|07.24.15 at 8:49 am ET|
A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Thursday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (41-58): L, 5-4, at Norfolk (Orioles)
— LHP Henry Owens (Boston’s No. 2 prospect at MLB.com) had his third straight quality start and seventh in his last eight outings, with a final Thursday afternoon pitching line of: 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO (106 pitches, 74 strikes). Owens, 23, gave up two runs in third after a walk, a misplayed grounder by first baseman Matt Spring, a bloop single into shallow right field, and a two-RBI double to left. The 6-foot-6 Owens struck out the final two batters of the third to strand two in scoring position, getting whiffs on a high fastball and a slow breaking ball that fell out of the strike zone into the dirt.
Owens had a total of nine straight retired before he hit more adversity in the the sixth inning, with another run scoring after three singles, including a bloop to left and a slow roller up the middle. Owens left the game after six complete with a 4-3 lead.
Selected by Boston in the first round of the 2011 draft (36th overall), Owens is 3-7 this season with a 3.25 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP over 20 starts. His 100 strikeouts are five shy of the International League lead, with his ERA ranking 10th and his WHIP tied for third. Owens’ 116 1/3 innings of work is the fourth-highest total in the league this year, and his walk total of 55 remains a league high.
— RHP Jonathan Aro (Boston’s No. 30 prospect at MLB.com) was charged with a blown save as he entered with a one-run lead in the seventh and gave up three hits including a two-RBI double ripped to left that gave Norfolk a 5-4 lead. Aro, a 6-foot, 24-year-old from the Dominican Republic, has been scored upon in three of his six outings with Pawtucket since returning from his major league debut in late July with Boston where he allowed runs in all three of his appearances.
— Pawtucket took a 4-0 lead in the first inning on two-RBI doubles by Allen Craig and Humberto Quintero after leadoff walks to Quintin Berry and Jackie Bradley Jr. started the frame. The PawSox would have just three more hits after the first, with Quintero and third baseman Travis Shaw the only players finishing with multi-hit games.
The double snapped an 0-for-10 skid for Craig, who is hitting just .227 (15-for-66) in July after a .235 June (19-for-81). The double on Thursday for Craig, 31, was only his second extra-base hit in his last 18 games.
|07.23.15 at 11:49 pm ET|
HOUSTON — There was seemingly no other way to punctuate this road trip.
Seven games. Seven losses. Outscored 39-13. Eight-game losing streak. Twelve games out of first place. Twelve games under .500.
It was a stretch that saw the Red Sox hit .204 with just three home runs, striking out 51 times and drawing 13 walks. Their ERA was 5.37 (6.29 for the starters), with Sox pitchers giving up 16 homers.
And then there was the finale.
The latest loss would come courtesy a walkoff, solo homer from Jose Altuve in the ninth inning against Craig Breslow, giving the Astros a 5-4 win over the Red Sox on Thursday night at Minute Maid Park.
“It was a fastball down,” Breslow said. “Probably got a lot of plate. But in a 3-1 count, I wanted to throw the ball over the plate, didn’t want to give him a chance to get on base via the walk. He’s obviously a fast guy, base-stealer, so that presented a different host of problems. But once I fell behind, I needed to make sure the ball was in the strike zone.”
Altuve’s blast just cleared the left-field fence (coming in Breslow’s second inning of work), and spoiled the Sox’ eighth-inning comeback, which had been led by Mike Napoli.
The Red Sox first baseman notched three hits, including a solo home run and a line-drive RBI double in the eighth that tied the game at 4. The last hit — coming with two outs — plated Hanley Ramirez, who had followed Ortiz‘ leadoff homer with a single and stolen base.
In the end, however, the latest defeat came courtesy an overall bullpen meltdown, with the combination of Alexi Ogando and Junichi Tazawa proving unable to protect another gem from Wade Miley. The pair of relievers allowed three seventh-inning runs to the Astros, blowing the win for the starter.
|07.23.15 at 6:44 pm ET|
Thursday Buchholz revealed what the timeline might look like for his return, in regards to throwing off a mound.
“I think the total amount of time is probably going to be five to six weeks,” he said. “I’m going to be back whenever I can. This is sort of frustrating. Yeah, whenever I’m able to go. He gave me the steps to follow, and that’s what I’m going to do, and that’s what I went to him.”
Buchholz, who said that he should be able to start throwing a baseball again in a couple of weeks, reiterated his enthusiasm with the visit to Pensacola.
“It was basically re-affirming what we know,” the pitcher said. “The one thing that came out of it that I was thinking a little differently about is the catch that I was playing. It probably wasn’t the right thing to do, in his mind. Yeah, that’s the reason for the PRP, because the time I’m going to be down, it’s not going to extend that time at all. Being that I don’t have any tears and it wasn’t a surgical issue, he said that I’d probably be in the upper 80 percent for this PRP stuff to either help or form a stronger muscle rather than just taking rest.”
Now that Buchholz’ recovery time has some sort of guideline, the conversation slowly turns to the pitcher’s future.
The 30-year-old is in the last guaranteed year of his contract, with the Red Sox holding a $13 million team option for 2016, and another one for ’17 at $13.5 million.
“I definitely want to pitch again [this season],” Buchholz said. “I don’t care how many starts. I need to ‘¦ that’s why I’m here. This is actually a big year for me too.”
Regarding his contract status, he added, “I’m going to be throwing somewhere. Baseball is baseball. I’ve definitely been here my whole career. I don’t really want to go anywhere. When it comes to the time where somebody’s got to make a decision, the decision doesn’t always match the same way you feel. It is what it is. That’s the business side. I’ve said it a hundred times. It happens to a lot of guys. It’s very rare for a guy to stay in one spot his whole career. If it does happen, it happens.”
|07.23.15 at 4:26 pm ET|
Pedroia is 1-for-22 with a walk since returning to the lineup, notching an RBI double in Wednesday night’s loss.
Here is the Red Sox lineup against Houston starter Lance McCullers, who opposes Sox starter Wade Miley:
|07.23.15 at 4:15 pm ET|
According to a major league source, the Red Sox have (for the time being) stopped exploring the idea of acquiring a high-profile pitcher in the final year of their contract.
Coming out of the All-Star break, the Red Sox had entertained thoughts of trading for what would amount to be a rental, such as Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto or Mike Leake. The idea would be to see if the top of the rotation starter might help the team make a run, while allowing for a relationship heading into free agency.
But with the Red Sox dropping to 11 games of first-place in the American League East, and 11 games under .500, the team has gone away from that option. They continue to prioritize pursuing pitchers under control for beyond this season.
One of the pitchers falling into the rental category was Scott Kazmir, who was dealt Thursday by the A’s to the Astros in exchange for minor leaguers Daniel Mengden and catcher Jacob Nottingham.
According to a source, the Red Sox were not involved in talks for Kazmir in recent days.
|07.23.15 at 1:32 pm ET|
The 31-year-old Kazmir has totaled a 2.38 ERA this season in 18 starts and 109 2/3 innings. He is coming off a 2014 season in which he finished at 15-9 with a 3.55 ERA. The lefty is in the final year of a two-year, $22 million deal.
He is coming off an 8 1/3-inning outing against the Twins Saturday in which he allowed one run on five hits.
Mengden was the Astros fourth-round pick in the 2014 draft, making 10 appearances (8 starts) for Single-A Lancaster. While his ERA stood at 5.26, he did strikeout 48 in 49 2/3 innings.
Kazmir joins an Astros rotation that includes Dallas Keuchel, Scott Feldman, Colin McHugh, Lance McCullers and Vince Velasquez.
Nottingham as Houston’s sixth-round pick in the 2013 draft, having put up a .326 batting average and .941 OPS between two Single-A teams this season. He has also hit 14 homers.
|07.23.15 at 11:20 am ET|
With Eduardo Rodriguez and Brian Johnson both making their big league debuts this season, the third left-hander who began the year in Pawtucket, Henry Owens, seemingly is next in line.
Owens, who turned 23 this week, quickly rose through the Red Sox organization after being drafted in the supplemental first-round in the 2011 draft, reaching Double-A at age 20. He debuted with the PawSox last July and went 3-1 with a 4.03 ERA.
The 6-foot-6 lefty hasn’t had the best of season’s this year, as he is 3-7 with a 3.26 ERA, but has walked 54 batters in 110 1/3 innings. Just a month ago he had the most walks of any pitcher in Triple-A or the majors.
“There’s a lot of experienced hitters that are going to have — he’s trying to command the strike zone with his pitches and a lot of the veteran Triple-A guys, that’s what they do. They command the strike zone as hitters, too,” Red Sox minor league pitching coordinator Ralph Treuel said. “They are not going to swing at pitches out of the strike zone maybe they were swinging at in Double-A. That’s part of the process. It’s made Henry a much better pitcher because the competition he’s facing there and ultimately what he’s going to face in the big leagues, those guys know the strike zone.”
Owens has pitched better of late, not walking more than two batters in a game in each of his last seven starts going into Thursday’s outing.
“I think he realized he needed to get more consistent with his delivery,” Treuel said. “Bob Kipper’s (Pawtucket pitching coach) done a really good job with him. We say just getting into a stronger, more compact position over the rubber. I think this has allowed him to leverage his fastball to both sides of the plate a lot more consistently.”
The California native was drafted out of high school, so he would just be graduating college if he didn’t sign right away. Being a player coming out of high school, his path is going to be more gradual than a player coming from college who has more experience.
It’s to this point where those in the Red Sox organization have stayed patient with Owens, realizing he still has room to grow. For example, Johnson was selected in the first-round of the 2012 draft, a year after Owens, but Johnson had three years of experience at the University of Florida.
“I think the biggest thing with Henry, just like any other high schooler, he came in and the body just isn’t fully developed,” Treuel said. “Still at 22, the coordination, especially a 6-foot-6 left-hander — he’s starting to figure out what to do with his body right now. That’s why we’re seeing for me, a much better, more polished pitcher the last couple of months. I think he’s starting to figure some things out.”
|07.23.15 at 10:28 am ET|
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington checked in with Dennis & Callahan Thursday morning to discuss the state of the Red Sox as the July 31 trade deadline nears and to look back at some of the offseason decisions that were made. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
With the trade deadline just over a week away and the Red Sox currently sitting 11 games below .500 and 11 games out in the AL East, it’s clear the team will be looking for ways to get better for 2016 and it will begin with the trade deadline.
“I think we need to continue to find ways to improve our pitching and defense. Let our position player group continue to grow,” Cherington said. “I see that happening. It certainly hasn’t happened as quickly as we thought or hoped it would this year. The results haven’t been nearly good enough. We’re responsible for that and we have to get better quickly.”
The general manager was asked if there have been any internal discussions of firing manager John Farrell. Cherington firmly denied that has taken place and said he and the organization believe he’s the right man to lead the team moving forward.
“I believe he has the qualities that will allow him to be a really good manager in Boston for a long time,” Cherington said. “And I think if you look at the record the last two years, and like I said before it’s not acceptable, I feel responsible for that, I take responsibility for that, but I think that, and despite that there are still things going on in our major league clubhouse, around our team, that are productive. There’s still work happening that’s pushing guys forward, there’s still a work ethic and an effort being put forth that is important and so I think that that is a credit to John and his staff that there are still those things going on. Look, we all need to be better, everybody in uniform, everybody in the front office, everybody involved needs to be better, it’s not one person’s job to make it better, it’s all of our jobs to make it better.”
One of the biggest acquisitions of the offseason was pitcher Rick Porcello, who the team got in the Yoenis Cespedes trade with the Tigers. The 26-year-old had one year left on his current contract, but prior to his first start in a Red Sox uniform the team extended him to a four-year, $82.5 million deal.
The results haven’t been there so far, as he’s 5-10 with a 5.79 ERA. Cherington explained what went into the extension.
“We made the trade and at the time we made the trade we thought the arrow might continue to go up because of his age and his skills and his health and all that,” he said. “We thought his last two years in Detroit were plenty good enough. … We felt like he was one of the top 25-30 starters in the American League the previous two years and we were getting a guy in his prime. Once we got him, we got to know him over the winter, spring training — got to know what he was about personally, his health, his makeup, his work ethic, his sense of accountability — we felt like this was a guy we wanted to keep. Knowing how free agency works with pitching and his unique position he’d be in as a really young starting pitcher on the market, we felt our best shot to keep him was to do an extension prior to the season and then it was a unique deal because of his age and it ended up being what it was and was focused on the shorter-term and total amount of money that made it work.
|07.23.15 at 9:05 am ET|
A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Wednesday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (41-57): L, 6-2, at Norfolk (Orioles)
— Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. led the Pawtucket offense once again, going 2-for-3 with a triple and a walk. The triple was the first of the season for Bradley, who has 18 doubles, nine home runs and 27 RBIs and is hitting .318 after 66 games with Pawtucket.
— Garin Cecchini also posted a multi-hit game for the PawSox, finishing the day 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. The 24-year-old Cecchini, who played left field Wednesday, is hitting .219 on the season.
— Robby Scott made his first Triple-A start and went just two innings, giving up all six Norfolk runs. He allowed six hits — including a home run — walked two and struck out one. The 25-year-old left-hander is now 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA in five games for Pawtucket this season. He posted a 1-1 record and a 2.06 ERA in 25 relief appearances in Portland earlier this year.
— The Pawtucket bullpen was solid Wednesday, as relievers Heath Hembree, Matt Barnes and Ronald Belisario combined for six no-hit innings.
|07.23.15 at 3:14 am ET|
HOUSTON — Shane Victorino wants to win. He also wants to stay.
The outfielder knows that one might very well go hand in hand with the other.
Victorino is one of the Red Sox who are playing in a contract year, leaving him as a candidate to be shipped out at the non-waiver trade deadline if the team thinks this 11-game deficit is too much to overcome.
That’s why Victorino is eyeing the next nine days as some of the most important games of his Red Sox career.
“What can we do in this however many days before the deadline? I don’t want to go anywhere,” he said. “I don’t think any of the guys in here want to go anywhere. Let’s go make it hard on [the front office].
“You look at things and say, ‘Which way am I going to be a part of?’ Am I going to make things difficult for our organization, letting them see we’re showing them signs?”
Victorino knows the Red Sox are teetering on the edge of not being able to get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to a resurgence. They dropped their seventh straight Wednesday night, and sit at 11 games under .500.
There is no guarantees that even if the Red Sox start selling, Victorino will be part of the purge. He is just coming back from injury, and there will still be about $5 million to pay from the $13.5 million the outfielder makes this season. (According to a major league source, the Mets currently aren’t eyeing Victorino despite shopping for outfielders.)
But for the 34-year-old, anything scenario that doesn’t include bolstering the current roster would offer uneasiness.
“I don’t want to see that,” he said. “I don’t want to be part of that kind of team. When I leave that’s the part I sit there and think I didn’t get to see it to the end. I want to be here at the end of my contract.
“Make it miserable for them where they’re thinking, ‘Damn, our hands our tied. What are we going to do?’
“I still plan on to this day of being here at the end. That’s what I’m focused on. I think we can do it. I know we can do it. This is it for me.”
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