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Closing Time: Steven Wright, Red Sox bats too much for Astros

04.22.16 at 11:40 pm ET
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Steven Wright

Steven Wright

All Steven Wright does is get outs.

The 31-year-old knuckleballer, who was only in the Red Sox rotation to start this season because of Eduardo Rodriguez’s knee injury (and perhaps because he was out of options), has been the team’s best starter. Friday night, he cemented that distinction.

Wright allowed just one run over 6 2/3 innings, helping lead the Red Sox to a 6-2 win over the Astros, in the series-opener at Minute Maid Park.

The righty starter did walk five batters, but he also struck out six while giving up just four hits to lower his ERA to just 1.40 ERA after three starts.

In 14 career starts, Wright now has a 3.48 ERA, having gone six or more innings in five of his last six outings. During that recent six-start stretch, his ERA is just 2.06.

“He’s been the most consistent starter, without question,” Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters. “Going back to the conversation in spring training, not knowing where he was going to break with us. Just go out and pitch. And he does a great job of that, whether it’s in either role. To pitch the innings he’s doing, he’s been a stabilizer in the rotation.”

Wright was helped out by a Red Sox offense that continues to pull it’s weight, particularly early on. For the third straight game the Sox scored multiple runs in the first inning, this time putting up a pair.

The Sox offensive star was Mookie Betts, who came up just 90 feet shy of hitting for the cycle. The right fielder claimed a triple in his first at-bat, a double in his second and a single his third time up.

Betts made a bid for the rare feat in his fifth time up, rifling a line-drive to the right field fence, allowing him to race into third for his second triple of the night. The outfielder became the youngest Red Sox player to hit two triples in a game since Dwight Evans.

His four hits were part of a 15-hit attack for the Red Sox, the second straight game they notched that many.

The worst news of the night for the Red Sox came in the ninth inning when Xander Bogaerts was hit in the right wrist by a Luke Gregerson fastball. (For more on the injury, which forced the shortstop from the game, click here.)

For a complete box score, click here.

Closing Time note

Longtime Red Sox fan, and reigning NBA MVP, Steph Curry was in attendance, sitting behind home plate. To get an idea how big a Sox fan Curry is, understand he held his bachelor party at Fenway Park.

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Xander Bogaerts leaves game after being hit in right wrist

04.22.16 at 11:25 pm ET
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Xander Bogaerts

Xander Bogaerts

With the game already in good shape for the Red Sox, they were dealt a potentially damaging blow.

Hitting with one out in the ninth inning, and the Sox leading the Astros, 6-1, Xander Bogaerts couldn’t get out of the way of a Luke Gregerson fastball. The pitch would hit the shortstop flush in the right wrist as he was diving to get out of the way.

Bogaerts remained on the ground while Red Sox head trainer Brad Pearson and manager John Farrell raced out to check on him. He would then be escorted off the field, heading into the clubhouse.

“Hopefully I wake up good [Saturday], but it was scary, for sure,” said Bogaerts, who underwent X-rays after the Red Sox’ 6-2 win.

Chris Young came on to pinch-run for Bogaerts, who had two hits on the night to raise his batting average to .277.

There was no immediate announcement in regards to Bogaerts’ diagnosis.

“It feels pretty strong right now but [Saturday] it’ll probably wake up feeling bad so I’ll be anxious to see how it feels [Saturday],” he said.

Milford’s Chris Colabello hit with 80-game PED suspension by MLB

04.22.16 at 5:20 pm ET
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Milford's  Chris Colabello has been suspended 80 games by Major League Baseball. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Milford’s Chris Colabello has been suspended 80 games by Major League Baseball. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Chris Colabello’s fairy-tale story has hit a roadblock.

A product of Milford High School and Assumption College, Colabello was handed an 80-game suspension Friday by Major League Baseball for the use of performance-enhancing drugs, specifically the banned substance dehydrochlormethyltestosterone.

The 31-year-old first baseman had seemingly found his niche with the Blue Jays last season, finishing the 2015 campaign hitting .321 with an .886 OPS and 15 homers in 101 games with the Blue Jays.

Colabello had gotten off to a slow start this season, going 2-for-29 in 10 games with the Jays.

Prior to 2015, he played in parts of two seasons with the Twins after spending seven seasons with Independent League teams in Worcester and Nashua.

Colabello isn’t eligible to return to the Jays until just before the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline, and won’t be available to play in any postseason play, as dictated by rules of the suspension.

He issued a statement (through the MLB Players Association) shortly after the announcement by MLB:

“On March 13, I got one of the scariest and most definitely the least-expected phone calls of my entire life. I was informed by the players’ association that a banned substance was found in my urine. I have spent every waking moment since that day trying to find an answer as to why or how?

“I would never compromise the integrity of the game of baseball. I am saddened more for the impact this will have on my teammates, the organization and the fans of the Toronto Blue Jays. I hope that before anyone passes judgment on me they can take a look at the man that I am, and everything that I have done to get to where I am in my career.”

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Red Sox lineup: Ryan Hanigan catching Steven Wright in Houston

04.22.16 at 4:39 pm ET
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Ryan Hanigan

Ryan Hanigan

The last time Steven Wright pitched in Houston it didn’t go so well.

Making his fourth major league start, the knuckleballer lasted just one inning, allowing three runs on one hit while throwing just 18 of his 38 pitches for strikes. But the reason he was pulled was also because Ryan Lavarnway, Wright’s batterymate at the time, couldn’t handle the starter’s primary pitch, succumbing to four passed balls.

This time around at Minute Maid Park, Wright will have Ryan Hanigan handle his knuckleball in the Red Sox’ series opener against the Astros. It will be the third time the pair have teamed up.

Here is the Sox’ starting lineup against Houston starter Collin McHugh:

Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Travis Shaw 3B
Brock Holt LF
Ryan Hanigan C
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF

For all the matchups, click here.

Roenis Elias called up by Red Sox, William Cuevas sent down

04.22.16 at 2:08 pm ET
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Roenis Elias

Roenis Elias

The Red Sox announced Friday that Roenis Elias will be joining the club, with William Cuevas returning to Triple-A Pawtucket.

Elias will presumably work out of the Sox bullpen despite the fact he has spent the first few weeks of the 2016 season as a starter for the PawSox. In two starts with Pawtucket, the lefty gave up four earned runs in 9 1/3 innings (3.86 ERA).

Elias, who came to the Red Sox with Carson Smith from Seattle in exchange for Wade Miley and Jonathan Aro, has worked almost exclusively as a starting pitcher throughout his professional career. In 51 appearances with the Mariners over the past two seasons, 49 of them have been starts.

The Red Sox had worked Elias as a reliever during the final two weeks of spring training, but weren’t satisfied with the results when he pitched on a regular basis.

Cuevas’ lone appearance with the Red Sox came Thursday, pitching 2 1/3 innings while taking the loss against the Rays.

As for the players traded by the Red Sox to get Elias and Smith (who is currently on the 15-day disabled list), Miley has an 8.04 ERA in three starts, and Aro has a 2.61 ERA while pitching out of the bullpen for Triple-A Tacoma.

Friday’s Red Sox-Astros matchups: Steven Wright vs. Collin McHugh

04.22.16 at 8:44 am ET
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Steven Wright

Steven Wright

The Red Sox will kick off a three-game series against the Astros on Friday by sending out knuckleballer Steven Wright. He will be seeking his first win of the season while facing off against righty Collin McHugh.

Both of Wright’s first two starts have come against the Blue Jays, and he has given the Red Sox two solid outings despite losing both of them. In his last start on Sunday, he went six innings, allowing two runs on six hits. He struck out six and did not walk a single batter. The Red Sox went on to lose the game, 5-3.

In a scary moment during the game, Wright hit Blue Jays batter Chris Colabello in the head. The look of concern on Wright’s face made it clear the pitch was unintentional. The next day, Colabello had a nice bottle of liquor sent to him from Wright as an apology.

“Steven decided that he was gong to send over a gift,” Colabello revealed. “He didn’t have to. I’m sure that’s not cheap, too.”

Wright has had had two career appearances against the Astros, including one start. In five total innings he has a 7.20 ERA and 1.400 WHIP, along with five strikeouts and two walks. He has not factored into a decision in either of those outings.

McHugh is 1-2 in three starts to begin the year. In his last outing last Saturday against the Tigers, he was hit hard. He allowed four runs on 10 hits, lasting 5 1/3 innings. He struck out seven and walked none in a game both he and the Astros would lose.

“I thought McHugh hung in there pretty well,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said after the game. “He obviously had a couple of innings where they got back-to-back doubles, got a couple hits in a row, they had guys on base the whole game. Just traffic all over the place and they never let up.”

In three career starts against the Red Sox, McHugh is 2-1 with a 2.95 ERA and 1.582 WHIP. He has 11 strikeouts and eight walks in 18 1/3 innings.

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Friday Red Sox Farm Report: Yoan Moncada, Andrew Benintendi have 11-game hit streaks

04.22.16 at 8:25 am ET
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Here’s a look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Thursday.

Brian Johnson

Brian Johnson

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (9-6): L, 5-0, at Rochester (Twins)

— LHP Brian Johnson (Boston’s No. 6 prospect at MLB.com) took the loss with a final line of: 5 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 5 SO (95 pitches, 54 strikes). The 25-year-old Johnson (1-2, 2.51 ERA) battled control problems early, walking three in the second inning alone although keeping the game scoreless into the third.

Two PawSox errors then led to two unearned third-inning runs. First, third baseman Jantzen Witte bounced a throw home on a first-and-third ground ball induced from Johnson. Later in the inning, shortstop Marco Hernandez airmailed a throw to third after recording a pop-out as he tried to catch the lead runner at the bag.

A fourth-inning triple and ensuing sacrifice fly finished the damage against Johnson. On the season, through three starts, the 6-foot-4 southpaw has allowed four earned runs over 14 1/3 innings with 14 strikeouts and eight walks.

— RHP Pat Light (Boston’s No. 15 prospect at MLB.com) entered with one out and a runner on second in the seventh, cleaning up the frame with a ground out and a strikeout via his split-finger fastball. However, Light was touched up in the eighth as he allowed a deep shot on a first-pitch fastball pulled over the left-center fence. It was the first homer allowed by Light this season. In five outings so far in 2016 Light has allowed three earned runs in 6 2/3 innings with 10 strikeouts and three walks.

— Twins top prospect Jose Berrios limited the PawSox offense to just three baserunners over the first seven innings, taking a no-hitter into the sixth. Pawtucket managed just a walk (Swihart) and two singles (Witte and second baseman Sean Coyle) against the 21-year-old righty, striking out seven times.

Pawtucket scratched out three more singles (catcher Sandy Leon, Hernandez and center fielder Rusney Castillo) against the Rochester bullpen but could not manage a run. Swihart hit into a double play with two runners on to end the game, and through five games with Pawtucket since his demotion he is just 3-for-21 (.143) with a double.

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Read More: Andrew Benintendi, ben moore, Ben Taylor, brian johnson

Why William Cuevas was pitching for Red Sox with game on line

04.21.16 at 8:23 pm ET
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William Cuevas

William Cuevas

Nobody could have envisioned it unfolding like this.

With the Red Sox trailing by a run, starter David Price already gone from the game for the last 2 1/3 innings, and the Rays offense having put up an eight-spot, William Cuevas was brought on by John Farrell to make his major league debut.

Cuevas got out of the seventh inning after issuing just a walk. That allowed the Red Sox to knot things up with a run later in the frame, giving the rookie reliever an opportunity to pitch in a tie game to start the eighth.

Normally, more experienced members of the Red Sox bullpen would have been called on to navigate through the late innings with a tie game. But Red Sox manager John Farrell left Cuevas in.

The result wasn’t what Farrell was looking for, with the 25-year-old ultimately giving the lead back with two outs in the eighth on a Steven Souza Jr. RBI double. Then, after getting out of the inning, Cuevas remained in the game and started ninth.

Tampa Bay left-handed batter Kevin Kiermaier immediately greeted Cuevas with a leadoff double in the ninth, getting the ball rolling on the visitors’ three-run inning. (Noe Ramirez came on after a sacrifice bunt and would be charged with two runs over 2/3 innings.)

“I thought [Cuevas] handled the environment well,” Farrell said. “He threw his offspeed pitches for strikes. His first pitch of his major league career is a changeup, which I don’t know you see that very often. So I think it gives you some sense of his presence and fuel for the situation.”

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John Farrell didn’t pinch-hit for Travis Shaw, which made Travis Shaw pretty happy

04.21.16 at 7:48 pm ET
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Travis Shaw

Travis Shaw

For the first few weeks of the season, John Farrell had made his approach clear.

With a lefty reliever on the mound in the sixth or seventh inning and Travis Shaw up, the Red Sox manager was usually going to go with righty-hitting Chris Young.

But after subpar success with such a strategy, Farrell altered course, at least during one key spot during the Red Sox’ 12-8 loss to the Rays on Thursday afternoon.

With the Sox trailing by a run heading into the seventh inning, and Rays lefty reliever Xavier Cedeno on the mound, David Ortiz doubled. After a Hanley Ramirez, it came time to make the decision regarding whether or not to left Shaw has his chance.

Farrell left him in, and it paid off.

Shaw rifled a double into the left-center field gap, scoring Ortiz and perhaps cementing his role as a late-inning option, regardless of the pitcher.

Asked if it was encouraging to have the chance to hit against the southpaw, Shaw replied, “It was. I’m pretty confident in myself against lefties. I like being given that opportunity to come through right there, and thankfully he made a mistake, left a ball out of over the plate and I did what I was supposed to do.”

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How will David Price bounce back from Thursday? Chris Archer predicts complete-game shutout

04.21.16 at 7:21 pm ET
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Former teammate Chris Archer predicts David Price will bounce back in a big way from Thursday's rough start. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

Former teammate Chris Archer (right) predicts David Price will bounce back in a big way from Thursday’s rough start. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

Few pitchers in baseball know David Price as well as Chris Archer does.

Archer and Price were teammates in Tampa Bay from 2012 until Price was traded at the trade deadline in 2014, and both are among the best pitchers in baseball. Price uncharacteristically struggled Thursday against his former team, allowing eight runs in just 3 2/3 innings.

Archer is confident Price will bounce back in a big way.

“He’ll throw a [complete-game shutout] next game,” Archer told WEEI.com.

“It’s hard to say [why he struggled] because he does a good job of competing even when he doesn’t have his best stuff,” Archer added. “Sometimes you have to tip your cap to the other team and just say, ‘Hey, those guys on the other side of the ball are big leaguers too. They are here for a reason.’ [The Rays] do exceptionally well against left-handed pitching. More so than trying to always find fault in what the starter does, tip your cap, move on and say it was a bad game against a good team.”

With Price opening the year with a 7.06 ERA through four starts, Archer acknowledged Boston fans might have some concerns with their $217 million pitcher, but he said not to worry.

“It’s April,” Archer said. “Every pitcher has ups and down and ebbs and flows, but we make 34, 35 starts for a reason, and at the end of those starts you’ll get your consistent, high-level star pitcher that you expect.”

Within the eight runs he allowed, Price allowed two home runs — one to Evan Longoria and one to No. 9 hitter Curt Casali, who now has three homers off Price in his career. Coming into the at-bat, Longoria had never recorded a hit off his former teammate.

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Read More: Chris Archer, David Price,
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