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Closing Time: Mookie Betts, Brock Holt team up to give Red Sox extra-inning win over Rays

06.26.15 at 10:34 pm ET
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Rick Porcello claimed a quality start, but not  win Friday night (Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

Rick Porcello claimed a quality start but not a win Friday night. (Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — This sure felt like a must-win for the Red Sox.

As strange as it is to say on June 26, the swing of not beating the first-place Rays Friday night not only would meant a 10-game deficit in the standings but another truly demoralizing defeat at Tropicana Field. (The Red Sox had lost nine of their last 13 games at the Trop.)

But thanks to Mookie Betts and Brock Holt, the Red Sox managed to keep their flicker of hope alive.

Holt’s 10th-inning RBI single plated Betts, who led off the frame with a double down the left field line. And when Koji Uehara closed things out for the visitors with a 10-pitch perfect inning (2 strikeouts), the Red Sox walked away with a series-opening, 4-3 win over the division’s top dog.

For Red Sox starter Rick Porcello, it was a good news/bad news kind of night. The positive for the righty was that he was able to snap his losing streak at six starts. The negative? Porcello hasn’t won in seven appearances.

This time around, Porcello — whose last outing at Tropicana Field resulted in a three-hit, complete game shutout for the Tigers — allowed three runs on nine hits over six innings. He also struck out five while walking one, lowering his ERA to 5.54.

The Red Sox have won four of their last five road games and are 10-10 in one-run games. They have scored four runs or more in eight straight games, their longest streak since going 11 straight in 2011.

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Read More: Brock Holt, mike napoli, mookie betts, rick porcello

Red Sox notes: What to make of Joe Kelly; Hanley Ramirez still not swinging; Taking stock of AL East

06.26.15 at 7:34 pm ET
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Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A day after Joe Kelly was demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket, and two days before the righty makes his first start for the PawSox, John Farrell offered a bit more analysis in regards to the 27-year-old.

Farrell talked about what Kelly has become over 62 major league starts, and how he might be able to garner better results than the 5.67 ERA he posted over his 14 appearances this season.

“It’€™s a sizable sample of work so you begin to get more of a clear picture of what the individual might be,” the Red Sox manager said prior to his team’s game against the Rays Friday night. “Still, we saw a guy that when he come to us last year was on a pretty good run where it was starts of a minimum of six, sometimes seven innings of work. And then you begin to say, ‘OK, what’€™s more valuable to your team, one- or two-inning reliever versus a guy who can rely on 175-plus innings if he’€™s not a closer?’ That’€™s not to say that Joe Kelly couldn’t close at some point because of the power he has.

“So you always look to develop a starter before you say OK, he’€™s solely a bullpen arm. That’€™s the view we have of Joe. And to do that through the order three times, you’€™re required to have the consistent location that he has shown and we’€™re just trying to get the consistency back as high as possible. That’€™s the approach we’€™ve taken right now.

“Again, because he throws in the upper 90s people are going to say well he can rely on his fastball. But that’€™s not always the case. I think the full complement of pitches, what we’ve seen at the time Joe has been here, that’€™s when he’€™s been most effective.”

Hanley Ramirez, who sat out Thursday after taking a line drive off his left hand Wednesday night, still hasn’t started swinging a bat.

“Improved today,” Farrell said. “Still not at the point of putting a bat in his hand to begin swinging. Still day to day. … That’s the normal progression. It starts with dry swings to tee work to soft toss, the normal buildup, and then to see how he comes through a full BP session.”

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Red Sox lineup: Jackie Bradley remains in RF

06.26.15 at 3:41 pm ET
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Jackie Bradley Jr. makes his second straight start in right field for the Red Sox, batting ninth against Rays starter Alex Colome.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

Hanley Ramirez sits out again with an injured left hand, with Alejandro De Aza taking his place in left field.

Here is the Red Sox‘ lineup in its series opener against the Rays:

Mookie Betts CF
Brock Holt 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Mike Napoli 1B
Alejandro De Aza LF
Blake Swihart C
Jackie Bradley Jr. RF

For a breakdown of the pitching matchups, click here.

Red Sox-Rays series preview

06.26.15 at 11:39 am ET
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Chris Archer is having a Cy Young-caliber season for the Rays. (Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

Chris Archer is having a Cy Young-caliber season for the Rays. (Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

After losing a three-game set to the Orioles at Fenway, the Red Sox go on the road to take on the division-leading Rays. Despite playing a slightly better brand of baseball of late, the Sox remain in last place in the AL East.

Boston owns a 32-42 record, nine games back of the Rays in the division. The Red Sox are 5-5 in their last 10 games. Even with the recent spurt of mediocrity, the team still holds the worst record in the American League.

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington acknowledged that as the July 31 trade deadline approaches, struggling teams sometimes need to give up on the current season and focus on the future. However, Cherington said that the Red Sox will try to improve more generally and still might be interested in adding major league talent as opposed to prospects.

“I think the more general statement is that we’re going to work to get to a good team, get to the team that we believe we are actually closer to than many believe as quickly as we can,” Cherington told Dennis & Callahan on Thursday. “So I foresee a scenario where we would even be interested in acquiring major league players, adding to the major league team. Depending on what our record is, it may be that those types of talks would be more geared towards players that we control, not just this year, but beyond this year, but I think that’ll continue to be where our focus is.”

The Red Sox fly into Tampa to take on the division leaders and one of the surprises of the American League, if not all of baseball. After losing manager John Maddon and general manager Andrew Friedman and trading ace David Price to the Tigers, the Rays were expected by many to struggle this season.

Instead, they have stormed to a 41-33 record and a 1 1/2 game lead over the Yankees. The Rays have a middling run differential of just plus-16, only ranking fourth in their own division. Despite that, they are one of only five teams in all of baseball to have won at least 41 games so far. They have gone 6-4 in their last 10.

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Read More: Chris Archer, mookie betts,

Friday Red Sox Farm Report: Henry Owens, Shane Victorino look sharp; Sam Travis, Manuel Margot give Double-A jolt; Yoan Moncada breaks out with offense

06.26.15 at 9:55 am ET
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A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Thursday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (36-38): L, 6-5, vs. Rochester (Twins)

— It was a busy day for transactions involving the PawSox, with center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., shortstop Deven Marrero and RHP Jonathan Aro getting called up to Boston and starter Joe Kelly being optioned to Pawtucket, in addition to infielder Jeff Bianchi being outrighted to the PawSox. RHP Steven Wright also reported to Pawtucket and was activated, as was infielder Jemile Weeks off of the DL.

Kelly is scheduled to start Sunday June 28 for the PawSox, a 1:05 p.m. start against Gwinnett.

— The rehab assignments of outfielder Shane Victorino (calf) and catcher Ryan Hanigan (hand) continued, with Victorino going 2-for-3 with a run scored, and Hanigan going 0-for-2 with a walk. Each played six innings, with Hanigan getting behind the plate on defense for the second time this week in addition to getting a game as the DH.

Victorino ripped a double down the left-field line in the third off Twins RHP Ervin Santana (eligible to return from major league suspension July 5), and Victorino appeared to run the bases and navigate the field without an issue. Victorino made three routine putouts in right field.

— Pawtucket greeted Santana rudely, with leadoff hitter Rusney Castillo taking the first pitch from the right hander over the right-center wall for this third Triple-A homer on the season. Castillo, who played center field, was 2-for-5 on the night with two runs scored plus his seventh stolen base. Castillo is 4-for-10 over his first two games with the PawSox since his demotion from Boston.

— DH Carlos Peguero also homered off of Santana, a mammoth two-run shot that cleared the McCoy Stadium right-field seats and advertising signs and landed in the parking lot. Peguero turned on an inside fastball for the blast, giving him four homers in his last seven games for Pawtucket. The 28-year-old Dominican went 3-for-5 and now has a slash line of .394/.432/.818 in eight games in Triple-A.

— LHP Henry Owens (Boston’€™s No. 2 prospect at MLB.com) got the start for the PawSox, producing a quality line of 6 2/3 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO (103 pitches, 66 strikes). It was Owens’€™ longest outing of the season, as well as his highest pitch count. Owens, 22, did not allow a hit during the first three innings, giving up just a walk, before getting touched up for two runs in the fourth on four singles. He escaped further damage by inducing a double play to end the frame. Owens then allowed a leadoff home run in the fifth before retiring the final eight batters he faced.

Owens has kept his walk numbers down over the past three starts, giving up just four free passes in 19 innings while striking out 14 in that span.

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Read More: aaron wilkerson, henry owens, manuel margot, Shane Victorino

Friday’s Red Sox-Rays matchups: Rick Porcello vs. Alex Colome

06.26.15 at 8:09 am ET
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Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello

Ten games under .500 after dropping two of three to the Orioles, the Red Sox travel to Tampa Bay to take on the AL East-leading Rays. Boston will trot Rick Porcello to the mound Friday for the first game of the series while Alex Colome gets the ball for Tampa.

Porcello, 4-8 with a 5.61 ERA, is in the midst of a six-game losing streak that dates back to May 22. During that stretch, the righty has posted a whopping 7.50 ERA over 36 innings, issuing eight walks, hitting four batters and striking out 23. He’s also allowed five home runs as opponents have slashed .305/.355/.461 against him in that time.

Most recently, Porcello received a loss in his start vs. the Royals on Saturday, lasting five innings and giving up six earned runs on eight hits. A pair of home runs contributed to his abridged outing, and he had actually been doing OK up until the fifth inning of play. Porcello had to work around a couple of sticky situations in the first four frames but gave up just one earned run in the process. With a 4-1 Sox lead heading into the bottom of the fifth, things got iffy. Porcello hit the leadoff man and surrendered two consecutive singles to give Kansas City its second run of the day. Following a balk, a sac fly and an RBI single, the Royals had tied the game. Then, with a man on, the Red Sox starter conceded a two-run homer to give KC a 6-4 lead, one it wouldn’t relinquish as the Royals eventually won 7-4.

“Last time out for Rick, and seemingly over the past half-dozen times, it’s been the big inning,” manager John Farrell said Wednesday. “I think at times he’s gotten away from a game plan that’s really been successful up to that point in the game, and that’s where you go through reviews, you take trips to the mound, you give reminders, but ultimately it’s being consistent for a starter with two main pitches that you’ve got to execute.

“What we’re trying to get back to with Rick is a more consistent two-seamer, which has been his calling card pretty much the five years prior to this year in the big leagues, and that is the one that has been inconsistent for him,” he added.

Facing Tampa might be just what the doctor ordered for Porcello, who has a career 2.80 ERA and a 4-3 record vs. the Rays in eight starts and 54 2/3 innings pitched. The 26-year-old last saw the Sox’ division rival on May 5 when Porcello turned in a scoreless, seven-inning effort, giving up eight hits and fanning six. He has held Tampa to a .239/.277/.306 slash line when the Rays see him and has allowed 50 hits with just eight going for extra bases. In addition, his 1.061 WHIP vs. Tampa Bay is his best split of that nature in terms of teams he’s made at least four starts against.

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Read More: Alex Colome, rick porcello, tampa bay rays,

Despite Eduardo Rodriguez’s rough outing, Clay Buchholz believes in rookie

06.25.15 at 6:19 pm ET
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Eduardo Rodriguez lasted just 3 2/3 innings in Thursday's loss to the Orioles. (Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Eduardo Rodriguez lasted just 3 2/3 innings in Thursday’s loss to the Orioles. (Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Being 22 years old and making just your sixth big league start, especially when you struggle, things can be tough.

Red Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez struggled for the second time in a matter of weeks, completely unraveling in the fourth inning in Thursday’s 8-6 loss to the Orioles as he allowed six runs on seven hits in the frame, exiting the game after just 3 2/3 innings.

This comes after allowing nine earned runs over the fourth and fifth innings in the first loss of his career, June 14 against the Blue Jays. Following his three gems to open his career, he’s now lost two of his last three starts and has allowed 16 earned runs in those starts.

Fortunately for Rodriguez, confidence and support has not been lost from his teammates. Dustin Pedroia had a few encouraging words with him in the clubhouse following the game, as well as Clay Buchholz, who said they would sit down more and go over video of the lefty’s start.

“More so just to clear his mind,” Buchholz said of the conversation he had with Rodriguez at his locker. “His stuff plays. That was one of the things that was hard for me coming up. Whenever I ran into some tough times you start doubting yourself and that’s the last thing you want to do at this point. More just stay confident. His stuff is good. He’s going to be fine. If there’s anything within the delivery that is out of sorts or whatever, we’ll work on fixing it and go from there.”

“This game, it’s a faster pace than the minor leagues,” Buchholz added. “Competition from minor leagues to the big leagues — there’s a lot of good players in Triple-A, but here there’s constant study on your delivery, if there’s any sort of thing they can hint on to cancel out pitches. There’s a couple of things we’re going to sit down and look at over the next couple of days just to look and clear his mind because it’s not easy going out there, especially the first three innings throwing as well as he did and then something happen like that.”

Thursday was frustrating for Rodriguez as he retired the first 10 hitters of the game in order, but the second time through the Orioles order, they roughed him up.

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Read More: Clay Buchholz, eduardo rodriguez,

Closing Time: Eduardo Rodriguez implodes spectacularly in 8-6 loss to Orioles

06.25.15 at 4:42 pm ET
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Jackie Bradley can only watch Matt Wieters' two-run homer on Thursday. (Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Jackie Bradley can only watch Matt Wieters’ two-run homer on Thursday. (Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

For one afternoon, anyway, the Red Sox could add Eduardo Rodriguez to their list of problems.

The rookie left-hander, so good en route to a 3-1 start, encountered his second speed bump of the season on Thursday against the Orioles.

Perfect into the fourth, Rodriguez promptly imploded, allowing six runs on seven hits before being yanked with two outs. The Red Sox did their best to climb out of the hole, but without Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez, their efforts came up just short in an 8-6 loss.

Rodriguez was the story of this one. He blew the Orioles away with fastballs over the first three innings, striking out five. But after allowing a one-out double to Chris Parmalee in the fourth, Rodriguez threw away a Nolan Reimold dribbler, opening the floodgates.

The Orioles followed with five more hits and a sacrifice fly before Rodriguez’s afternoon came to an abrupt end. Catcher Matt Wieters struck the big blow, ripping a two-run homer into the bullpen. J.J. Hardy’s two-run double then blew things open.

Orioles hitters clearly found the range on Rodriguez’s fastball in the fourth, sitting on his heater, and the rookie failed to adjust.

On the same day the Red Sox shipped inconsistent right-hander Joe Kelly to Triple-A Pawtucket, Rodriguez was expected to follow a strong outing from Clay Buchholz with one of his own. Instead, he provided a follow-up to his recent bad start against the Blue Jays, when he suffered a similar fourth inning meltdown. In that one, the Jays struck for five hits and six runs, including a Ryan Goins home run. This one was worse, with every Orioles hit except Reimold’s well-struck.

The Red Sox tried to make a game of it anyway, answering with an Alejandro De Aza three-run homer in the fourth and adding two more in the seventh, though they got no closer.

The Red Sox began the game by placing Pedroia on the disabled list (hamstring) and with Ramirez (hand) on the bench.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Orioles catcher Matt Wieters turned on a Rodriguez offering for a two-run homer that broke a 1-1 tie. He also added a single.

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Read More: eduardo rodriguez, mike napoli, xander bogaerts,

Red Sox Minor League Notebook: How promoted first baseman Sam Travis earned nickname ‘The Animal’

06.25.15 at 3:52 pm ET
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Sam Travis

Sam Travis

Although first baseman Sam Travis has been in the Red Sox organization for just over a year, he’s already making a name for himself.

After being selected out of Indiana University in the second-round of the 2014 MLB draft, Travis has already reached Double-A Portand, as the left-handed hitter was officially promoted Thursday.

Travis split last summer with Lowell and Greenville, hitting .316 overall, and continued his success this season with High-A Salem. In 66 games he hit .313, while slugging .467 and was named to the Carolina League All-Star team.

A player who takes his craft very seriously, his manager in Salem Carlos Febles gave him the nickname, “The Animal.”

“I nicknamed him ‘The Animal.’ That’s everything about this guy,” Febles said. “He loves the game. I gave him a day off one day and he was fighting me. … He trusts his hands better than any other guy at this level. He hits up the middle. He’s consistent. He’s made a lot of improvements defensively and he’s always looking to get better.”

Travis did a good amount of pregame work with Salem hitting coach Jon Nunnally, who the 21-year-old gives a lot of credit to for his success. The pair also do a lot of work with video, pointing out the flaws and positives in each of his at-bats.

“I get my swings, but [Jon Nunnally], he’s always harping on me because he knows that I want to be good and I want to help the team win and want to be successful,” Travis said. “He’s always on me, every at-bat, telling me what I need to do and what I did wrong and what I did well. He’s been a great help and I couldn’t thank him enough.”

Unlike most young players today, Travis prefers hard coaching. He doesn’t mind being criticized. He actually prefers it, as he views it as coaches showing they care and wanting him to get better.

“That’s kind of how I have been my whole life, I’ve always like the old school kind of coach who isn’t afraid to get on you,” he said. “I know it’s because he cares and he wants what is best for you. I’m not really into the modern type coach that kind of baby’s players and doesn’t like to get on you. When they get on you I know they care.

“I know they want what is best for you. Regardless, you always have to listen because they know what they are talking about if they are here. They are here for a reason. They are just trying to make you better. I am learning something new every day.”

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Read More: manuel margot, Red Sox Minor League Notebook, sam travis,

Red Sox lineup: Jackie Bradley Jr. starts in right field after call up; Xander Bogaerts hitting third

06.25.15 at 1:21 pm ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

After the Red Sox made a number of roster moves Thursday morning and are dealing with multiple injuries, the team is doing what it can with its lineup in the series finale against the Orioles.

Jackie Bradley Jr. is starting in right field after being called up from Triple-A Pawtucket earlier in the day. After appearing to injure his hand Wednesday night, Alejandro De Aza is back in the lineup playing left field as Hanley Ramirez is out after being hit on the hand with a line drive Wednesday night.

The Red Sox lineup will be going up against Miguel Gonzalez, as Blake Swihart will return and catch Eduardo Rodriguez.

For a complete look at the matchups, click here.

Here is a complete look at the lineup:

Mookie Betts, CF
Brock Holt, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Xander Bogaerts, SS
Pablo Sandoval, 3B
Mike Napoli, 1B
Alejandro De Aza, LF
Blake Swihart, C
Jackie Bradley Jr., RF
Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP

Read More: Brock Holt, hanley ramirez, mike napoli,
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