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Red Sox lineup: Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino starting vs. Tigers

07.24.15 at 4:25 pm ET
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After his first three-hit game since April, Mike Napoli is back in the Red Sox‘ lineup Friday night for the series opener against the Tigers against right-hander Justin Verlander.

The Red Sox will look to snap an eight-game losing streak, coming off there winless seven-game road trip out of the All-Star break.

Ryan Hanigan will catch Red Sox starter Rick Porcello.

For an extensive look at the matchups, click here. For a series preview, click here.

Here is a complete Red Sox lineup:

Mookie Betts, CF
Brock Holt, 2B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
Pablo Sandoval, 3B
Hanley Ramirez, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Alejandra De Aza, LF
Shane Victorino, RF
Ryan Hanigan, C
Rick Porcello, RHP

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Red Sox-Tigers series preview

07.24.15 at 1:10 pm ET
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Former Red Sox shortstop Jose Iglesias is having a stellar season at the plate and in the field, but it hasn't been enough to get the Tigers into contention. (Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

Former Red Sox shortstop Jose Iglesias is having a stellar season at the plate and in the field, but it hasn’t been enough to get the Tigers into contention in the AL Central. (Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

After an abysmal road trip and start to the second half, the Red Sox return to Fenway to start a 10-game homestand with a three-game set against the Tigers.

Over the tail end of June and beginning of July, the Sox gained momentum and looked to be putting themselves in a position to make a run in the season’s second half. Instead, the Sox have won just one of their last 10 games and have gone 0-7 since the All-Star break.

All of a sudden the Red Sox, who had gotten as close as five games back in the AL East, own a 42-54 record. The team owns the worst record in the American League and sits 12 games behind the first-place Yankees in the division.

General manager Ben Cherington addressed the media on Wednesday and expressed disappointment with the team’s recent performance but did not indicate any change in the organization’s long-term plan.

“We’re not where we want to be. The last 10 days or so haven’t gone well and not the way we wanted them to go. I don’t think it changes anything in the big picture,” Cherington said. “We’ve still got to pursue things that are going to make us better and continue to try to build a good team as quickly as we can. The last 10 days haven’t gone the way we wanted it to.”

While the Red Sox’ struggles have made all the headlines in these parts, the Tigers have similarly failed to live up to their own expectations. The Tigers are 47-48, placing them third in the AL Central. The team has lost seven of its last 10 games

The Tigers are 10 1/2 games behind the Royals in the division. Because KC owns the second-best record in the majors, the Tigers (and the second-place Twins) face a steep road to being competitive and closing the divisional gap.

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MLB Trade Deadline: Cubs reportedly interested in David Price, Cole Hamels

07.24.15 at 1:00 pm ET
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A week before the non-waiver trading deadline, rumors are starting to swirl throughout baseball about which players may be on the move and where they may go.

Given the Red Sox‘ spot in the standings, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford reported Wednesday that they will not pursue trades for high-profile pitchers in the last year of their contracts. That includes players like Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto or Detroit’s David Price.

Those types of players, however, remain likely to be traded to contending teams that feel an additional pitcher would put them over the top.

The last-place White Sox have yet to wave the white flag on their season. However, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, the White Sox have been actively engaged in trade talks. One player teams may target is starter Jeff Samardzija. The Blue Jays have shown interest in trading for Samardzija, per Jon Morosi of Fox Sports.

The Tigers sit in third place in the AL Central well behind the first-place Royals. According to Morosi, Detroit will wait at least until the end of this weekend’s series in Boston before deciding whether to buy or sell at the deadline.

If the Tigers indeed end up as sellers, the most attractive piece to contenders will be Price, who owns a 2.31 ERA this season. The Blue Jays and Cubs both had scouts at Price’s start on Thursday, and both are in the market for pitchers as the deadline approaches, Morosi reported.

Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels has been consistently in the middle of trade rumors since spring training, and that will only persist in advance of the deadline. CSN Chicago reports that the Cubs have been in discussions about Hamels with the Phillies.

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Read More: 2015 Trade Deadline, David Price, Jeff Samardzija,

Mike Napoli bracing himself for possible trade deadline relocation

07.24.15 at 12:48 pm ET
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HOUSTON — Shane Victorino has said he was wants to live out the life of his three-year contract with the Red Sox, using these final days before the non-waiver trade deadline as an opportunity to “go make it hard on [the front office].”

He isn’t alone in his sentiments.

One of the other members of the Red Sox who is living life in the last year of their deal, Mike Napoli, has also started to feel the reality as July 31 draws closer.

“I try not to look too far, but I know this is a business,” Napoli said. “It’s hard for me because I love it here so much. But the way things are going now, it’s pretty rough.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. I really try not to think about that.”

But these days, with the Red Sox residing 12 games back of first place in the American League East, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult for Napoli to not think about it.

The first baseman could very well join Victorino, Craig Breslow and Justin Masterson as a piece which will be attempted to be sold off by the Red Sox at the deadline due to their contract status.

With Napoli, the likelihood has gotten a bit more realistic in recent days thanks to somewhat of a resurgence. While the Red Sox would surely have to take on a good chunk of what is left of the $16 million owed this season in any deal, the 33-year-old was shown enough life of late — hitting .389 with a 1.143 OPS on the Sox’ disastrous seven-game road trip — that a team might have interest.

Games like Thursday night’s performance, in which Napoli notched three hits for the second time this season (two doubles, home run), might have distracted potential suitors somewhat from relying solely on a woeful first half.

And even if Napoli isn’t dealt before July 31, his run as a Red Sox still might come to an end prematurely thanks to an August deal. (Remember, he was almost dealt to the Sox after they claimed him on waivers from the Angels in 2010.)

While it is unlikely Napoli would return to the Red Sox beyond this season even if he remained with the team for the duration of his two-year deal, it doesn’t make the prospects of moving on any easier for the 10-year big league veteran.

“I think it’s the best place in the world if you have a winning ball club,” said Napoli, who bought a house in Boston after signing his two-year, $32 million deal prior to the 2014 season. “I think that’s the frustrating thing, to not have a winning ball club. We’re a good team, but we’re just underachieving. We’ll just have to try and make the best of it.”

Read More: 2015 Trade Deadline,

Curt Schilling on D&C: Red Sox ‘not getting fixed this year’

07.24.15 at 10:47 am ET
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ESPN baseball analyst and former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling made his weekly appearance on Dennis & Callahan on Friday to talk about the Red Sox‘ post-All-Star-break struggles. To listen to the interview, go to the D&C audio on demand page.

The Red Sox have lost eight straight, including the first seven contests since returning from the All-Star break. With the Sox now 12 games out of first place in the division, Schilling said that the team will not be able to remedy itself this season.

“I think the first answer is that it’s not getting fixed this year. It’s not. I don’t blame [general manager Ben Cherington] in some ways, but you have to in others. It seems like every single move he’s made since the final day of the season last year has been bad,” Schilling said.

According to Schilling, there needs to be accountability for the team’s disappointing results, but that doesn’t necessarily mean firing anyone in management.

“Somebody’s got to pay. That’s the thing. I think that, if I’m running the team, I don’t know that I fire anybody, but I think there’s some readjustments that need to be made,” Schilling said. “There’s not a Band-Aid to put on this, there’s multiple gaping wounds that need to be healed.”

Schilling was definitive when asked if the Red Sox should fire manager John Farrell: “No.”

“I certainly think he needs to get better as a game-manager,” Schilling added. “I’ve seen situations where I go, ‘In my mind he got outmanaged or he was outplayed.’ But this, to me, is on the players. One hundred percent on the players. You can’t make Joe Kelly suddenly start missing bats, you can’t make guys take extra outfield work off the wall.”

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Friday’s Red Sox-Tigers matchups: Rick Porcello vs. Justin Verlander

07.24.15 at 8:56 am ET
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Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello

The Red Sox return home Friday still searching for their first win of the second half. Having been swept by the Angels and the Astros on their seven-game road trip, the Sox host the Tigers this weekend for a three-game set. To start things off, Rick Porcello will get the start against Justin Verlander.

Porcello, who will make his first career start against his former team, has had his fair share of trouble on the mound this season but has shown some improvement as of late. In his last two starts, totaling 11 innings of work, the righty has allowed five runs overall, four of which were earned. Since his disastrous two-inning, seven-run outing against the Blue Jays on July 1, Porcello has lowered his season ERA from 6.08 to 5.79. It’s still seventh worst among pitchers with at least 10 starts this season and he has a 5-10 record, but his 3.27 ERA in those last two contests is a step in the right direction. His WHIP hasn’t improved much in that time, however, increasing to 1.41 and plateauing there.

Though he got the loss in Saturday’s game vs. the Angels, Porcello didn’t get a lot of help from his offense as the Sox were shut out. Over five innings, the 26-year-old was able to hold the Halos to three runs — two earned — on four hits, three walks and five strikeouts. However, two of those hits exited the ballpark, and both were off the bat of right fielder Kole Calhoun.

“I was just falling behind in the count. Obviously with the guys behind him [Mike Trout and Albert Pujols], I don’t want to walk him,” Porcello said. “I was hoping to execute some sinkers down and away and get him to roll over into the shift. He just put a good swing on both pitches.

“We were in some tough spots [Saturday] and able to limit the damage. It kept us in the game. That is the biggest thing moving forward. We did that [Saturday],” he added. “I’m just making better pitches and not getting beat on offspeed stuff up in the zone.”

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Friday Red Sox Farm Report: Henry Owens stays solid; Portland walks it off again with 4-run 9th

07.24.15 at 8:49 am ET
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A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Thursday:

Henry Owens

Henry Owens

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (41-58): L, 5-4, at Norfolk (Orioles)

— LHP Henry Owens (Boston’€™s No. 2 prospect at MLB.com) had his third straight quality start and seventh in his last eight outings, with a final Thursday afternoon pitching line of: 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO (106 pitches, 74 strikes). Owens, 23, gave up two runs in third after a walk, a misplayed grounder by first baseman Matt Spring, a bloop single into shallow right field, and a two-RBI double to left. The 6-foot-6 Owens struck out the final two batters of the third to strand two in scoring position, getting whiffs on a high fastball and a slow breaking ball that fell out of the strike zone into the dirt.

Owens had a total of nine straight retired before he hit more adversity in the the sixth inning, with another run scoring after three singles, including a bloop to left and a slow roller up the middle. Owens left the game after six complete with a 4-3 lead.

Selected by Boston in the first round of the 2011 draft (36th overall), Owens is 3-7 this season with a 3.25 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP over 20 starts. His 100 strikeouts are five shy of the International League lead, with his ERA ranking 10th and his WHIP tied for third. Owens’€™ 116 1/3 innings of work is the fourth-highest total in the league this year, and his walk total of 55 remains a league high.

— RHP Jonathan Aro (Boston’€™s No. 30 prospect at MLB.com) was charged with a blown save as he entered with a one-run lead in the seventh and gave up three hits including a two-RBI double ripped to left that gave Norfolk a 5-4 lead. Aro, a 6-foot, 24-year-old from the Dominican Republic, has been scored upon in three of his six outings with Pawtucket since returning from his major league debut in late July with Boston where he allowed runs in all three of his appearances.

— Pawtucket took a 4-0 lead in the first inning on two-RBI doubles by Allen Craig and Humberto Quintero after leadoff walks to Quintin Berry and Jackie Bradley Jr. started the frame. The PawSox would have just three more hits after the first, with Quintero and third baseman Travis Shaw the only players finishing with multi-hit games.

The double snapped an 0-for-10 skid for Craig, who is hitting just .227 (15-for-66) in July after a .235 June (19-for-81). The double on Thursday for Craig, 31, was only his second extra-base hit in his last 18 games.

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Read More: Allen Craig, carlos asuaje, henry owens, international league

Closing Time: Jose Altuve’s walkoff homer stretches Red Sox losing streak to 8 games

07.23.15 at 11:49 pm ET
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HOUSTON — There was seemingly no other way to punctuate this road trip.

Seven games. Seven losses. Outscored 39-13. Eight-game losing streak. Twelve games out of first place. Twelve games under .500.

It was a stretch that saw the Red Sox hit .204 with just three home runs, striking out 51 times and drawing 13 walks. Their ERA was 5.37 (6.29 for the starters), with Sox pitchers giving up 16 homers.

And then there was the finale.

The latest loss would come courtesy a walkoff, solo homer from Jose Altuve in the ninth inning against Craig Breslow, giving the Astros a 5-4 win over the Red Sox on Thursday night at Minute Maid Park.

“It was a fastball down,” Breslow said. “Probably got a lot of plate. But in a 3-1 count, I wanted to throw the ball over the plate, didn’t want to give him a chance to get on base via the walk. He’s obviously a fast guy, base-stealer, so that presented a different host of problems. But once I fell behind, I needed to make sure the ball was in the strike zone.”

“It’s crazy, man. It’s crazy,” said Red Sox DH David Ortiz of the losing streak. “Just come back tomorrow and keep on playing. That’s all you can do, right?”

Altuve’s blast just cleared the left-field fence (coming in Breslow’s second inning of work), and spoiled the Sox’ eighth-inning comeback, which had been led by Mike Napoli.

The Red Sox first baseman notched three hits, including a solo home run and a line-drive RBI double in the eighth that tied the game at 4. The last hit — coming with two outs — plated Hanley Ramirez, who had followed Ortiz‘ leadoff homer with a single and stolen base.

In the end, however, the latest defeat came courtesy an overall bullpen meltdown, with the combination of Alexi Ogando and Junichi Tazawa proving unable to protect another gem from Wade Miley. The pair of relievers allowed three seventh-inning runs to the Astros, blowing the win for the starter.

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Read More: Craig Breslow, jose altuve, mike napoli, wade miley

Clay Buchholz plans to be back on mound in 5-6 weeks

07.23.15 at 6:44 pm ET
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HOUSTON — Late Wednesday afternoon word came down that Clay Buchholz’ trip to Dr. James Andrews revealed the same findings of the Red Sox medical personnel, a strained flexor muscle in his right elbow. The only change came with Buchholz’ decision to undergo a PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injection.

Thursday Buchholz revealed what the timeline might look like for his return, in regards to throwing off a mound.

“I think the total amount of time is probably going to be five to six weeks,” he said. “I’€™m going to be back whenever I can. This is sort of frustrating. Yeah, whenever I’€™m able to go. He gave me the steps to follow, and that’€™s what I’€™m going to do, and that’€™s what I went to him.”

Buchholz, who said that he should be able to start throwing a baseball again in a couple of weeks, reiterated his enthusiasm with the visit to Pensacola.

“It was basically re-affirming what we know,” the pitcher said. “The one thing that came out of it that I was thinking a little differently about is the catch that I was playing. It probably wasn’€™t the right thing to do, in his mind. Yeah, that’€™s the reason for the PRP, because the time I’€™m going to be down, it’€™s not going to extend that time at all. Being that I don’€™t have any tears and it wasn’€™t a surgical issue, he said that I’€™d probably be in the upper 80 percent for this PRP stuff to either help or form a stronger muscle rather than just taking rest.”

Now that Buchholz’ recovery time has some sort of guideline, the conversation slowly turns to the pitcher’s future.

The 30-year-old is in the last guaranteed year of his contract, with the Red Sox holding a $13 million team option for 2016, and another one for ’17 at $13.5 million.

“I definitely want to pitch again [this season],” Buchholz said. “I don’€™t care how many starts. I need to ‘€¦ that’€™s why I’€™m here. This is actually a big year for me too.”

Regarding his contract status, he added, “I’€™m going to be throwing somewhere. Baseball is baseball. I’€™ve definitely been here my whole career. I don’€™t really want to go anywhere. When it comes to the time where somebody’€™s got to make a decision, the decision doesn’€™t always match the same way you feel. It is what it is. That’€™s the business side. I’€™ve said it a hundred times. It happens to a lot of guys. It’€™s very rare for a guy to stay in one spot his whole career. If it does happen, it happens.”

Red Sox lineup: Dustin Pedroia out, Mike Napoli at first

07.23.15 at 4:26 pm ET
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HOUSTON — Dustin Pedroia will sit out his first game since returning from the 15-day disabled list last Friday, with Brock Holt getting the start at second base for the Red Sox‘ series finale against the Astros Thursday.

Pedroia is 1-for-22 with a walk since returning to the lineup, notching an RBI double in Wednesday night’s loss.

Here is the Red Sox lineup against Houston starter Lance McCullers, who opposes Sox starter Wade Miley:

Mookie Betts CF
Brock Holt 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez LF
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Alejandro De Aza RF
Mike Napoli 1B
Ryan Hanigan C

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