|08.25.14 at 1:11 pm ET|
What began with a promising 2-1 start on an 11-game homestand quickly was scuttled thanks to an eight-game losing streak that resulted in a massively disappointing 2-9 mark against the Astros, Angels and Mariners during their season-long stretch at Fenway.
Boston’s last three games were especially deflating, as the Red Sox blew 3-0 leads in consecutive games and left 15 runners on base Sunday en route to a three-game sweep by the Mariners — Seattle’s first sweep at Fenway since the franchise’s inception in 1977.
“That’s just the game. So many things you can’t control,” said third baseman Will Middlebrooks after Sunday’s game, adding: “What are you going to do?”
The remainder of the 2014 season will see the Red Sox mostly taking on their familiar foes in the AL East, as 25 of Boston’s final 32 games will be against division opponents, starting with a three-game set against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
The Blue Jays have slumped as of late, posting a 3-7 record over their last 10 games — including a series loss against the Rays that culminated in a 2-1 extra-innings defeat Sunday.
The Red Sox will be looking for a different outcome from the last time they faced off against Toronto on July 28-30, as the Blue Jays outscored Boston 24-4 during a three-game sweep.
Here are the probable pitchers for the three-game series.
Monday: Clay Buchholz (5-8, 5.94 ERA) vs. J.A. Happ (8-8, 4.39 ERA)
Tuesday: Rubby De La Rosa (4-5, 3.69 ERA) vs. R.A. Dickey (10-12, 4.08 ERA)
Wednesday: Joe Kelly (0-1, 4.09 ERA) vs. Marcus Stroman (7-5, 4.11 ERA)
WHO’S HOT: RED SOX
– Yoenis Cespedes was acquired by Boston at the July 31 trade deadline to drive in runs. So far, he’s been doing a great job of it. Since his first game with the Red Sox on Aug. 2, Cespedes has driven in 18 of Boston’s 79 runs — 23 percent of the team’s total scoring output. Despite his aggressive approach at the plate, the Cuban left fielder has more RBIs than strikeouts (16) in his 21 games in Boston.
|08.25.14 at 1:00 pm ET|
TORONTO — There have been times throughout Clay Buchholz‘s career when he was the best pitcher on the Red Sox‘ starting staff. But at no time was he perceived as the kind of leader all others should file in line behind.
Like it or not, that dynamic suddenly has shifted.
Buchholz is the last man standing in a rotation that was full of veterans. Gone are Jon Lester, John Lackey and Jake Peavy. Left behind is Buchholz, who just turned 30 years old 11 days ago, and a bunch of 20-somethings.
So, with that in mind, the obvious question should be asked of the righty: Are you ready to lead a staff?
“I’ve always been the best at what I’ve done. When I got to the big leagues it was the first time I wasn’t the best. So I always carried myself, I’m not the most vocal person ever, but I know what I need to do to get my job done,” he said during a recent sit-down at Fenway Park. “Sometimes it doesn’t happen but I know my thought process was right going into it. Having those guys, the Jon Lesters and the Lacks and Peavys and [Josh] Becketts and [Curt Schillings], that definitely helps a lot because you can pick their brains and learn a lot about the game, you sort of try to take everything you can that’s going to help you. I’ve been able to do that over the last six, seven years with a lot of great baseball minds. I feel like if that’s sort of what I’m slated to do is be the veteran guy on the team and help out.
“I’m feeling more and more comfortable with the role I have right now as each day goes by.”
There is the element of leading by example when put in the position as head of any starting staff. But there is also the reality that such a pitcher has to be consistently productive, which Buchholz is currently trying to establish after the worst season of his career.
If Buchholz does rediscover success, then the conversation is pushed toward his role in the midst what has become a uncertain group of youngsters.
It’s a dynamic he’s not unfamiliar with.
“Even before Lack and Lester and Peavy left, that’s a lot of years of baseball between a select number of guys. They would be sitting and watching video or something and they would ask me ‘What do you see right there?’ and another day I’d ask them. So everybody is helping each other, not just one person helping everybody out,” he said. “It’s sort of everyone going in and helping each other and I think that’s what makes a pitching staff stronger than maybe it should be because the guys trust each other and you build sort of what you’re trying to do. You’re scouting report goes off of what other guys are saying. That’s sort of how pitching can be difficult and make it a little bit easier at the same time.
“It definitely helps if they’re the guys that are the ones that can give you advice without it critical. I’ve had a good mix of just about everything. [Tim Wakefield] would be the first person to come up to me and tell me, ‘Hey, this is what I see.’ That helped me a lot because he’s been around the game a long time. Wake pitched with Pedro [Martinez], saw him, saw Schill. He knows what he’s talking about when it comes to pitching and he’s one I’ll always listen to even though he threw a knuckleball. He was really good a breaking down mechanics and he’s helped me out this year, too.
“There’s definitely good to having older guys on the club. But none of these guys are here because they just got lucky. They’re here because they throw good pitches and they deserve to be in the big leagues. That’s first and foremost for me.”
|08.24.14 at 10:14 pm ET|
Pete Frates is no stranger to the Oldtime Baseball Game.
Just a few months after the initial news that the former Boston College baseball captain was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – also known as Lou Gehrig‘s disease — Frates took part in the baseball charity event, taking the field at first base before exiting after one pitch.
What happened next was a moment that still is ingrained in the minds of many who attended, including Boston Herald columnist and Oldtime Baseball Game co-founder Steve Buckley.
“Something really cool happened when Pete came out of the game,” Buckley said. “Every single player, and you can’t plan this, every single player on both teams came out of the dugout and embraced Pete at first base. Every single player shook hands with him or patted him on the back or gave him one of the fist-bumps. Every single player.”
It was the type of reception expected for someone like Frates, who — despite battling a horrific ailment that has sapped him of his voice and mobility — has remained vigilant in his goal of raising awareness of ALS.
Now, two years later, Frates is expected back at St. Peter’s Field in North Cambridge, as the 29-year-old will be honored during the 21st annual Oldtime Baseball Game on Monday night.
“It’s just funny how things happen. … This game holds a very special part of our whole family’s lives. … It’s such a wonderful event in and of itself,” said Pete’s mother, Nancy Frates. “It celebrates baseball, and if there’s anything that my son loves — other than his family, his wife, and his friends — it’s baseball. It’s the subtleties of the game, it’s the history and the strategy of the game that all comes into play here, and that’s all that Pete always loved about the game.”
|08.24.14 at 5:56 pm ET|
Xander Bogaerts has been placed on the seven-day disabled list due to symptoms that suggest a mild concussion after being hit on the head by a Felix Hernandez pitch on Friday night.
“He still has some symptoms from a mild concussion, so until they subside or clear up, we’ve got to go through the protocol to get him cleared,” said Sox manager John Farrell. “He’ll be inactive for those seven days at a minimum.”
Bogaerts, whose DL stint is retroactive to Saturday, will remain in Boston rather than traveling with the team to Toronto. The 21-year-old, who is hitting .223 with a .293 OBP and .333 slugging mark, said that the head injury and its consequent time on the sidelines represent unfamiliar territory.
“I’ve never been on the DL at all. It will be a long five days without playing baseball, I guess,” said Bogaerts. “It’s been getting better. I feel good, but I think it’s just something to be safe, to make sure I’m fully healthy when I come back.
“I feel good but just listening to the training staff and what their opinion is, because I’ve never been hit with a ball in the head,” he added. “I’ve never had something like this. Just listen to them and we’ll go day-by-day.”
With Bogaerts sidelined, the Red Sox have called up versatile 26-year-old Carlos Rivero. It is Rivero’s first stint in the big leagues.
Rivero, originally signed out of Venezuela by the Indians, has bounced from the Indians system to the Phillies to the Nationals before signing a minor league deal with the Red Sox this offseason. He opened the year with Double-A Portland, hitting .214/.285/.316, but had shown enough in spring training that when Brock Holt moved up to the big leagues, he was promoted to Pawtucket. In 74 games with the PawSox, he’s hitting .286/.341/.407 with five homers and 36 RBIs while playing short, third and left field. He also has some minor league experience at first base and in right field.
|08.24.14 at 5:45 pm ET|
Well, this time the Red Sox hit a bit. But it didn’t matter. They still lost.
The Sox, who hadn’t scored more than three runs in any of their previous seven games (all losses), put up a five-spot — along with 10 hits — against the Mariners in the teams’ series finale at Fenway Park. But thanks in large part to Allen Webster‘s ineffectiveness, the end result was still an eighth straight defeat for the Sox. The final this time: Mariners 8, Red Sox 6.
It’s now an eight-game losing streak during which time the Red Sox have been outscored 38-20, dropping them to 18 games below .500 (56-74).
Also staying consistent with the trend throughout the losing streak was the time of game. This time the duration of the nine-inning tilt clocked in at four hours and seven minutes. Entering Sunday, the Red Sox had averaged 3:29 per game throughout the homestand.
The Red Sox had a chance to come all the way back in the ninth, loading the bases against Seattle closer Fernando Rodney. But Kelly Johnson — who had replaced in an injured David Ortiz in the sixth inning — fanned to end the threat, and game.
The Sox stranded 15 runners, going 6-for-19 with runners in scoring position.
Perhaps the most discouraging aspects of this loss for the Red Sox was Webster’s inability to hold what had become a 5-3 lead for the hosts.
Webster, who was coming off a decent outing against the Angels in which he allowed three runs over six innings, immediately gave up a single run in in the fourth and two more in the fifth following the Sox’ comeback.
The righty’s final line included six runs on eight hits over 4 1/3 innings, raising his ERA over six starts to 5.81.
Here is what went wrong (and right) for the Red Sox in their 74th loss of the season.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
— The Sox had a golden opportunity to at least tie the game in the seventh inning, putting runners at first and third base with one out. But Christian Vazquez‘s liner back up the middle was stabbed by pitcher Danny Farqhar, who then threw to first to double up Mookie Betts.
|08.24.14 at 5:08 pm ET|
Ortiz exited after favoring the foot while rounding first base on a single to deep right field. Upon returning to the base, the DH walked off the field with manager John Farrell.
The initial injury seemingly occurred in the fourth inning with one out when Ortiz fouled a ball off the inside of his foot, sending the DH to the ground while bringing on the Red Sox training staff. An initial fluoroscan on the foot after Ortiz was removed from the game did not show a fracture.
“He’s day-to-day. The foul ball off the foot obviously after he hits a ball off the wall in right and can only get to first base. It’s a contusion. The fluoroscan at this point proved negative. No fractures of any kind based on that test,” said Farrell. “We’ll check him once we get to the ballpark tomorrow and obviously throughout the night tonight.
Ortiz reached two more times (single, walk) in his four plate appearances, making it 20 times he has safely gotten on base in his last 26 plate appearances. While Kelly Johnson — who entered as a pinch-runner — hit a double in his first plate appearance, the fact that Johnson rather than Ortiz was at the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, ultimately striking out to conclude the Sox’ 8-6 loss, represented a source of some frustration for the Sox.
“Anytime you lose David Ortiz out of your lineup, it’s a hole. That’s not to take anything away from Kelly Johnson who doubled in his first at-bat. We’d like to have David up at the plate more often than the four or five times a night to begin with,” said Farrell. “It’s someone that we miss, who’s been a main cog in our offense daily and year-to-date. Hopefully this is just a short-lived loss in the lineup for him.”
|08.24.14 at 2:50 pm ET|
Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano exited Sunday’s game against the Red Sox with nobody out, one on and the count 0-2 to Yoenis Cespedes in the third inning. The team announced Cano’s departure was due to dizziness.
Cano, who had lined to center field in his only at-bat, started walking off the field before any medical staff could leave the dugout. He eventually was met by Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon near the third-base line.
|08.24.14 at 10:16 am ET|
With Seattle sending Hisashi Iwakuma to the mound for its series finale against the Red Sox, the hosts will have Brock Holt as their starting shortstop.
With Allen Webster on the mound for the Red Sox, here is the lineup for John Farrell‘s club:
Brock Holt SS
David Ortiz DH
Yoenis Cespedes LF
Mike Napoli 1B
Allen Craig RF
Will Middlebrooks 3B
Mookie Betts CF
Christian Vazquez C
|08.24.14 at 10:12 am ET|
Webster (3-1, 4.73 ERA) has turned in three straight quality starts for Boston, compiling a 3.86 ERA with a .239/.333/.388 line during that stretch.
In his last start Tuesday against the Angels, Webster gave up seven hits and three runs with three strikeouts over six innings of work in what was eventually a 4-3 Los Angeles win.
“When he’s right like for the vast majority of tonight, put the ball on the ground, ground balls,” manager John Farrell said. “It’s good to see him continue to back up outings in a positive way and build some momentum and I’m sure some confidence in his own right.”
While Webster has settled down after his shaky debut this season, the third inning has continued to be a thorn in the side of the 24-year-old. Twelve of the 15 earned runs that Webster has allowed this season have come during the third.
Webster was rocked in his only career appearance against the Mariners on July 9, 2013, surrendering six hits and seven earned runs over just 2 1/3 innings.
Iwakuma (12-6, 2.57 ERA) has been extremely effective as of late, posting a 7-2 record with a 1.63 ERA over his last 10 starts.
In his last outing Tuesday, the 33-year-old shut down the Phillies for eight innings, holding his opponents to just four hits and no runs while racking up 11 strikeouts.
|08.23.14 at 11:43 pm ET|
Although his time in the majors has been brief, Red Sox starter Brandon Workman already has seen his career marked by two vastly different stretches of play.
Through his first eight big league starts, Workman looked like he belonged in the Red Sox rotation, posting a 2-1 record with a 2.91 ERA. He became the first Red Sox pitcher to make eight straight starts of five or more innings and three or fewer runs allowed since World War II.
Unfortunately for the 6-foot-5 righty, the last eight outings have been a far cry from his stellar debut, with an 0-8 record and a 6.75 ERA bloating his career numbers during the second half of the 2014 season. He now has achieved history of another sort, becoming the first Sox pitcher since Red Ruffing in 1929 to absorb a loss in eight or more consecutive appearances.
Workman’s latest outing fit his current trend of ineffectiveness, as the 26-year-old was torched for 10 hits and seven earned runs in just 3 1/3 innings against the Mariners on Saturday in what eventually resulted in a 7-3 Red Sox defeat.
Despite his discouraging box score, Workman began the game on a good foot, holding Seattle scoreless through the first three innings, including a 1-2-3 inning in the third.
“It was a quick inning,”Workman said. “I threw strikes, made some good pitches, got ground balls. … I didn’t execute like that in the fourth.”
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