|08.24.15 at 8:12 pm ET|
CHICAGO — The Red Sox have received another piece of good news for 2016: they’re cautiously optimistic catcher Christian Vazquez will be ready for Opening Day.
Sidelined since undergoing Tommy John surgery in April, Vazquez is expected to get some at-bats in Instructional League as he takes the next step in his recovery.
“Obviously he’s a very important piece to the puzzle moving forward,” said interim manager Torey Lovullo. “What we’re really concerned about right now is how he’s progressing. He’s going to take some at-bats in Instructional League, get into a little bit of a throwing program and then have some downtime that’s very typical of an offseason and than be ready for the year next year and that’s what we’re really excited about.”
While it’s possible that Vazquez will play winter ball, Lovullo said the plan would be for him just to hit. His repaired elbow isn’t yet ready to cut loose and throw.
As for the idea of Vazquez being ready for the opener, however, Lovullo embraced it.
“I think he will,” he said. “If there’s one guy we can bet on, it’s Christian. He’s really excited and eager to get things moving.”
In other pregame notes . . .
— Lovullo plans on Pablo Sandoval continuing to hit second behind Mookie Betts, hoping it will get him more fastballs in hitter’s counts. “I don’t really like to move guys around, and he’s getting comfortable there,” Lovullo said.
— Lovullo expects to stay away from closer Junichi Tazawa “for sure” after he threw 30 pitches and took the loss in Kansas City’s four-run ninth on Sunday.
— Second baseman Dustin Pedroia, sidelined since July 23 with a recurrence of a hamstring injury that had already kept him out for three weeks, is ramping up baseball activities, with Sept. 10 a soft target date for his return.
|08.24.15 at 4:21 pm ET|
CHICAGO — After missing some time due to an strained oblique muscle, Brock Holt returns to the Red Sox lineup in their series-opening game against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field Monday night. Holt hasn’t played since last Wednesday.
Also re-entering the starting lineup will be left fielder Hanley Ramirez, who joins Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo in the visitors’ outfield.
Here is the rest of the Red Sox batting order against Chicago starter Jeff Samardzija, with Joe Kelly on the mound for Boston:
Mookie Betts CF
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Travis Shaw 1B
Hanley Ramirez LF
Brock Holt 2B
Rusney Castillo RF
Ryan Hanigan C
|08.24.15 at 11:20 am ET|
Still inhabitants of the AL East cellar with a 56-68 record, the Red Sox have shown signs of life in the last two weeks. After scoring 45 runs in three games against the Mariners and winning a three-game series, the they repeated their performance against the Indians, taking two out of three against the Tribe, including a 6-4 win over reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber.
Strong pitching from Wade Miley and Henry Owens helped the Red Sox get off to a two-game advantage over the Royals during their four-game weekend set, and they tied a season-high by establishing a four-game winning streak. However, their good fortune eventually ran out when they dropped the third game of the series 6-3 and blew a two-run lead in the ninth Sunday to fall 8-6 and settle for a series split.
The key to the Red Sox‘ resurgence has been the timely hitting of the offense, which averaged 8.2 runs per game over the 10-game homestand. Multi-hit performances from the likes of youngsters Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, Travis Shaw and Rusney Castillo have revitalized a lineup that had grown much too content with relying on the inconsistent bats of Hanley Ramirez (.254 AVG) and Pablo Sandoval (.259).
“These younger players have finally gained a little traction,” interim manager Torey Lovullo said of his young hitters on Saturday. “They’re starting to get a good feel for what it takes to be a major league player. Some of the players who have been here all year, some of the guys that are joining us, there’s really continuity, there’s a really good vibe that these young players create. They like one another. They get along on and off the field. You’re seeing that play out right now. I think that’s why we’re being so successful on the field. I think these guys are having fun playing and playing with a lot of energy and they’re really coming into their own.”
While the hitting has received a lot of the credit for the Sox’ recent success, and rightfully so, the pitching staff deserves a nod as well. Miley and Joe Kelly combined to toss 26 1/3 innings during the homestand, giving up just five runs between them while whiffing 23 batters. Overall, Sox starters turned in quality starts in seven of their last 10 contests.
The White Sox are in a nearly identical situation as the Red Sox. With a 58-64 record and a potential last-place finish in their division on the horizon, they also are evaluating where their organization stands in the wake of a wildly unsuccessful offseason.
|08.24.15 at 10:24 am ET|
A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Sunday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (49-80): L, 4-2 in 10 innings, vs. Lehigh Valley (Phillies)
— RHP Pat Light walked three consecutive batters in the top of the 10th inning, on 3-0, 3-2 and then 3-1 pitches, leading to the go-ahead runs scoring on an ensuing two-bounce chopper to shortstop that Deven Marrero charged and fielded cleanly but bounced on the throw home, an error charged to Marrero (his 17th of the season) as the ball evaded catcher Humberto Quintero, allowing two runs to score.
Light (Boston’s No. 22 prospect at MLB.com) had not walked a batter in his two previous outings after walking 11 over a four-appearance span in early August.
“It’s been interesting because I’ve never had an issue with fastball in my career up to this point,” the 24-year-old told the Providence Journal. “I don’t have something to draw on from the past to help figure that out. I’ve just been missing a little, usually on my arm side. It’s been hit-or-miss. Sometimes I’ve been great with [the fastball] and sometimes not.”
The 6-foot-5 Light had allowed just two earned runs over his last 13 1/3 innings, although one of those was the go-ahead home run allowed in a Pawtucket extra-inning loss last Wednesday. Selected by Boston in the first round (37th overall) of the 2012 draft out of Monmouth University, Light has worked 29 2/3 innings with the PawSox over 22 outings, with 17 earned runs (5.16 ERA), 33 strikeouts and 26 walks.
— Marrero (Boston’s No. 10 prospect at MLB.com) had plated both Pawtucket runs earlier in the game with his sixth home run of the year, a deep drive over the billboards and out of the ballpark in left field on a 3-1 pitch in the third inning. Marrero, 24, is slashing .248/.308/.344 over 90 games this year in Triple-A and has had two stints in the majors where he appeared in just six games and hit 1-for-7 in his limited at-bats. Since his last stint in Boston, Marrero has batted leadoff in 12 consecutive games, the first such games of his Triple-A career, and has hit .308 (16-for-52) with hits in 11 of the 12 contests.
— RHP William Cuevas allowed a two-run homer in the top of the third inning but pitched his third quality start in his fourth Triple-A try, finishing with a no-decision final line of: 6 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 7 SO (108 pitches, 69 strikes). The 24-year-old Cuevas had walked the leadoff batter in the third prior to the long ball, and did so again to start the fourth but recovered to limit the damage as he retired the final eight batters he faced. Promoted to Pawtucket on Aug. 4, the 6-foot Cuevas was an Eastern League All-Star this year with Double-A Portland where he held opponents to a .233 average and allowed just four home runs.
— LHP Robby Scott pitched three scoreless innings of relief, retiring the first 10 batters he faced before allowing back-to-back singles in the ninth and stranding them with an infield pop out. Scott, 25, struck out three and walked none and has not allowed a run over his last nine innings pitched, with six hits allowed, seven whiffs and no walks over that span.
— RHP Jonathan Aro was recalled to Boston on Sunday for the third time this season, with RHP Matt Barnes optioned back to Pawtucket.
Aro, 24, had returned to Pawtucket on Aug. 1 and made six Triple-A appearances over that span, allowing five earned runs (including two home runs) in 12 2/3 innings with nine strikeouts and two walks. The last five outings from Aro have been multi-inning appearances, with his last on Wednesday a three-inning scoreless relief spot.
|08.24.15 at 9:10 am ET|
Kelly has turned a corner recently as he is in the midst of a four-game winning streak and owner of a 1.56 ERA in his last three starts. Over those 17 1/3 innings, the righty has kept batters slashing .250/.324/.422, giving up 16 hits and striking out 16 while walking seven. His latest start was a six-inning effort that yielded just one unearned run in an otherwise scoreless outing for him. Kelly threw 57 of his 100 total pitches for strikes and fanned three while walking as many. That start, a 6-4 win over the Indians on Wednesday, helped improve his season ERA to 5.37 and his record for the year to 6-6.
“Just trying to keep hitters off balance, not necessarily keep pounding fastballs away,” Kelly said after his appearance Wednesday. “I’ve been throwing some offspeed pitches for strikes, and that’s definitely helped, especially with guys on base.”
Kelly’s first and only start of his career against the White Sox came earlier this season on July 27, his second start back after returning to the rotation. Lasting just 3 1/3 innings, he allowed four earned runs on seven hits with no walks and a pair of strikeouts. Of those seven hits, two were doubles and two were triples, and the 27-year-old gave up three of his earned runs, though four total were scored, in the the top of the first inning. Because of the abbreviated start, Kelly has a 10.80 ERA vs. the White Sox but did not earn a decision as the Red Sox managed to tie the score and even take the lead after their starter exited. They still ended up losing, though, 10-8.
|08.23.15 at 6:52 pm ET|
While the team and Junichi Tazawa may not be acknowledging it, it appears the Red Sox reliever is battling some fatigue.
Tazawa allowed four runs on six hits in the ninth inning blowing the save in the Red Sox‘ 8-6 loss to the Royals Sunday at Fenway Park. The right-hander has thrown 68 1/3 and 63 innings each of the last two seasons and already has thrown 53 this year.
Including Sunday, Tazawa has allowed nine runs in eight appearances in August. Going into the month he had allowed 14 runs over 46 appearances.
“I feel fine. Fatigue is not a factor,” Tazawa said through a translator.
Interim manager Torey Lovullo said he didn’t think fatigue has been a factor either.
“Not really,” Lovullo said. “I think when you look up there and see he’s throwing his fastball in the mid-90s, he’s locating his fastball, he’s able to throw secondary quality stuff, I don’t see much wear and tear on him at all. He wants to go out there and compete and he just didn’t get the job done today.”
Last year, Tazawa had an ERA of 2.61 in the first half of the season and 3.24 in the second half. It’s much of the same this year, as he posted a 2.58 ERA in the first half and his second half ERA currently stands at 6.97.
Another possible reason for the struggles is a change of role, as Tazawa is currently the Red Sox‘ closer with Koji Uehara out for the season.
|08.23.15 at 6:39 pm ET|
In what was one of the most bizarre plays in a bizarre season, Jackie Bradley Jr. misplayed a ball to leadoff the ninth inning which landed on the warning track in left field and then he couldn’t handle it off the bounce, which had Omar Infante thinking inside-the-park home run.
Bradley Jr. picked up the ball and threw a one-hop strike to the plate to get Infante. The Royals challenged the play, but it stayed as called.
“It was hit really well off of the bat,” Bradley Jr. said. “I was playing it like it was going to be off of the wall and got twisted around a little bit. I just wanted to make an accurate throw. The grass was wet. I wanted to give him a chance.”
The play even drew the praise of members of the Royals.
“I thought it was actually a really good send,” third baseman Mike Moustakas said. “It took a phenomenal throw by Jackie out there. He pulled it off. It was an unbelievable throw. A foot to left or a foot to the right, Omar is safe. I thought it was a good send. We ended up being able to cover that up and go out there and win a ball game.”
“You know he’s got a great arm but to do that, that’s something you don’t really see or expect,” he added. “He’s got a cannon. That was probably one of the best throws I’ve seen in a long time, if not ever. Right on the money, throw a guy out at the plate from left-center field.”
The Royals got the last laugh as they scored four ninth inning runs following the play to beat the Red Sox, 8-6.
|08.23.15 at 5:15 pm ET|
The adventures of the Red Sox bullpen continue.
With a 6-4 lead in the ninth, Junichi Tazawa blew the save as he allowed four runs in the inning on six hits, as the Royals beat the Red Sox 8-6.
A bases loaded single by Eric Hosmer scored two runs to tie the game and then after a walk, Mike Moustakas hit a two-run double for the last two runs of the inning. Kendrys Morales was thrown out at the plate on the play to end the inning trying to score from first.
The inning started with a very bizarre play as Jackie Bradley Jr. misplayed a ball that landed on the warning track and with Omar Infante trying to extend it to an inside-the-park home run, Bradley Jr. threw a strike to the plate to get Infante for the first out of the ninth. The play was reviewed, but stood.
“They hit some good pitches. It was not a typical [Tazawa] day,” interim manager Torey Lovullo said. “He has been very consistent for us all year long. We have to give them credit. They are a pretty good team, able to take advantage of mistakes and they did. That’s why they are the best team in the American League right now.”
With the game tied at four in the seventh inning, Ryan Hanigan led off with a single and then came around to score from first on Bradley Jr.’s double down the right field line. Bradley Jr. scored on a Pablo Sandoval two-out dribbler in front of the mound that Royals reliever Franklin Morales over threw first base (although he would have likely beat the throw anyway).
Bradley Jr. finished the game 2-for-4 with two doubles. Before his single in the ninth, he had 11 straight extra-base hits.
Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez didn’t have his best stuff and also didn’t get support from his defense in the fourth inning, but despite all that he was able to keep the Sox in the game. Overall, the left-hander went six innings and allowed four runs (two earned) on seven hits, while not walking a batter and only striking out one.
In the fourth inning, Morales hit a ball up the middle which could have been an inning-ending double play, but second baseman Josh Rutledge booted the ball allowing it to go into center field. Mookie Betts’ throw to third base then skipped into the Royals dugout. Morales then scored on a Moustakas double.
Moustakas would later hit a home run in the sixth for the fourth Royals run off Rodriguez.
The Red Sox scored two runs in the second and then tied the game at four in the sixth. David Ortiz had a sacrifice fly to make it 4-3 and then Travis Shaw doubled with two outs and was driven in on a Rusney Castillo single.
Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ loss:
|08.23.15 at 12:18 pm ET|
Although Brock Holt will miss his fourth straight game, it appears he’s nearing a return.
Holt will miss Sunday’s game after originally being in Saturday’s lineup, but was a late scratch with left oblique tightness. Interim manager Torey Lovullo said he would be available in an emergency situation Sunday.
“Brock’s doing OK,” Lovullo said. “Still a little nicked up. His left oblique has given him problems, but he is available today if needed in an emergency situation. We’re looking to get him in the lineup tomorrow. I had a good discussion with Brock this morning where we just felt like it was best to give him one more day, give him a blow, get ahead of it and see where he’s at tomorrow.”
The utility man has played 99 games this season and this comes after he played a career-high 106 last year. Lovullo said the team is aware of the numbers of games played and him struggling in the second half of last year. He hit .219 after hitting .327 in the first half.
“It’s been on our radar that he’s had a history of wearing down, but I think overall you just have to look at the guy, productivity and what he means to the ball club,” he said. “Whether he is tired or not, he has such great value to this team that we’re going to find a spot for him in the right situation. What can he do? I don’t know if he can work any harder behind the scenes.
“He’s a very caring guy. He understands what he means to this team. He wants to stay healthy — whether he tweaks his offseason program I’m not sure, but I think in time we’re going to find a guy who can be consistent throughout the year health wise.”
— Sunday is just an off-day for Hanley Ramirez.
— Following Saturday’s game and Matt Barnes‘ second major league start, he was optioned back to Triple-A Pawtucket. With Rick Porcello returning to the rotation this week, the team needed to open up a spot.
Barnes went 5 1/3 innings and allowed five runs. Overall in his two starts, he allowed 11 earned runs in 10 1/3 innings.
Reliever Jonathan Aro was recalled as the corresponding roster move.
|08.23.15 at 10:34 am ET|
A night after snapping a 0-for-16 skid with a double in his final at-bat Saturday, Hanley Ramirez will get the day off as the Red Sox close out their series with the Royals. Despite the loss, the Red Sox have taken two of the first three games of the series.
Jackie Bradley Jr. will take Ramirez’s spot in left, Mookie Betts will play center and Rusney Castillo will play right.
Brock Holt is out once again. He was scratched from Saturday’s with left oblique tightness.
Ryan Hanigan will catch Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez.
For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.
Here is the complete Red Sox lineup:
Mookie Betts, CF
Pablo Sandoval, 3B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
David Ortiz, DH
Travis Shaw, 1B
Rusney Castillo, RF
Ryan Hanigan, C
Jackie Bradley Jr., LF
Josh Rutledge, 2B
Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP
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