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Closing Time: Punchless Red Sox scrape together unlikely extra-inning win over White Sox

04.17.14 at 1:28 am ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr.'s 14th inning double propelled the Red Sox to victory. (AP)

Jackie Bradley Jr.’s 14th inning double propelled the Red Sox to victory. (AP)

Just win, baby.

The Red Sox could not have concocted a much uglier formula for victory. After the first three batters of the game collected hits, the Red Sox went just 3-for-40 over the duration of the game (with the first two of those hits being of the infield variety). They blew a save in the 11th inning. They spoiled another rally by grounding into a double play.

Yet the White Sox kept handing Boston opportunities, issuing 15 free passes, and while it wasn’t pretty, the Sox managed a slow-motion rally that featured sacrifice flies in the eighth, ninth and 11th innings before Jackie Bradley Jr.‘s two-out, two-run double in the top of the 14th finally against White Sox position player Leury Garcia — making his first pro pitching appearance on the mound — propelled the Red Sox to a 6-4 victory.

The star of the victory was the Red Sox bullpen, which allowed one run over the final eight innings. The win permitted the Sox to avoid their first four-game losing streak since 2012.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

– The bullpen had an outstanding night. Craig Breslow struck out a pair in 1 1/3 scoreless innings, throwing 11 of 13 pitches for strikes and showing good action on his complete pitch mix. Junichi Tazawa retired both batters he faced. And Andrew Miller was dominant, throwing two innings and allowing just one hit while punching out three. That group had the Sox positioned to win before Edward Mujica uncharacteristically issued a leadoff walk in the 11th that burned him, coming around to score with two outs for a blown save. But Chris Capuano followed Mujica’s inning with 2 2/3 innings in which he permitted just one single while striking out three to earn the victory. Burke Badenhop came on to retire the last batter of the game for the save. Read the rest of this entry »

Red Sox lineup: Dustin Pedroia leading off; Daniel Nava starts at first base

04.16.14 at 4:11 pm ET
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With left-hander John Danks on the mound for the White Sox, the Red Sox send out a lineup with Dustin Pedroia hitting leadoff. It’s Pedroia’s first start since Saturday (due to a sore left wrist), with the second baseman having pinch-run for Mike Napoli Tuesday night.

With Napoli out of the lineup, Daniel Nava gets the start at first base. Moving up in the order is shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who will hit second. The Red Sox have yet to score a first inning run this season.

Here is the Red Sox’ lineup:

Dustin Pedroia 2B

Xander Bogaerts SS

David Ortiz DH

Jonny Gomes RF

Grady Sizemore LF

A.J. Pierzynski C

Daniel Nava 1B

Ryan Roberts 3B

Jackie Bradley Jr. CF

Clay Buchholz P

For all the matchups, click here

John Farrell on Dale & Holley: No fracture/ligament issues for Mike Napoli; Dustin Pedroia to lead off

04.16.14 at 2:44 pm ET
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Appearing on Wednesday’s Dale & Holley show, Red Sox manager John Farrell said that Mike Napoli, who injured his left ring finger while sliding head-first into second base Tuesday night, is still day-to-day. Farrell noted Napoli‘s finger has no fracture or ligament issues and will be day-to-day (sitting out Wednesday night’s game) while he waits for the swelling to go down.

Farrell also said Dustin Pedroia, who hadn’t started since Saturday due to a sore left wrist, will be in the leadoff spot Wednesday night. Pedroia underwent a cortisone shot Monday and re-appeared in the ninth inning Tuesday when pinch-running for Napoli.

Koji Uehara was scheduled to throw a bullpen Wednesday, with Farrell saying the closer continues to progress from a sore right shoulder.

Buster Olney on M&M: Dustin Pedroia’s wrist injury ‘a concern’

04.16.14 at 1:17 pm ET
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Buster Olney

Buster Olney

ESPN’s Buster Olney made his weekly appearance on Mut & Merloni to talk about the Red Sox‘ slow start and other MLB news. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

The Red Sox are 5-9 after dropping three straight games, including Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to the White Sox in frigid Chicago. Coming off last year’s World Series title, the Red Sox have been hurt by injuries and their inability to make key plays.

“I think it’s a combination of both,” Olney said. “When you start with [Dustin] Pedroia‘s situation, you go from there. That’s obviously a concern. I talked to David Ortiz over the weekend and he talked about the effort to get his timing back. The offense, which was so dominant last year, just hasn’t gotten on a roll yet, obviously. One of the Red Sox players mentioned to me over the weekend, ‘We’re still trying to find our identity.’

“The good thing is that the rest of the division is pretty much in the exact same boat. So if you’re in the Red Sox clubhouse, you might not necessarily be feeling great about what’s happening now. But you look at the Yankees, their infield situation is a complete mess. Tampa Bay’s rotation is in tatters. The Orioles have rotation issues. Toronto, as you know, a lot of questions about their rotation. Given the range of problems you might have, at least if you’re the Red Sox, you’re probably feeling better overall about your situation than some of the other teams are.”

The Red Sox have lost their last two games by one run (3-2 to the Yankees and 2-1 to Chicago), putting a spotlight on their offensive woes.

“Going into their game on Sunday night, their offense, which outscored every other team in baseball last year by 57 runs, ranked 17th in runs scored,” Olney said. “That, day in and day out, gives them so much margin for error. It did last year. They have to get that going.”

Even if Pedroia does not miss any more time with his wrist injury, it could be a serious blow to the Red Sox’ hopes if he has to play through a problem.

“I’m going to be really curious to see how he does going forward. I’ve talked to so many players through the years — how troublesome wrist injuries can be for a hitter. And sometimes they just don’t go away during the year. Because what it really needs in a lot of cases is out-and-out, flat-out rest. And he’s not going to have an opportunity to do that.”

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Read More: buster olney, Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, xander bogaerts

Red Sox minor league roundup: Wendell Rijo, inchoate on-base machine?

04.16.14 at 12:00 pm ET
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Right-hander Brandon Workman will start for Pawtucket on Wednesday. (AP)

Right-hander Brandon Workman will start for Pawtucket on Wednesday. (AP)

A brief look at the limited activity in the Red Sox farm system on Tuesday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: RAINED OUT AT ROCHESTER (TWINS)

Brandon Workman will make his first start for Pawtucket on Wednesday. The PawSox face some frigid early season conditions today in Rochester.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: RAINED OUT VS. BINGHAMTON (METS)

Glenn Jordan of the Portland Press-Herald wrote an excellent feature on Sea Dogs manager Billy McMillon, who is returning to Portland two decades after playing there while in the Marlins system.

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: RAINED OUT AT CAROLINA (INDIANS)

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 6-2 LOSS VS. CHARLESTON (YANKEES)

(BOX)

– Right-hander Jamie Callahan, coming off a dominant start in which he struck out 11, could not back up that performance. The 19-year-old has allowed five runs on eight hits (three doubles, five singles) while striking out just one and walking three in 3 1/3 innings. He threw just 39 of 74 pitches (53 percent) for strikes. After he walked just 2.6 batters per nine innings last year, Callahan has issued 10 walks in 12 innings (7.5 walks per nine innings) so far in his first full season, and opponents are hitting .333 against him in the early going.

– Right-hander Sergio Gomez made a strong piggyback appearance in relief of Callahan, allowing one run on six hits (five singles and a double) and a walk in 4 2/3 innings while punching out six. The skinny 20-year-old, one of the top performers in the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League in 2012 and the advanced short-season New York-Penn League for Lowell last summer, has 16 strikeouts and five walks in 12 innings as a piggyback starter so far this year.

Wendell Rijo went 0-for-3 but drew a walk. The 18-year-old has reached base in all 10 games he’s played this year, and ranks third in the South Atlantic League with a .452 OBP. Teammate Kevin Mager, a 24-year-old who went 0-for-2 with a pair of walks on Tuesday, leads the league with a .488 OBP.

Jantzen Witte, a corner infielder who played first on Wednesday, was the lone member of Greenville’s lineup with multiple hits, going 2-for-4. The 24-year-old is amidst a four-game hitting streak in which he’s 8-for-17 with four doubles and four walks, good for a .471/.571/.706 line.

Where has it gone wrong for Red Sox?

04.16.14 at 11:37 am ET
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It has been a frustrating season for Red Sox manager John Farrell thus far. (AP)

It has been a frustrating season for Red Sox manager John Farrell thus far. (AP)

The popular line coming out of spring training was that the only really hiccup throughout the 1 1/2 months of getting ready for the regular season could be traced to a fishing knife.

Ironically, the owners of the little bit of drama in Fort Myers — Jake Peavy and his cut finger — have been the least of the Red Sox‘ worries during their 5-9 start. Peavy has been the team’s best pitcher to date, compiling a 1.93 ERA over his first three starts.

But almost immediately this year, concerns started cropping up. While injuries — starting with Shane Victorino‘s hamstring pull the last day of spring training — will be the main focus when trying to identify the issues, there have been plenty of images through the first two weeks of games this year that were never seen during the march to a title in 2013.

So, besides injuries, what else exactly is wrong with the world champs?

LEADOFF SPOT

Problem: It is true that a leadoff hitter will only be guaranteed one occasion per game in which he kicks off an inning. But there is something to be said for setting the tone. No tone has been set for these Red Sox. Without Jacoby Ellsbury, they wanted to prioritize their leadoff hitter getting on base. That hasn’t happened. The hitters atop the lineup have a combined .292 on-base percentage, fourth worst in the majors. They have scored just five runs, the majors’ second-fewest. And get this: The Red Sox are the only team in baseball that hasn’t scored a run in the first inning this season.

Also of note: Not only does the Red Sox leadoff spot have the second-worst OPS in baseball, but it’s also where their No. 2 hitters rank (.496).

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Wednesday’s Red Sox-White Sox matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. John Danks

04.16.14 at 8:16 am ET
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The Red Sox continue their series in Chicago on Wednesday when they send Clay Buchholz to the mound against the White Sox and left-hander John Danks.

After struggling in his first appearance of the season, Buchholz inched closer to form in his most recent outing despite picking up the loss. Buchholz gave up four runs, two of which were earned, on seven hits and six strikeouts during six innings against the Yankees last Thursday. New York went on to win that game 4-1.

“I felt a lot better,” Buchholz said after the game, (via MLB.com). “Just in the last five days, with my arm strength and everything, it got a lot better within a five-day span. Usually it doesn’t happen that quick. I felt a lot more comfortable with each pitch out there tonight. I’ve got to minimize the damage a little bit more in a couple of spots. Other than that I felt like I threw the ball pretty well.”

Buchholz last took on the White Sox on May 22, 2013, when he scattered five hits and just one run over seven innings on the mound. The game, which Boston eventually won 6-2, was Buchholz’€™s seventh victory of the season. Overall, Buchholz holds a 2-2 record in six starts against the White Sox with a 4.29 ERA and a WHIP of 1.29.

Danks comes into the start after earning his first win of the season last Thursday when he faced off against the Indians. After giving up two runs in the first, the 29-year-old lefty limited Cleveland to three overall runs on six hits and four strikeouts over six innings.

In his last appearance against the Red Sox — a game on Aug. 31, 2013 — Danks gave up six runs, five earned, on 11 hits over five innings. The loss was his 11th of the season and went along with a trend of Danks struggling against Boston. In nine starts, Danks has gone 3-6 with a 5.37 ERA and a WHIP of 1.44.

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