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Thursday’s Red Sox-Angels matchups: Rubby De La Rosa vs. Matt Shoemaker

08.21.14 at 8:00 am ET
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The Red Sox finish their four-game series against the Angels at Fenway Park on Thursday night when they send Rubby De La Rosa to the mound against Matt Shoemaker.

Rubby De La Rosa

Rubby De La Rosa

De La Rosa (4-4, 3.79 ERA) showed signs of consistency in recent outings, tossing three straight quality starts, two of which came on the road. But Saturday was a setback. The right-hander was tagged for six runs on nine hits over four innings, and took a no-decision in a Red Sox win over the Astros. He walked four and struck out two on 89 pitches. It was De La Rosa’s worst outing since a seven-run meltdown in Toronto on July 24 and his most walks allowed since June 19.

“It was a struggle for him tonight,” Farrell said after the game. “He struggled with his command, struggled with any type of put-away pitch.”

One of De La Rosa’s best starts this season came in his Aug. 10 outing against the Angels. He pitched into the eighth inning for his first road win of the year, giving up one run on five hits and three walks with eight strikeouts. De La Rosa is 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA in two career starts against the Angels.

Shoemaker (11-4, 3.84 ERA) has been a surprising success for the Angels this season. An undrafted pitcher out of Eastern Michigan University, the righty maintained a professional career by pitching well in Triple-A the last two years.

The 27-year-old got his big league chance this year after a combination of injuries and struggles from normally reliable starters left a hole in the rotation. And he’s taken advantage of that opportunity. He’s third on the team in wins and ERA over 96 innings this season.

“I definitely thought it was a possibility,” Shoemaker said of attaining this kind of success in 2014. “Did I think it was going to happen? Not necessarily. But my competitiveness tells me, ‘Hey, it’s possible. Anything is possible.’ “

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Closing Time: Clay Buchholz implodes in fifth inning as Red Sox drop third straight to Angels

08.20.14 at 10:55 pm ET
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In one inning, Clay Buchholz‘s night went from stellar to forgettable.

The right-hander was handed a 3-0 lead by the Red Sox‘ offense and took a 3-1 advantage into the fifth inning, but imploded for five runs in the frame as the Sox fell 8-3 to the Angels Wednesday night.

Buchholz looked nearly unhittable early on, allowing just one hit and striking out three through the first three innings. He gave up a run on an RBI single by Howie Kendrick in the fourth, but was seemingly still in command thanks to some early run support.

It all unraveled in the fifth.

Buchholz gave up five runs in the inning on four hits and two walks as the Angels quickly took over the game in a one-inning assault. Buchholz loaded the bases by allowing the first three hitters to reach on two singles and a walk, then walked Kole Calhoun to score the Halos’ first run of the inning. Mike Trout followed with a fielder’s choice to score the tying run and Albert Pujols ripped a single to right to put the Angels ahead.

Josh Hamilton scored Trout on a sacrifice fly and Kendrick singled in Pujols for another.

“Combination of walks and base hits,” manager John Farrell said of the fifth inning. “Through the first four innings I thought [Buchholz] was sharp, he had good late action to his stuff. In the fifth, when he got ahead of a couple of hitters, didn’t have the same finishing pitch he had shown in the previous four and they were able to put some people on. … They found some holes and bunched some hits and walks for the five runs.”

Said Buchholz: “I just missed location with a couple of pitches. They were able to put a big inning together. It’s been a long time since I walked a run in so that didn’t help. A couple balls they hit found some holes and they scored five.”

The Angels went through the entire order in the frame. It was Buchholz’s worst inning since giving up nine in the sixth inning of a disastrous outing against the Blue Jays July 28.

Buchholz finished the game with six runs on seven hits over six innings for his eighth loss of the season. He walked two, struck out five and threw 64 of his 97 pitches for strikes.

It was his worst outing since giving up seven over five innings against the Yankees Aug. 3. But Wednesday’s outcome was surprising given how effectively Buchholz pitched in his prior two starts and the way he was rolling through the first three innings Wednesday.

“I thought Clay threw the ball pretty well,” catcher David Ross said. “I think out of the stretch he got a little rushed and couldn’t find the strike zone and then they got some hits. Other than that one inning, I think he threw the ball pretty well. I think he was just not quite as sharp out of the stretch tonight.”

The loss was the Red Sox‘ fourth straight, dropping them to 56-70 for the season and 2-5 through the first seven games of the 11-game homestand.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

— As poorly as Buchholz pitched in the fifth inning, he didn’t get much help from his defense either. Daniel Nava failed to chase down Trout’s shallow fly ball with the bases loaded and no outs. Instead of an easy out and no advancement from any of the runners, the ball landed right in front of Nava and a run scored.

Kendrick’s RBI single with two outs also could’ve been prevented had Dustin Pedroia gotten a glove down on the hard grounder, which forced him to move to his left off the bat. The ball instead went just by him for a hit.

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Angels starter Garrett Richards exits game with apparent leg injury

08.20.14 at 8:03 pm ET
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Angels starter Garrett Richards‘ night came to a gruesome end in the second inning Wednesday when he suffered an apparent lower injury while trying to cover first base.

Update: The Angels announced that Richards suffered a left knee patellar injury.

Richards was running to first to cover for Albert Pujols in attempt to complete a double play on a grounder to first by Brock Holt. Richards appeared to be slowing down as he reached the bag and his knee landed in awkward position, bringing him to the ground in pain.

Richards stayed down for a lengthy period of time, surrounded by his teammates, while the Angels’ medical staff came to check on him. He had to be carted off the field. Cory Rasmus came in to pitch in his place.

“That stunk. I was actually walking off and listening to him scream in pain,” Red Sox catcher David Ross said after the game. “I actually got pretty sick to my stomach as you could tell. It was a grown man out there screaming. It was not a good feeling.”

The loss of Richards could be crushing to an Angels team that has been the hottest in the game. Though he allowed two runs on five hits in 1 2/3 innings on Wednesday, he has been the best pitcher on the Halos’ staff this year, entering the night 13-4 with a 2.53 ERA.

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Red Sox pregame notes: Tony Gwynn, Curt Schilling underscore ‘price to be paid’ for tobacco; Mike Napoli, Will Middlebrooks out

08.20.14 at 6:20 pm ET
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Smokeless tobacco use been a widely discussed topic throughout Major League Baseball this summer.

It started with Tony Gwynn, who died in June of cancer of a salivary gland, which the Hall of Famer blamed on his regular use of smokeless tobacco. On Wednesday, former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling told Dennis & Callahan that smokeless tobacco use is to blame for his cancer diagnosis as well.

Red Sox manager John Farrell talked about Schilling’s comments before Wednesday’s game against the Angels, and said that MLB has been advocating for players to stop using smokeless tobacco.

“It’s banned throughout the minor leagues and it has been for a number of years,” Farrell said. “MLB is taking steps to dissuade players from using it through educational programs that are administered to every team. It’s even gotten to the point now where players can be fined if smokeless tobacco is in view of the general public and there have been some of those warnings or penalties levied on some of our guys.”

Farrell didn’t have an exact count of Red Sox players who chew, but said he knows of a number of players who “gradually use it.”

Farrell said the only way to dissuade players from using smokeless tobacco is to educate people about its dangers. However, he said it’s completely up to the players on whether or not they choose to use it.

“They can’t mandate that players don’t use it at the major league level,” he said. “That’s something that’s bargained between the Player’s Association and teams. I think we all recognize that it’s addictive, it causes cancer. That’s proven. And at some point, at this time, it’s upon the player to make the conscious decision for himself if he is to use it or not. Read the rest of this entry »

Tom Werner: Baseball can keep tradition while speeding up game

08.20.14 at 6:15 pm ET
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Red Sox chairman Tom Werner joined Dale & Holley Wednesday as part of the Jimmy Fund radio telethon. In addition to making a donation, Werner discussed his recent candidacy for the next MLB commissioner.

Werner lost out to Rob Manfred, who will take over for Bud Selig, but he said he intended to take the job.

‘€œI was ready to take it on,’€ Werner said. ‘€œI love the Red Sox and I love baseball. I think the game is a great game, but I was talking about the future and a need to go out and capture a new generation of fans. I used it as an opportunity to talk about some things I care deeply about.’€

Werner said that he pushed heavily to make changes that can speed up the rate of play and revealed some of the changes he’€™d like to see.

“€œI watch these games and I feel often that there’€™s just long periods of just inaction in a game it’€™s like a player, he takes a ball and goes out of the batter’€™s box and fixes his batting glove,” Werner said.

Werner said that he is in favor of a pitch clock, noting his understanding that the idea might be “€œsomewhat radical,”€ but pointing to a recent Red Sox/Angels game in which he felt the pitching coach went to the mound for a lengthy visit solely so he could discuss a previous call when the umpire tried to break up the conference.

“You could see on the camera, he wasn’€™t even talking to the pitcher,”€ Werner said. “They were just waiting for the umpire to come up, and that was an opportunity for the pitcher to say something.”

Werner said that it’€™s crucial to make sure that the next generation loves baseball, saying that attention spans are getting shorter as games are getting longer, so “somebody has to address it in some way.”

Changes to the game may upset traditionalists, but Werner pointed to the NFL, a league that is thriving and has adapted over the years. In fact, Werner made a quip that head coaches don’€™t have lengthy discussions with their kickers before field goal attempts.

“I said this when I was speaking to the owners: I respect tradition and I respect the values of baseball, but every year it seems the NFL has some rule changes that make it feel contemporary and modern. ‘€ … I’€™m for making some moderate adjustments, and let’€™s try it,” he said.

“I just feel like we shouldn’€™t simply say, ‘€˜This game has been the way it is for more than a hundred years and let’€™s leave it that way.’€™ Let’€™s try some things and do it in a way that I think can keep the values of the game but make it more exciting.”

For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

Red Sox minor league roundup: Garin Cecchini getting hot; Manuel Margot sailing in Salem; Ryan Lavarnway, Keury De La Cruz streaking; Portland punches postseason ticket

08.20.14 at 12:13 pm ET
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Garin Cecchini

Garin Cecchini

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

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX:

Jackie Bradley Jr. went 2-for-5 with a pair of singles (one to the opposite field in left, one to center), a flyout to left, a groundout to second and a strikeout. He’s now 2-for-10 since joining the PawSox, though with some positive signs based on the willingness to hit the ball up the middle and to the opposite field.

— Right-hander Anthony Ranaudo rolled through six shutout innings, working around seven hits (all singles) while walking just one and punching out four. He threw 62 of 94 (66 percent) of his pitches for strikes while improving to 14-4 with a 2.46 ERA, looking like a reliable provider of solid innings in the process. Between Pawtucket and the big leagues, Ranaudo has logged at least six innings in each of his last six starts, something he’s done in 14 of 25 overall starts this year.

Scouts still suggest that the 24-year-old’s mix is solid rather than overpowering, with a 7.0 strikeouts per nine rate and somewhat stark fly ball tendencies (of the pitches put in play against him, just 38 percent have been on the ground), but Ranaudo has made considerable strides in the execution of his craft to the point that he looks at the least like a solid option for a No. 4 or No. 5 big league starter who has now proven over a two-year span that he can stay healthy. Ranaudo is up to 143 2/3 innings this year, and he’s shown no signs of diminished stuff into August.

Garin Cecchini, playing third base, went 2-for-4 with a double to extend his hitting streak to nine games, during which he’s hitting .405/.436/.703 with two homers and five doubles, a run that suggests that he’s reclaimed something akin to his typical swing and results at the plate. The timing is particularly noteworthy given that Will Middlebrooks had to leave Tuesday’s big league game with tightness in his right hamstring. Also of note: Manager Kevin Boles said that Cecchini, who has added left field to his third base duties this season, has also been taking fly balls in right, though for now, he’s not expected to play right field in games over the rest of this year.

Ryan Lavarnway has reached base in all eight of his plate appearances in his last two games. He went 2-for-2 with a pair of singles and a pair of walks on Tuesday, after going 1-for-1 with a single and three walks on Monday. In his last four games, he’s 7-for-10 with six walks, elevating his line for the year to .286/.393/.360 in Pawtucket.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 5-4 WIN AT HARRISBURG (NATIONALS) Read the rest of this entry »

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Sources: Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo nearing decision on Red Sox, others

08.20.14 at 10:13 am ET
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According to major league sources, Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo is expected to decide which major league offer he will be accepting in the next few days (by the end of the week).

The Red Sox are one of the teams to have made strong bids for Castillo, whom they held a private workout for Aug. 1.

One of the unique dynamics when it comes to guessing a landing spot for the 27-year-old — who has accepted blind bids from teams — is the lack of information from the baseball world. With most free agents, the players have relationships with a variety of people throughout baseball, leading to ideas regarding where he might be leaning toward. With the Cuban defectors, no such avenues are in play, resulting in quite a bit of guess-work.

Red Sox outfielder Yoenis Cespedes told WEEI.com that he has not recently spoken to his former Cuban teammate.

While some have suggested Castillo might be better served easing into his career as a minor-leaguer, that scenario isn’t likely. Considering his age, and his experience in Cuba, the thought among those committing to the outfielder is that he is ready to contribute to the majors right now.

Many of the teams involved are eyeing Castillo to be a contributor for a postseason run, hence the importance of adding him to rosters before the Sept. 1 cut-off for playoff eligibility.

“He’€™s a player we’€™ve seen and we’€™ve talked to, but we’€™re just one of several teams that have done that,” Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said Tuesday at Fenway Park. “There’€™s nothing more I can say.”

Speaking to WEEI.com, Cespedes said of Castillo, “If he’€™€™s not a five-tool player, he’€™€™s a least a four-tool player. He’€™€™s very comparable to [Dodgers outfielder Yasiel] Puig. Obviously a different height and size, but very similar qualities.”

Curt Schilling to D&C on battle with cancer: ‘I’ve never said ‘Why me?’ and I never will’

08.20.14 at 8:52 am ET
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Curt Schilling is in remission from cancer and warning against the use of chewing tobacco. (WEEI.com)

Curt Schilling is in remission from cancer and warning against the use of chewing tobacco. (WEEI.com)

Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, who is in remission after receiving treatment earlier this year for squamous cell carcinoma, joined the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon on Wednesday morning to tell his story publicly for the first time and warn against using chewing tobacco, which he blames for his situation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Schilling, who had weighed slightly over 200 pounds prior to his diagnosis, lost 75 pounds during his treatment, mainly because he could not swallow. He also has lost his ability to taste and smell.

“This all came about from a dog bite,” he explained on his visit to the Dennis & Callahan show. “I got bitten by a dog and I had some damage to my finger and I went to see a doctor. And the day I went to see the doctor, I was driving and I went to rub my neck and I felt a lump on the left side of my neck. I knew immediately it wasn’t normal. There happened to be an ENT [ear, nose and throat specialist] right next door to the hand doctor. I thought, ‘What the heck, let me just stop in and see.’ So I waited in the office, went in there and he did a biopsy. Two days later, he diagnosed me with squamous cell carcinoma.”

Schilling, who still is recovering from his business troubles following the well-publicized collapse of his video game company, recalled the immediate aftermath of his diagnosis as a moment of self-awareness.

“You know what the amazing thing was, and I was just dumfounded by it: You’ve just been told you have cancer, and you walk out into the public, and the world’s still going on. It was really a challenge to wrap my head around that,” said Schilling, who relies heavily on his religious faith. “My second thought was, ‘Wow, really? You think I can handle this, too, huh?’ ”

Schilling was in the hospital for about six months, in part because he developed additional problems, including a staph infection.

“I got chemo and radiation for [seven] weeks, and I came back to the room and my family was sitting there and I thought, ‘You know what, this could be so much worse. This could be one of my kids,” he said. “I’m the one guy in this family that can handle this. From that perspective, I’ve never said ‘Why me?’ and I never will.”

During his playing days, Schilling was known for his efforts to connect with young cancer patients. Now he’s seen it from the other side, and he has a greater appreciation for what they go through.

“When you walk around that facility you see these amazing doctors doing amazing things,” Schilling said. “And then you turn the corner and see a 5-, 6-, 7-year-old kid. I can’t fathom — if this happened again, I’m not sure if I would go through the treatment again, it was that painful. I can’t imagine a 5-, 6-year-old kid having that. It s just mind-boggling.”

Schilling used chewing tobacco for three decades, something he now greatly regrets.

“I’ll go to my grave believing that was why I got what I got,” he said. “Absolutely. No question in my mind about that. … I do believe without a doubt, unquestionably, that chewing is what gave me cancer.”

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Mookie Betts unfazed in pursuit of learning Fenway outfield: ‘It’s a big adjustment, but I think I can handle it’

08.20.14 at 7:27 am ET
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Mookie Betts

Mookie Betts

The challenge of learning the ropes out in center field still looks to be a work-in-progress for Mookie Betts.

The Red Sox center fielder looked both capable and hesitant during Tuesday’s 4-3 loss to the Angels. In the second inning, Betts looked like the heir apparent to Jackie Bradley Jr., robbing David Freese of a potential home run out in the triangle in the second inning before doubling off an advancing Erick Aybar just a few seconds later with a throw to first base.

However, Betts also looked inexperienced at times, making an ill-advised dive on a Freese line drive in the fourth that resulted in a triple for the Angels third baseman. In the ninth inning, Angels designated hitter Brennan Boesch drove a Koji Uehara pitch out to the center-field triangle. While Betts gave pursuit, the ball bounced down and into the stands for a ground-rule double.

In the following at-bat, catcher Chris Iannetta would then drive in Boesch with an RBI double to give Los Angeles the lead for good.

While it was a mixed showing from a defensive standpoint, Betts took it all in stride after the game.

“It’s a learning experience, that’s how I look at it,” Betts said, adding, “You have your good and your bad. Some days are better than others.”

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Closing time: Red Sox falter in 9th en route to loss to Angels

08.19.14 at 10:40 pm ET
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Mookie Betts' center field defense appeared as a work-in-progress on Tuesday night. (Getty Images)

Mookie Betts’ center field defense appeared as a work in progress on Tuesday night. (Getty Images)

The Red Sox fought their way back from an early two-run deficit on Tuesday night, but they were unable to shut the door on the Angels. Closer Koji Uehara took his third loss of the season as the bottom of the Angels order pushed across a run in the top of the ninth and Los Angeles defeated the Red Sox by a 4-3 score.

It feels unusual for the Red Sox closer to give up a run in any game, but Uehara has been touched for runs in each of his last two outings, both times allowing two hits in an inning of work. The pair of hits the 39-year-old allowed Tuesday were no cheap shots, either.

The Red Sox may have missed Jackie Bradley Jr.’s spectacular defensive capabilities on Tuesday night. Brennan Boesch reached base with two out in the ninth on a long fly to the deepest part of the park, as center fielder Mookie Betts pulled up and the ball bounced in the triangle, hopping up into the stands for a ground rule double. The next batter, Chris Iannetta, drove him in with a double off the scoreboard in left that Daniel Nava made a solid bid on.

Uehara has appeared in 10 of the Red Sox’ last 17 games, racking up an even 10 innings of work. The strikeout numbers have dipped slightly for Uehara as of late; he’s averaging under one per inning since the beginning of August, while he’s averaging 11 strikeouts per nine innings on the season as a whole. With the increased workload, Uehara’s decrease in strikeouts could be a result of fatigue.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

 Betts had an interesting night in center field. He certainly still looks like a player who is learning the intricacies of playing the outfield, and his inexperience showed a few times on Tuesday. Betts’ poor read and ill-timed dive on a fly ball off the bat of David Freese resulted in what should have been a catchable ball turning into a triple. He also made an off-line throw into the infield that missed the second baseman and shortstop entirely, as it was backed up by the pitcher. At the same time, he did move smoothly and directly to some balls that were hit behind him.

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