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Matt Barnes gives Red Sox best relief performance of year in win over Giants

07.21.16 at 12:39 am ET
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Matt Barnes gave the Red Sox three scoreless innings Wednesday night. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

Matt Barnes gave the Red Sox three scoreless innings Wednesday night. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

It wasn’t the easiest of situations to come into.

Tommy Layne allowed the bases to be loaded with no outs in the sixth inning with the Red Sox clinging to a 8-7 lead over the Giants and manager John Farrell called for Matt Barnes out of the bullpen.

The UConn product delivered as he was able to get out of the jam with no runs. Barnes got pinch-hitter Gregor Blanco to hit into a 3-2 double play as Hanley Ramirez stepped on first base and fired home to get the runner at home on a close play at the plate. Then, Barnes got another pinch-hitter Conor Gillaspie to fly out to first base and get out of the inning with no damage and keep the Red Sox on top.

The inning proved large as the Red Sox scored two runs in the bottom half of the frame on their way to a 11-7 win. Barnes earned the win, his third of the season, which tied a career-high.

“It’s not easy, but it’s kind of fun,” Barnes said. “It’s kind of the excitement of it and knowing that one, you’re coming through for your team and two, you get to pick up another guy in the bullpen.”

Added Barnes: “In a situation like that you have to take it one pitch at a time. You can’t try and do too much or make the second pitch without making the first one. You have to stay relaxed and execute pitch-by-pitch and hopefully the results are in your favor.”

Barnes wasn’t done there as he then pitched the seventh and eighth innings, allowing just two hits in the three total innings.

Manager John Farrell called it the best relief performance of the season.

“Yeah, I would say it is,” he said. “Given that he comes in in a bases loaded situation and going into tonight’s game, the plan was for him to pitch the eighth. I didn’t think he would pitch the sixth, seventh and eighth. He held his stuff throughout. He’s done a great job with inherited runners and shutting down threats. That three innings or work, given the high stress of the first inning that he pitched, an outstanding effort on his part.”

If not for Hanley Ramirez and his three home runs, the MVP of Wednesday night would been Barnes, but certainly he and the Red Sox will take the win.

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Drew Pomeranz on rough Red Sox debut: ‘That’s not me out there’

07.21.16 at 12:18 am ET
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It wasn't the greatest of Red Sox debuts for Drew Pomeranz. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

It wasn’t the greatest of Red Sox debuts for Drew Pomeranz. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

It wasn’t the Red Sox debut Drew Pomeranz had hoped for.

After being traded to the Red Sox from the Padres last Thursday, he made his debut Wednesday night at Fenway Park against his former division rivals, the Giants.

It didn’t go as he would have liked as he didn’t make it out of the fourth inning and allowed five runs, but fortunately for him, the Red Sox offense bailed him out as Boston won the game, 11-7.

Regardless of the team getting the win, Pomeranz wasn’t satisfied with the outing — his shortest of the season.

“I take it one day at a time. By tonight I’ll flush everything out, but that’s not me out there,” he said after the game. “I’ll just kind of think about that next bullpen session and start over from there.”

The left-hander finished the game going three-plus innings, allowing the five runs on eight hits, while striking out two. He didn’t record an out in the fourth inning, where he faced seven batters and allowed the five runs.

Pomeranz said he didn’t put any extra pressure on himself leading into the start.

“Not really. I don’t think I put too much pressure on myself,” he said. “Just trying to go out there and do the same thing I do every time I take the mound which is give our team the best chance to win.”

Coming into the game, he had solid numbers against the Giants as although he had an 0-2 record in three starts against them this year, he had just a 2.62 ERA.

“I faced these guys four times this year,” Pomeranz. “I was going along pretty good through the first three (innings). Made some bad fastball location pitches and they made me pay for it.”

The Giants really made him pay in the fourth inning with two homers — a two-run homer from Mac Williamson and then Trevor Brown adding a two-run shot of his own later in the frame.

Fortunately for Pomeranz, the Red Sox offense led by Hanley Ramirez’s three home runs, was able to pick him up, something that rarely happened in San Diego.

“This team is amazing,” he said. “Being apart of that and these guys put up eight runs pretty quick on them — it’s exciting.”

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Koji Uehara has ‘unique injury for a pitcher,’ too early for timetable on return

07.20.16 at 11:53 pm ET
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Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara

Things don’t appear all that great for Koji Uehara.

After being placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right pectoral strain earlier in the day on Wednesday, the 41-year-old had an MRI, which confirmed the is a strain, but there’s some uncertainty on the significance of the injury.

“At the time of the injury we knew it was significant and we put him on the DL before the MRI,” manager John Farrell said after Wednesday’s game. “It obviously confirms a strain. To what extent? We’re still getting our arms around that. This is a unique injury for a pitcher. I guess the best thing I can tell you is the MRI does confirm the strain.”

Farrell did say it isn’t any more significant than originally thought, given he was placed on the DL before the MRI.

“No, it was significant enough for us to put him on the DL without the MRI,” he said. “That’s the best I can tell you right now.”

As for a timetable for when Uehara could return to the mound, there is no answer yet.

“We knew it was going to be a minimum of two weeks with the 15 days right away,” Farrell said. “I think it’s still too early to tell the entire length this could be.”

The reliever was not made available with a translator following the game.

Uehara suffered the injury Tuesday night in the ninth inning up 4-0 against the Giants when he was removed after just seven pitches and felt the discomfort in his right shoulder area.

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

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Closing Time: Hanley Ramirez (3 home runs) tees off, Drew Pomeranz implodes, and Red Sox beat Giants in wildest game of year

07.20.16 at 10:57 pm ET
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Fenway Park explodes after Hanley Ramirez blasts his third homer of the night Wednesday. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Fenway Park explodes after Hanley Ramirez blasts his third homer of the night Wednesday against the Giants. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Hanley Ramirez gave the Red Sox a night to remember on an evening Drew Pomeranz hopes to forget.

Ramirez delivered the first three-homer game of his career and made a trio of outstanding defensive plays to overcome an absolute implosion by Pomeranz in his debut as the Red Sox claimed a wild 11-7 victory over the Giants in a possible World Series preview.

With the victory, the Red Sox also moved into sole possession of first place in the American League East for the first time since June 4.

“The crowd, that was probably the most electric atmosphere we’ve had this year, and since I got called up,” said third baseman Travis Shaw. “The crowd was into it, they were loud, you could feel the energy tonight. It was different than any other game we’ve played.”

Ramirez put a charge in the place by hitting homers to right, center, and left while driving in six runs. His final homer came two innings after he appeared to vow, “I’ll get you back,” to Giants reliever Albert Suarez, who had drilled him in the fourth. He also made the defensive play of the game, starting a 3-2 double play with the bases loaded and no outs in the sixth inning of an 8-7 game.

“I never expected this, but it’s a great feeling, it’s a great feeling, especially to end up with a W,” Ramirez said. “This team doesn’t give up. They keep adding runs and runs. We’ve got to continue to score more runs than them.”

This one had a little bit of everything. The Red Sox raced to an 8-0 lead on Ramirez’s first two homers and a monstrous two-run blast by Shaw.

Pomeranz, who was clean through the first three innings, fell apart in the fourth. He failed to retire any of the seven batters he faced and was lifted after allowing a three-run homer to Mac Williamson and a two-run shot to Trevor Brown. His final line read three innings, 8 eight hits, five runs and four strikeouts.

“By tonight, I’ll flush everything,” Pomeranz said. “That’s not me out there.”

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Read More: Drew Pomeranz, Giants, hanley ramirez, jackie bradley jr.

Drew Pomeranz’s knuckle-curve explained — it’s zero percent knuckleball, 100 percent curve

07.20.16 at 6:33 pm ET
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Drew Pomeranz will unveil his knuckle curve with the Red Sox on Wednesday. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

Drew Pomeranz will unveil his knuckle curve with the Red Sox on Wednesday. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

Since the Red Sox acquired left-hander Drew Pomeranz from the Padres last week, we’ve heard a lot about his best pitch. So let’s take this opportunity to clear up some misconceptions about the knuckle-curve.

First off, it’s not a knuckleball in any way, shape, or form. It is 100 percent a curveball, with the “knuckle” in the name simply signifying the way it’s gripped.

The traditional curveball is held with the index and middle finger resting horizontally across the ball, which rotates over them to produce spin. With the knuckle-curve, the grip is the same, except the index finger is either pressed vertically against the ball at the fingertip, or tucked back in at the knuckle.

We’ll let Red Sox assistant pitching coach Brian Bannister explain.

“It’s really just for some guys to feel like they have a more solid pressure against the ball, so it doesn’t slip up out of their finger,” Bannister said. “For some guys, for extra force against the ball, they feel like they can throw it a little harder and still have control.”

The tucked knuckle provides an opposing force to the motion of Pomeranz’s delivery, giving him a tighter grip. Whereas a traditional curve could conceivably fly out of a pitcher’s hand halfway through his delivery, a knuckle-curve isn’t going anywhere.

The grip doesn’t impact movement in any general way. Pomeranz throws a big curve that’s shaped like a 12-to-6, but with more tilt, whereas closer Craig Kimbrel, who also uses the grip, throws a hard curve that moves more side-to-side like a slider.

“You look at Kimbrel or A.J. Burnett or other guys around the league, Cody Allen, that throw the harder curveball, quite a few of them use the fingertip or the knuckle because they feel like they can just hold onto the ball a little firmer and it just gives them a little more confidence to get more aggressive with it,” Bannister said. “They throw it almost with the intensity of a slider, just because there’s a firmer grip there.”

It’s worth noting the existence of a separate knuckle-curve that’s much rarer. Former Phillies right-hander Tyler Green threw a curveball with a knuckleball grip and a fastball delivery in the early-90s, though injuries curtailed his career.

Bannister notes that in the Kansas City area, high schoolers are learning a grip that’s a true knuckler-curve hybrid. He said that fourth overall pick Riley Pint of the Rockies throws the pitch.

“It’s almost like a knuckleball-curveball,” Bannister said. “So it’s got a unique movement to it.”

In any event, when Pomeranz starts throwing his knuckle-curve with the Red Sox, don’t be surprised when it just looks like a really good curveball.

“It just means you’re pushing back into the ball somehow with your index finger vs. just holding it with your two fingers flat against the ball,” Bannister said. “That’s the only difference.”

Read More: brian bannister, curveball grips, Drew Pomeranz, knuckle curveball

Red Sox manager John Farrell: ‘I would still’ pitch Koji Uehara in similar situation despite injury outcome

07.20.16 at 5:27 pm ET
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John Farrell

John Farrell

Red Sox manager John Farrell visited with Dale & Holley with Thornton to provide an update on Koji Uehara and discuss other team news. To listen to the interview, go to the D&H audio on demand page.

Farrell said Uehara was going through an MRI on Wednesday afternoon and that the Red Sox will have a better read on his pectoral injury later in the day.

“Anytime you see a guy taken off the mound in the middle of a ballgame because of an injury, it’s never a positive thing,” Farrell said. “Hopefully it’s on the short end. The fact that he felt it on one pitch, this wasn’t a cumulative effect or something that’s been building over time.”

Farrell defended his decision to pitch Uehara in the ninth inning of Boston’s 4-o win over the Giants on Tuesday night. Uehara, 41, left the mound after throwing just seven pitches.

“We’re in the middle of the order, a four-run lead in this ballpark where things can turn on you fairly quick,” Farrell said. “So as I’ve done a number of times previously with Koji in similar situations … I pitched him in the ninth inning. There’s been situations where Koji has come in in the middle of the inning and has not gone well, and knowing your personnel, what they prefer and how they’re most effective, that was the situation last night. Despite getting hurt, I would still make the same situation tonight if Koji’s there available and we have a four-run lead in the ninth inning.”

Farrell also discussed the improvements seen from starting pitcher Rick Porcello. The 27-year-old right-hander is 12-2 with a 3.47 ERA. He has the third most wins in the American League, and he tossed 6 1/3 innings of shutout ball during Tuesday’s win.

“The biggest thing is his ability to execute his two-seamer,” Farrell said. “I know that sounds awful simplistic, but last year in the first half of the season when he found some new velocity and the strikeout totals were up, he got a lot of swing-and-miss up in the strike zone but he didn’t have the consistency then as he does now. … So that’s his signature pitch and he’s more readily to execute it right now.”

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Read More: Drew Pomeranz, Joe Kelly, John Farrell, Koji Uehara

Why Joe Kelly wasn’t called up following Craig Kimbrel injury

07.20.16 at 5:09 pm ET
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Joe Kelly is getting closer to a return to the Red Sox, but it isn't today. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Joe Kelly is getting closer to a return to the Red Sox, but it isn’t today. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

The Red Sox are dealing with another injury to their bullpen.

On Wednesday, Koji Uehara was placed on the 15-day disabled listed with a right pectoral strain and right-hander Noe Ramirez was recalled for the sixth time this season.

Many wondered why it wasn’t Joe Kelly given his recent transition to the bullpen and throwing the ball well with Triple-A Pawtucket.

“He was (considered, but with [Junichi Tazawa], everything pointing to him being active for Friday, and while Joe is getting some quality work in that relief role, we didn’t want this to be a one or two day situation for him and be returned back to Pawtucket so that’s where we are with Joe,” manager John Farrell said. “Clearly, he’s throwing the ball well and without a specific date, that date whatever that is is getting closer.”

Kelly is currently with Pawtucket and hasn’t allowed a run in three innings over two appearances while striking out six. Since making the transition to the bullpen, the right-hander has allowed two runs over seven innings of work between Lowell and Pawtucket.

“There’s not a check list per se,” Farrell said. “The one thing he is doing is pitching exclusively out of the stretch. Felt like that has been able to minimize any additional movement in his delivery. He’s honed that in. The relief work that he’s done has been quality. Whether or not we go back-to-back is to be determined at this point. I wouldn’t say that it’s a must.”

Uehara received an MRI on his shoulder Wednesday afternoon, but the results were not known prior to the game.

“To suggest any type of timeframe right now, it’s still a little too early for that,” Farrell said. ”
“Unfortunately, we’re going to be without Koji.”

In the meantime, Farrell said Brad Ziegler would take over as closer, although he did say if there was a string of left-handers, that could change things.

As for closer Craig Kimbrel, who is on the disabled list after needing surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee, he threw for the first time since the injury on Wednesday off flat ground.

“I don’t think there’s been anything to change the initial timeframe that’s been established,” Farrell said. “We’re hopeful it is on the shorter end of that. The check up and the way he’s going through rehab has been very encouraging.”

The initial timetable was 3-6 weeks from the injury, which was suffered July 11, so the team is likely hopeful he can return to the mound in early August as a best-case scenario.

Read More: Craig Kimbrel, Joe Kelly, junichi tazawa,

Red Sox lineup: Brock Holt batting 9th for 3rd straight game

07.20.16 at 3:31 pm ET
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Brock Holt

Brock Holt

If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.

For the third straight game, the Red Sox have Brock Holt batting ninth, but it’s worked so far as the Red Sox have won the previous two games and Holt homered Tuesday night.

The Red Sox will be going up against Giants right-hander Matt Cain in the final game of a two-game set with the Giants.

Sandy Leon will catch Red Sox starter Drew Pomeranz.

Here is the complete Red Sox lineup:

Mookie Betts, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
David Ortiz, DH
Hanley Ramirez, 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Travis Shaw, 3B
Sandy Leon, C
Brock Holt, LF
Drew Pomeranz, LHP

For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.

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Koji Uehara (right pectoral strain) placed on 15-day DL, Noe Ramirez recalled

07.20.16 at 2:22 pm ET
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Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara

The news isn’t so good for Koji Uehara.

After leaving Tuesday’s game after seven pitches, Uehara has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right pectoral strain. To fill his spot on the roster, right-hander Noe Ramirez has been recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket.

Pitching with a 4-0 lead in the ninth, Uehara felt discomfort in his pec after a strikeout and was removed from the game. The 41-yrar-old is 2-3 with six saves and a 4.50 ERA in 39 appearances this season. He was the closer with Craig Kimbrel on the disabled list himself. Now it appears Brad Ziegler will take over that role.

Ramirez has made 11 relief appearances over six stints with the Red Sox this season, posting no record and a 6.55 ERA with 11 strikeouts.

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

Read More: Koji Uehara, noe ramirez,

Red Sox GM Mike Hazen on OM&F: Red Sox will ‘continue to look at the trade market’ as deadline approaches

07.20.16 at 1:34 pm ET
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Mike Hazen

Mike Hazen

Red Sox general manager Mike Hazen joined the Ordway, Merloni & Fauria show on Wednesday to discuss the team’s latest injured player and new starting pitcher Drew Pomeranz. To hear the interview, visit the OM&F on demand audio page.

In Tuesday night’s 4-0 win over the Giants, relief pitcher Koji Uehara came out of the game after throwing just seven pitches with an apparent pectoral strain. It is unclear yet when Uehara, 41, will be able to play again, meaning that Hazen and the Red Sox front office may have to make another move for a reliever.

“We’re going to get a better look at Koji this afternoon,” Uehara said. “Never really a good time after the game to get the best read on an injury. We usually like to let 24 or so hours set in before we can get a full handle on what we’re dealing with, hopefully its nothing overly serious.”

Added Hazen: “As far as what we do moving forward, I think there’s a couple of ways to look at it. One, we’re going to be opportunistic and continue to look at the trade market. I think one of the benefits to what we did early in terms of the aggressiveness, allows us to really survey the market and watch what else is going on, and allows us to continue to watch the team and see if there are other needs. I do think we feel pretty good about the bullpen as a whole. … I feel as a whole that the group the way we look at it is in a pretty good position. Our starters are working deeper into games, I think it’s really helped from a workload standpoint, it’s allowed [manager John Farrell] to more cherry pick where he’s going to use guys, and that’s always beneficial. We’ll see how it goes over the next seven or eight days or so, I do think overall, when you talk about getting [reliever Junichi Tazawa] back and you talk about getting [close Craig Kimbrel] back, we feel pretty good about the group. But there’s always room to improve the club. We’ll never sit here and not say that, given where we’re at.”

The team’s most recent move resulted in bringing in starting left-hander Drew Pomeranz from San Diego. Pomeranz was named an All-Star and holds a 2.47 ERA, but his workload capability is a concern. He has never pitched more than 100 innings in his five-year career until this season.

“We’re mindful of everybody’s workload,” Hazen said. “Certainly year over year is one way we look at it, outing to outing, number of pitches, how hard they have to work, we’re going to be mindful of that as we move forward. But that’s no different than all the other guys that start for us, or even the bullpen guys. We’re always conscious of the workload, we have every reason to believe he’s going to be there for us all the way through. I don’t think he’s pitched in the playoffs, so anybody who’s stepping into October for the first time … you need to be mindful for those things. It looks that the way the division is shaking out right now it may go down to the last day. Hopefully if you continue to play well and you can create some separation somehow someway, those are some of the benefits that you may have going into September where you can really monitor those things. You’re not always afforded that luxury, and if it goes down to the wire … you’re just going to have to deal with it when it comes. That’s where depth shows up again, and it’s something we’re going to have to be mindful of moving forward.”

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