|08.23.15 at 9:50 am ET|
With a four-game winning streak in the rearview mirror, the Red Sox will go for the four-game series win Sunday against the AL-best Royals when they send Eduardo Rodriguez to the mound against Edinson Volquez.
Fresh off one of his most encouraging starts of the season, Rodriguez will look to gain some consistency Sunday at the friendly confines. The southpaw dazzled Tuesday against the Indians, twirling eight innings of one-run ball. Despite hurling a season-high 114 pitches, he did not issue a free pass against the team with the AL’s highest walk rate (8.9 percent).
After the game, a 9-1 victory, interim manager Torey Lovullo said Rodriguez’s command around the strike zone worked wonders.
“I think he was pounding the strike zone with an aggressive fastball, getting ahead of hitters,” Lovullo said. “There’s no secret to having success on a given night from a pitching standpoint. It’s getting ahead of the batter and staying in the strike zone. He got in a great run for several innings. He was comfortable, free and easy. His worst inning he threw 19 pitches prior to the eighth inning. We wanted to send him back out there and get the last inning he really deserved. A great effort by him tonight.”
Red Sox fans can only hope Tuesday’s gem gives Rodriguez confidence going forward. The 22-year-old has been riddled with a host of issues throughout 2015, and his 7-5 record and his 4.48 ERA are not indicative of his potential. This is a sentiment shared by newly hired president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.
“You look at Rodriguez pitch, and I joked with [manager] John Farrell,” Dombrowski said Wednesday. “I told him [Tuesday] night, I said, ‘Gee, it looks like we’ll win a lot of games if we pitch Rodriguez 162 [times].’ And I don’t mean that as anything about any other pitchers, but he’s got a chance to be a No. 1-type pitcher.”
Dombrowski has reason to be excited. In high leverage situations, Rodriguez has thrived this year, sporting a .203 opposing batting average in tie games and a .172 mark with two outs and runners in scoring position. Despite all the criticism for his pitch-tipping, he appears so be doing just fine when it matters most.
|08.23.15 at 8:24 am ET|
A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Saturday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (49-79): L, 2-0, vs. Lehigh Valley (Phillies)
— LHP Rich Hill, in his second start since being signed out of the independent Atlantic League, pitched seven strong innings but took the tough-luck loss with a final line of: 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 SO (81 pitches, 59 strikes). Hill (3-3. 2.31 ERA) retired the first eight batters of the game, allowing just a single in the third and fourth innings before again finishing the side in order in the fifth and sixth. Finally, in the seventh, Lehigh Valley broke through with three straight hits, plating a run on a double play to make it 2-0.
Hill, a 6-foot-5, 35-year-old lefty, was released by the 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 Angels and the Yankees.
— RHP Dayan Diaz and RHP Ryan Cook each pitched a scoreless inning of relief, with Diaz striking out two around a double and Cook allowing a walk while whiffing one.
Diaz, 26, is 2-1 with a 2.00 ERA over 25 outings with the PawSox, with 12 earned runs allowed in 54 innings of work. The 5-foot-10 Diaz, a native of Colombia, has struck out 48 while walking 27, and opposing batters are connecting at just a .218 clip against him. Originally signed by Houston during the 2005 international signing period, Diaz spent six years in the Astros system and one with the Chicago Cubs organization before Boston signed him to a minor league contract in December of 2013.
— The Pawtucket offense had just six hits on the night, with perhaps the best chance to score coming in the fifth inning. After leadoff singles by first baseman Allen Craig and DH Humberto Quintero, left fielder Garin Cecchini drove one to the wall in right-center field only to be robbed of extra bases by Lehigh Valley’s Tyler Henson, who made a running over-the-shoulder catch for the out.
The PawSox also had two hits in the sixth, with shortstop Marco Hernandez (Boston’s No. 23 prospect at MLB.com) hitting a one-out double and catcher Sandy Leon following with a single. However, third baseman Carlos Rivero and Craig flied out to end the inning.
Leon finished 2-for-4 to put his slash line at .310/.388/.394 through 19 games in Triple-A, with a homer, three doubles and 12 RBIs.
|08.22.15 at 11:49 pm ET|
As the Red Sox close out the 2015 season, it’s more about the future and having their younger players play and learn from certain types of situations. After all, nothing is more valuable than actual game experience.
That is what happened with Matt Barnes Saturday night against the Royals, as he was making just his second major league start following moving from the bullpen to a starter in Triple-A at the end of July after being a starter for the bulk of his minor league career.
Barnes threw 96 pitches, a season-high between Triple-A and the majors, and it was the final one that was the most costly.
In the sixth inning after walking Kendrys Morales and allowing a single to Mike Moustakas, Salvator Perez crushed a three-run home run into the Royals bullpen, which gave the Royals a 5-0 lead and chased Barnes from the game.
Interim manager Torey Lovullo said the inning was part of the 25-year-old’s growth in becoming a successful major league pitcher, as he didn’t take him out and wanted him to pitch through it.
“He had pitches left and we felt he didn’t reach the number we were looking at,” Lovullo said. “Any time you have a young pitcher that is working though lineups and having success, the last thing you want to do is pull the rug out from under them. You want to let them feel situations, you want to let them work through and have success in certain situations. In this case it works a little bit in the opposite way. I know this is going to sting a little bit and he’s going to remember it and he’s going to grow and learn, and that’s the key for a young pitcher.
“I don’t think it has anything to do with where he’s at pitch-count wise. I know he had something in the tank, I know he had a few extra moments there where he could have got some outs. He just made some mistakes at the wrong time.”
|08.22.15 at 10:39 pm ET|
A night after scoring seven runs off Johnny Cueto, the Red Sox couldn’t keep the offensive momentum going.
Royals starter Yordano Ventura was able to keep the Red Sox in check as he limited the Sox to one run over six innings, as the Royals topped the Red Sox, 6-3.
The loss snapped the Red Sox’ season-high four-game win streak.
The Sox’ offense finally was able to get on the board in the sixth on a Travis Shaw fielder’s choice, which scored Xander Bogaerts. Mookie Betts added a solo home run in the seventh inning, which cleared everything in left field and then Bogaerts added an RBI-single in the ninth.
Although they finished with just three runs, they had their chances.
In the first inning Shaw flew out to left field with runners on first and second with two outs. Then in the fourth, Jackie Bradley Jr. struck out with runners on first and second to end the frame. Also, in the eighth Blake Swihart popped out to second base with runners on second and third to end the threat. Finally, Shaw ended the game with the bases loaded and the tying run at first base. The team left 11 runners in base.
Matt Barnes pitched well until he got to the sixth inning when he allowed a three-run home run to Salvador Perez to break the game open and give the Royals a 5-0 lead. Barnes finished the game going 5 1/3 innings, allowing five runs on eight hits, while walking a batter and striking out two.
Barnes allowed the other two runs in the first inning on a two-run double by Kendrys Morales.
Kansas City added another run in the eighth, which was charged to Heath Hembree.
Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ loss:
|08.22.15 at 5:57 pm ET|
According to those at the event, Cherington joked, it’s “a progressive event that even invites the unemployed.”
Conducting a Q&A with those attending, Cherington was asked a number of questions about the Red Sox‘ organization and some of the recent moves that he and the organization made.
Cherington signed Hanley Ramirez to a four-year, $88 million this offseason, as he would make the switch to being an infielder his entire career to the outfield. Although he’s only been charged with four errors, it hasn’t gone as planned in left field.
“Nobody knew. We didn’t know what he would be defensively in left field,” Cherington said to those at the event. “He’d never done it. So it’s impossible to know. We made a bet based on history of what players look like moving from a middle infield position to another position. And there’s data that can help us make an educated guess. He wanted to and seemed committed to doing it … It hasn’t gone well.”
Also this offseason, the team signed Pablo Sandoval to play third base and help improve the offense. Cherington described the Red Sox‘ third base position as “a black hole” before the signing of Sandoval.
“We actually didn’t think that Fenway Park would have as positive an impact on Pablo as it might for some other hitters,” he said. “That was not the driving force behind signing him. The driving force behind signing him is we’re trying to build a winning team, we had a black hole at third base for two years, he was the right age and we’re trying to improve that position.”
Another third baseman — Josh Donaldson — was traded in the offseason as the Blue Jays were able to strike a deal with the Athletics. Cherington acknowledged the Red Sox inquired about him, but nothing ever came about.
“Yes, called Oakland early in the offseason as we normally would,” Cherington said. “Was told at the beginning of the offseason that they weren’t moving him. So give Toronto credit. They persisted.”
With the former general manager currently out of a job as he declined to stay with the team after they hired Dave Dombrowski as president of baseball operations this week, Cherington was asked what he would do differently in the future.
“I do feel like a couple mistakes we’ve made the last few years is when we got in a rush,” he said. “That’s the one, I am going to try to not be in a rush. But I don’t know what will happen [in the future]. There’s lots of hard parts about not being there. And then there’s hopefully some good stuff, an opportunity to learn something else, try something new. We’ll see. I think in time I’ll be able to answer that question.”
|08.22.15 at 5:20 pm ET|
Rick Porcello is nearing a return to the Red Sox‘ starting rotation.
Making his second rehab start Friday night, after throwing 3 2/3 innings (rain-shortened) in his first rehab start with Single-A Lowell, Porcello went 5 2/3 innings, allowing three runs, three hits and striking out six on 81 pitches with Triple-A Pawtucket as he works his way back from a triceps strain.
He allowed two runs in the first inning and another in the second, but settled down, retiring the final 13 batters he faced.
“He did well yesterday,” interim manager Torey Lovullo said. “A little bit more conversation that I had with him — the first couple of innings had trouble finding some rhythm, which is to be expected just getting back into the flow and rhythm. The remaining innings that he threw and up to the final pitch, he said he felt great. He had command of all three pitches. He was throwing them where he wanted to. His two-seam fastball had the action that he wanted.”
Porcello will throw a bullpen Sunday and then a final decision will be made on what’s next for the right-hander.
Lovullo indicated it’s likely he throws on the upcoming road trip and Porcello told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford earlier in the week the expectation is he would start Wednesday in Chicago.
“Anticipating that the bullpen goes well, he will probably throw sometime on this road trip,” Lovullo said.
— Left fielder Hanley Ramirez is batting just .191 with four extra-base hits (no home runs) since the All-Star break. Most recently, he’s 0 for his last 13 and has just one walk in his last 72 plate appearances.
“I think his timing is a little off right now,” Lovullo said. “His timing, his rhythm is a little off. He’s tinkering with his swing trying to find out where his lower half is. As I’ve been saying the past couple days, things ebb and flow when you’re at this level. He’s probably not getting to the pitches that he can get to and maybe missing a couple of pitches and then frustration is building. It’s about the grind. It’s about working through the grind and that’s where he’s at right now.”
Ramirez has slid down to the No. 6 spot in the order.
— Since Lovullo has taken over as interim manager, the Red Sox are 6-2 and have won four straight. What’s even more impressive is their two best hitters — Ramirez and David Ortiz — are a combined 0 for their last 20.
So why has the team been so successful of late?
|08.22.15 at 3:26 pm ET|
Jackie Bradley Jr. and Brock Holt are back in the lineup as the Sox go against Royals right-hander Yordano Ventura. Holt slides down in the order as Pablo Sandoval will hit second for a third straight game.
[UPDATE 6:15 p.m.: Holt has been scratched from the lineup with left oblique tightness. Josh Rutledge will play second base.]
Hanley Ramirez will be in left, Mookie Betts in center and Bradley Jr. in right. Ramirez is hitting sixth, as Travis Shaw slides up to fifth.
For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.
Here is the complete updated Red Sox lineup:
|08.22.15 at 12:17 pm ET|
A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Friday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (49-78): W, 7-3, vs. Lehigh Valley (Phillies)
— Rick Porcello made a rehab start for the PawSox and went 5 2/3 innings, allowing three earned runs on three hits, including a home run. He walked none and struck out six and did not factor into the decision. Porcello made 20 starts for Boston this season before he was placed on the DL with a right triceps strain. The righty has a 5-11 record and a 5.81 ERA.
— Right-hander Jorge Marban picked up the win after relieving Porcello in the sixth inning. He allowed just one hit in 2 1/3 innings of work. He struck out four and walked none. Marban has appeared in three games for Pawtucket this season and is 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA.
— Righty Noe Ramirez closed out the game with a scoreless ninth inning. He allowed one hit and recorded one strikeout. Ramirez has made 27 appearances for the PawSox this season and is 4-1 with one save and a 2.54 ERA.
— Humberto Quintero got Pawtucket on the board in the second inning with his seventh home run of the season, a solo shot to left-center field. Quintero, who was the designated hitter Friday, finished the game 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored. He is hitting .252 with 30 RBIs after 70 games.
— The PawSox combined for 13 hits as five members of the lineup recorded two-hit games, including Quintero. Shortstop Deven Marrero went 2-for-4 with a walk, an RBI and two runs scored. Catcher Sandy Leon went 2-for-4 with a double, a walk and a run scored. Second baseman Jeff Bianchi and right fielder Jonathan Roof both went 2-for-4 with a run scored.
|08.22.15 at 7:49 am ET|
Barnes has been back and forth between Boston and Triple-A Pawtucket this season. The 25-year-old has accrued a 3-3 record to go along with a 6.59 ERA this season in the majors. He sports an unseemly 1.866 WHIP, allowing 13.2 hits per nine innings. He has also demonstrated the ability to put hitters away, compiling 29 strikeouts in just 27 1/3 innings of work. He has an average fastball velocity of 94.9 mph.
Barnes has made 22 major league appearances on the season, all but one of which has come in relief. He spent the beginning of July with the Sox before being sent to Pawtucket. His return to Boston came in the form of his first career start on Monday.
The right-hander took a loss at the hands of the Indians by a score of 8-2. He threw five innings, allowing six runs on six hits and three walks. He allowed a home run and struck out seven. Despite the less-than-gaudy results, Barnes felt confident about his starting debut.
“I felt really good out there,” Barnes said. “I thought I had really good command of all three pitches.”
“I thought Matt threw the ball really, really well,” interim manager Torey Lovullo said, echoing his starter. “He gave us everything we expected. He was commanding his fastball. Everything was crisp and downhill. He was effective. He did his job for us tonight.”
|08.21.15 at 11:03 pm ET|
Left-hander Henry Owens has made four major league starts including his debut Aug. 4 in New York against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium so it’s not like he’s been eased into the big leagues — he’s been thrown right into the fire.
Over those four starts the 23-year-old has faced two first place teams, including Friday night when he went eight strong innings picking up the win in the Red Sox‘ 7-2 win over the Royals and Johnny Cueto.
“Not thinking about really who’s pitching — I’m thinking about who’s hitting more, and that’s a good ball club, they’ve proven it the last two years or three years,” Owens said. “I knew I had a tough task tonight and Wade [Miley] went out and set the tone yesterday so I just tried to compete and try to match him the best I could.”
Against the Yankees — the other first-place team — he went five innings and allowed just three runs, leaving when the score was 2-1, so clearly he hasn’t let who he’s faced effect him on the mound.
The lanky left-hander went eight complete innings and allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits, while walking a batter and striking out four against the AL Central leaders. By going the full eight innings, it was the second-longest outing by a Red Sox pitcher within his first four major league games since 1994. The longest in that stretch was Clay Buchholz‘s no-hitter in 2007.
Owens said it was the best stuff he’s had in any start this season.
“Yeah, definitely,” he said. “Collectively minor leagues and big leagues I felt like I was pretty comfortable early on and just took it inning and by inning and ended up throwing eight [innings.]”
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