|08.17.15 at 10:24 am ET|
A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Sunday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (47-76): W, 7-1, at Lehigh Valley (Phillies)
— William Cuevas earned the win with a six-inning effort. The 24-year-old right-hander allowed one earned run on six hits and one walk and struck out six. Cuevas has started three games for Pawtucket and is 1-2 with a 2.50 ERA. He went 8-5 with a 3.40 ERA in 19 starts for Portland earlier this year.
— Left-hander Robby Scott pitched three scoreless innings of relief to record his first save of the season. He allowed two hits, walked none and struck out one. Scott has a 1-1 record and an 8.18 ERA after nine appearances in a PawSox uniform this season.
— First baseman Allen Craig led the offense, going 2-for-3 with a double, a walk, an RBI and a run scored. Craig has hit safely in his last four games and is batting .275 on the season. Right fielder Jonathan Roof also recorded a two-hit game for Pawtucket, going 2-for-4 with a run scored.
— Marco Hernandez hit his third Pawtucket home run, a fourth-inning solo shot, and finished the day 1-for-4. Hernandez, who was the designated hitter Sunday, is hitting .248 with 14 RBIs through 28 games with Pawtucket.
|08.17.15 at 10:16 am ET|
While the Red Sox sit 12 1/2 games out of first place in the AL East and 8 1/2 games back of the wild card, their next opponent, while also last in its division, has a bit of a jump on them. The Indians are farther behind the AL Central-leading Royals than the Sox are the Yankees, but they’re 2 1/2 games closer to a playoff spot than Boston.
The Sox capped off their weekend series with the Mariners on Sunday afternoon, dropping the final game of the set to take two of three from Seattle. In those three days, the Sox scored a total of 45 runs, putting them second in the league for total runs scored since the All-Star break (151) and first in the month of August (95). The team is leading the majors in batting average (.284) since the break with a league-high 284 hits. Boston’s .317 batting average, .374 on-base percentage and .516 slugging percentage this month also are best in the big leagues.
“It’s just a bunch of guys going up, having a great approach, not missing their pitch,” acting manager Torey Lovullo said of the team’s offensive success Saturday. “We were having some really, really loud contact throughout the course of the game and throughout the course of [Friday’s] game. Against arguably one of the best pitchers in baseball [Felix Hernandez], there was no letup by us.”
The Red Sox have gotten some scattered good starts from their pitchers recently, but not nearly enough to keep them on the up and up. Since the break, the Sox’ 5.39 team ERA is second worst in the league and worst in the American League. They’ve also issued the fourth-most walks since then and given up the most home runs.
The Indians have a bit of a different situation going for them. They have the same record as the Sox in their last 10 games, 5-5, but their pitching is significantly better while their offense has struggled at times.
On the year, Cleveland is in the bottom third in the majors for runs scored with 463 while the Red Sox are third with 527. The Indians have collected the 17th-most hits in the majors with 998 compared to the Sox’ fifth-best 1,070. Still, they draw the third-most walks in the majors (397), most in the AL, and have the sixth-fewest strikeouts.
|08.17.15 at 8:16 am ET|
Barnes spent time in the big leagues this year as a reliever, appearing in 21 games and 22 1/3 total innings for a 3-2 record with a 5.64 ERA. The right-hander had just one outing longer than two innings this season but started five games for the PawSox, two of which came on Aug. 5 and 10. He began the season as a starter in the minors, posting three outings that left him with a 4.50 ERA and a trio of no-decisions. Barnes allowed six earned runs over 12 innings in that time but was then transitioned to reliever. After getting scratched from his scheduled Monday start in Pawtucket, the 25-year-old instead will make his first MLB start for Boston.
“We’ve asked a lot of him, moving back and forth in the rotation and the bullpen. But he’s very capable of that,” acting manager Torey Lovullo said Saturday. “His last start, the word we got from player development was that it was aggressive. He was throwing a lot of his pitches in the zone and doing a good job. He’s been stretched out well enough that he can go out there and give us close to 100 pitches.”
That last start Lovullo referenced lasted 4 2/3 innings and Barnes was able to hold the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders — the Yankees‘ Triple-A affiliate — to just one earned run on six hits. He threw 91 pitches, 56 for strikes, and struck out five while walking three.
Barnes has never faced the Indians in his career, even in relief, but he has seen two of their division rivals in the Royals and Twins. Against those teams he has a 3.86 ERA, having given up two earned runs in an inning vs. Kansas city and none in 3 2/3 frames vs. Minnesota.
|08.16.15 at 9:33 pm ET|
After getting adjusted to playing with a wood bat, 2015 Red Sox first-round pick (No. 7 overall) Andrew Benintendi has been on a tear at the plate of late.
The center fielder out of the University of Arkansas has hit .405 with three home runs over his last 10 games and has been promoted to Single-A Greenville, according to a source.
In 35 games with Lowell, he’s slashed .290/.408/.540 with seven home runs and 15 RBIs.
He now will join Single-A Greenville, which has 21 games left in its regular season.
The news of the promotion first was reported by Sox Prospects.
|08.16.15 at 6:00 pm ET|
It was a historic performance by Henry Owens. That wasn’t necessarily a good thing. But it wasn’t until the 12th inning that the Red Sox‘ pitching finally succumbed.
The rookie starter became the first Red Sox pitcher ever to go six or fewer innings (he went six), strike out at least 10 (he struck out 10), while allowing as many as 10 hits (he allowed 10) and at least seven runs (he finished giving up seven).
In short, Owens’ Fenway Park debut was bizarre.
The Red Sox were, however, able to put Owens’ appearance in the rear-view mirror thanks to their comeback from a seven-run deficit. But in the end, the Mariners got the last laugh, scoring two runs in the 12th against reliever Craig Breslow to claim the 10-8, extra-inning win.
Breslow, who was entering his third inning of work in the 12th, loaded the bases with nobody out before allowing a Mike Zunino high-chopper, RBI single for the game-winner.
The Sox had fought back to tie the game with two outs in the ninth thanks a two-out, bases-loaded, RBI single from Travis Shaw.
The ninth-inning rally came off of Seattle closer Carson Smith, who began the frame by walking Jackie Bradley before allowing a one-out single to Brock Holt. Xander Bogaerts’ soft grounder scored the inning’s first run, leading to an intentional walk of David Ortiz. The Sox proceeded to load the bases with a Rusney Castillo infield single, setting the stage for Shaw’s hit.
The Sox’ bid at winning the game in the ninth was halted as David Ortiz found himself out at home, trying to score from second on Shaw single.
“I haven’t had a chance to talk to Butter [third baseman Brian Butterfield] yet but the one thing I want to say is it’s a very difficult position coaching third base and he does a great job. He does a spectacular job there,” said interim manager Torey Lovullo. “But I’m sure he’s going to tell me he was just trusting his instincts and forcing them to make a play. It was a short hop in the outfield, a couple short hop throws at home plate and they executed the game plan.”
With Ortiz easily thrown out on the play, Lovullo also explained his decision not to pinch-run with Alejandro De Aza.
“I know it’s easy to say that at this point we should’ve pinch-ran for him with David at second base,” Lovullo said. “But the way I was looking at it, David was the go-ahead run and not the tying run. To eliminate him from this game takes such a toll on our lineup. His force, his presence in our lineup and his ability to change the game with one swing is really impressive. So to take him out of the game in that situation, I know it would be a tie game, but I just felt like it wasn’t the right move. I wanted to give us a chance in case it went to extra innings. It worked out that way, I know hindsight is 20/20. We have a whacker play at home plate, maybe De Aza scores, I dont know. As it turns out, looks like that should’ve been the move but I’ll live by what I did today because I just don’t want to take David Ortiz out of this lineup.”
To Owens’ credit, the comeback wouldn’t have been made possible if not for some key execution with runners on in the middle innings, with the visitors going just 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
Another positive for Owens was that he only walked one batter, marking the second time in his three big league starts the big lefty has finished with just one free pass.
But the overall takeaway from the outing was that Owens found himself with a big old dose of major league reality after giving up a combined four runs in 10 innings over his first two starts.
“It’s going to be a constant learning process,” Owens said. “I think people who aren’t rookies are still learning in this game. There’s so much to learn. I’m going to continue to take it day by day and then tomorrow, come out and get my work in and try to learn something watching the game.”
Leading the charge against the Red Sox starter was Seattle’s Franklin Guitierrez, who launched a pair of home run totaling 842 feet. His first blast, landing in the center field 447 feet from home plate, was the second-longest hit at Fenway Park this season.
Also homering for Seattle were Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz, who now possesses the third-highest OPS at Fenway Park of any qualifying player, passing Ted Williams. Only Frank Robinson and Johnny Grubb.
The Red Sox’ offense didn’t let up after putting up 37 runs in the series’ first two games. Going deep for the Sox were Castillo and Bogaerts, whose home run was his first since June 15. During that 50-game drought, the shortstop did hit .341.
|08.16.15 at 3:02 pm ET|
But well beyond the score, Farrell has been able to provide some added insight, especially on the pitching side, to individual performances. With the game slowed down on television in his office, Farrell has watched Joe Kelly and Wade Miley more closely and those observations can be of benefit to interim manager Torey Lovullo down the road.
“He’s able to see the game from the camera’s view, from a different view,” Lovullo said Sunday. “He’s seeing some things that are pretty enlightening, mostly from a pitching standpoint. He’s sharp all the way around but when you talk about pitching and mechanics, he’s spot on. He’s watching some things and recognizing some things from some of our pitchers. After the game, it’s mostly about what happened, how it happened, what were some of the thoughts and just connecting with him the best way we can to get his perspective. The best part of my day is walking in and seeing him smile and laugh. So, having him around right now is really good for all of us.”
As for the video element, most coaches use it as a tool already. But when watching the game on TV, Farrell is able to see things in real time that he can’t see from the dugout.
“Video brings a whole new element to what we’re able see and how we’re able to view the game,” Lovullo said. “We have a very limited view. We’re kind of boxed in here in Boston and it gets to be challenging at times. We’re conditioned to pick up things, no matter where we’re at and whatever our angle is. If we happen to see something, we can go into that video component. We can figure out what’s going on and what’s happened. There’s a lot of eyes on these guys at all times. It can be challenging. The stimulus is gone. It’s just relaxed point of view and I think he’s able to see things a little bit differently because of a combination of things.”
|08.16.15 at 12:52 pm ET|
A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Saturday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (45-75): W, 5-2, and L, 6-5, at Lehigh Valley (Phillies)
— In Game 1 of a doubleheader, the makeup of a game postponed by rain on July 9, starter Rich Hill pitched 6 1/3 shutout-innings in his Pawtucket debut, two days after he was signed out of the Independent Atlantic League. Hill’s final line read: 6 1/3 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 2 SO (91 pitches, 62 strikes). The 6-foot-5, 35-year-old lefty was released by the Washington Nationals this year on June 24 after making 25 appearances in Triple-A out of the bullpen, where he had a 2.91 ERA over 21 2/3 innings, with 32 strikeouts and 21 walks. In 2014, Hill made 16 major league relief appearances split between the Anaheim Angels and the New York Yankees.
— Center fielder Quintin Berry homered in the first inning, his third long-ball in his last five games, to give Pawtucket a 1-0 lead. The PawSox added a run in the fifth on an RBI-single from first baseman Matt Spring, and three more runs in the eighth on an RBI double from third baseman Carlos Rivero and a two-RBI single from right fielder Allen Craig.
— In Game 2 of the doubleheader, Pawtucket’s attempted rally from a 6-1 deficit fell short after a four-run ninth inning, with Rivero striking out to end the game with two runners aboard in his second at-bat in the frame.
— Shortstop Marco Hernandez (Boston’s No. 23 prospect at MLB.com) tripled home two runs in the ninth and came home to score on a sacrifice fly from right fielder Jonathan Roof. Left fielder Chris Marrero, just signed by Boston to a minor league contract, went 2-for-4 in his Pawtucket debut and chipped in with a ninth inning RBI-single.
— Marrero, 27 and the older brother of Pawtucket’s Deven Marrero (Boston’s No. 10 prospect at MLB.com), played in 39 games this year for the Chicago White Sox‘ Triple-A affiliate and slashed .278/.347/.444 with four homers, a triple, and eight doubles over 39 games. A 6-foot-3 righty bat, Chris Marrero was a first round draft pick of the Washington Nationals in 2006 and spent eight seasons in their organization including 39 games in the majors.
|08.16.15 at 12:41 pm ET|
It’s only appropriate the Red Sox are going to the bullpen to find relief for interim manager Torey Lovullo.
The Red Sox, through Lovullo, announced Sunday morning that longtime bullpen coach Dana LeVangie would be promoted Lovullo’s bench coach in the dugout. Accordingly, Lovullo also announced that Pawtucket pitching coach Bob Kipper will leave Triple-A and come to Boston to take over for LeVangie. Those moves will take effect Monday in the series opener against the Indians.
“A lot of moving parts there,” Lovullo said. “We wanted to stay internal. We know that these two guys know baseball on a really good level, especially from within our system, and I think the fit is going to be really special.
“There’s a lot happening in the dugout. I know it’s hard for people to understand what’s going on. From my point of view, there’s three or four different areas that I’ve got to run into, to have that bench coach there to challenge some of my thoughts, to endorse some of my thoughts is going to be nice to have, especially given Dana’s background. There’s immediate trust. There’s a guy that’s respected in this game and being able to bounce off some thoughts, it’s going to be invaluable to me.”
But there’s an even bigger aspect to LeVangie moving from the bullpen to the dugout for the rest of the season.
“The second part of that is he’s our catching instructor,” Lovullo said. “We’ve got a young catcher in Blake Swihart behind the plate. He’s going to get a little bit closer to the action. He’s going to be able to have interactions with Blake and Ryan Hanigan in between innings, and there’s a lot of value to that as well.”
“We’ll announce it today but there are a lot of moving parts. We’re having to pull some guys from different areas and we don’t want to leave Pawtucket empty-handed. We have to figure out who’s going to fill in for Kip so that [move] will start [Monday].
LeVangie has had a significant and successful role in the Red Sox organization. As an advance scout, LeVangie was assigned to follow the Los Angeles Angels in anticipation of the postseason, and eventually saw the Colorado Rockies as well. During Game 2 of the 2007 World Series, Red Sox bench coach Brad Mills, armed with information from LeVangie and the scouting staff, correctly predicted Matt Holliday would attempt to steal on Jonathan Papelbon‘s first pitch with two outs in the eighth inning and the Rockies down by a run.
Mills called for a pickoff, and Papelbon, who had not picked off a runner in his big league career, picked off Holliday easily. It was the biggest play in Boston’s 2-1 win in Game 2. When Gary Tuck resigned as Boston’s bullpen coach prior to the 2013 season, LeVangie was named his successor and earned a third World Series ring when Boston won the 2013 World Series.
|08.16.15 at 8:10 am ET|
Following the Sox’ recent offensive outburst, Owens has to like his odds of picking up his second major league win Sunday in his home debut. The left-hander is 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA through two major league starts. He has tossed 10 innings, striking out seven while walking five.
Most recently, Owens went up against the Tigers last Sunday. He logged five innings on a limited pitch count, allowing three hits and four walks but just one run. Owens didn’t have his swing-and-miss stuff, but he did have the fly ball pitch working, as he generated 13 outfield pops. After the game, he felt a weight get lifted off his shoulders in the form of his first career victory.
“I think, probably these last two starts, looking back, I can kind of trust myself in the zone more, rather than tinker around the strike zone,” Owens said. “It’s good to get these first two out of the way, and the first zone, set my shoulders back, take a deep breath and move on.”
Owens will face the AL’s worst hitting team Sunday in the Mariners, who have posted a .241 batting average in 2015. He will also look to boost his punchout numbers against them as they’ve whiffed at a horrendous 21.4 percent clip.
|08.15.15 at 11:20 pm ET|
He then went on to elaborate.
“I’ve tried to use that time as productively as possible,” Porcello explained. “Maintain my arm slot, working on my sinker and mentally getting back to some of the simple things that have made me effective in the past. It does [stink] knowing that I’m not going out there every fifth day, but at the same time I want to use that time as productive as possible so I can finish this season strong, get back on track and go into next year knowing what I can do.”
“I could probably win one of those games,” he joked. “It was awesome to see.”
But despite the DL downtime, there have been positives thrown Porcello’s way of late. The latest coming during a 3 2/3-inning start with the Single-A Lowell Spinners at LeLacheur Park.
While the righty didn’t get an opportunity to reach his goal of 65 pitches against Tri-City due to the game being postponed because of lightning — (he finished throwing 36 pitches, with one more in bullpen before being ushered off by a nearby bolt of lightning) — the early evening offered some much-needed hope for Porcello.
Other than reaching his preferred pitch count, Porcello accomplished what he wanted while warming up alongside inflatable sumo wrestlers and wearing pitching coach Lance Carter’s uniform top (they were out of XL jerseys). He induced ground balls.
“I was trying to work on my sinker down in the zone, maintain that same arm slot and be consistent with it,” he said of his scoreless outing, which included three hits. “It felt good. Hits, or swings, or outs, it’s hard to gauge off of that what your ball’s doing, but I could tell I had good sink and most importantly I was locating and worked from the down and below and not elevating.
“I have to get back to what I did best, sink the ball and get my ground balls back up. That’s really what I’m committing to the rest of the year, get back to what I’ve done over the past six years and that’s inking the ball and keeping the ball on the ground. I’m really committed to throwing my sinker and feeling it out and getting it back to where it needs to be.”
Porcello’s season has been well-documented, with the 26-year-old carrying a 5.81 ERA over his 20 starts. Along with veering off from the kind of production he exhibited a year ago, the starter has also gone away from his bread and butter sinker, resulting in a ground ball rate (43 percent) significantly lower than his career average of over 50 percent.
This is why he has dug in on the new approach for the final six weeks or so.
“A little bit of both,” he said when asked if the lack of grounders could be attributed to pitch selection or execution. “It’s a combination of everything. There’s not one thing I can post to with my prior struggles this year that I can necessarily say, ‘That’s the problem.’ A lot of inconsistencies as far as executing pitches and doing some different things that maybe I don’t need to do. It’s really about simplifying and getting back to my strengths and taking that and carrying that forward.”
What happens now? All he knows is that he will be footing the bill for the entire Spinners squad, sending over steak from the high-end eatery Cobblestones. It’s a tradition he learned while hosting rehabbing major leaguers as a minor-leager.
“Dontrelle [Willis] was basically on our Florida State League team. He bought a lot of spread,” Porcello said. “He was actually always ragging me because I was drafted in the first round to buy a spread.”
Because of the lightning-shortened contest, after the food delivery pitcher has to wait and see to uncover what the future holds. The likelihood is that there will be one more rehab outing and then a return to the big leagues.
In the meantime Porcello at least feels a bit better about his initial foray into life on the DL.
“I felt strong,” he said. “I felt like I could continue to pitch and maintain my pitch count, my velocity and strength. We’ll see what they say and how everything responds tomorrow and the next day. Right now I feel really good. I felt like it was definitely a positive.”
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