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Koji Uehara after latest blown save: ‘It’s nothing about fatigue’

08.25.14 at 11:45 pm ET
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Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara

TORONTO —  His drop-off-the-table split-fingered fastball might be on hiatus, but Koji Uehara hasn’t lost his sense of humor.

Following the Red Sox‘ 4-3 win over the Blue Jays — in which Uehara allowed the hosts to tie the game in the ninth by allowing all three inherited baserunners to score — the closer was asked if fatigue might be an issue.

“It’s nothing about fatigue,” he said through a translator.

Later, when reminded he had tossed 148 total innings (and 2,095 total pitches) over the last two seasons, Uehara reiterated his stance. “Still, I don’t think that’s the case.”

Finally, the reliever relented.

“I’m willing to take a break for a month,” he joked. Then, with the reporters walking away, Uehara added, “See you next year.”

Uehara is in a rut like nothing the Red Sox have seen since he joined the club starting in 2013. Coming into Monday night, he had allowed at least one run in three straight outings.

This time, he wasn’t charged with a run but did allow one run to score via a fielder’s choice after coming on for Clay Buchholz with one out and the bases loaded in the ninth. Then he gave up the game-tying hit, a two-run double off the left field wall off the bat of Edwin Encarnacion.

The Encarnacion blast, which was just out of the reach of an outstretched Yoenis Cespedes, epitomized Uehara’s problem of late — the result of an ineffective splitter.

“It’s about my split,” he said. “I’m not controlling it.” He then added, “All I can say is that I’m not finishing the pitches as I want to.”

In Uehara’s last four outings, he has given up seven runs on 10 hits. Prior to August, since joining the Red Sox, the righty’s high for the entirety of any entire single month was three runs and nine hits.

As of now, Red Sox manager John Farrell said there is no plan to shut the reliever down for a time. (It should be noted that Uehara has thrown just 36 more pitches this season than he had on Aug. 25 last year.)

“Not at this point. What we’re being very conscious of is the frequency of the use,” Farrell said. “There’s nothing physical that is a restriction for him. We check in with him every day. He goes through his normal throwing program. Wouldn’t rule it out, but at this point we haven’t considered shutting him down.”

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Closing Time: Yoenis Cespedes, Clay Buchholz help Red Sox snap losing streak in 10 innings

08.25.14 at 10:18 pm ET
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A Red Sox team desperate for a single win to restore a shred of dignity instead stood on the cusp of a dismal defeat. Koji Uehara had blown a three-run ninth-inning lead, and the Sox seemed like they were spiraling towards their ninth straight loss.

Instead, the team showed for a night a degree of resilience. Yoenis Cespedes shook off a head-high fastball from rocket-throwing Blue Jays reliever Aaron Sanchez in the top of the 10th inning, singling on a 1-2 curveball to drive in Brock Holt with the go-ahead run in a 4-3 Red Sox victory.

“Some pitchers think when they throw that ball high and tight you’re going to get a flustered and throw you off. That’s not necessarily the case with me,” Cespedes told reporters in Toronto. “I almost get almost upset, not necessarily with the pitcher but more with myself. I’m able to refocus myself and it worked out today.”

Though Cespedes has posted relatively modest offensive totals since joining the Sox from the A’s at the trade deadline, he’s already delivered his share of timely hits. He’s driven in a team-leading 19 runs in 22 games in August, hitting .310/.313/.655 with runners in scoring position.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

– And then, Clay Buchholz does *that*.

The Red Sox right-hander, one start removed from a six-run, six-inning abomination that underscored questions about his consistency as a pitcher, rebounded in dazzling fashion, tossing 8 1/3 innings in which he permitted just four hits, walked one, struck out four and recorded 15 outs on the ground in an effort notable for both its tremendous efficiency (103 pitches) and the absence of solid contact against him (all of the hits he allowed were singles, with three having been of the groundball variety).

He left the game with a 3-0 lead after giving up a pair of seeing-eye singles and a walk. While he ended up being charged with all three of the runs, through eight innings, Buchholz was nothing but dominant. Read the rest of this entry »

David Ortiz thought his foot was broken (but it’s not)

08.25.14 at 4:24 pm ET
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TORONTO — Even thought David Ortiz was still hobbling around the visiting clubhouse at Rogers Centre Monday — sitting out of the starting lineup in the Red Sox‘€™ series opener against the Blue Jays —  the designated hitter felt he dodged a bullet.

Ortiz feared the worst after fouling a ball off his right foot during the fourth inning of the Red Sox’€™ loss Sunday afternoon.

There were no broken bones, just a lot of pain (and inflammation).

“It was not good. I thought I broke something, or something like that,” Ortiz explained. “This morning I got up, I had breakfast, took some anti-inflammatories and went back to sleep. Four hours later the swelling was reduced a little bit. If it happens tomorrow I might be able to play if I’€™m not hurting as bad as I am right now.

“I can’€™t put much weight on yet. Yesterday, my last at-bat, I took a swing and missed and it didn’€™t feel right. Then once I hit I tried to take off running and you guys saw what happened. It should have been a double but I couldn’€™t get it done. So, we’€™ll see. Hopefully it’€™s better tomorrow and if I’€™m able to run I’€™ll play.”

Ortiz explained that foul ball might have been the most painful he had incurred throughout his career.

“Yeah, I think I got away with [stuff] right there. It is what it is,” he said. “The ball that I hit yesterday off my foot ‘€¦ I hit balls off my foot ball the time, but I think that was the worst I’€™ve ever hit a ball off my foot. I went straight to the ground. It was a pitch that was cutting in. It seemed like the same velocity coming in was the same velocity going at my foot. That’€™s why I say I got away with something, not having anything broken.”

Mike Napoli takes Ortiz’ spot at designated hitter, with Allen Craig filling in at first base.

Monday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. J.A. Happ

08.25.14 at 3:40 pm ET
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The Red Sox will open up a three-game set against the Blue Jays up in Toronto on Monday, sending Clay Buchholz to the mound against J.A. Happ in the series opener.

After posting back-to-back solid outings on Aug. 9 and 15, Buchholz (5-8, 5.94 ERA) took a step back in his last start Wednesday against the Angels. The right-hander started off strong, retiring nine of the first 10 batters he faced, but fell apart in the fifth, giving up five runs en route to 8-3 Red Sox loss.

“The difference between everything going on this year and last year is a lot of balls finding holes or are home runs or doubles, they were hit at somebody last year and I got a lot of double plays that way,” Buchholz said after the game. “Sometimes that’s the way it goes. You don’t ever want it to be a full season but that’s the way it is sometimes, and I’ve got to keep grinding.”

Inconsistency has been the name of the game for Buchholz this season, as the right-hander has given up at least six earned runs in three of his last five starts.

Buchholz took the loss in his last outing against the Blue Jays on July 23, giving up four earned runs in six innings. In 22 career appearances (21 starts) against Toronto, Buchholz is 10-8 with 3.22 ERA.

Happ (8-8, 4.39 ERA) also struggled in his last start Tuesday against the Brewers, giving up six hits and four runs in just 3 1/3 innings of work.

“I don’t know,” Happ said after the game. “We’ve got to … I don’t know, just find a way. It starts with pitching. It started with me tonight. We got outplayed and it started with me, I guess. In a hole behind early and that’s tough against anybody, let alone a first-place team. Everybody’s gotta do their part and I came up short tonight.”

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Read More: Blue Jays, Clay Buchholz, J.A. Happ, Red Sox

Red Sox lineup: Foot keeps David Ortiz out against Blue Jays

08.25.14 at 3:24 pm ET
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David Ortiz was hobbled in the fourth inning after fouling a ball off his foot Sunday. The injury would ultimately make him exit the game in the sixth. (Getty Images)

David Ortiz was hobbled in the fourth inning after fouling a ball off his foot Sunday. The injury would ultimately make him exit the game in the sixth. (Getty Images)

TORONTO — After leaving Sunday’s game with a contused right foot — having fouled a ball off himself in the fourth inning — David Ortiz is not in the Red Sox‘ starting lineup Monday against Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ.

While an initial exam ruled out any fracture, Ortiz was noticeably sore following the Sox’ loss Sunday. Taking his place at designated hitter will be Mike Napoli, with Allen Craig getting his first start at first base as a member of the Red Sox.

Ortiz has more home runs (37) at Rogers Centre than any other visiting player.

Here is the Sox’ lineup with Clay Buchholz on the hill for the visitors:

Brock Holt SS

Dustin Pedroia 2B

Yoenis Cespedes LF

Mike Napoli DH

Allen Craig 1B

Daniel Nava RF

Will Middlebrooks 3B

Mookie Betts CF

Christian Vazquez C

Red Sox minor league weekend roundup: Garin Cecchini’s redemption; Brian Johnson keeps riding prospect helium; Trey Ball gets back on track; Steady Teddy Stankiewicz, innings eater; Billy McMillon keeps winning

08.25.14 at 1:45 pm ET
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A not-so-brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Friday, Saturday and Sunday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX:

7-3 LOSS VS. LEHIGH VALLEY (PHILLIES), 15-2 LOSS AT BUFFALO (BLUE JAYS), 10-6 LOSS (WALKOFF, 12 INNINGS) AT BUFFALO

Garin Cecchini

Garin Cecchini

Garin Cecchini‘s 4-for-9 weekend, which also featured a pair of walks, continued a season-transforming August stretch. The 23-year-old once again is once again showing the swing and approach that earned him a reputation as one of the top pure hitters in the minors entering this season. In 19 games in August, he’s hitting .329 with a .413 OBP and .529 slugging mark, with his 10 extra-base hits are his most in any month since he had 15 in April 2013 with High-A Salem.

Cecchini’s season totals remain disappointing. After hitting .322 with a minor league-leading .443 OBP and .471 mark with 94 walks and 86 strikeouts last year in High-A Salem and Double-A Portland, he’s hitting .257/.336/.367 with 41 walks and 89 punchouts in Pawtucket this year. Yet evaluators remain largely convinced that his ability to stay back and stay inside the ball hasn’t disappeared, that he fell out of his approach for a longer-than-expected stretch from May through July but that the basis of a successful big league hitter remain in place.

“He’s starting to show better balance, he’s staying back a little more. He was starting to get a little bit out in front when things weren’t going his way. Now we’re starting to see him stay with his legs a little more, stay with his base,” PawSox manager Kevin Boles noted last week. “Watching him, we just have to remember what kind of player we have here. All our guys go through this. It’s not a surprise when the younger players, the league makes the adjustment, and then it’s up to them to make the adjustments to the league whenever that happens. Seeing him get off to the hot start, obviously people are aware of him. When he’s in the lineup, no matter where you put him, they’re going to be aware of him and his ability at the plate. He’s handled it well, he’s starting to come out of it and get back to what we saw early on this year.”

His timetable may have been altered. Had Cecchini been enjoying anything like his 2013 campaign in Pawtucket, he likely would be getting a lengthy look in the big leagues during this Red Sox period of evaluation. Instead, he’s figuring things out in Triple-A, trying to position himself to be a contributor sometime in the middle of 2015.

With Xander Bogaerts on the DL, it’s Carlos Rivero — whose positional skills include the ability to play shortstop as well as third base and left field, as opposed to Cecchini, who just plays third and left for now — who received the big league callup. But Cecchini is in a place this month where he’s starting to put his game back in order, where his big league future is once again coming more prominently into view than his Triple-A struggles.

Jackie Bradley Jr. went 1-for-6 on Sunday, closing out a 3-for-16 weekend in which he did not walk and struck out four times. So far, since being sent down to Triple-A, he’s 7-for-35 with no walks and 10 strikeouts en route to a .200/.200/.286 line. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: brian johnson, garin cecchini, keury de la cruz, teddy stankiewicz

Red Sox-Blue Jays series preview

08.25.14 at 1:11 pm ET
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A trek away from Fenway Park might be just what the slumping Red Sox need at this point in the season.

What began with a promising 2-1 start on an 11-game homestand quickly was scuttled thanks to an eight-game losing streak that resulted in a massively disappointing 2-9 mark against the Astros, Angels and Mariners during their season-long stretch at Fenway.

Boston’€™s last three games were especially deflating, as the Red Sox blew 3-0 leads in consecutive games and left 15 runners on base Sunday en route to a three-game sweep by the Mariners — Seattle’s first sweep at Fenway since the franchise’€™s inception in 1977.

“That’s just the game. So many things you can’t control,” said third baseman Will Middlebrooks after Sunday’€™s game, adding: “What are you going to do?”

The remainder of the 2014 season will see the Red Sox mostly taking on their familiar foes in the AL East, as 25 of Boston’€™s final 32 games will be against division opponents, starting with a three-game set against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.

The Blue Jays have slumped as of late, posting a 3-7 record over their last 10 games — including a series loss against the Rays that culminated in a 2-1 extra-innings defeat Sunday.

The heart of Toronto’€™s lineup was ineffective against Tampa Bay’€™s pitching as Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion were a combined 0-for-17 Sunday.

The Red Sox will be looking for a different outcome from the last time they faced off against Toronto on July 28-30, as the Blue Jays outscored Boston 24-4 during a three-game sweep.

Here are the probable pitchers for the three-game series.

Monday: Clay Buchholz (5-8, 5.94 ERA) vs. J.A. Happ (8-8, 4.39 ERA)
Tuesday: Rubby De La Rosa (4-5, 3.69 ERA) vs. R.A. Dickey (10-12, 4.08 ERA)
Wednesday: Joe Kelly (0-1, 4.09 ERA) vs. Marcus Stroman (7-5, 4.11 ERA)

WHO’€™S HOT: RED SOX

– Yoenis Cespedes was acquired by Boston at the July 31 trade deadline to drive in runs. So far, he’€™s been doing a great job of it. Since his first game with the Red Sox on Aug. 2, Cespedes has driven in 18 of Boston’€™s 79 runs — 23 percent of the team’€™s total scoring output. Despite his aggressive approach at the plate, the Cuban left fielder has more RBIs than strikeouts (16) in his 21 games in Boston.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Blue Jays, Jose Bautista, Red Sox, Yoenis Cespedes
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