|07.18.14 at 8:29 am ET|
The Red Sox will kick off the second half of the 2014 season Friday when they host the Royals for a three-game set at Fenway Park. Boston will send Clay Buchholz to the mound against James Shields in the series opener.
Buchholz (4-5, 5.42 ERA) turned in his best outing of the season Sunday against the Astros, securing a three-hit shutout while striking out a career-high 12 batters en route to a 11-0 Red Sox victory.
Buchholz, who only needed 109 pitches to complete the shutout, is 2-1 with a 2.73 ERA in four starts since returning from the disabled list June 25 after missing about a month with a hyperextended left knee.
“Today was reminiscent of the first half of last year before he went on the disabled list,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said after the game. “Very much in control and could go to any one of four pitches at any time in the count.”
Buchholz credited his ability to utilize all four of his pitches as the biggest key to his success as of late.
“It’s night and day,” Buchholz said of being able to throw all of his pitches. “It’s tough going out in a big league baseball game and having two pitches. I’ve done a lot of work to get command of those pitches and it’s finally paying off a little bit.”
Buchholz was dominant in his last against the Royals on April 20, 2013, surrendering two earned runs in eight innings of work. In five career starts against Kansas City, Buchholz is 4-1 with a 2.20 ERA.
Shields (9-5, 3.65 ERA) is coming off of another strong performance on Saturday against the Tigers, allowing two earned runs in seven innings while striking out eight batters. Despite Shield’s great outing, the Royals lost, 5-1. The Royals are 6 1/2 games behind the Tigers in the AL Central.
|07.18.14 at 1:16 am ET|
According a major league source, the Phillies are currently showing no inclination to trade Cole Hamels.
Hamels has been the subject of rumors involving the Red Sox recently, with the Boston Globe suggesting the Red Sox might be viewing the lefty as a top-of-the-rotation replacement for Jon Lester. The 30 year old will be owed $90 million over the next four years, with a team option for 2019 worth $20 million.
It is believed that while the Red Sox had checked in on Hamels availability earlier in the season, there hasn’t been any recent discussions between the Sox and Phillies regarding the starter.
Hamels has made 16 starts this season, going 3-5 with a 2.93 ERA. He has made at least 31 starts in each of his last six seasons, totaling a 3.30 ERA during that span.
The Phillies are currently 10 games out of first-place in the National League East and the wild card race, heading into the second half at 42-53.
|07.17.14 at 10:54 pm ET|
Repeating the sentiment of his boss Ben Cherington during the GM’s Thursday morning interview on Dennis & Callahan, John Farrell said a 43-52 record won’t immediately send management into sell mode. All hope, Farrell said on the last day of the All-Star break, is not lost.
“No one has given up anything,” Farrell said. “No one has conceded anything, but we’ve also been in the game long enough to know that over the next two weeks, names are going to start to get bantered about.”
Among those names being bantered is Jake Peavy, who himself acknowledged before the break that Cherington had spoken to him about likely being traded any moment.
“Time will tell,” Farrell said. “I’m not privy to every conversation Ben has. This is a busy time of year for the entire industry. So, I’m sure there’ll be additional rumors continuing to grow. But until we know something concrete, our job is to maintain our focus on the field each and every day with the intent of winning [that] night.”
Whether or not the Red Sox can stay afloat in the next two weeks, one of Farrell’s primary objectives will be to keeping the team focused while rumors swirl.
“I think it’s very much part of it,” Farrell said. “There’s a number of people involved in the players [moving]. You typically have to pay attention to some of the websites that might carry some rumors. You try to put their concerns or wonderment at ease a little bit just so they can focus on what is at hand, and that’s the game [that] night. So, it’s human nature to be distracted at times because your name is potentially involved in something. We work and do what we can to be as candid and upfront with relevant information at the time.”
|07.17.14 at 9:32 pm ET|
John Farrell can read the standings just like everyone else. He knows his team stands 43-52 heading into the final 67 games, 9 1/2 games behind first-place Baltimore in the AL East. He can also read a schedule. He knows full well that after this three-game series this weekend with Kansas City, the Red Sox have 13 straight games against three of the four teams ahead of them in the division.
It’s do-or-die time.
“Given where we are right now, yes,” Farrell said, confirming the characterization of this as the make-or-break part of the season. “That’s not to add pressure. That’s to say there’s some additional significance when you play the teams ahead of you. After we get through Kansas City, we’ve got the next 13 [games] or four consecutive series of teams ahead of us. Sixty-seven games remaining, each one has increasing significance as we go.”
After three with the Royals, the Red Sox have four in Toronto, followed by three on the road against the Rays. They come home for three against the Jays and three against the Yankees, overlapping the July 31 trade deadline. Did Farrell feel like he got a break to mentally prepare for the upcoming grind?
“Yeah for about a day-and-a-half, and now I’m ready to get going for [Friday],” Farrell said of his shortened All-Star break due to managing the AL All-Stars to a 5-3 win in Minneapolis.
“I think the four days gives guys a chance to mentally and physically take a break and get away from the game a little bit. [Xander Bogaerts] has been going at it pretty hard, not only in terms of what he’s been working on pregame but with every focus to be brought into the game, and he’s played regularly as well. We’ve given him a couple of days here and there, but I think the break mentally and physically was needed for him, and quite frankly, for a number of guys.”
|07.17.14 at 1:26 pm ET|
A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Wednesday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: TRIPLE-A ALL-STAR GAME
– Left-hander Tommy Layne was the lone PawSox player to appear in the Triple-A All-Star Game, tossing a scoreless inning with a strikeout. Layne is 5-1 with a 1.64 ERA, 10.0 strikeouts per nine and 3.9 walks per nine in 44 Triple-A innings this year. Lefties are hitting .138/.242/.172 against him while striking out in 35 percent of plate appearances.
DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: EASTERN LEAGUE ALL-STAR GAME
– Catcher Blake Swihart went 0-for-2 with a strikeout. He did pick off Nationals outfielder Michael Taylor (though Taylor later stole second).
– Derrik Gibson, playing shortstop, went 2-for-3 with a double and homer. Given his standout performance in Double-A (.314/.404/.424), athleticism multi-positional versatility, if Gibson plays reasonably well in Triple-A in the second half, he would appear a candidate for either addition to the Red Sox 40-man roster as a depth option or a Rule 5 candidate
– Second baseman Sean Coyle went 1-for-3 with a double. Read the rest of this entry »
|07.17.14 at 10:40 am ET|
Tune in to WEEI’s Trade Deadline Show, hosted by Rob Bradford and Alex Speier, on Thursday night, sponsored by Hub New England Insurance. (Click here for more information.)
Guests will include Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen and other baseball insiders.
There will be plenty of talk about the Red Sox‘ outlook on 2014 going forward in an American League East that remains something of a jumble, what the Sox’ record means for their approach to the trade deadline, who might get moved, the state of the team’s youth movement and the Jon Lester market dynamics, among other topics.
The fun begins at 10 p.m. and runs until midnight.
|07.17.14 at 10:04 am ET|
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning to discuss the contract negotiations between the team and Jon Lester as well as the state of the club. To listen to the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The 2014 season has been a far cry from last year’s championship run, as Boston sits in last place in the American League East with a 43-52 record. When it comes to finding a root cause for the Red Sox‘ struggles, Cherington took responsibility for not adding enough firepower to the lineup. The Red Sox are last in the AL in runs scored (367).
“I think obviously our biggest issue, at least up until very recently, has been offensive production,” Cherington said. “I think our pitching has been good enough to win, we just haven’t produced offensively. As I look at that, I guess what I would say is that I didn’t do a good enough job building a complete offense. … It certainly wasn’t our intent. We thought we would have that, we thought we had reason to believe that we could have that going into the year, but the reality is that we have not through a big chunk of the first part of the season.
“That has hamstrung our ability to win games. … In that aggregate, I didn’t do a good enough job building a deep enough offense, at least to start the season. We’re trying to remedy that, in ways that make sense. It takes time. That’s been the flaw of the team more than anything else, so I take responsibility for that.”
While contract talks between Lester and the Red Sox has been a hot topic over the last month, Cherington said that there have not been many new developments in the negotiations.
“I think a lot has been written about this,” Cherington acknowledged. “I think what I take out of this, more than anything, is what’s said if you ask John Henry, Tom Werner, Larry Lucchino, myself, if you ask Jon Lester … I think what all of those people would say is that there’s a strong relationship here that goes back 12 years and that strong relationship will allow for a continued dialogue.”
Cherington continued: “I think that Jon feels like right now is the time to focus on the field and focus on the team. … There’s been a lot of talk, I don’t think anything coming from any of those people I just mentioned. … It’s out there and I just don’t don’t put much stock in it and it’s because none of it’s coming from the people that are actually a part of the conversation.”
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