|08.26.14 at 1:05 pm ET|
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)
– 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 »
|08.26.14 at 12:25 pm ET|
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.
|08.26.14 at 11:30 am ET|
TORONTO — The initial response was predictable.
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.
|08.25.14 at 11:45 pm ET|
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.”
|08.25.14 at 10:18 pm ET|
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 »
|08.25.14 at 4:24 pm ET|
TORONTO — Even thought David Ortiz was still hobbling around the visiting clubhouse at Rogers Centre Monday — sitting out of the starting lineup in the Red Sox‘ series opener against the Blue Jays — the designated hitter felt he dodged a bullet.
Ortiz feared the worst after fouling a ball off his right foot during the fourth inning of the Red Sox’ loss Sunday afternoon.
There were no broken bones, just a lot of pain (and inflammation).
“It was not good. I thought I broke something, or something like that,” Ortiz explained. “This morning I got up, I had breakfast, took some anti-inflammatories and went back to sleep. Four hours later the swelling was reduced a little bit. If it happens tomorrow I might be able to play if I’m not hurting as bad as I am right now.
“I can’t put much weight on yet. Yesterday, my last at-bat, I took a swing and missed and it didn’t feel right. Then once I hit I tried to take off running and you guys saw what happened. It should have been a double but I couldn’t get it done. So, we’ll see. Hopefully it’s better tomorrow and if I’m able to run I’ll play.”
Ortiz explained that foul ball might have been the most painful he had incurred throughout his career.
“Yeah, I think I got away with [stuff] right there. It is what it is,” he said. “The ball that I hit yesterday off my foot ‘¦ I hit balls off my foot ball the time, but I think that was the worst I’ve ever hit a ball off my foot. I went straight to the ground. It was a pitch that was cutting in. It seemed like the same velocity coming in was the same velocity going at my foot. That’s why I say I got away with something, not having anything broken.”
Mike Napoli takes Ortiz’ spot at designated hitter, with Allen Craig filling in at first base.
|08.25.14 at 3:40 pm ET|
After posting back-to-back solid outings on Aug. 9 and 15, Buchholz (5-8, 5.94 ERA) took a step back in his last start Wednesday against the Angels. The right-hander started off strong, retiring nine of the first 10 batters he faced, but fell apart in the fifth, giving up five runs en route to 8-3 Red Sox loss.
“The difference between everything going on this year and last year is a lot of balls finding holes or are home runs or doubles, they were hit at somebody last year and I got a lot of double plays that way,” Buchholz said after the game. “Sometimes that’s the way it goes. You don’t ever want it to be a full season but that’s the way it is sometimes, and I’ve got to keep grinding.”
Inconsistency has been the name of the game for Buchholz this season, as the right-hander has given up at least six earned runs in three of his last five starts.
Buchholz took the loss in his last outing against the Blue Jays on July 23, giving up four earned runs in six innings. In 22 career appearances (21 starts) against Toronto, Buchholz is 10-8 with 3.22 ERA.
Happ (8-8, 4.39 ERA) also struggled in his last start Tuesday against the Brewers, giving up six hits and four runs in just 3 1/3 innings of work.
“I don’t know,” Happ said after the game. “We’ve got to … I don’t know, just find a way. It starts with pitching. It started with me tonight. We got outplayed and it started with me, I guess. In a hole behind early and that’s tough against anybody, let alone a first-place team. Everybody’s gotta do their part and I came up short tonight.”
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