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Added rest pays dividends for Brandon Workman with strong start Monday night

08.19.14 at 12:54 am ET
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Maybe a little rest was all Brandon Workman needed to get back on track.

Brandon Workman

Brandon Workman

After losing his last five starts and posting a 6.35 ERA since June 27, Workman was skipped in the rotation by Red Sox manager John Farrell in order to give him some rest and work on his mechanics.

The result was Workman’s seventh loss in his last seven appearances Monday night, but the extra time proved valuable as the right-hander was back to his early-season form. His two runs allowed matched his second fewest in a start this season and fewest since June 15. He gave up six hits, walked two and struck out five over seven innings.

“The added rest helped,” Farrell said of Workman. “I thought his stuff ticked up in terms of action, crispness, velocity. He was down in the strike zone with more consistency. With the exception of a two-out walk in the third [and] a couple of base hits to follow, he more than did his job tonight.”

Workman said the added rest was beneficial for him. Not only did it show in his increased velocity, but he also stayed in command and got ahead of hitters, throwing 19 first-pitch strikes.

“I definitely think it had to have helped,” Workman said of the rest. “My velocity was better. I had a chance to work on some things mechanically. I felt good tonight. I felt like I had a nice rhythm and I was able to carry that through.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Junichi Tazawa says recent struggles not due to fatigue

08.19.14 at 12:49 am ET
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The runs will go down as unearned for Junichi Tazwa, but the onus falls on him alone.

Junichi Tazawa

Junichi Tazawa

With the bases loaded and one out in the top of the eighth inning, Howie Kendrick hit a ground ball back to the mound that should have been an easy inning-ending double play. But as the ball rolled to the third-base side, Tazawa was indecisive on whether or not to backhand the ball to make the play at home.

Instead, the right-hander misplayed the ball, then threw it away trying to get the lead runner at home, allowing a second run to score. The result: two errors for Tazawa and two runs for the Angels to extend their lead to 4-1 in an eventual 4-2 win Monday night.

“It was an in-between play. I was thinking of going to the backhand or just go with the front and I was caught in between,” Tazawa said through an interpreter. “If I had knocked it down straightforward I would’ve had a better shot. It rolled to the third-base side so that made it a little bit difficult, but I should’ve made that play.”

Even without the errors, it was another tough outing for Tazawa, continuing what have been regular occurrences as of late. He gave up a leadoff walk to Chris Iannetta, a double to deep center to Kole Calhoun and loaded the bases by intentionally walking Albert Pujols.

Tazawa has been one of the Sox’ most reliable relief pitchers in the last two seasons, posting a 3.18 ERA in 119 innings since the start of 2013. But his recent struggles have made it natural to suggest that his workload might be catching up to him in the last two months. He has a 5.29 ERA since July and has put runners on base in 13 of his 21 appearances in that time, leaving himself in a number of difficult spots.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Closing Time: Red Sox offense comes up empty in loss to Angels

08.18.14 at 10:35 pm ET
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Mike Trout had a pair of hits, scoring one run and driving in another, to lead the Angels past the Red Sox. (Getty Images)

Mike Trout had a pair of hits, scoring one run and driving in another, to lead the Angels past the Red Sox. (Getty Images)

The Red Sox skipped starter Brandon Workman‘s turn in the rotation last Wednesday in hopes that he would be rested, stronger and ready to snap his five-start losing streak.

The right-hander did his part Monday night,allowing just two runs on six hits over seven innings. It was the Sox’ offense that missed out on their opportunities in a 4-2 loss to the Angels, spoiling an effective outing from Workman.

The Red Sox had little trouble getting on base, but were seemingly incapable of pushing those runners across. The Sox had base runners in all but one inning and got six into scoring position, but scored just twice and stranded 12.

The Red Sox spoiled multiple opportunities to jump on Angels starter C.J. Wilson, who allowed just one run and took the win despite giving up five hits and walking five on 115 pitches over 5 1/3 innings.

The loss drops the Red Sox to 56-68 for the season.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
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Mookie Betts comes back to big leagues an improved outfielder

08.18.14 at 8:18 pm ET
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The outfield is becoming less mysterious for Mookie Betts with each game.

Mookie Betts

Mookie Betts

Now the second baseman-turned-outfielder will have another chance to show the Red Sox just how far he’s come.

Betts was called up from Triple-A Pawtucket Monday to play center field in place of Jackie Bradley Jr., who was optioned in order to work on his adjustments at the plate. This is the third time this season Betts has been sent up to the big club and the second time this month. Even in that short time, Betts said that over the course of his 10 games in center (out of 11 contests in Pawtucket), his comfort level increased at a position he hadn’t played in pro ball until this May.

“I’m just happy to get the opportunity again. I think I had a good productive three weeks,” Betts said, later adding, “I played a lot of center field. Just getting new plays — I got an opportunity to throw somebody out at home, got to throw a ball around a few times, just learning those things.”

Betts said he’s worked closely with PawSox hitting coach Dave Joppie on his outfield play, working on reading the ball off the bat as well as his routes to the ball, which he said have been noticeably better.

PawSox manager Kevin Boles agreed. Boles said he and the coaches focused on improving Betts’ center field play in Pawtucket with apparent results.

“That was a focus to make sure that he got a lot of reps in center field,” Boles said. “The initial breaks were getting a little bit better, but the closing speed is definitely, it’s really impressive how he can close on balls, even if the first initial three steps are a little bit questionable at times. Just the athleticism, the throwing, keeping things in order, throwing to bases, keeping the running game in order.” Read the rest of this entry »

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John Farrell: Jackie Bradley Jr. sent down to ‘maintain adjustments’ at the plate

08.18.14 at 6:18 pm ET
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The Red Sox had finally seen enough of Jackie Bradley Jr. to know it was time for a change.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

The Sox optioned the struggling center fielder to Triple-A Pawtucket Monday in a move that manager John Farrell said had been discussed among baseball operations for about the last two weeks.

While he’s been nothing short of sensational in the outfield this season, Bradley has been a liability offensively. The rookie has hit .216/.288/.290 in 112 games and had recently endured a miserable stretch in which he went 0-for-35 with 18 strikeouts before showing some improvement at the plate over the last few games.

“The move to send Jackie back to Pawtucket has been talked about for a little while now,” Farrell said. “I think it’s important to note that this wasn’t reactionary. Had it been reactionary you might suggest it was going to be done a while ago.

“We felt like some of the adjustments that were being worked on had some evidence inside of given games, but we’re sending him out to maintain some of those adjustments. That is to try to shorten down that swing a little bit more and develop a more distinct two-strike approach.”

Bradley is 5-for-16 with two walks and just four strikeouts in his last five games, which raised questions about the timing of the decision. Farrell said Bradley’s adjustments still weren’t translating to the games consistently enough, and he wanted to take advantage of the final weeks of the minor league season.

Farrell said the team wants Bradley to get back to a “line-drive approach that has got a more defined two-strike approach in addition.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Jackie Bradley Jr. on being sent to minors: ‘I was just disappointed in myself, not necessarily about the move’

08.18.14 at 6:08 pm ET
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PAWTUCKET, R.I. — Even as Jackie Bradley Jr.’s struggles as a rookie assumed historic dimensions, the outfielder had resisted dwelling on whether he might get sent down to Triple-A. After all, he reasoned, there was nothing productive to be gained from doing so, at a time when the most important thing he could try to do was correct course.

And so, when the conversation with manager John Farrell and GM Ben Cherington finally took place following the Red Sox‘ 8-1 loss to the Astros on Sunday, Bradley was caught a bit by surprise. With just two weeks left before rosters expand from 25 to 40 players, Bradley hadn’t anticipated that he would be sent down now, even though (after going 5-for-16 to snap out of an 0-for-35 slump) he was hitting .216 with a .288 OBP and .290 slugging mark in 112 games.

“I didn’€™t know. I was definitely caught off surprise a little bit, especially with it being two weeks left. But you know, move had to be made. I’m down here, getting better,” Bradley said in the PawSox clubhouse. “I’ve got to be accountable for myself and for the season, and I didn’€™t perform at the level that I feel like I’m capable of performing. Like they told me, it’s a performance-based league.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox lineup: Mookie Betts mans center field in place of optioned Jackie Bradley Jr.

08.18.14 at 3:32 pm ET
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Mookie Betts will play center field and bat eighth for the Red Sox Monday night as they begin a four-game series against the Angels at Fenway Park. The Sox called up Betts from Triple-A Pawtucket early Monday and sent down struggling center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. 

Another noteworthy name back in the Red Sox lineup Monday is Dustin Pedroia. The second baseman was out of the lineup Sunday with flu-like symptomsMike Napoli and Christian Vazquez both return to the lineup after a day off on Sunday.

RED SOX LINEUP

Brock Holt, RF

Dustin Pedroia, 2B

David Ortiz, DH

Yoenis Cespedes, LF

Mike Napoli, 1B

Will Middlebrooks, 3B

Xander Bogaerts, SS

Mookie Betts, CF

Christian Vazquez, C

Brandon Workman, SP

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