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Xander Bogaerts learns yet another valuable (and painful) lesson

07.23.14 at 10:48 pm ET
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TORONTO — Every once in a while, you get a reminder that Xander Bogaerts is 21 years old. Wednesday night was one of those occasions.

The talent of Bogaerts was on display in the fifth inning when he doubled in Daniel Nava for what was at the time the go-ahead run for the Red Sox. After that, youth won over … and not in a good way for the third baseman or his team.

With two outs in the sixth inning and the Blue Jays having already tied things up at 4-4, Jose Reyes hit a routine grounder that Bogaerts was forced to take a few steps to his left on before gobbling up. With the speedy Reyes running, Bogaerts immediately transferred the ball to his throwing hand and fired it to first baseman Mike Napoli.

The problem came as soon as Bogaerts released the ball, as he pulled it just enough to make it a one-hopper that Napoli couldn’t stretch and gather in. The result was the go-ahead run scoring and the Blue Jays taking the lead for good instead of the teams heading into the seventh all knotted up.

“It was a ball in the dirt. Just tried to pick it. I’€™m pretty good at picking balls and didn’t come up with it,” Napoli said, adding, “I was kind of falling over a little bit. it’€™s a play I’ve made in the past and I expect to make and I didn’t make the play.”

Another sign of Bogaerts’ youth came after the game when he ducked out of the clubhouse before the media’s availability. (It’s a small item, but one veterans frown upon since they’re the ones who end up having to answer for the rookie.)

“He could see it in front of him, you’€™d have to ask him,” Napoli said when asked if Reyes’ speed factored into the hurried throw. “But you have to be quick with it. Him being quick down the line, it’€™s a play you have to get your feet under you and be quick.”

Bogaerts has taken his lumps this season while playing his new position at third base (making eight of his 15 errors at the position), although Red Sox manager John Farrell said it’s not for a lack of trying.

“I recognize that there’s a number of errors there at third base in the games he’s played,” Farrell said. “I can’t say it’s for exactly one reason that links them all together. It’s not because of effort and intensity with which he goes about his play.”

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Closing Time: Clay Buchholz, Red Sox can’t hold off Blue Jays

07.23.14 at 9:46 pm ET
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TORONTO — So much for momentum.

Things were looking downright rosy for the Red Sox in the first inning of their Wednesday night tilt with the Blue Jays. David Ortiz launched a three-run homer against Toronto starter R.A. Dickey, giving the visitors a three-run lead before the Jays could even get an at-bat.

The good times for the Red Sox, however, quickly were derailed.

The Jays also scored three times in the first inning, and then came back to take the lead for good with two runs in the sixth inning. The end result was the Red Sox‘ second straight loss at Rogers Centre, this time a 6-4 decision.

The eventual winning run for the Jays came when third baseman Xander Bogaerts threw away what appeared to be an inning-ending grounder off the bat of Jose Reyes in the sixth. The miscue allowed the Blue Jays to score the eventual winning run against the Sox and starter Clay Buchholz, who took his sixth loss of the season (5-6).

Buchholz finished his six innings giving up five runs (four earned), striking out one and walking four. Andrew Miller surrendered a run in relief while pitching the seventh.

The Red Sox finished the night going just 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position, with Jackie Bradley stranding three runners while going 0-for-4.

Daniel Nava joined Bogaerts as the only two Red Sox to claim multiple hits. It was Bogaerts’ fifth-inning double that plated Nava, briefly reclaiming the lead for the Sox.

Ortiz’s home run set a record for most home runs by a visiting player at Rogers Centre (37).

Koji Uehara, Red Sox haven’t talked contract extension

07.23.14 at 8:14 pm ET
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TORONTO — Normally news that there hasn’t been any negotiations between a 39-year-old relief pitcher in the final year of his contract might not be worth mentioning. But Koji Uehara isn’t your ordinary 39-year-old relief pitcher.

Uehara told WEEI.com prior to the Red Sox‘ game against the Blue Jays on Wednesday night that his representation (SFX) has not spoken with the Sox about an extension beyond the 2014 season.

“So far, there have been no talks,” Uehara said through translator C.J. Matsumoto. “I’ll leave it all up to my agent, but right now I haven’t heard anything.”

There is some thought that despite Uehara’s age, the Red Sox might consider offering the pitcher a qualifying offer in the coming offseason (estimated to be around $15 million for one year). If such a strategy was employed by the Sox, Uehara undoubtedly would accept the offer, guaranteeing the Red Sox his services for another season.

The more likely scenario would be to extend the reliever a deal that either guarantees a second year or builds in a vesting option for a second season.

Uehara is making $4.25 million for the ’14 season, the highest annual income of his six-year major league career.

Since becoming the Red Sox closer on June 26, 2013, Uehara has saved 40 of 44 regular-season games, striking out 118 and walking just eight. His ERA over that span is 1.00 with a batting average against of .139.

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John Farrell on D&H: Dustin Pedroia ‘playing at 100 percent as far as I know’

07.23.14 at 4:18 pm ET
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Red Sox manager John Farrell joined Dale & Holley on Wednesday afternoon to discuss Jake Peavy‘s performance on the mound, Dustin Pedroia‘s health and Christian Vazquez‘s reputation behind the plate. To listen to the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

If anyone would want the opportunity to hit the reset button on the 2014 season, it would have to be Peavy, who is 1-9 with a 4.72 ERA over 20 starts this year. Peavy has lost nine consecutive decisions, tying for the most ever by a former Cy Young Award winner.

Despite his lackluster numbers, Peavy often has been done in by the Red Sox lineup, as the righty is last in the AL in run-support average at 3.15.

“We recognize full where the record stands, but there’s been a number of games in which he’s carried a quality start into the seventh or eighth inning with really not much to show for, and I can’t say it’s just because of a lack of run support,” Farrell said. “Have there been things on a shared responsibly? Without question. But I can tell you that he’s pitched better than the record that he’s showing today.”

Farrell continued: “You look at the last start he made down in Houston where he’s walking out into the eighth inning in a one-run game or 2-2 tie, things don’t happen quite right. We leave 13 men on base. If there’s a base hit somewhere in there, we’re probably not having this same conversation, but that’s the reality of things. I thought through five innings last night, Jake probably had his best breaking ball of the season.”

While ESPN’s Buster Olney noted earlier Wednesday that rival scouts are concerned that Pedroia‘s all-out play could have an negative effect on his career, Farrell said that Pedroia is healthy, despite dealing with an 0-for-17 skid.

“He’s playing at 100 percent as far as I know. I see him every day; every player has got maintenance work that they do in the training room, which he goes through,” Farrell said. “Is his style of play more taxing physically? It might be. But I know that seeing him when he gets to the ballpark here at 1 in the afternoon, the early work that he goes through, that’s tapered off as we get deeper into the season. … Dustin’s got an off day coming up here as well. Even though we’re coming out of the All-Star Break, we’ve still got to be mindful of the number of consecutive days, and that’s part of the balancing act when it gets to this part of the season.”

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Red Sox lineup: Brock Holt takes break for first time in two months

07.23.14 at 3:30 pm ET
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TORONTO — The Red Sox will have somebody besides Brock Holt at the top of their lineup since May 22, with the utilityman getting the day off and Shane Victorino sliding up to the batting order’s leadoff spot.

Since being inserted in the lineup’s top spot, Holt has more hits than any other leadoff man (77). He did, however, go hitless in Tuesday night’s game after going on a seven-game run in which he went 16-for-34 (.471).

Here is the rest of the Red Sox lineup with R.A. Dickey on the mound for the Blue Jays, and Clay Buchholz getting the start for the visitors:

Shane Victorino RF

Dustin Pedroia 2B

David Ortiz DH

Mike Napoli 1B

Daniel Nava LF

Xander Bogaerts 3B

Stephen Drew SS

Christian Vazquez C

Jackie Bradley CF

For all the matchups, click here.

Buster Olney on MFB: Dustin Pedroia ‘may wear down faster than other guys’ due to his ‘maximum effort’ play

07.23.14 at 2:10 pm ET
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ESPN baseball reporter Buster Olney joined Middays with MFB on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the latest trade deadline news, Dustin Pedroia‘s struggles and Boston’s upcoming series against the Rays. To listen to the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The Red Sox‘ current 8-2 run has complicated matters for Ben Cherington and Co. Boston is 8 1/2 games behind the Orioles in the AL East, but with the next 11 games scheduled against AL East opponents the Red Sox have a great opportunity to quickly gain ground before the July 31 trade deadline.

Olney said that even though the Red Sox could insert themselves back into a playoff race, he still could see the team parting ways with players such as Jake Peavy and Jonny Gomes.

“I think that they have enough depth where they could serve both interests,” Olney said. “They could say, ‘Look, we’re still trying to compete this year, and at the same time, we can begin to turn over the roster a little bit.’ … We know that Peavy has a past relationship with [Giants manager] Bruce Bochy with the San Diego Padres. He’d be a great fit [in San Francisco.] The Red Sox clearly have internal options where if they traded Peavy, they could have other guys step in.

“The reason why a deal with the Cardinals didn’t happen was because the expectations of the two sides were different. The Cardinals basically were telling them, ‘Look, we’ll take on the salary but we’re not going to give you anything in the way of a prospect,’ where the Red Sox were hoping for something a little bit more. … I think Jonny is kind of in the same boat, depending on what they want to do with their young outfielders. Do they want to use the last two months and ensure the fact that they’re going to give those guys playing time down the stretch and begin to not only try to win this year but focus ahead for next year.”

The Red Sox will travel to Tropicana Field to take on the Rays for a three-game set this weekend, as both teams look to chip away at the division standings with July drawing to a close. Olney said that fighting for a playoff spot likely will remain the main focus for both teams during the series, rather than the personal feud between David Ortiz and David Price, stemming from the last time the teams played on May 30- June 1.

“The Rays right now are in a position where every out in every game means something,” Olney said. “I mean, they’re literally hanging on the fence on what to do in terms of whether or not to trade David Price. … They’re 24-11 since June 10, so I tend to think that this thing will be deferred. Now, are there hard feelings still there? Absolutely. But I don’t think this is going to be the time or place. That said, I didn’t think it was the time or the place for the whole thing to flare up the last time.”

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Red Sox minor league roundup: Matt Barnes takes a first step forward; Luis Diaz striking out everyone; DSL diamonds in the rough

07.23.14 at 11:54 am ET
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A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Tuesday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 9-3 WIN AT SYRACUSE (NATIONALS)

(BOX)

Matt Barnes didn’t shy from the fact that his first half had been disappointing. Prior to his start on Tuesday, the right-hander took to Twitter for a public declaration of intent: “1st start of the second half. Time to turn it around and finish strong”

Barnes was anything but dominant on Tuesday, but given that he entered the All-Star break with a 4-7 record and 5.06 ERA, the 24-year-old appeared to be in need of a toehold for the stretch as much as anything. That he got, as Barnes tossed 6 1/3 innings in which he was charged with two runs (one in the sixth, one in the seventh after he’d left the game, after he sailed through five shutout innings to start the contest) on three hits (two doubles and an infield single) while walking three and striking two. The outing marked the third in 15 starts in which Barnes pitched more than six innings. Though his strike percentage (61 percent of his 102 pitches) was unspectacular, he commanded a 93-95 mph fastball to both sides of the plate and employed an 85-87 mph changeup liberally to garner weak contact throughout the start.

The 2011 first-rounder elicited just four swings and misses in the outing, and he’s averaging just 5.0 strikeouts per nine innings in his last eight starts. One interesting facet of those strikeout numbers: He’s struck out 20.1 percent of the left-handers he’s faced, compared to just 12.8 percent of right-handers.

That speaks in part to the effectiveness of his changeup against lefties, while also highlighting the long-noted absence of a consistent breaking ball to handle same-handed hitters. But, given what Barnes has done against lefties (.238/.332/.338 line, as opposed to a .338/.384/.484 line by righties), the raw materials of success may not be as far away as his first-half struggles might suggest. Read the rest of this entry »

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