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Red Sox minor league weekend roundup: Trey Ball, Matt Barnes rolling; Manuel Margot’s rare speed-power combo

08.11.14 at 12:47 pm ET
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A brief look at the action in the Red Sox minor league system over the weekend:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 5-2 WIN, 6-4 WIN AT CHARLOTTE (WHITE SOX)

(SATURDAY BOX, SUNDAY BOX)

— Right-hander Matt Barnes followed his seven no-hit innings with a quality start, yielding two runs on four hits (including a homer) in six hittings. Though he didn’t feature the same swing-and-miss dominance (he struck out four while walking three) as in his 10-punchout no-hit effort, he continued what has been a solid second half. In four starts since the All-Star break, Barnes has pitched at least five innings while permitting two or fewer runs in each of them, forging a 2.22 ERA with 22 strikeouts and 10 walks allowed in 24 1/3 innings, with opponents managing a microscopic .134 average against him.

— Left-hander Henry Owens, in his second Triple-A start, yielded four runs on eight hits in five innings while permitting two walks and punching out five. All four of the runs came in a third-inning rally that centered around three consecutive groundball singles sandwiched between a pair of doubles. Despite the run yield, Owens showed a couple of signs of strong execution, among them: Plenty of groundballs (he recorded six outs on the ground and four of the hits he allowed were likewise groundballs) and plenty of strikes (66 of 100).

— On Sunday, shortstop Deven Marrero had his first multi-hit game since July 26, going 2-for-3 with his first Triple-A homer, a double and a walk (his first in nine games). In 32 Triple-A games, Marrero is hitting .261/.299/.361. Read the rest of this entry »

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Closing Time: Rubby De La Rosa dominant as Sox take series finale over Angels

08.10.14 at 6:40 pm ET
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After using eight relievers in a 19-inning marathon Saturday night, the Red Sox needed as many innings as they could get from starter Rubby De La Rosa in Sunday’s series finale against the Angels.

De La Rosa not only gave them the innings, but was impressive in doing so.

The right-hander gave up one run on five hits in seven solid innings Sunday afternoon to lead the Sox to a 3-1 win over the Angels. It was the Red Sox‘ first series win since a three-game sweep of the Royals July 18-20.

Caught in a pitcher’s duel with Angels starter Hector Santiago, De La Rosa put together a dominant performance. He walked three and struck out eight in a 110-pitch effort for his first win since July 19.

Sunday’s performance was perfect end to a strong road trip for De La Rosa, who picked up his first win away from Fenway Park this season. He posted a 6.04 ERA in his first four road starts with the Sox this year, but has allowed just two runs in his last 14 innings on the road.

Here’s what went right (and wrong) for the Red Sox as they improved to 52-65 for the season.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

— De La Rosa gave the exhausted Red Sox staff exactly what it needed on Sunday: quality innings. The 25-year-old was nearly unbeatable for most of his outing until a leadoff home run by Mike Trout in the eighth inning chased him from the game.

De La Rosa played with fire early in his outing. He allowed multiple runners to reach base with one or no outs in three of the first four innings, but escaped without any damage. He settled down from there, retiring 11 of the last 13 batters he faced. Read the rest of this entry »

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Allen Craig didn’t feel foot injury was going to be serious

08.10.14 at 4:39 pm ET
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Red Sox outfielder Allen Craig shared Sunday that he didn’€™t feel his foot injury was serious at the time that he suffered it in his first game with the Red Sox. Craig jammed his foot on first base on Aug. 1 after being acquired from the Cardinals in a trade that sent John Lackey to St. Louis.

“I think that my gut kind of told me that everything was going to be fine and that I just kind of tweaked my foot a little bit on the base,” he said. “I wasn’€™t necessarily worried about it, I just saw it as an opportunity to get some reassurance and check that off the list and make sure that everything is fine so we can move forward with the new team I’€™m on here.”€

Craig, who dealt with a foot/ankle injury last postseason, said that his current injury — which he termed a mid-foot sprain — is a “pretty similar deal.” He added that he has felt ‘€œgreat’€ all season, though he understands that people might speculate that his foot is to blame for what’€™s been a down year offensively for him.

Craig is eligible to come off the disabled list on Aug. 17.

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

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Sunday’s Red Sox-Angels matchups: Rubby De La Rosa vs. Hector Santiago

08.10.14 at 12:24 pm ET
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The Red Sox will close out a three-game set against the Angels Sunday, sending Rubby De La Rosa to the mound against Hector Santiago in the series finale.

De La Rosa (3-4, 3.43 ERA) finally appeared to solve his road woes in his last start Tuesday against the Cardinals, holding St. Louis to six hits and just one earned run over six innings of work. Entering the game, De La Rosa had an ERA of 6.04 in four starts away from Fenway Park.

“I feel good,” De La Rosa said after the game. “I feel everything worked. I had a couple of walks. I missed a couple of pitches.”

Despite his struggles in opposing ballparks, De La Rosa has been one of Boston’€™s most consistent starters this season, allowing three runs or less in six of his last seven starts.

In his only career start against the Angels on June 24, 2011, De La Rosa gave up nine hits and five earned runs over six innings.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Heath Hembree to be optioned to Triple-A after stellar Red Sox debut

08.10.14 at 4:49 am ET
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — After throwing the most innings since sophomore year of college (four), Heath Hembree could take satisfaction that he made quite an impression in his Red Sox debut.

He also had to soak in the reality that Sunday he would be back in Triple-A.

Hembree kept the Red Sox in what turned out to be their 5-4, 19-inning loss Saturday night/Sunday morning with four shutout relief frames, in which he allowed just a pair of hits. Previously, the righty’s longest professional stint had been just two innings.

“It was fun. It was a crazy game tonight,,” said Hembree, who pitched innings 15-18. “That was definitely the longest outing of my career. Just trying to catch my breath and keep going.”

He added, “Honestly I was getting a little tired, but I was just trying to give everything I had and just empty the tank. There wasn’t that much adrenaline, per se. I was just out there pitching, and it just happened I had to go four innings tonight.”

The 25-year-0ld, who came over to the Red Sox in the Jake Peavy trade, had appeared in just nine major league games prior to Saturday night, having totaled 7 2/3 innings of relief for the Giants.

Perhaps Hembree’s most impressive moment came in the 17th inning when the righty was faced with bases loaded and just one out. But, after issuing his second intentional walk of the inning, the reliever came back to induce a shallow fly ball from C.J. Cron and a fielder’s choice grounder by Chris Iannetta to end the threat.

“He was outstanding,” said Farrell of the former fifth-round pick. “We backed them in a corner with a couple of intentional walks there. He’s still able to make the key pitch. We make a good play defensively to prevent a run from scoring with Cespdes throw. He was very good. Swing and miss with his fastball, didn’t feat the strike zone. A very positive first outing.”

Closing Time: Albert Pujols’ homer in 19th inning dooms Red Sox

08.10.14 at 3:43 am ET
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — It came at 3:39 a.m. (ET), with nobody out in the 19th inning.

Finally, the Red Sox succumbed.

Albert Pujols leadoff homer in the 19th off Brandon Workman gave the Angels a 5-4 win over the Red Sox, ending the Sox’ longest game since July 9, 2006. It punctuated a 6-hour, 31-minute game.

While the outcome fell short of the Red Sox record of 24 innings — set on Sept. 4, 1906 — it was the longest game in the history of Angel Stadium. It was also the most innings played in any Major League game this season.

The Pujols blast finalized a roller coaster of a contest.

Newly-acquired Heath Hembree got out of a huge jam in the 17th inning after loading the bases with one out. The former Giant induced a shallow fly ball and fielder’s choice grounder to send the game to the 18th. The righty allowed just two hits over his four innings.

“He was outstanding,” said Farrell of Hembree, who is scheduled to be optioned back to Triple-A Pawtucket to get another arm for Sunday. “We backed them in a corner with a couple of intentional walks there. He’s still able to make the key pitch. We make a good play defensively to prevent a run from scoring with [Yoenis] Cespedes throw. He was very good. Swing and miss with his fastball, didn’t feat the strike zone. A very positive first outing.”

Junichi Tazawa came on in the 14th with the Red Sox having just grabbed a one-run lead. But the reliever would soon be facing Mike Trout with the bases loaded and nobody out. (Farrell later said he was hoping to stay away from using Tazawa, who had pitched in three of the Sox’ last four games.)

Trout’s grounder to shortstop Xander Bogaerts resulted in a force at second base, with Dustin Pedroia‘s throw home not in time to prevent thee game-tying score.

“Yeah, I mean, it’s tough to play infield in. If they hit a chopper, we lose,” Pedroia explained. “Winning run’s on second. But yeah, I told Bogey before, if he smokes a ball, try to give it to me out in front of the base so we could try to get that out at home because Trout runs so good. Iannetta just got a great jump.”

Tazawa managed to escape with the score tied, striking out Josh Hamilton, stranding runners on second and third.

It was Pedroia’s efforts earlier in the 14th inning appeared to be leading to a Red Sox win.

After ripping a 14th-inning single, Pedroia stole second, popped up and raced to third after realizing nobody was covering third. (The Angels had forgotten to cover the bag, having been in a shift on David Ortiz.)

Ortiz punctuated the effort, lofting a deep fly ball to left field that scored Pedroia with the eventual game-winner.

Before the 14th-inning drama, more than an hour earlier it appeared Clay Buchholz would be highlighting the Red Sox’ night. Then along came the starter’s 115th pitch.

With two outs in the eighth inning and the Red Sox leading by a run, Red Sox manager chose to leave in Buchholz to face Mike Trout, who had already notched a pair of hits off the Sox starter. The result was a game-tying, solo home run over the right-center field wall.

“If I’d have known we were going to play 19 innings, I promise you I wouldn’€™t have given up a home run to Trout,” Buchholz said. “I’d have walked him.”

Prior to the eighth, Buchholz had actually out-pitched his Los Angeles counterpart, Angels’ ace Garrett Richards. For six innings, Richards was cruising through a no-hitter against a seemingly lifeless Red Sox team. Then there was what happened after that sixth inning.

The Red Sox exploded for three runs in the seventh against the Angels’ starter, who was coming off a complete game shutout of the Dodgers. It all started when Richards’ no-hitter was broken up by Dustin Pedroia, who singled up the middle leading off the seventh. Up until that point, the Angels’ starter had struck out five and walked two over six innings.

The Pedroia hit opened the flood gates for the Red Sox and completely changed the game’s narrative.

Ortiz immediately followed with an RBI double, which led to Yoenis Cespedes single. The Sox then proceeded to tie things up when Angels shortstop Erick Aybar (whose wife had kindly delivered homemade food to the Sox’ clubhouse before the game), booted a Mike Napoli grounder, allowing Ortiz to come in with the game-tying run.

Los Angeles continued to boot the ball around a batter later, with second baseman Howie Kendrick booting a sure double play ball off the bat of Daniel Nava, loading the bases with nobody out. That led to Xander Bogaerts’ sacrifice fly, giving the Red Sox their out-of-nowhere lead.

Despite’s Trout’s eighth-inning homer, perhaps the best news of the night for the Red Sox was the performance of Buchholz, who settled down after a shaky first inning to match Richards’ early excellence.

The Angels jumped on Buchholz with two runs in the first, with Los Angeles claiming three straight hits to start the home half of the inning. Kole Calhoun led off with a double, and was followed by Trout’s single. After a wild pitch, Albert Pujols ripped a double just out of the reach of center fielder Brock Holt for the early two-run lead.

Buchholz would go on to retire his next 11 batters before Howie Kendrick’s two-out walk in the fourth inning. It wasn’t until Trout’s sixth-inning single that the Sox righty allowed another hit.

The performance was far and away the best for Buchholz sine his complete game shutout against Houston just before the All-Star break. Since that outing against the Astros he had allowed  23 runs on 31 hits and 13 walks over 22 innings (four starts), for a 9.00 ERA. His two most recent outings saw Buchholz give up seven runs in five innings each time.

There was, of course, yet another spectacular catch by defensive replacement Jackie Bradley Jr. This time it was a running grab on a liner to right-center field off the bat of Erick Aybar in the ninth inning.

The Red Sox got out of a major jam in the 10th inning when Craig Breslow induced a foul pop-up off the bat of Josh Hamilton with runners on second and third, ending the frame. Hamilton moved  to 0 for his last 21 after the at-bat.

Also of note was Christian Vazquez catching 18 innings, tying his career-high longest game (accomplished with Double-A Portland). “I’ll be all right,” he said. “I’m young.”

Yoenis Cespedes likes left field, wants to steal more bases, is really fast

08.09.14 at 10:35 pm ET
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Yoenis Cespedes is fast.

As John Farrell explained Saturday, this is a fact the Red Sox have been introduced to during their brief introduction to the outfielder.

“His running speed is better than we anticipated,” the Red Sox manager said. “His range in the outfield, going first to third on a bloop down the right field line. He’s got a very strong work ethic. Those are all things we had a feel for. But the range in the outfield and his running speed has been above what was anticipated.”

The most recent reminder regarding Cespedes speed — (he says his fastest time in the 60-yard dash is a world-class 6.1 seconds) — came Friday night when he tracked down a sinking liner off the bat Chris Iannetta. Then there was the extra gear he exhibited when running the bases in St. Louis.

They knew about the power and the arm, but, for his new team, Cespedes’ wheels were somewhat unexpected.

“I don’t think we know,” said Red Sox first base/outfield coach Arnie Beyeler regarding the impact the outfielder can make with his legs. “He kind of plays pretty easy. He made that catch last night and kind of hit another gear when he got close to that ball. We were playing the wrong way on him, but he came out of nowhere and closed on that ball. Then the other night in St. Louis when he got the triple. He didn’t really start running until the ball hit the ground, I look up and he’s at third base. He shows a little bit more every day. He’s fun to watch play. He’s a pretty exciting guy.”

The mobility leads to a conversation about which position Cespedes might end up at. The original plan was to play him in right field, with newly-acquired Allen Craig shifting over to left field. But with an ankle injury to Craig — and the need for Cespedes to get more practice in right (a position he has never played) — the Red Sox have put that blueprint on hold.

Then there is the intrigue regarding a possible stint in center field, where Cespedes primarily played in Cuba. But even with the experience in center (and the potential team’s need at the position), the power hitter prefers his current spot in left.

“I’ve become accustomed to playing left field,” he said. “If I had to play center field,and they asked me to, I would do it. ‘€¦ I’ve just grown accustomed to playing (in left). I have to run less to get balls. I’ve gotten comfortable.”

The other facet of Cespedes game which might develop with the Red Sox thanks to his speed is an ability to steal bases. In his first season with Oakland, he swiped 16 bases in 20 attempts. But last season that number dropped to seven in as many tries. This season he is 3-for-5 in stole bases tries.

“The first couple of years I stole a few more bases, but I started getting some hamstring issues so i got a little timid about stealing bases,” he said. “But i would like to steal more bases, and I can.”

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