|04.06.16 at 10:45 pm ET|
CLEVELAND — When it came to identifying the effectiveness of the Red Sox bullpen in Boston’s 7-6 loss to the Indians Wednesday night, one pitch significantly altered the conversation.
That one offering came from Junichi Tazawa, whose split-finger fastball stayed up just enough for Mike Napoli to launch it over the left field wall for what proved to be the game-winning blast.
“A split that never got to where he tried to bury it, down below the zone,” Farrell said of the seventh-inning solo home run. “He threw a couple of really good ones in the at-bat and the third one he threw him stayed up, stayed in the middle of the plate.”
“I was trying to bounce it,” Tazawa said through a translator. “I was able to get a swing-and-miss at previous pitches. That was the directions I got in the bullpen, but I mislocated it.”
Farrell explained after the game that Tazawa, who threw 16 pitches and faced three batters, wasn’t going to stay in the game long. He had entered in the seventh, after Noe Ramirez and Robbie Ross Jr. teamed up to pitch the previous inning.
With Ramirez already having had to follow up starter Clay Buchholz with 1 1/3 innings, and Ross Jr. coming on for his two batters, Farrell knew there wasn’t a lot of length left with at least three more innings to go.
|04.06.16 at 9:51 pm ET|
CLEVELAND — This was what people were wary of.
What worked so well on Opening Day — solid starting pitching, and lock-down relief — was nowhere to be found on Day 2. The result? The Indians beating the Red Sox, 7-6, Wednesday night at Progressive Field.
A day after David Price did his ace thing, Clay Buchholz looked anything but, lasting just four innings. The No. 2 starter gave up five runs, leaving after issuing a leadoff walk to Jason Kipnis in the fifth inning.
And while the Red Sox did manage a spirited comeback to take a one-run lead in the sixth inning, the bullpen, which didn’t allow a run in three innings Tuesday, couldn’t repeat its effectiveness.
First, Noe Ramirez gave the lead right back thanks to a Juan Uribe sacrifice fly. Then, pitching on his second straight day, Junichi Tazawa allowed the back-breaker, a seventh-inning, solo blast to former teammate Mike Napoli.
David Ortiz’s sixth-inning solo homer put him past Eddie Murray for 26th on the all-time HR list, notching his 505th of his career.
WHAT WENT WRONG
The Sox gave away outs: Hanley Ramirez wasn’t able to execute what seemed like an opportunity for a 3-6-3 double play on a grounder of Francisco Lindor in the second inning, and it cost the Red Sox a run. Ramirez wasn’t able to come up with the hard hit grounder right at him with Tyler Naquin at first, limiting just the one out at first base. One batter later, Jose Ramirez singled to center field to score Naquin with the hosts’ fifth run.
|04.06.16 at 8:20 pm ET|
CLEVELAND — The questions about LAP (Life After Price) aren’t going to go anywhere after Clay Buchholz’s season debut.
The Red Sox starter struggled for most of his outing against the Indians Wednesday night at Progressive Field, giving up five runs on six hits while striking out five and walking one in just four innings of work.
Buchholz, who threw 94 pitches (54 strikes), left with nobody out and Jason Kipnis at first after a leadoff walk. Fortunately for the righty, reliever Noe Ramirez came on to induce a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Mike Napoli to keep Buchholz’s ERA at 11.25. (It marks the pitcher’s highest ERA since he gave up six runs on 13 hits over 4 1/3 innings in his 2014 debut.)
Buchholz had command problems from the get-go, succumbing to a four-run first inning. The big blow in the first frame came on Carlos Santana’s three-run homer to straightaway center field.
“I think most of it was fastball location,” Buchholz said. “I threw some really good offspeed pitches for first pitches and they had some good takes. With a team that you think is going to go out there swinging early, you try to get them to mis-hit some balls with the changeups and curveballs early in the count. The pitches that I threw where I wanted to that were balls, you usually get a lot of swings and misses or weak contact off, they didn’t offer at them. It left me behind in the count for the most part and having to throw strikes with the fastball when you’re not commanding it all that well. That’s how it goes.”
Although a Brock Holt two-run homer closed the gap to two runs in the second, Buchholz gave one of them right back thanks to a Jose Ramirez RBI single.
“I felt pretty good. It was a little awkward with the game time delayed,” Buchholz said, referring to the 15-minute delay. “But other than that first inning I felt pretty good with the way I had a couple guys on and got out of a couple jams and just that first inning is what stands out. Take that away and we have a lot better chance of winning.”
|04.06.16 at 5:28 pm ET|
CLEVELAND — There are already no easy answers when it comes to figuring how Rusney Castillo is going to get playing time.
The outfielder, who was beat out for the left field job by the lefty-hitting Brock Holt and right-handed Chris Young, doesn’t appear to have a natural window when it comes to getting on the field.
It’s a notion Red Sox manager John Farrell isn’t shying away from.
“He’s in a tough spot. No one denies it,” Farrell said. “We’ve had sit-down conversations with him on what his role is going to be and how we make the most of it, and yet at the same time, you’re looking to put the best team on the field. That’s where we are. It’s a situation Rusney’s in himself. It’s not an easy position to be in. It’s a role that he’s not accustomed to because of how often he played in Cuba before coming over here, so work to make the best of it.”
Farrell didn’t dismiss the notion that Castillo could find himself in the minors at some point if playing time doesn’t present itself.
“Every player you want to be sure that they’re getting regular time. And in his role, right now, it’s a challenge to get the regular at-bats,” the manager said. “I can’t say that we’ve gotten to the point where we’re looking to make a change. I won’t rule out that it might come up in conversation as we go forward. But we’re not there yet.”
|04.06.16 at 3:19 pm ET|
It worked in the opener, so the Red Sox won’t mess with success.
Fresh off a 6-2 victory over the Indians on Tuesday at Progressive Field, the Red Sox decided to leave things alone with their lineup, which should look familiar as Clay Buchholz takes on fellow right-hander Carlos Carrasco, who was a potential trade target of the Red Sox last year:
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Travis Shaw 3B
Brock Holt LF
Blake Swihart C
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Clay Buchholz RHP
The Red Sox are trying to open 2-0 for the first time since 2013, when they beat the Yankees twice in New York. The last time they started 3-0 was 1999, when they won their first five.
|04.06.16 at 12:21 pm ET|
CLEVELAND — Craig Kimbrel was just settling into his Miami hotel for Easter Sunday, and his fifth Opening Day with the Braves when he got the call.
The closer had been traded to San Diego.
“We were at the hotel. As soon as they got there, they told me,” Kimbrel remembered. “It was a surprise. Obviously, being traded can never be a surprise for a player because the option is always there. But I think the timing was a little bit surprising.”
Now, exactly one year and one day later, he finds himself on another team, having already pitched one game for his third major league club.
In last 365 days, Kimbrel can stake claim to living experiencing three very different organizations. But as he sits in the Progressive Field visitors clubhouse, the closer admits a greater sense of security and calm.
“It’s been a year, but it feels like it’s been a little bit longer than that because of the new experiences I’ve been able to go through,” he said. “Obviously, it’s a little different this year because I’m not traveling, meeting the team on Opening Day.
“Obviously you want to learn from each trial that you have, but they say after being traded the first time, being traded after that is pretty easy. And it has been. Being able to spend time with the guys this spring and getting a feel for what we want to do this year and how we want to do it. Here we are and I’m still here, so that’s good.”
|04.06.16 at 10:44 am ET|
ESPN baseball analyst Curt Schilling, making his weekly appearance with Dennis & Callahan with Minihane on Wednesday morning, expressed optimism about the Red Sox following Tuesday’s 6-2 Opening Day victory over the Indians. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
David Price and the bullpen were impressive in Tuesday’s opener, but Schilling cautioned not to read too much into one game.
“There’s nothing about the last 72 hours that means very much, other than the fact that your team’s healthy,” Schilling said. “This first week is about kind of getting your legs under you. As long as you don’t go 0-6 or lose three or four guys in the lineup … You’re out of spring training. If I’m the Red Sox, you want to get your feet wet, you want to see how quickly [Eduardo] Rodriguez is going to return to the rotation. Those are the things you’re thinking [about]. You don’t look at big picture/small picture. In a 162-game season, what is it, every 16 games you kind of take a snapshot.”
Kirk Minihane predicted 68 wins and another last-place finish for the Red Sox. Schilling does not agree.
“Listen, I love him to death, but sometimes really dumb crap comes out of his mouth. You’ve got to know when that is,” Schilling said. “I don’t think they’re going to be a 105-win team, but I think they’ll be closer to 90 than they will 69.”
After Price, there are a lot of question marks about the Red Sox rotation. Schilling said if the remaining starters struggle, that could create problems for the ace.
“The guy’s a Cy Young winner. There’s no question he’s really, really good,” Schilling said. “A lot of it’s going to have to do with how the four guys line up behind him, and how consistent they are. Because it becomes a very challenging situation when your team’s struggling and it feels like the day you pitch is the only day people are expecting [your team] to win. That’s a different kind of pressure, and it’s not fun. But I think they’re going to be all right.”
Looking at the rest of the starters, Schilling holds Rodriguez in the highest regard.
“Given what I’ve seen, I don’t think there’s any question that Rodriguez is every bit a potential David Price when he’s healthy,” Schilling said. “I think David is going to be just the perfect guy to have to help him move along. The other guys, people tend to forget that Rick Porcello is 27 years old. He’s been around a long time. What you’re looking for from them is consistency. With that bullpen as good as I think it’s going to be, you’re trying to get the starters to consistently give you innings.”
|04.06.16 at 8:22 am ET|
The Red Sox and Indians will throw a pair of righties on Wednesday night in the second game of their seasons. The Red Sox hope Clay Buchholz can start off on the right foot this year after an up-and-down 2015 campaign. He will battle Carlos Carrasco of the Indians, who is coming off his first full season as a starter.
After the signing of team ace David Price, the focus shifted to the second spot in the rotation. Manager John Farrell was satisfied enough by what he saw in spring training to slide Buchholz into that spot.
“I think he’s throwing the ball well,” Farrell said March 29 of Buchholz. “He’s gained command of his secondary stuff the last three times out. You look at pitchers and you’re hopeful that their command and their execution of secondary stuff improves as you get deeper into camp. I think that’s happening for the most part with guys. We still have work to do in some areas, but in Clay’s case, he’s showing that.”
While battling injuries last season, Buchholz only was able to pitch 113 1/3 innings, going 7-7 with a 3.26 ERA and 107 strikeouts. While he improved as spring training went along, one thing that may be a cause for concern is his command. In his March 26 start it took him 107 pitched to get 14 outs. In five career starts against the Indians, he is 2-1 with a 4.13 ERA.
Carrasco had his best year as a pro last season, finishing with a career high 183 2/3 innings as he took on a full starter’s workload for the first time. The 29 year-old righty from Venezuela went 14-12 with a 3.63 ERA and 216 strikeouts. He is 1-1 in four career starts against the Red Sox.
|04.06.16 at 6:40 am ET|
CLEVELAND — On Tuesday afternoon, Dave Dombrowski did what he almost always does after wins. He filtered throughout the clubhouse, shaking hands and congratulating every player with whom the Red Sox president of baseball operations came in contact.
But the Red Sox’ 6-2 win over the Indians was a bit different for Dombrowski. It was the first chance he got to witness his handiwork as the man making this team.
“Your first win, the first game of the season is always exciting, Opening Day as it is,” Dombrowski said. “The first one can always be tough. A lot of good things today. Price pitched well. Our bullpen pitched very well. We swung the bats good. We played good defense. So it was just an overall good game and it feels great to win the first game.
“It’s one game. But we really like the overall makeup of how our team is. We like the bullpen situation. David gave us six innings, and a lot of times he will give us more than that. We scored some runs, which was big. We played good defense. And early up and down the order we ended up being in position where we swung the bat. It was good.”
And then there was the other chief contributor to building this Red Sox club, general manager Mike Hazen.
For Hazen, the win at Progressive Field marked his foray into life as an Opening Day GM. It was a long way from the Red Sox’ last team-defining opener, in 2013, when he was serving as an assistant to then-GM Ben Cherington.
“Look, I think the way guys prepared for spring training, the energy that guys came out with today looks somewhat like that,” Hazen said. “But we have a long way to go before we can match that team, and what that team looked like.
“This team has to create its own identify. There are players here that were younger at that point and time that are now more mature that are hopefully ready to take that next step into leading the next team. Today was a good indication of that. … Hopefully it sets a tone for a long season.”
|04.05.16 at 9:47 pm ET|
Spring training? David Ortiz does not care about spring training.
The ageless Red Sox slugger started his final season with a bang on Tuesday, blasting a two-run homer in the ninth inning to salt away a 6-2 victory over the Indians.
The homer, the 504th of Ortiz’s career, came on the heels of a spring training that saw him hit just .178 with one home run. But once the games started counting for real, Ortiz delivered, going 2-for-4 with a double, a walk, and a long fly-out to the warning track in right on a ball Ortiz just missed.
“It’s the beginning of the season,” Ortiz told reporters in Cleveland. “When the light goes on, Papi goes on.”
The 40-year-old announced in November that 2016 will be his final season and he got out of the gates with his fifth Opening Day homer, the most of any active player. The blast came off a low fastball from Indians reliever Trevor Bauer.
“Got it out of the way early,” Ortiz said.
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