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Red Sox minor league roundup: Garin Cecchini, Bryce Brentz heat up; Manuel Margot hits ground running in Salem; Teddy Stankiewicz emerging

08.18.14 at 12:40 pm ET
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Garin Cecchini is in the middle of an eight-game hitting streak. (WEEI.com)

Garin Cecchini is in the middle of an eight-game hitting streak. (WEEI.com)

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

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-5 LOSS VS. SCRANTON/WILKES-BARRE (YANKEES)

(BOX)

– Feats of Mookie: Another triumphant trio. Mookie Betts went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles, the 14th time in 99 minor league games and the seventh time in 45 contests in Pawtucket that he’s had at least three hits, and the fifth time (and third this month) that he’s had two doubles in a game this year. In 45 games in Pawtucket, he’s hitting .335/.417/.503 with 19 extra-base hits, 26 walks and 30 strikeouts; over the full minor league season, the 21-year-old is hitting .346/.431/.529 with 61 walks, 50 strikeouts, 33 steals and 46 extra-base hits.

– Outfielder Bryce Brentz went 2-for-4 with a homer, giving him 10 longballs in just 51 games this year in Pawtucket. The 25-year-old has been producing since his return to Pawtucket following roughly two and a half months on the sidelines (and rehab assignments) while rehabbing a hamstring injury. In 12 August games, he’s hitting .286/.345/.571 with four homers. That uptick in production has coincided with a somewhat more aggressive approach at the plate that has been characteristic of Brentz throughout his career; Brentz has walked 7.3 percent of the time since returning from the DL, after walking in 12.7 percent of plate appearances prior to the injury. Of course, he was also struggling to a .230/.335/.430 line in April and May.

– The good news for Garin Cecchini: He launched his seventh homer of the year, matching (in 101 games) his home run output from 2013 (from 129 games between High-A and Double-A). The bad news: He struck out twice and now has 86 strikeouts, matching his total from a year ago.

Those season numbers aside, Cecchini looks like he’s amidst his best offensive run of the year. He has an eight-game hitting streak in which he’s hitting .394/.429/.697 with two homers, four doubles, two walks and seven strikeouts. In the process, he’s lifted his season line to .250/.323/.354. Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox-Angels series preview

08.18.14 at 12:37 pm ET
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The Red Sox‘€™ 11-game homestand continues Monday as they host the Angels for a four-game series at Fenway Park.

Boston is coming off of a disappointing four-game split with the Astros, who managed to cross the plate 15 times over the final two games.

The Red Sox lost in disappointing fashion Sunday, as Joe Kelly gave up seven earned runs in his Fenway debut en route to an 8-1 Astros win.

“Plenty of stuff. Plenty of power. Plenty of action to his secondary pitches,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell when speaking about Kelly. “Just his command was not as its been in the first two outings for him.”

In their last meeting with the Angels, the Red Sox took two of three games in Anaheim from Aug. 8-10.

A four-game set at Fenway comes at a crucial time for Mike Scioscia‘€™s Angels, as the club enters Monday’€™s game percentage points ahead of Oakland for first place in the American League West.

Los Angeles is coming off of a series win against the Rangers that almost ended in an Angels sweep. However, Texas scored two runs off closer Huston Street in the ninth inning Sunday for a 3-2 walkoff win.

“It’s always a strange feeling when you don’t get your job done,” Street said after the game. “It’s not really strange so much as it is frustrating, but it happens. It’s the game; that’s why we play them. I didn’t make very good pitches out there. That’s the bottom line.”

The Angels have had the upper hand against Boston over the last few seasons, winning six of their last eight games at Fenway Park and 12 of their last 17 games overall against the Red Sox.

Here are the probable pitchers for the four-game series.

Monday: Brandon Workman (1-6, 4.45 ERA) vs. C.J. Wilson (9-8, 4.71 ERA)
Tuesday: Allen Webster (3-1, 4.79 ERA) vs. Jered Weaver (14-7, 3.66 ERA)
Wednesday: Clay Buchholz (5-7, 5.79 ERA) vs. Garrett Richards (13-4, 2.53 ERA)
Thursday: Rubby De La Rosa (4-4, 3.79 ERA) vs. Matt Shoemaker (11-4, 3.84 ERA)

WHO’€™S HOT: RED SOX

Daniel Nava was the lone source of offense for the Red Sox Sunday, driving in the team’€™s only run of the game thanks to an RBI double in the third inning. The 31-year-old outfielder is hitting at a blistering .500 (9-for-18) clip over his last five games with five doubles and four RBIs. Since being recalled from Pawtucket on June 2, Nava ranks fourth in the American League in on-base percentage (.399) while compiling a .331 batting average.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Xander Bogaerts’ growing pains at shortstop proving costly: ‘Inside, it’s just tough’

08.17.14 at 9:08 pm ET
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Much was made after the Red Sox‘ 8-1 loss to the Astros Sunday over a single ruling at second base that proved to be a game-changer.

Xander Bogaerts

Xander Bogaerts

With two on and one out in the top of the second inning, Marwin Gonzalez hit a ground ball that was fielded by Xander Bogaerts at short for what appeared to be a routine double play.

Bogaerts ran to second, threw to first and jogged with the rest of the team into the dugout with the inning seemingly over.

But it wasn’t.

Astros manager Bo Porter challenged that the ball left Bogaerts’ hand before touching the bag, which the replay proved to be true, giving Houston life in the second. Two batters later Jose Altuve lifted his first-career grand slam to give the Astros a commanding 6-0 lead.

The result didn’t sit well with Red Sox manager John Farrell, who argued that teams are not allowed the review the front end of a double play at second base. The umpires told Farrell the play, which the skipper referred to as “the neighborhood play,” was a reviewable play after receiving confirmation from replay officials in New York prior to Houston’s challenge.

Farrell disagreed and was ejected for his response.

However, none of it would’ve mattered had Bogaerts made the play to begin with.

The rookie capped a troublesome weekend with his second fielding blunder in the last three days, amplifying questions about whether he has the instincts and feel for the game to be a major league shortstop. Read the rest of this entry »

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Joe Kelly takes responsibility for ‘terrible’ outing

08.17.14 at 6:19 pm ET
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Red Sox starter Joe Kelly issued a career-high six walks. (Getty Images)

Red Sox starter Joe Kelly issued a career-high six walks. (Getty Images)

Joe Kelly could have blamed the misplay by Xander Bogaerts that prolonged an inning that he had appeared to escape. He could have blamed the lengthy delay that arose from an umpiring review of whether Bogaerts stepped on second before firing to first to complete what had seemed — but proved not to be — an inning-ending double play. He did neither.

Instead, the right-hander, making his third start with the Red Sox and his first at Fenway Park, suggested that even though Bogaerts’ failure to step on second for the lead out of a double play and the subsequent review resulted in a prolonged inning (which he’d initially been ruled to have escaped with a 2-0 lead), the pitcher was responsible for the walk and grand slam that followed the extra out.

“Wouldn’t say it’s tough. You’ve got to find a way to just lock back in. You think you have a double play, and then you have to be ready for the next guy. That’s what this whole replay thing has brought on. I think pitchers are learning maybe not thinking the inning is over. That’s why we stay out there,” Kelly said of the difficulty of staying focused during a replay challenge. “[The home run by Jose Altuve] was probably a pitch I could’ve hit a homer on. It was a terrible slider. That’s something, going into the game plan, not throwing him any get-me-over sliders and it was one of those get-me-over-sliders and he put a good swing on it and hit a grand slam on it.” Read the rest of this entry »

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There goes the neighborhood: Key play in Red Sox loss explained

08.17.14 at 6:05 pm ET
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Something seemed amiss as the play unfolded.

With one out in the top of the second inning, the Astros had taken a 2-0 lead over the Red Sox and were threatening to add on, but Marwin Gonzalez grounded a ball back up the middle that deflected off the glove of pitcher Joe Kelly and right to shortstop Xander Bogaerts. It was a tailor made double play, with Bogaerts only having to cross the bag and then fire to first.

The 21-year-old did just that, but he released the ball about a half step before he arrived at second base. On the field, the play was ruled a double play, though Bogaerts seemed uncertain, turning back towards second initially before making another half-turn and jogging off the field with his teammates.

“I knew right away once I let that ball go I stepped after,” said Bogaerts. “It’€™s something I knew I messed up right there but hopefully the umpires would not do the replay and we would’€™ve got the double play. I knew right away.”

Yet even as Houston manager Bo Porter jogged on the field to consult with the umpiring crew, it was unclear whether the call could be overturned. The “neighborhood play,” in which a middle infielder at second base on a double play pivot comes off the bag early to avoid an onrushing runner, was deemed something that was not subject to review while replay was implemented this spring. The umpiring crew wasn’t certain.  Read the rest of this entry »

Closing Time: Day of misplays as Red Sox get blown out by Astros

08.17.14 at 4:46 pm ET
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Red Sox starter Joe Kelly had his worst start with his new team. (Getty Images)

Red Sox starter Joe Kelly had his worst start with his new team. (Getty Images)

The Red Sox have found just about every way possible to lose this season. But the way they fell Sunday is as frustrating for a team as it gets.

The Sox took an ugly 8-1 loss to the Astros Sunday thanks to a six-run second inning highlighted by a pair of inexcusable fielding gaffes.

Yoenis Cespedes made the first one with two on and no outs. The outfielder failed to read a catchable Carlos Corporan fly ball to left field that instead sailed a couple feet over his head and hit the bottom of the Wall. That gave the Astros a bases loaded situation that resulted in a pair of runs.

Later in the inning, with two on and one out, Xander Bogaerts had seemingly gotten starter Joe Kelly out of the inning with limited damage by turning an inning-ending double play on a routine ground ball to short. However, the replay showed the ball left Bogaerts’ hands on the throw to first a half-step before he stepped on the bag, which kept the inning alive.

It proved to be a major setback for Kelly, who soon after gave up a grand slam to Jose Altuve and had his worst outing in a Red Sox uniform. Kelly allowed seven runs on seven hits in four innings for his first loss with the Red Sox. He walked six, struck out three and threw just 49 of his 91 pitches for strikes.

The loss drops the Sox to 56-67 for the season.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
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Red Sox minor league roundup: Mookie Betts getting primed for center; Derrik Gibson’s surprising surge towards big leagues

08.17.14 at 2:48 pm ET
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Mookie Betts is seeing everyday action in center field in Pawtucket. (365DigitalPhotography.com / Portland Sea Dogs)

Mookie Betts is seeing everyday action in center field in Pawtucket. (365DigitalPhotography.com / Portland Sea Dogs)

A brief look at Saturday’s action in the Red Sox farm system:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 9-4 LOSS VS. SCRANTON/WILKES-BARRE (YANKEES)

(BOX)

– Feats of Mookie: Getting primed for center field. Mookie Betts went 0-for-4 but walked and stole a base (his 11th in 15 attempts in Triple-A). He also once again started in center, where he’s made nine of his 10 starts — the other came at DH — after being sent down to Triple-A following a week-long callup in early August. The everyday role in center reflects both upon the fact that the Sox have more crowding in Triple-A in the corner outfield spots with Bryce Brentz back in Pawtucket, but more significantly, it underscores the notion that the Red Sox see Betts’ likeliest path to the big leagues with them as that of an everyday center fielder, particularly in light of the struggles of Jackie Bradley Jr.

– At the time of his first big league callup on Memorial Day weekend, Alex Hassan was hitting .217/.318/.303. In 56 games since that first exposure to the big leagues, he’s hitting .328/.414/.529 following a 3-for-5 performance on Saturday that included his seventh homer and 26th extra-base hit in that stretch, boosting the 26-year-old’s overall line to .281/.373/.433.

– Catcher Blake Swihart went 2-for-4 and, for the first time in his nine Triple-A contests, walked. He also stole a base. The 22-year-old is hitting .297/.316/.486 with four extra-base hits, one walk and 10 strikeouts with the PawSox.

Derrik Gibson continues to perform like someone who now has a major league future. The second baseman/center fielder went 2-for-4 with a walk on Saturday. He’s hitting .313/.352/.521 with five extra-base hits, three walks, eight strikeouts and two steals in 13 Triple-A games. He’s a good runner who can play multiple positions and who, despite limited power, can spray the ball around the field, particularly against lefties. In short, after seemingly stalling out in Double-A in 2012 and 2013, Gibson has reasserted himself as a player who has performed his way into a potential big league role at the age of 24, long after he’d disappeared from the Red Sox‘ top prospect lists. Read the rest of this entry »

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