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Red Sox lineup: David Ortiz returns, Yoenis Cespedes sits

08.27.14 at 4:44 pm ET
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David Ortiz will return to the Red Sox lineup in his customary third spot for the series finale against the Blue Jays. With his return, left fielder Yoenis Cespedes will get the day off.

RED SOX LINEUP

Brock Holt, SS

Dustin Pedroia, 2B

David Ortiz, DH

Mike Napoli, 1B

Daniel Nava, LF

Allen Craig, RF

Mookie Betts, CF

Will Middlebrooks, 3B

David Ross, C

Joe Kelly, RHP

Red Sox minor league roundup: Eduardo Rodriguez’s electrifying first impression; Bryce Brentz mashing; Henry Owens finding his way

08.27.14 at 12:37 pm ET
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Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez has been dominant in five starts for Portland. (Lynn Chadwick / Portland Sea Dogs)

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez has been dominant in five starts for Portland. (Lynn Chadwick / Portland Sea Dogs)

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Tuesday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 9-3 WIN AT BUFFALO (BLUE JAYS)

(BOX)

— On a night when he walked his most batters (4) and threw just 61 of his season-high 105 pitches for strikes (58 percent), left-hander Henry Owens overcame his struggles to limit his opponents to three runs on eight hits. His efforts were helped by his eight punchouts in 6 1/3 innings. In his five starts with Pawtucket, Owens is now 2-1 with a 3.66 ERA, 35 strikeouts and 10 walks in 32 innings. Opponents are hitting .248 against him with three homers in that span, up from the .201 average to which he held opponents in Double-A this year. In short, there’s an adjustment to a higher caliber of opposing hitters to which Owens is still adjusting, though he’s holding his own amidst that transition.

— Right-hander Dalier Hinojosa was dominant, retiring eight of nine batters he faced. The 28-year-old has a 2.03 ERA since the beginning of June with 26 strikeouts and eight walks in 26 2/3 innings. After he entered July with a 5.51 ERA, he’s dropped that mark to 3.90.

Bryce Brentz can mash against left-handers with good stuff. He went deep against highly regarded Blue Jays prospect Daniel Norris, his 12th homer in 58 games in Pawtucket this year. Against southpaws, Brentz is hitting .304/.355/.725 with eight homers in 76 plate appearances (one for every 9.5 trips to the dish). His performance both against lefties and overall since his return from a groin injury (.260/.333/.558) suggest someone who might be getting close to capable of contributing at the big league level. Yet as much as the Sox’ recent acquisitions of outfielders such as Yoenis Cespedes, Allen Craig and Rusney Castillo has raised questions about the future of a player like Shane Victorino in the organization, the questions are just as significant for players like Brentz and Alex Hassan, who now find themselves behind a considerable crowd of corner outfielders. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: bryce brentz, dalier hinojosa, eduardo rodriguez, gabe speier

Wednesday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Joe Kelly vs. Marcus Stroman

08.27.14 at 11:44 am ET
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Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly

Coming off two straight extra-innings victories over the Blue Jays, the Red Sox send Joe Kelly to the mound opposite rookie right-hander Marcus Stroman in Wednesday’s series finale at Rogers Centre.

Kelly (0-1, 4.09 ERA) is looking for his first win in his fifth start with the Sox since being acquired from the Cardinals on July 31. He pitched five scoreless innings in his last start, allowing just one hit, but he left the game after 86 pitches due to a shoulder concern, and Sox closer Koji Uehara proceeded to implode in the ninth inning of a 5-3 loss to the Mariners.

The Sox medical staff checked out Kelly after removing him and found nothing to prevent him from taking the ball for his next scheduled start.

“Joe came in and felt no ill effects from [Friday] night after a battery of tests that he went through after the game that didn’t reproduce any of the symptoms,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said the day after. “It was followed up with him feeling well [Saturday] morning and he’s on target to start in five days.”

Stroman (7-5, 4.11 ERA) held the Red Sox to one run over 14 innings in back-to-back wins for the rookie on July 24 and 29. The Duke product has struggled since then, however, going 0-3 with an 8.66 ERA in four starts.

In his most recent outing, Friday against the Rays, Stroman gave up six runs on a season-high 10 hits with three walks in five innings of an 8-0 loss. Despite pitching on six days’ rest, Stroman saw his winless streak reach four starts.

“It’s extremely frustrating,” he said afterward. “I couldn’t keep my team in it today to get a win.”

The 23-year-old — who at 5-foot-9 is one of the game’s shortest pitchers — has 20 games of major league experience, all coming this season.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Joe Kelly, Marcus Stroman,

Closing Time: Red Sox erupt for 7 runs in 11th inning to beat Blue Jays

08.26.14 at 11:42 pm ET
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Mike Napoli and Dustin Pedroia drove in five of the Sox' seven runs in the 11th innings. (Getty Images)

Mike Napoli and Dustin Pedroia drove in five of the Sox’ seven runs in the 11th innings. (Getty Images)

On Sunday, Mike Napoli talked about the importance of treating the remainder of the schedule as meaningful, of respecting the game in a fashion that maintained the integrity of the team’s who still have something to play for in 2014. The veteran said that the Red Sox were mindful of the teams that had fallen out of the race last year that nonetheless still fought for wins against contenders; the Sox, Napoli hoped, would do the same.

Through the first two games against the Blue Jays in Toronto, the Sox have done just that, delivering a potentially terminal pair of losses on the Jays, the latest an 11-7 victory in 11 innings on Tuesday. The Sox scored seven or more runs in an extra-inning frame for just the second time in at least the last 30 years, the previous such instance coming on August 16, 2005, then held on for dear life as reliever Heath Hembree struggled to secure the final three outs.

Still, secure them he did, as the Red Sox left the Blue Jays reeling, seven games out of the wild card race.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX Read the rest of this entry »

Red Sox lineup: David Ortiz out again against Blue Jays

08.26.14 at 3:19 pm ET
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David Ortiz is out against the Blue Jays for the second straight day due to his injured right foot. In his absence, Mike Napoli will serve as DH, while Allen Craig will play first base.

RED SOX LINEUP

Brock Holt, SS

Dustin Pedroia, 2B

Yoenis Cespedes, LF

Mike Napoli, DH

Daniel Nava, RF

Allen Craig, 1B

Will Middlebrooks, 3B

Mookie Betts, CF

Christian Vazquez, C

Rubby De La Rosa, RHP

Red Sox minor league roundup: Matt Barnes’ rotation breakthrough; Michael Chavis, Rafael Devers mashing; Mike Meyers, triple threat

08.26.14 at 1:05 pm ET
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Right-hander Matt Barnes continued his second-half dominance on Monday. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox.)

Right-hander Matt Barnes continued his second-half dominance on Monday. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox.)

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Monday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-2 WIN AT BUFFALO (BLUE JAYS)

(BOX)

Matt Barnes‘ second-half breakthrough continued, and has now reached the point where it can be called the best sustained stretch he’s had since at least the first eight starts of his pro career, and arguably since he made his pro debut in 2012. The 24-year-old allowed two runs on four hits (three singles and a triple) while walking two and punching out four in 7 1/3 innings. The outing marked the third straight, fourth out of five and fifth out of seven in which he’s pitched into the seventh inning or later, something he’d done only four times in his first 65 minor league starts.

Barnes is now 4-1 with a 1.76 ERA in his seven second-half starts, a span in which he has 7.0 strikeouts and 2.9 walks per nine innings. Whereas he looked like someone who might struggle to stay in the rotation in the first half based on the continuation of his 2013 struggles to work deep into games, averaging just under five innings an outing prior to the All-Star break, in the second half, he’s averaging 6 2/3 innings per start, showing an ability to deliver the sort of consistent innings that the Red Sox want to see from anyone whom they’d consider as a rotation candidate. After he closed out the first half with a 5.06 ERA, Barnes has lowered that mark to 3.80, and on Monday, he crossed the 120-inning plateau for the first time in his pro career. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: carson blair, matt barnes, michael chavis, mike meyers

Tuesday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Rubby De La Rosa vs. R.A. Dickey

08.26.14 at 12:25 pm ET
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Rubby De La Rosa

Rubby De La Rosa

After snapping their eight-game losing streak with a 4-3 victory in 10 innings Monday night in Toronto, the Red Sox take on the Blue Jays in the middle game of their three-game set Tuesday night with Rubby De Le Rosa taking the mound opposite knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.

De La Rosa (4-5, 3.69) is coming off a solid outing against the Angels on Thursday in which he allowed two runs in 6 2/3 innings in a 2-0 loss.

“I thought he was really strong early on,” Farrell said after the game. “He settled in and was very good. I thought he pitched well enough to win on most nights.”

De La Rosa has started twice against the Jays this season, going 0-2 with an 8.10 ERA. When he faced the Jays on July 29 he gave up three runs in six innings in a 4-2 loss.

De La Rosa has especially had trouble with Juan Francisco, who is 4-for-5 with a home run, triple and double against the right-hander.

The Blue Jays, like the Red Sox, have had a rough August. Toronto is 6-15 this month and is in danger of falling to .500 for the first time since May 15. The Jays had won six in a row and 10-of-13 against the Red Sox this season — and almost stole Monday night’s game, tying the score in the ninth inning of Koji Uehara before Boston battled back in the extra inning.

Dickey (10-12, 4.08 ERA) is 3-0 against the Sox this year with a 2.79 ERA. Most recently, he allowed one run on three hits with a season-high 10 strikeouts in a 14-1 rout of the Sox on July 28.

Dickey picked up his first win in his last four starts in his most recent outing, last Wednesday’s 9-5 victory over the Brewers, despite giving up five runs in 5 2/3 innings.

Will Middlebrooks is the Sox’ top hitter against Dickey, going 3-for-8 with two home runs and three RBIs.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: R.A. Dickey, Ruby De La Rosa,

Shane Victorino remains unfazed by wave of new Red Sox outfielders

08.26.14 at 11:30 am ET
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TORONTO — The initial response was predictable.

“Nothing has changed,” said Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino just before the team left on its current road trip.

Physically, not much would be expected to be altered since the right fielder last appeared near the Sox clubhouse. The doctors had told Victorino that it would be a month before twisting, bending and such would be allowed after the outfielder’s back surgery. It had only been a couple of weeks.

But there was indeed something that had changed in Victorino’s world.

For the second time in the last month, the Red Sox acquired an outfielder expected to start in 2015, signing Cuban center fielder Rusney Castillo. And as someone who fully expects to not have lost his starting job, that was of some interest to Victorino.

First there was the trades for Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig, leaving some to believe Victorino might be moving to center. But then came the Castillo commitment and now projected lineups are a bit more difficult to decipher.

“It’s not a bad problem to have. It gives you options. It makes guys expendable, if that’s something that you want to look at,” he said. “But again, I don’t know what the front office has in mind. I mean, obviously, you look at what’s starting to happen. With the signing of Castillo, I mean, obviously, with that contract, he’s going to play every day. Cespedes is going to play every day. Where are you going to factor in everybody else? Like I said, I still have every intention in my mind to be the right fielder every day. I have no desire to be anything else. But, as I said, we all understand that this is a business, who knows what can happen, but like I said, my mindset is to get prepared for 2015, to be the right fielder and play every day here, and we’ll go from there.”

Victorino will be heading into the final year of his three-year, $39 million deal in ’15. He was coming off a stellar ’13 campaign, not only hitting .294 with an .801 OPS, 15 homers and 21 stolen bases (in 24 attempts), but supplying a fair amount of postseason heroics.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Shane Victorino,

Koji Uehara after latest blown save: ‘It’s nothing about fatigue’

08.25.14 at 11:45 pm ET
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Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara

TORONTO —  His drop-off-the-table split-fingered fastball might be on hiatus, but Koji Uehara hasn’t lost his sense of humor.

Following the Red Sox‘ 4-3 win over the Blue Jays — in which Uehara allowed the hosts to tie the game in the ninth by allowing all three inherited baserunners to score — the closer was asked if fatigue might be an issue.

“It’s nothing about fatigue,” he said through a translator.

Later, when reminded he had tossed 148 total innings (and 2,095 total pitches) over the last two seasons, Uehara reiterated his stance. “Still, I don’t think that’s the case.”

Finally, the reliever relented.

“I’m willing to take a break for a month,” he joked. Then, with the reporters walking away, Uehara added, “See you next year.”

Uehara is in a rut like nothing the Red Sox have seen since he joined the club starting in 2013. Coming into Monday night, he had allowed at least one run in three straight outings.

This time, he wasn’t charged with a run but did allow one run to score via a fielder’s choice after coming on for Clay Buchholz with one out and the bases loaded in the ninth. Then he gave up the game-tying hit, a two-run double off the left field wall off the bat of Edwin Encarnacion.

The Encarnacion blast, which was just out of the reach of an outstretched Yoenis Cespedes, epitomized Uehara’s problem of late — the result of an ineffective splitter.

“It’s about my split,” he said. “I’m not controlling it.” He then added, “All I can say is that I’m not finishing the pitches as I want to.”

In Uehara’s last four outings, he has given up seven runs on 10 hits. Prior to August, since joining the Red Sox, the righty’s high for the entirety of any entire single month was three runs and nine hits.

As of now, Red Sox manager John Farrell said there is no plan to shut the reliever down for a time. (It should be noted that Uehara has thrown just 36 more pitches this season than he had on Aug. 25 last year.)

“Not at this point. What we’re being very conscious of is the frequency of the use,” Farrell said. “There’s nothing physical that is a restriction for him. We check in with him every day. He goes through his normal throwing program. Wouldn’t rule it out, but at this point we haven’t considered shutting him down.”

Read More: Koji Uehara,

Closing Time: Yoenis Cespedes, Clay Buchholz help Red Sox snap losing streak in 10 innings

08.25.14 at 10:18 pm ET
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A Red Sox team desperate for a single win to restore a shred of dignity instead stood on the cusp of a dismal defeat. Koji Uehara had blown a three-run ninth-inning lead, and the Sox seemed like they were spiraling towards their ninth straight loss.

Instead, the team showed for a night a degree of resilience. Yoenis Cespedes shook off a head-high fastball from rocket-throwing Blue Jays reliever Aaron Sanchez in the top of the 10th inning, singling on a 1-2 curveball to drive in Brock Holt with the go-ahead run in a 4-3 Red Sox victory.

“Some pitchers think when they throw that ball high and tight you’re going to get a flustered and throw you off. That’s not necessarily the case with me,” Cespedes told reporters in Toronto. “I almost get almost upset, not necessarily with the pitcher but more with myself. I’m able to refocus myself and it worked out today.”

Though Cespedes has posted relatively modest offensive totals since joining the Sox from the A’s at the trade deadline, he’s already delivered his share of timely hits. He’s driven in a team-leading 19 runs in 22 games in August, hitting .310/.313/.655 with runners in scoring position.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

— And then, Clay Buchholz does *that*.

The Red Sox right-hander, one start removed from a six-run, six-inning abomination that underscored questions about his consistency as a pitcher, rebounded in dazzling fashion, tossing 8 1/3 innings in which he permitted just four hits, walked one, struck out four and recorded 15 outs on the ground in an effort notable for both its tremendous efficiency (103 pitches) and the absence of solid contact against him (all of the hits he allowed were singles, with three having been of the groundball variety).

He left the game with a 3-0 lead after giving up a pair of seeing-eye singles and a walk. While he ended up being charged with all three of the runs, through eight innings, Buchholz was nothing but dominant. Read the rest of this entry »

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