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Monday’s Red Sox-Orioles matchups: Justin Masterson vs. Wei-Yin Chen

04.20.15 at 7:14 am ET
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Following Sunday’s loss to the Orioles, the Red Sox have surrendered sole possession of first place and now are tied with Baltimore for the top spot. Boston has a chance to end its two-game mini-skid in a Marathon Monday series finale when Justin Masterson takes the mound for the Sox and Wei-Yin Chen gets the ball for the O’s.

Masterson got a no-decision after lasting 4 2/3 innings against the Nationals on Tuesday. Though he allowed seven runs, walking three and striking out four, the Red Sox were able to give him run support and edge out Washington in an 8-7 victory.

“Didn’t have his best stuff overall,” said manager John Farrell. “I thought he threw enough strikes early on to keep away from a big inning, and then it seemed like the stuff kind of ran out of gas a little bit with a couple of walks in that fifth inning — where multiple baserunners and a pitch up on the plate, where they’re able to start chipping away.”

Despite the outcome, Masterson is confident in what he brings as a pitcher and knows that his most recent campaign is best viewed as a learning experience.

“We had some close balls. It is all a part of getting better and learning from it,” he said. “I have a lot of things we can continue on, some good, some bad to take into the next one. I think we’ll be just fine.”

When tasked with taking on the Orioles, Masterson has a 6-6 record in 12 starts, appearing in 16 games, with a 5.53 ERA. With 71 2/3 innings against Baltimore under his belt, Masterson is averaging 7.7 strikeouts per nine innings and has a 2.35 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

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Red Sox starting rotation struggling after first 2 weeks, posting worst ERA in baseball

04.19.15 at 6:57 pm ET
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After three starts, Rick Porcello has the sixth-worst ERA in the AL among qualifiers. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

After three starts, Rick Porcello has the sixth-worst ERA in the AL among qualifiers. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Going into the season it was understood the Red Sox wouldn’t have the best starting rotation in the game.

But, the worst starting rotation (by ERA) after two weeks? That wasn’t expected, or accepted.

Following Rick Porcello allowing eight runs in five-plus innings in an 8-3 loss to the Orioles on Sunday, through 12 games the Red Sox‘ starting rotation has a combined ERA of 6.24, the worst in baseball.

Porcello, who had been the best starter to this point in the year, struggled with his command as well as the home run ball, allowing two homers en route to the eight runs in five-plus innings and his first loss. He’s now allowed five home runs in 19 innings so far this season.

“Just pitches up in the zone,” Porcello said. “Good pitches for them to drive. I’€™ve got to work better at getting the ball down.”

Of the 12 games the Red Sox have played so far this season, Red Sox starters have recorded an out in the seventh inning just three times, gone less than five innings three times, and have allowed more than seven runs four times.

The last stat is particularly alarming — in a third of their games this season, Red Sox starters have allowed seven or more runs.

Clay Buchholz allowed 10 against the Yankees, Porcello eight against the Orioles, and lastly Wade Miley and Justin Masterson seven against the Nationals. (For what it’s worth, Jon Lester and John Lackey combined for four starts allowing seven or more runs all of last season)

Buchholz and Porcello were predicted to lead the rotation, but after the first two weeks the Red Sox have two players in the top-10 for worst ERA’s in the American League among qualifiers — Porcello (sixth, 6.63) and Buchholz (ninth, 6.06).

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz, rick porcello,

Closing Time: Rick Porcello struggles, David Ortiz ejected as Red Sox fall to Orioles

04.19.15 at 4:52 pm ET
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Rick Porcello allowed eight runs and tied a career-high in hits allowed (12) taking his first loss of the season. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Rick Porcello allowed eight runs and tied a career-high in hits allowed (12) taking his first loss of the season. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Some nights the Red Sox offense will be able to bail a starting pitcher out for not having a good performance, but it’s tough when the starter allows eight runs over five-plus innings.

Red Sox starter Rick Porcello allowed eight runs in five-plus innings, as they fell to the Orioles 8-3 Sunday at Fenway Park. The Orioles have won two straight games in the series after the Red Sox had a walkoff win Friday night.

After throwing 96 pitches through the first five innings, Porcello went back out for the sixth and after hitting Caleb Joseph to lead off the inning, allowed three straight hits, including a bases clearing double to Adam Jones, as the Orioles extended their lead to five runs.

Porcello finished going five-plus innings, allowing eight runs on 12 hits, while walking three and striking out six. The 12 hits allowed tied a career-high and his is ERA through three starts is 6.63.

“I thought early on, a 1-0 sinker or a 0-1 sinker that didn’t have the finish to [Adam] Jones for the two-run dinger,” manger John Farrell said. “There ended up being some pitches left up in the strike zone. He had to fight back in the count at times. Left-handers took some good swings against him.”

Through 12 starts, the Red Sox‘ starting rotation has a collective ERA of 6.24.

Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez went five innings, allowing three runs on five hits to earn the win. Red Sox hitters finished with six total hits in the game, and just four after the first inning. They finished the game 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Jones. Besides the big double in the sixth, Jones hit a monster home run in the first inning and finished 4-for-5 with five RBI. The five RBI and four hits both tie a career-high.

Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ loss:

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Read More: Adam Jones, Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz, rick porcello

Brandon Workman 2 or 3 weeks away from throwing program after receiving PRP injection

04.19.15 at 11:35 am ET
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Brandon Workman

Brandon Workman

Anytime a pitcher visits with Dr. James Andrews the news usually isn’t good.

For Brandon Workman, it could have been much worse as the right-hander avoided surgery and received a PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injection after visiting with him earlier this week.

Workman will remain in Boston and begin the rehab process.

“He’ll remain here. He’s still probably two or three weeks away from initiating any type of throwing program,” manager John Farrell said. “So he’ll remain here in Boston.”

“There are some changes to the ligament,” he added. “To what extent, or percentage of tear, I don’t have that. But that is why he received the injection he did.”

Farrell said the expectation is he will be able to pitch again this year.

Workman was set to begin the year in Pawtucket’s bullpen, but he had his optioned reversed as the injury first occurred while he was on the major league roster, so he is currently on the major league disabled list.

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

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Red Sox lineup: Shane Victorino returns, Dustin Pedroia gets ‘planned’ day off

04.19.15 at 11:20 am ET
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After being scratched from the lineup Saturday with bruised ribs, Shane Victorino returns to the Red Sox lineup Sunday against the Orioles.

The right fielder spoke in the clubhouse before the game and said he feels fine after running into the right field wall Friday night. He swung in the cage during Saturday’s game and is ready to go Sunday.

Dustin Pedroia will get his first day off of the season. The second baseman is 0 for his last 7 and has committed two errors over the first 11 games.

“Just a day off. One of the benefits of Brock Holt,” manager John Farrell said.

“No, not a reaction,” to Pedroia’s recent struggles he added. “Planned day knowing we have an early morning game tomorrow and a left-hander on the mound. A chance to give him a spell.”

Holt will lead off with Mookie Betts sliding down to the No. 2 spot. Farrell said that was just a way to break up the left-handers in the order.

Sandy Leon will catch Red Sox starter Rick Porcello, as the Red Sox go up against Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez.

For an extensive look at the pitching matchups, click here.

1. Brock Holt, 2B
2. Mookie Betts, CF
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Hanley Ramirez, LF
5. Mike Napoli, 1B
6. Pablo Sandoval, 3B
7. Shane Victorino, RF
8. Xander Bogaerts, SS
9. Sandy Leon, C
Rick Porcello, RHP

Read More: Dustin Pedroia, Shane Victorino,

Sunday’s Red Sox-Orioles matchups: Rick Porcello vs. Miguel Gonzalez

04.19.15 at 8:10 am ET
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Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello will take the mound Sunday afternoon in the third game of a four-game series against the Orioles at Fenway Park. He will be matched up against Miguel Gonzalez.

Porcello has had two good outings to start the season, which is something that the rest of the Red Sox pitching staff cannot claim. He has given up three runs in each game and has put up a 3.86 ERA, a 0.93 WHIP, 10 strikeouts and three walks. One area of concern is the home run ball, as Porcello has allowed three. Even with the home runs, however, Porcello has been doing a good job of keeping balls in play on the ground. His ground out to air out ratio is 2.09, and opponents are hitting just .185 against him.

Porcello’s last start was the home opener, in which he went eight innings in a victory over the Nationals. He gave up just three earned runs while striking out six and walking one. It was his first start at Fenway as a member of the Red Sox.

“I obviously wanted to go out there and put up a good start,” Porcello said after the game. “The guys swung the bats great and really I didn’t have to do a whole lot but throw strikes and keep the ball down. Definitely had some butterflies early on, I was pretty excited, but it was a lot fun.”

In nine career starts against the Orioles, Porcello is 3-5 with a 4.28 ERA and a 1.335 WHIP.

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Read More: Miguel Gonzalez, Red Sox, rick porcello,

Buck Showalter, Chris Tillman take swipes at ‘forever’ pace of Clay Buchholz

04.18.15 at 11:37 pm ET
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Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves (far left) visits with starter Clay Buchholz in the fourth inning Saturday. (Michael Ivins/Getty Images)

Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves (far left) visits with starter Clay Buchholz in the fourth inning Saturday. (Michael Ivins/Getty Images)

Clay Buchholz has earned a reputation as one of the slowest pitchers in baseball with runners on base. The Baltimore Orioles felt the Red Sox pitcher Saturday reached a new low – or long – as he slowed the game down to a crawl in the fourth and fifth innings.

Buchholz threw 30 pitches in the fourth, when the Orioles loaded the bases twice but could only score twice. That inning also featured four throws to first and a coaching visit to the mound. It took over 20 minutes to record three outs. But to Buchholz’s credit, he limited damage to two runs by getting of the jam with strikeouts of Alejandro De Aza and Steve Pearce.

In the fifth inning, it was another tedious inning for Buchholz. He loaded the bases with none out. But a 3-2-3 double play sped things along and then Ryan Flaherty struck out. No runs. Amazingly, Buchholz allowed 11 hits over his six innings, taking 102 pitches to complete his day’s work.

But Orioles manager Buck Showalter couldn’t believe that the two half innings by Buchholz took nearly 40 minutes of the three hours, 24 minutes it took to complete the game. More annoying to Showalter was the impact it had on his starter Chris Tillman.

“Let’s put it this way, Chris was good, had good stuff,” Showalter said. “I think he was challenged by the tempo that was set by things out of his control. Wow. I think it kind of froze things up there a little bit.”

Tillman confirmed the observation of his manager when asked how long the delays in between innings felt like with Buchholz on the mound.

“Forever. I couldn’t even tell you how long they felt. They felt like forever,” Tillman said.

“There were a couple of innings there where he’s sitting around for 20, 30 minutes over here,” Showalter said. “It’s cold and we finally found a couple of heaters. It took him a little while to get loose. It’s sad in a way because he had stuff to go deep in that game. We needed at least five or six innings.”

The reason the Orioles felt they needed five or six innings from Tillman was the untimely ejection of Friday starter Ubaldo Jimenez in the fourth inning.

“They had the four-corner stall going there,” Showalter said. “It’s tough to keep concentration. It’s really tough. It seemed like Buchholz had thrown 120 but he had only thrown 80 or 90. It’s all about getting that last base touched and we weren’t able to do it.”

“I wouldn’t say it’s mentally tough,” added Tillman. “It’s more physically challenging. I’ve been in that situation enough to prepare myself in the dugout to go back out to make pitches from the get-go. First couple of times it was tough.”

Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Buck Showalter, Chris Tillman

Hanley Ramirez not worried about adventures in outfield

04.18.15 at 9:12 pm ET
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It remains a work in progress.

There was an understanding that it was going to take time for Hanley Ramirez to grow accustomed to playing his new position, left field. But instances like the one that occurred during the Red Sox‘ 4-1 loss to the Orioles Saturday tests the patience of all involved.

With runners on first and second in the fifth inning, and Clay Buchholz trying to manage a 2-0 deficit against Baltimore, Jimmy Paredes lofted a high fly ball toward the left field wall. With the wind pushing the ball toward the left field line, Ramirez seemed to have the catch lined up.

As the ball arrived at the base of the wall, Ramirez executed what was probably an unnecessary small jump. The outfielder then saw the baseball bounce off the heel of his glove, resulting in a single to load the bases for the Orioles.

This came after Ramirez seemingly pulled up on a ball in the left field corner the inning before (also of Paredes’ bat), ending up as the only extra-base hit allowed by Buchholz. (For video of that play, click here.)

After the game, Ramirez insisted the wall was at least partly to blame.

“It hit the wall and then hit my glove so make sure you see the replay person and ask him about it,’€ he said. (Note: After further review, upon Ramirez’s suggestion, the ball never did touch the wall.)

“There was nothing I could do on that play,” he added. “I jumped and the ball just hit the wall. I went back inside and saw the replay.

“You just have to come back tomorrow and win the game. We’€™re playing pretty good baseball right now. There’€™s nothing we have to be concerned about.We take everything as a positive Everybody is just happy we’€™re here, we’€™re going to keep working and give 100 percent every game. There’€™s nothing we have to be concerned about right now.”

After the game, Red Sox manager John Farrell reiterated the evolution of Ramirez’s defensive existence would take some time to get comfortable with.

“We knew it was going to be a transition for him,” he said. “There was going to be work to be done. The wall here is going to be different than what we had the ability to work with in Fort Myers just because of the way it’€™s constructed. To me, there’€™s nothing alarming and the more games played, the more comfortable he’€™s going to get.”

Closing Time: Clay Buchholz better, but still not good enough; Red Sox lose to Orioles

04.18.15 at 7:30 pm ET
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It was hard to tell how much of the perception regarding Clay Buchholz was altered Saturday.

The result of the starter’s outing was clearly better than what transpired the last time out, yet much of the six innings in which Buchholz was thick with uneasiness.

The end result of Buchholz’ third start of the season was a Red Sox 4-1 loss to the Orioles at Fenway Park. The righty took the loss, giving up 11 hits and a walk while striking out seven and stranding nine baserunners.

Only one of the hits off Buchholz was of the extra-base variety, and that one — coming off the bat of Jimmy Parades — probably should have been caught by left fielder Hanley Ramirezin the left field corner. (Click here for video of the play.)

Also, seven of the outs Buchholz got on balls put in play were on ground outs.

“Like I said after that outing, the last thing you want to do is just let them hit the ball around,” the pitcher said. “It definitely didn’t feel like I gave up 11 hits. It felt like I won a couple of those battles, and balls just ended up falling in. It didn’t affect me near like it did the other day in New York. I was able to get out of a couple of tight spots. The name of the game is keep your team in the game. They had a couple of chances that they did a good job of pitching out of, too, so you’ve got to tip your cap sometimes.”

Despite Buchholz’ ability to escape major damage, his slow pace and reluctance to use his fastball in key spots later in the game (after using it liberally out of the gate) didn’t paint the exact picture the Red Sox were hoping for coming off 3 1/3-inning, 10-run start in New York.

At the end of the day, Buchholz did keep pace with Baltimore starter Chris Tillman, who cruised through much of his 5 1/3 innings in which he allowed one run on six hits.

Buchholz came away feeling especially good about his cutter, which he broke out multiple times during the uncomfortable fourth and fifth innings.

“Best cutter I’ve had all year,” he said. “I tweaked a couple of things here and there with it over the last two or three days. It had a lot more depth today. I was able to get those swings to the lefty and the balls away from the righty. It was moving regardless of how high or low it was. That’s really the cutter that I had in 2010 and 2013.”

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Tillman. The Orioles hurler kept the Red Sox off-balance for much of his outing. In 17 starts against the Red Sox, the righty has now allowed more than three runs just twice.

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Power isn’t everything to John Farrell when it comes to a good bullpen

04.18.15 at 7:18 pm ET
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Edward Mujica

Edward Mujica

As the Red Sox assembled their 2015 bullpen over the winter, there were some questions as to whether they had enough “power” arms in the back end of games.

Power bullpens have become all the rage among those teams who fancy themselves World Series contenders. Kansas City is the most classic example, as the Royals rode a trio of 98-plus arms to the Fall Classic last year. Detroit has had success in the past employing a similar formula. In the National League, St. Louis has had a great deal of success with pitchers who overpower batters at the end of games, led by Trevor Rosenthal and Carlos Martinez (now a starter).

But the Red Sox saw a different way. With Matt Barnes the only true power arm in camp with a shot at the roster, and with names like Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, Craig Breslow and Edward Mujica already with spots on the club, the Red Sox decided to go in a different direction. The Red Sox added Anthony Varvaro, Alexi Ogando and perhaps the hardest thrower of the bunch, Robbie Ross Jr.

The results have not been bad so far. Entering Saturday, in 42.2 innings, they’ve allowed 33 hits and walked 14 for a 1.10 WHIP. The ERA is 2.74 and they allowed four of 12 inherited runners to score. They’ve had just two save chances and converted one, with Mujica’s blown chance in New York being the only missed opportunity.

If Red Sox relievers have proven anything, they’ve shown you don’t have to overpower batters to get good results, including strikeouts, recording 37 so far in 2015 before Saturday.

“Location is important but I think what we have are a number of relievers that use an assortment of pitches rather than rely on arm strength and velocity,” Farrell said. “Bottom line is outs. How they get them, the ability create some mishits. Sure, strikeouts are good but we have guys capable of strikeouts, even though they’re of average major league velocity.”

Another trait Red Sox relievers have is experience. And with experience comes adjustments. Mujica threw mainly fastballs on April 10 in New York before Chase Headley timed one and tied the game. Friday night, he opened with seven straight splitters and recorded a key strikeout of Manny Machado to bail out Joe Kelly.

“His last two, three outings, he’s gone to that pitch a little bit more than the night in New York where there were a high number of consecutive fastballs,” Farrell said of Mujica. “That’s not to say he doesn’t have confidence in his fastball. He’s not afraid to throw it for a strike and put a hitter away with it.”

That was followed by scoreless performances from Tazawa and Uehara, both masters of the split-fingered fastball.

“Well, it says in those games, our bullpen has pitched very effectively, and that was certainly the case [Friday] night,” Farrell said. “We had a lot of experience last year in one-run games. Unfortunately, it might not have always been to our advantage. We have veteran players that made good decisions in moment on the field.”

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Edward Mujica, junichi tazawa, Koji Uehara
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