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Closing Time: Red Sox get enough from Joe Kelly, bullpen to hand Orioles first loss

04.13.16 at 10:23 pm ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr. tears into his fourth-inning triple, Wednesday night at Fenway Park. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Jackie Bradley Jr. tears into his fourth-inning triple Wednesday night at Fenway Park. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

It certainly was a step in the right direction for the Red Sox, and their starting pitching rotation.

The team carrying the highest starting pitching ERA in the majors got just enough from Joe Kelly in its 4-2 win over the Orioles on Wednesday night at Fenway Park. Kelly got the win, allowing two runs over five innings while throwing 116 pitches.

While the righty failed to get a single 1-2-3 inning, walking five, his only significant miscue came when he allowed a two-run home run to Chris Davis in third inning. Kelly lowered his ERA to 10.13 after two starts.

(For more on Kelly’s outing, click here.)

Kelly’s counterpart, Baltimore starter Ubaldo Jimenez, experienced similar issues when it came to pitch efficiency, needing 104 pitches to get through five frames.

The Red Sox did just enough to hand Jimenez and the O’s their first losses of the season. In the third inning, immediately after the Orioles took the lead on the Davis homer, Xander Bogaerts knotted things up with a two-run double.

The following inning the Sox took the lead for good, mainly thanks to Jackie Bradley Jr. The Red Sox outfielder tripled in Brock Holt with a blast to the base of the right-field wall. A Betts ground out would score Bradley for the insurance run.

Closing Time note

The triple by Bradley was clocked by StatCast at 109 mph, the fastest ever clocked off his bat.

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Pablo Sandoval on shoulder injury: ‘I wake up and I can’t even move my arm’

04.13.16 at 6:20 pm ET
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Pablo Sandoval hopes to be in the lineup on Opening Day. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Pablo Sandoval won’t be celebrating for a while. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Pablo Sandoval spoke to reporters in the dugout on Wednesday afternoon and explained, as best he could, the mysterious left shoulder injury that landed him on the 15-day disabled list, noting he suffered a similar injury in 2011.

“Yesterday I don’t feel nothing weird,” Sandoval said. “This morning I wake up and I can’t even move my arm. That’s why I worry about it.”

Sandoval noted that he suffered a similar injury while swinging a bat in 2011, a season that saw him limited to 117 games, though he was still an All-Star. That injury landed him on the DL.

He’s awaiting further examination before determining what caused this year’s injury, and is unsure he’ll need an MRI.

“[It feels] exactly the same,” Sandoval said. “In ’11, it was part of my shoulder. I don’t know what it’s going to be right now.”

Sandoval, who lost his starting job to Travis Shaw in spring training and is 0-for-6 so far on the season, insisted he’s not frustrated, but focused on getting healthy.

“I’m not frustrated,” he said. “I’m here getting ready for being part of the games. So that’s what — I’m not frustrated at all. I’m just waiting for my moment to be back and play the game. I just want to get healthy and see what the results today are when the doctor sees us. I just want to keep happy, be happy and keep my head up and keep working hard to be back.”

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Pablo Sandoval placed on 15-day disabled list with left shoulder strain, Josh Rutledge recalled

04.13.16 at 4:36 pm ET
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Pablo Sandoval

Pablo Sandoval

Red Sox fans won’t have Pablo Sandoval to kick around for a while.

Manager John Farrell announced prior to Wednesday’s game that the third baseman has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left shoulder strain. Infielder  Josh Rutledge has been recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket.

Farrell said the team just became aware of the injury Wednesday afternoon, and speculated that perhaps Sandoval hurt himself taking batting practice.

Sandoval, who lost his starting job to Travis Shaw in spring training and is hitless on the season (0-for-6), has become a target of fan wrath, which Farrell addressed when asked if Sandoval could benefit from some time away.

“It’s been a real tough start,” Farrell said. He’s been an easy target. I’ve had a chance to sit and talk with him about that specifically. First and foremost, we’ve got to get him right physically to get past the shoulder issue. If a breather gives him a chance to maybe step away from the scrutiny that he’s under, we’ll make every effort to have that take place. But I still firmly believe that Panda is going to be a contributor to this team. We’re going to need him to be, because there’s a darn good player in there. We’ve got to continue to work to get that out.”

Farrell said that even if Sandoval had arrived at the park healthy, he wouldn’t have started against Orioles right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, whom he has hit at a .359 clip lifetime.

“He reported today with left shoulder strain,” Farrell explained. “To give you an exact moment when it took place, I don’t have that, to be honest. He’s been hitting a lot extra before BP, during the game in the cage. He’s got very limited range of motion that was revealed after he went through a battery of tests with the medical staff. So he’s unavailable.”

Farrell said that Sandoval would use the down time to work on his conditioning.

“He’s working very diligently on that,” he said. “He has my full support. Every player has needs. Panda’s are outlined. There’s a specific plan to address those. And we’ll support him through it.”

Rutledge came to the Red Sox from the Angels in the Shane Victorino trade last season and provides more roster flexibility, since he is capable of playing around the infield. Farrell said Rutledge got the call over slick-fielding shortstop Deven Marrero because of the way he’s been swinging the bat at Pawtucket, where he’s hitting .316.

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Red Sox lineup: Ryan Hanigan catches starter Joe Kelly

04.13.16 at 3:14 pm ET
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Ryan Hanigan

Ryan Hanigan

It will be another standard lineup for the Red Sox in the series finale with the Orioles, but with only one exception.

Ryan Hanigan will catch Red Sox starter Joe Kelly, as Blake Swihart gets the night off. Hanigan caught Kelly’s first start in Toronto last weekend.

Travis Shaw again starts at third base, while Brock Holt gets the start in left field against Orioles right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez. Pablo Sandoval will sit despite being 14-for-39 with two homeruns vs. Jimenez.

Here is the complete Red Sox lineup:

Mookie Betts, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
David Ortiz, DH
Hanley Ramirez, 1B
Travis Shaw, 3B
Brock Holt, LF
Ryan Hanigan, C
Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Joe Kelly, RHP

For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.

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Wednesday Red Sox Farm Report: Roenis Elias struggles in PawSox debut

04.13.16 at 11:39 am ET
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Here’s a look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Tuesday.

Roenis Elias

Roenis Elias

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (2-4): L, 9-1, vs. Scranton (Yankees)

— Left-hander Roenis Elias made his first start with the PawSox, and it was a struggle from the first inning on. Elias, acquired from the Mariners in December, lasted just 3 2/3 innings, allowing five runs (two earned) on seven hits and four walks with four strikeouts. It was not an ideal debut for someone who was brought in to compete for a bullpen spot with the Red Sox and possibly steal the last spot in the rotation. He disappointed in the spring (12 earned runs over 10 innings) and is off to a rocky start in Triple-A.

— Sam Travis had the lone RBI for the PawSox when he singled home Josh Rutledge in the bottom of the first inning. Rutledge finished 1-for-5 and had the team’s only extra-base hit with a double. Travis’ single was his only hit, and he now has one home run and four RBIs over his first six games with Pawtucket.

— Right-hander Pat Light (Boston’s no. 18 prospect on MLB.com) threw two scoreless innings in the seventh and eighth. He walked one and struck out three while allowing just one hit.

— Catcher Christian Vazquez walked three times in four plate appearances. He threw out one baserunner at third on a steal attempt and allowed one passed ball.

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Read More: Farm Report, Roenis Elias, sam travis, tim roberson

Wednesday’s Red Sox-Orioles matchups: Joe Kelly vs. Ubaldo Jimenez

04.13.16 at 9:01 am ET
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Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly

Red Sox right-hander Joe Kelly will look to rebound Wednesday night against the Orioles after a rough first start of the season. He will face off against Orioles righty Ubaldo Jimenez, who will attempt to keep his team perfect through eight games.

Kelly’s initial outing against the Blue Jays on Friday was both disastrous and short-lived. He lasted just three innings, giving up seven runs on six hits, including a grand slam off the bat of Josh Donaldson. He walked three and struck out four while throwing 80 pitches. The Red Sox rallied offensively and wound up winning the game, 8-7, thanks to some late-game heroics.

“Obviously I didn’t perform the way I wanted to perform, but that was a really really fun win for the team. Pretty incredible to see,” Kelly said after the game. “I’m obviously going up against another good pitcher. Our guys battled back. We tried to do it the game before, but it was pretty fun to watch, the bullpen came in and did a great job, the defense played great, guys hit the ball extremely well. … That was pretty fun to watch, he thought it was going to be a double, he told me, and it ended up going out of the ballpark. To see a team win like that, and obviously I didn’t pitch like I’m capable of, to come together and pick me up when I wasn’t at my best was pretty fun to watch. And easily a game like that last year we would have lost but guys picking each other up and playing great baseball like that, I obviously didn’t perform well and I didn’t like anything about what I did, but watching from in here and watching from the video room, it was definitely fun to be a part of that and see that.”

In five career starts against the Orioles, Kelly is 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA, 20 strikeouts and 11 walks.

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Read More: Joe Kelly, Orioles, Red Sox, ubaldo jimenez

With Blake Swihart’s uneven performance, Christian Vazquez conversation heats up

04.13.16 at 12:26 am ET
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Blake Swihart

Blake Swihart

It was not a good night for Blake Swihart.

The Red Sox catcher not only was behind the plate for another subpar Sox pitching performance in their 9-5 loss to the Orioles, Tuesday night, but suffered through a key miss on Mark Trumbo’s foul pop-up in the sixth inning.

The misplay on the pop-up was highlighted, of course, because Trumbo came back and launched a two-run homer to center field which gave Baltimore a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

“It’s my fault,” Swihart said. “We should never have been in that situation. That should have been an out right there, a 4-2 lead.

“I’m not going to make that an excuse, the wind. I need to catch that ball. That’s my ball to make. I’ve got to make that play.”

While Swihart’s batting average (.281) and on-base percentage (.421) are certainly adequate, he has caught six of the Red Sox’ seven starts, with the team’s starters totaling a major league-worst 7.32 ERA.

And, with a catcher in Christian Vazquez, who the pitchers have continuously professed their admiration for when it comes to receiving and calling a game, seemingly ready to re-enter the big leagues, the conversations about a possible switch have begun.

“You know, that’s part of discussions that are ongoing,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell of a possible Vazquez promotion. “There’s nothing imminent right now. If we were to make any kind of decision we’ve got to have further conversation with him.”

Vazquez, who continues to return from Tommy John surgery while playing for Triple-A Pawtucket, still hasn’t caught in three straight games, but has been behind the plate for four of the last five PawSox contests.

Offensively, Vazquez appears locked in, hitting .462 (6-for-13) with seven walks, while showing improved accuracy and velocity with his arm.

Ryan Hanigan is expected to get the start Wednesday, with Joe Kelly on the mound.

David Ortiz is urging everybody not to panic about Red Sox

04.12.16 at 11:53 pm ET
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David Ortiz trots around the bases after his two-run homer Tuesday night. (Mark Baer/USA Today Sports)

David Ortiz trots around the bases after his two-run homer Tuesday night. (Mark Baer/USA Today Sports)

David Ortiz has gone through relatively slow starts before.

In 2009, the Red Sox began going 2-6 in what turned out to be a playoff team. A year later, they started 3-4 before slumping to 4-10. And in 2011, Terry Francona’s last Sox club began 0-6.

There was the 1-5 start in 2012. The encouraging 5-2 beginning to 2013. And then the uninspired 3-5 beginning to 2014.

Last year? The Red Sox started 6-2, and how did that work out?

So when asked about the possibility of him panicking following the Sox’ 9-5 loss to the undefeated Orioles, dropping John Farrell’s team to 3-4, Ortiz was incredulous.

“No. Why should I be? We have 150-some more games left,” the designated hitter said when asked if he was nervous about the start. “Things are going to change. It’s early. Don’t panic.”

He added, “You think I am [nervous]? Look at my face.”

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Clay Buchholz not concerned about Red Sox starting rotation’s struggles: ‘There shouldn’t be anyone worried’

04.12.16 at 11:32 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz isn't concerned with how the Red Sox have started. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

Clay Buchholz isn’t concerned with how the Red Sox have started. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

Through the first seven games of the season, the Red Sox’ starting rotation has an ERA of 7.04, which is the worst in the American League.

This many be cause for concern for some, but not Clay Buchholz.

“We’re seven games in, dude,” Buchholz said after the Red Sox’ 9-5 loss to the Orioles Tuesday. “There shouldn’t be anyone worried. We have the best pitcher in the world right now on our team. Things happen and we’re playing against the best guys playing in the world too.

“It’s just one of those things, you get off to a slow start, so be it. I’d rather finish strong than start off strong and then — you want to go off in the middle. We have a lot more games to play.”

Even with having ace David Price — who Buchholz was referring to — make two starts, Red Sox starters have recorded a combined two outs after the sixth inning in the seven games.

While Buchholz isn’t panicking, manager John Farrell acknowledged as a group the starting rotation needs to improve, especially when the offense is averaging 5.71 runs per game and the team only has a 3-4 record to show for it.

“We need to be better,” Farrell said. “That goes without saying. This isn’t a matter of stuff. I thought tonight we had a number of hitters where we had two strikes and didn’t put hitter away. Last couple of games we’re spotted a starter with a lead, but still, it is a matter of going out and executing pitches. The job of a starter obviously is going to require, two, three times through the order. That is going to require a mixture of pitches and consistent execution. The execution has got to improve.”

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Closing Time: Clay Buchholz can’t hold lead, Orioles take down Red Sox

04.12.16 at 10:33 pm ET
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Tomase, Bradford talk Red Sox panic following latest loss

Clay Buchholz couldn't hold the Red Sox' lead Tuesday night. (Mark L. Bae/USA Today Sports)

Clay Buchholz couldn’t hold the Red Sox’ lead Tuesday night. (Mark L. Bae/USA Today Sports)

The Red Sox got the good Clay Buchholz for the majority of his outing Tuesday night, but then the bad came and came quickly in the sixth inning.

With the Red Sox leading 4-2, Buchholz allowed the first four batters to reach in the sixth, including a two-run homer to Mark Trumbo and a double to Pedro Alvarez before being lifted from the game.

Noe Ramirez entered and allowed a sacrifice fly to allow the Orioles to take a 5-4 lead, a lead they wouldn’t relinquish in their 9-5 win.

The Orioles are a perfect 7-0 on the season and remain the only unbeaten team in baseball.

With the game tied at two in the fifth, the Red Sox scored two runs to take the lead, although it didn’t last long as Buchholz labored in the next half inning.

On a night when gold “500” necklaces were given away to the first 15,000 fans in attendance to commemorate David Ortiz’s 500 home runs, the designated hitter launched a two-run home run in the first inning to give the Red Sox a quick 2-0 lead. It was No. 506 of his career.

He also added an RBI double in the eighth inning.

Closing Time note

Ortiz’s homer was his third of the season. The last big leaguer 40 years or older with three homers in the first seven games of a season was Hank Aaron in 1974.

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Read More: Clay Buchholz, David Ortiz, mookie betts,
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