the Red Sox send Eduardo Rodriguez to the mound Friday night opposite right-hander Kyle Gibson.

Rodriguez is 2-3 in seven starts with a 7.18 ERA and a 1.569 WHIP. Prior to the All-Star break, Rodriguez was 1-3 in six starts with an 8.59 ERA and a 1.739 WHIP. In his first start after the break last Saturday — and his first start major league start since June 27 — Rodriguez pitched seven innings, allowing one run, four hits and two walks with one strikeout in a 5-2 win over the Yankees.

“Clearly he got into a good rhythm,” manager John Farrell said. “He was able to settle into a good comfort level. He did an outstanding job in the middle innings. His seven innings is potentially a major shot in the arm for our rotation. It was good to see.”

In two starts against the Twins, Rodriguez is 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA and a 1.200 WHIP. The 23-year-old Venezuelan last faced the Twins on June 11. In that start, the southpaw pitched 4 2/3 innings, giving up four runs, six hits and four walks with four strikeouts in a 15-4 Red Sox win.

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Clay Buchholz on possible trade: ‘I felt like something has to be going on’

07.22.16 at 12:07 am ET
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Clay Buchholz pitched for the first time since July 2, Thursday night. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Images)

Clay Buchholz pitched for the first time since July 2 when he closed out Thursday night’s win over the Twins. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Images)

This might not be the last time Clay Buchholz pitches on the Fenway Park mound, but it sure is starting to feel like his run in Red Sox home whites is facing its finale.

Part of the vibe came from the obvious observation as to what Buchholz’s lot in life has become, as he finally pitched for the first time since July 2 when he finished off the Sox’ 13-2 win over the Twins on Thursday night with a scoreless inning.

But the other piece of the puzzle when surmising the end might be closing in for Buchholz when it comes to his time in Boston was the blunt explanation by Red Sox manager John Farrell prior to the game when asked about the pitcher’s role.

“He’s in a tough spot, I’ll be candid,” Farrell said. “I don’t want to say it’s purgatory, but as far as baseball he’s in a difficult spot. There was the four-day layover over the break. We’ve played very good winning baseball. We’ve gotten starters deeper into ballgames where the bullpen has been rested. That’s where the decisions have come in.”

And now with the Junichi Tazawa scheduled to return Friday, Joe Kelly knocking on the door to be a legitimate late-inning relief option, and the non-waiver trade deadline just 10 days away, it’s not a stretch to think Buchholz’s future will be with another club, starting in the not-too-distant future.

“If this is the way the team is going to be as far as the rotation part of it … I feel like the guys they’re rolling out there, I don’t have a spot. I’m the odd man out,” Buchholz said when asked if he thought we was going to be traded. “I’m not sure. I don’t know. Not having pitched in a while I felt like something has be going on. I’m just trying to stay as sharp as I can and that’s why I’ve been throwing on the side. I have to stay somewhat stretched out.

“Something has to go in some direction. I know we have Taz coming back, and Koji [Uehara] and Craig [Kimbrel] when they come back, and then it becomes a numbers game.”

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