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Jose Bautista’s home run, R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball do in Red Sox

09.07.14 at 4:52 pm ET
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Jose Bautista's three-run homer was all the Blue Jays needed Sunday afternoon. (Getty Images)

Jose Bautista’s three-run homer was all the Blue Jays needed Sunday afternoon. (Getty Images)

The Red Sox are now one loss away from officially being eliminated from the American League East.

While such a fate has been a forgone conclusion for some time, coming on the short end of a meeting with the Blue Jays offered at least a bit of surprise. This was a Toronto team, after all, that had dropped the first two games of the teams’ series, having lost one of their best players — Melky Cabrera — for the season Friday night.

But some of the same old issues came back to haunt the Sox Sunday, with Blue Jays starter R.A. Dickey teaming with relievers Brett Cecil and Casey Jannsen to hold the hosts to just six hits en route to a 3-1 loss for John Farrell‘s club to the Jays.

Not helping matters for the Red Sox was their continued inability to get runners in from scoring position, going 1-for-9 in such situations. They also were held to one or fewer runs for the 28th time this season after finishing ’13 with 20 such games.

Dickey pitched into the eighth inning, allowing one run on six hits while striking out four and now walking a batter. He also found himself going up against fellow knuckleballer Steven Wright after the Red Sox reliever replaced starter Rubby De La Rosa in the fifth.

De La Rosa was driven from the game after allowing the biggest blow of the game, a three-run shot off the bat of Jose Bautista. Wright finished his five-inning relief outing allowing just two hits, not allowing a run while striking out six and not walking a batter.

De La Rosa is now winless in his last five starts, dating back to Aug. 16. He finished allowing three runs on seven hits over four innings, matching his shortest outing of the season.

The only Red Sox run came in the sixth inning when Xander Bogaerts singled in Daniel Nava. Bogaerts joined Mookie Betts as the only two Sox hitters to come away with multiple-hit afternoons.

The bottom four hitters in the Red Sox lineup — Allen Craig, Will Middlebrooks, Jackie Bradley and Christian Vazquez — went a combined 0-for-13.

The Red Sox finish with a 7-12 mark against the Blue Jays this season, including going 2-7 at Fenway Park.

Red Sox notes: Rusney Castillo moving up to Triple-A; Jackie Bradley Jr. and the Gold Glove question

09.07.14 at 12:26 pm ET
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Rusney Castillo will either stay with Double-A Portland or move to Triple-A Pawtucket this week. (Getty Images)

Rusney Castillo will either stay with Double-A Portland or move to Triple-A Pawtucket this week. (Getty Images)

What’s next for Rusney Castillo?

After the Portland Sea Dogs’ season game to an end Sunday thanks to an 8-5 loss to Binghamton, Castillo will now be moving on to Triple-A.

The newly-signed outfielder is scheduled to make his debut with the Pawtucket Red Sox, Tuesday at McCoy Stadium.

Castillo went 2-for-5 with a double, run scored and RBI in in his final game with the Sea Dogs. Thus far, in six minor-league games, he’s hitting .357 (6-for-19) with four runs, three RBI and a stolen base. He has struck out twice and walked twice.

“It’s a matter of him getting his timing down,” said Farrell. “The reports have been favorable, just with the overall explosiveness, the speed, the bat speed, but still, we’re looking at roughly 14, 15 at-bats.”

Farrell said that he’s simply been following reports on Castillo rather than spending time looking at video footage of the 27-year-old.

“I don’t want to make too much out of the number of at-bats that he’s had already,” said Farrell. “But, just talking to those who have been there in the ballpark during games played, he looks to be an exciting player.”

OTHER RED SOX NOTES

Mookie Betts has shown improved comfort in center field in this callup as opposed to his previous ones, showing better jumps on the ball and more direct routes. He has looked better in center — where he’d spent part of his amateur career and had most of his minor league experience this year — than in right. Jackie Bradley Jr., on the other hand, has looked tremendous in every outfield position. Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox minor league roundup: Sean Coyle injured as Sea Dogs face win-or-go-home Game 5

09.07.14 at 11:58 am ET
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The Portland Sea Dogs face a winner-take-all Game 5 of their first-round playoff series against Binghamton after suffering a home loss on Saturday. That was the lone game in the Sox’ system, with Pawtucket’s opener of the Governor’s Cup Finals set for Tuesday.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 11-4 LOSS VS. BINGHAMTON (METS); TIED IN BEST-OF-FIVE SERIES, 2-2

(BOX)

— Second baseman Sean Coyle continued his recent resumption of mashing, going 1-for-2 with a double. He has a seven-game hitting streak that spans the end of the regular season and the start of the postseason during which he is 8-for-20 with three doubles and three homers while amassing a robust .320/.370/1.000 line. However, he left the game after being hit by a pitch on the wrist and did not return. He is not in the Portland lineup on Sunday.

Rusney Castillo went 0-for-3 with a pair of flyouts (one to right, one to center) and a comebacker while playing six innings in center. He’s now 4-for-14 with two walks and a strikeout in his five minor league contests. Thus far, he’s remained true to — Catcher Carson Blair went 1-for-4 with a homer to improve to 5-for-15 with a walk in the series. He now has 12 homers in 88 games this year — one fewer than the 24-year-old had in parts of six seasons spanning 189 games entering the year.

— Right-hander Madison Younginer, promoted to Portland following High-A Salem’s elimination on Friday, tossed three scoreless innings of relief in his first Double-A appearance. He allowed one hit and struck out a batter. The 23-year-old, who will pitch in the Arizona Fall League this winter, had a 4.08 ERA with 55 strikeouts and 25 walks in 57 1/3 innings for Salem this year.

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Sunday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Ruby De La Rosa vs. R.A. Dickey

09.07.14 at 8:09 am ET
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Rubby De La Rosa

Rubby De La Rosa

The Red Sox conclude their three-game home series against the Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon, as Ruby De La Rosa will battle with knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.

De La Rosa (4-5, 3.89 ERA), who started off the year in Triple-A Pawtucket, has found a spot in the major league rotation. Boston fell in his last start against the Rays last Monday, but De La Rosa delivered a quality performance. He went 5 1/3 innings, struck out four and walked none while allowing three runs. Manager John Farrell said after the game that De La Rosa’€™s good start could be attributed to good offspeed pitches.

“He’s powerful, he had better secondary stuff than last time out,”€ Farrell said. “I thought he made a number of quality pitches. So many foul balls, which is a product of very good stuff. That ran the pitch count up and we’re not at the point where we’re looking to extend him too far. I thought he kept composure. I thought he repeated his delivery well. That was a solid 5 1/3 innings of work today.”

Previously, De La Rosa pitched against the Blue Jays on Aug. 27. De La Rosa was bailed out by the Boston bats in that one, as he pitched just 4 2/3 innings, allowing three earned runs on seven hits. Jose Reyes was one of Toronto’€™s top performers in that game against De La Rosa with two hits in as many at-bats. Reyes also had one hit against De La Rosa in a July 24 start in Toronto. In that game, De La Rosa was charged with seven runs on nine hits in the loss.

Most of the 25-year-old right-hander’s issues have come on the road, while he’€™s pitched well in the confines on Fenway Park. At home, De La Rosa has pitched to the tune of a 3.16 ERA and 1.36 WHIP, while on the road his ERA and WHIP are 4.57 and 1.50, respectively.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Why you should have cared about Saturday’s Red Sox game: The return of Clay Buchholz, the arrival of Edward Mujica

09.06.14 at 11:49 pm ET
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(For the final month of the regular season, “Closing Time” will be called “Why You Should Have Cared,” looking beyond the final score — at a time when losses are arguably more valuable to the Sox than wins (for draft and waiver position) — for either meaningful signs for 2015 or simple aesthetic considerations.)

Clay Buchholz delivered his third straight quality start on Saturday. (Getty Images)

Clay Buchholz delivered his third straight quality start on Saturday. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Given the unsettled state of the Red Sox rotation, a case can be made that no player’s performance down the stretch is more important to the team than that of Clay Buchholz. And so, it is significant that finally, Buchholz looks like a pitcher who has turned a corner on a year of misery.

On Saturday night, Buchholz sailed efficiently and effectively through the Blue Jays lineup. In 6 1/3 innings, he permitted just two runs (one of which scored after he left the game) on four hits while walking two and striking out five. The outing marked the third straight quality start for the right-hander, the first time this year that the 30-year-old has bunched three such performances together.

In the last month, he’s made six starts, logging at least six innings in all of them and permitting three or fewer runs five times. He has walked two or fewer batters in all of them, with 37 strikeouts and 10 walks spanning 44 2/3 innings.

It is the look of a pitcher who gives the Sox at least one relatively reliable option heading into 2015, a significant consideration as the team tries to decide who to target in the winter.

OTHER REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD HAVE CARED ABOUT THE RED SOX GAME

Edward Mujica recorded his first save since assuming the closer’s role from Koji Uehara, recording a pair of outs (sandwiched around a walk to Jose Bautista).

Read the rest of this entry »

Mike Napoli leaves game after two innings due to illness

09.06.14 at 9:25 pm ET
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Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli exited Saturday night’s game after just two innings. He was seen leaving the dugout with a team trainer. In his absence, Allen Craig moved from right field to first base while Daniel Nava entered the game in right.

Napoli singled to lead off the second inning, advanced to third on a single and then scored on a single by Will Middlebrooks prior to his removal from the contest. More on the cause of his removal as it becomes available.

UPDATE: The Red Sox announced that Napoli left the game due to illness. One day earlier, Brock Holt was removed from the Sox-Jays game for the same reason.

Rubby De La Rosa is on the (innings) clock

09.06.14 at 7:53 pm ET
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Rubby De La Rosa

Rubby De La Rosa

Prior to 2014, Rubby De La Rosa had never thrown more than 110 1/3 innings in a season. In 2013, his first full year back from Tommy John surgery, he totaled 91 2/3 frames. And so, entering the year, the Red Sox felt that he was in line for about 140-150 innings as an appropriate goal for the 25-year-old.

On Sunday, De La Rosa seems all but certain to exceed that mark. He’s already accumulated 148 innings (88 in the big leagues and 60 in Triple-A), and as he prepares for his 28th start, he’s navigated not only into uncharted territory but beyond where the Red Sox expected him to be.

And so, the Sox will manage the pitcher’s workload going forward, even as they keep him on a regular turn in their current six-man alignment in order to give De La Rosa the experience of spending a full year in the rotation through the end of September, something he’s never before experienced as a professional.

“We would cut back the innings inside a given start because we want to keep the five day rotation or routine going through the end. … We have a threshold in mind.  As we cut him fairly short last time out, even though I thought he was throwing the ball really well, we’€™re probably going to be a little bit shorter,” said manager John Farrell. “We’€™re not just going to let him go unrestricted or 100-plus pitches. There’€™s a limit in mind that’€™s a little bit shorter than a normal regular season. We’€™ve got a number in mind that is out there as far as total number of innings pitched this year.” Read the rest of this entry »

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