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Sunday Red Sox Farm Report: Pat Light earns save with 101 mph fastball; Yoan Moncada triples, steals 2 more

05.22.16 at 9:40 am ET
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Here’s a look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Saturday.

Pat Light

Pat Light

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (21-22): W, 7-4, at Buffalo (Blue Jays)

— RHP Pat Light (Boston’s No. 15 prospect at MLB.com) earned a four-out save (his second save in two opportunities this season), hitting 101 mph on the stadium radar gun on his final pitch: a 1-2 count fastball on the outside corner that was a called strike three. Light, 25, has struck out 20 in 15 2/3 innings this year with nine walks in 11 outings. He’s given up a total of six earned runs on the season for a 3.45 ERA, and opposing batters are hitting just .158 against him.

— First baseman Sam Travis (Boston’s No. 7 prospect at MLB.com) hit a two-run double (video here) in the sixth with the bases loaded to break a 3-3 tie, pulling a 1-2 offspeed pitch into the left field corner. Travis, 22, finished 2-for-5 to put his slash line at .285/.339/.444 with five homers, nine doubles, 25 RBIs and 22 runs scored over 40 games played.

Selected by Boston in the second round of the 2014 draft out of Indiana University, Travis was the Red Sox 2015 Minor League Offensive Player of the Year as he slashed .307/.381/.452 split between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland, with nine homers, six triples, 32 doubles and 78 RBIs in 131 games.

— RHP Sean O’Sullivan had a no-decision start with a final line of: 4 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO (59 pitches, 40 strikes). The 28-year-old O’Sullivan allowed three hits in the first but limited the damage to just one run. After zeroes in the second and third, Travis was unable to glove a sinking throw at the first-base bag from a charging third baseman Chris Dominguez on a bunt, and later in the frame Dominguez was charged with a fielding miscue of his own as Buffalo took a 3-2 lead.

Saturday was O’Sullivan’s first appearance back with Pawtucket after getting a pair of starts for Boston on May 10th and 15th in Red Sox victories over Oakland and Houston, respectively. O’Sullivan allowed nine earned runs in those two starts over a combined 10 1/3 innings and was outrighted back to the PawSox after being designated for assignment.

— Lefty Reliever Robby Scott took over for O’Sullivan in the fifth and picked up the win (3-0, 2.13 ERA) with 3 2/3 innings of work allowing just one earned run — a solo homer in the eighth — on three hits. The 26-year-old Scott struck out one and walked none and now has eight whiffs to no walks allowed in his last four appearances. On four occasions this season Scott has pitched three or more innings of relief and allowed one run or less in those outings. Scott has been especially tough on right-handed batters this year, holding them to a .190 batting average.

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Sunday’s Red Sox-Indians matchups: Rick Porcello vs. Danny Salazar

05.22.16 at 7:39 am ET
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In the Red Sox-Indians series finale Sunday afternoon the Sox will send Rick Porcello to the hill to face Danny Salazar, one of baseball’s best pitchers so far this season.

Porcello (6-2, 3.51 ERA, 1.09 WHIP) has surprised many with his performance this season. After his last time out, however, Sox fans were checking their expectations for the right-hander. Facing the Royals — his only opponent this season that currently has a winning record — the 27-year-old allowed five runs (four earned) on eight hits and two walks with three strikeouts in five innings of Boston’s 8-4 loss Tuesday. it was his shortest start since last July.

Sunday’s matchup will bring a familiar foe to Fenway for Porcello, who has started 21 games against the Indians in his eight-year career and has compiled a 9-4 record, 3.36 ERA and 1.29 WHIP.  In the last game of 2015 Porcello faced the Indians — and Salazar — and lasted seven innings, giving up 10 hits and a walk but just two earned runs (three overall) in Boston’s 3-1 loss. He had seven strikeouts.

Salazar, a 26-year-old right-hander, is emerging as a dominant pitcher for the Tribe. Through eight starts Salazar is 4-2 with a 1.80 ERA (fourth best in baseball), a 1.00 WHIP and 61 strikeouts. In his last outing, Tuesday against the Reds, Salazar gave up five hits, which is the most he has allowed all season, while striking out eight and only walking one in a 13-1 Indians win. In all but just one start this year Salazar has struck out at least seven, and in 50 innings pitched he has surrendered just 27 hits.

“He’s a stud,” teammate Jason Kipnis told cleveland.com. “He’s definitely taken the next step forward. He’s pitching like a top-of-the-rotation guy, which he is. He’s not just a thrower anymore. He’s not just a guy coming out, throwing 97 [mph]. You’re seeing him work really well off of his changeup and his slider and he’s really figuring out what he is as a pitcher. It’s fun to watch.”

Sunday’s start will be Salazar’s third against the Red Sox. In his two previous starts — which came in August and September of last season — he compiled a 2-0 record, 1.46 ERA and .081 WHIP, with 11 strikeouts and two walks in 12 1/3 innings.

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Exactly how ‘special’ is this Red Sox offense?

05.22.16 at 6:34 am ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr. (25) and the Red Sox offense have had plenty to celebrate lately.. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Jackie Bradley Jr. (25) and the Red Sox offense have had plenty to celebrate lately. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The Red Sox can score. This we know. They have, after all, plated more runs than any team in baseball.

But it’s more than that. It’s how they are doing this that offers some intrigue, as John Farrell reminded us after his team’s 9-1 win over the Indians on Saturday.

Farrell acknowledged there have been times when this lineup has proved to be a special group.

“You know, that first came to mind in the Oakland series,” the Red Sox manager said. “Where not only did we do some things with the bat, the way we ran the bases, the defense that we played, there was a moment inside those three games where you do take a step back in the middle of an inning and you see what’s unfolding in front of us. Young, athletic, energetic players that are so in tune with what we’re trying to do as a unit. It is a powerful feeling, that when you get so many guys on the same page, moving in the same direction, you’ve got a potential for doing some special things.”

Let’s keep looking.

The Red Sox lead the majors in hits (452), doubles (111), batting average (.295), OPS (.843) and extra-base hits (175), and are making history in terms of stolen base percentage, having been caught on just three of their 34 attempts.

This is a team that also has hit at least one home run in 21 straight games, totaling the second-most in the big leagues over that span.

Get this: The Red Sox only have one spot in the batting order (No. 8) with an OPS of under .800. In fact, their No. 7 spot is trending toward the best OPS in history at a current clip of .937.

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Closing Time: Joe Kelly, Mookie Betts highlight Red Sox rout of Indians

05.21.16 at 7:23 pm ET
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Joe Kelly needed this. The Red Sox needed this.

Making his first start since coming off the 15-day disabled list with a right shoulder impingement, Kelly almost made history in his return during what would turn into a 9-1 win over the Red Sox over the Indians on Saturday at Fenway Park.

The Sox starter no-hit the Indians for 6 2/3 innings, finally losing his bid on Juan Uribe’s double into the right-center field gap with two outs in the seventh. The 96 mph fastball to Uribe would be Kelly’s 104th and final pitch.

Kelly finished his outing having struck out seven and walking three, having only really run into trouble once, in the fifth inning. During that frame the starter walked the bases loaded before ultimately lunging to stab Chris Gimenez’s two-out, slow roller, which he fired home for a force play to end the threat.

The fifth did, however, pretty much end Kelly’s hopes of finishing off all nine innings, having thrown 30 pitches in the inning. The best the righty could have hoped for was to retire Uribe, leaving it up to the Red Sox bullpen to preserve the no-hitter for the eighth and ninth.

“He lost the strike zone for those three hitters. That was a 30-pitch inning,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “That was probably when things started to begin to think about how many innings he’s going to given us. Like I said we had a target range of pitches we were comfortable with. You balance what he’s doing today vs. not only the game but certainly Joe’s return to us and didn’t want to jeopardize that in any way. He got through the 6 2/3 comfortably today.”

It was the first time a Red Sox starter hadn’t allowed at least one run since Rick Porcello’s seven shutout innings on April 30. It was just the fifth time this season a member of the rotation had accomplished the feat.

In the big picture, the re-emergence of Kelly would seem to be important for a Red Sox starting staff that had totaled a 5.04 ERA in May entering Saturday.

“From the first pitch of the ball game through his last, I thought he was under control in terms of the energy in his delivery where he didn’t overthrow his fastball,” Farrell said. “He was able to create the velocity I think in a very consistent manner here today. Just great to see him return to our rotation. And honestly, a chance to really give us a boost with his abilities.”

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Joe Kelly loses no-hitter with 2 outs in seventh inning

05.21.16 at 6:26 pm ET
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Joe Kelly said during spring training that the only time he had ever pitched any kind of no-hitter was when using David Price’s character in a video game.

That almost changed Saturday.

Making his first start since coming off the 15-day disabled list with a right shoulder impingement, Kelly no-hit the Indians for 6 2/3 innings before Juan Uribe rifled a two-out double into the right-center field gap.

The first-pitch, 96 mph fastball to Uribe would be the last pitch of Kelly’s afternoon, finishing up having thrown 104 pitches. He would give way to Junichi Tazawa after having struck out seven and walking three.

Kelly left with the Red Sox holding a 4-0 lead.

The only real threat against Kelly came in the fifth inning when he walked the bases loaded. But the righty managed to escape after lunging at Chris Gimenez’s slow roller, firing home for the out that ended a 30-pitch inning.

Kelly lowered his ERA from 9.35 to 5.28 with the outing.

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Jackie Bradley Jr. extends hitting streak to 26 games

05.21.16 at 6:10 pm ET
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At first, it looked like it might not be Jackie Bradley Jr.’s day.

The first two times at-bat against the Indians, Bradley Jr. drew an intentional walk and four-pitch free pass, in which none of the offerings were close from Indians starter Trevor Bauer.

But leading off the sixth inning, against Bauer, Bradley Jr. finally got his chance to hit, and he took advantage of it.

The Red Sox center fielder grounded a 2-2 cutter from Bauer toward the middle, where Indians’ second baseman Jason Kipnis dove and gathered it in. But the subsequent throw from Kipnis drew Carlos Santana off the bag just enough to allow for a Bradley Jr. single.

The hit marked the 26th game Bradley Jr. had collected at least one hit, raising his batting average to .345.

The streak is now just one game shy of David Ortiz’s stretch of 27 straight in 2013. The club record stands at 34, set by Dom DiMaggio in 1949. Second on the list is Nomar Garciaparra’s 30-gamer in ’97.

Others to carry notable hit streaks for the Red Sox include Johnny Damon (29 in 2005), and Manny Ramirez (27 in 2006).

The Red Sox held a 4-0 lead at the time of Bradley Jr.’s single.

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New brace may have helped Eduardo Rodriguez turn corner

05.21.16 at 4:46 pm ET
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Eduardo Rodriguez

Eduardo Rodriguez

While Eduardo Rodriguez was saddled with some bad news earlier in the week — having to skip his scheduled start with Triple-A Pawtucket Thursday due to knee discomfort — he seemingly has rediscovered some optimism.

After throwing a successful bullpen session Friday, and then participating in pitcher’s fielding practice Saturday, Rodriguez seems on track to make a start for the PawSox on Tuesday.

One of the chief reasons for the turnaround may have been something as simple as wearing a knee brace.

“He had a strong work session today with the PFP that he went through. Feels good coming out of it,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “He was fitted for a brace. The confidence that he’s got from that is substantial. There’s evenness to his running gate. He might have favored it a little bit prior. But change of direction, his footwork, all that was very good.”

Rodriguez initially didn’t feel comfortable with the brace on his right knee, but after adjusting the size of the support system he agreed to give it a try.

“He went through a bullpen [Friday] with it and felt very good,” Farrell said. “He had a powerful pen yesterday so I know he’s encouraged, and just the support that it provides gives him a lot more confidence.”

In four rehab outings, Rodriguez has totaled 4.29 ERA over 21 innings. He last pitched May 14, allowing three runs over 5 2/3 innings.

Red Sox pitching prospect Brian Johnson placed on temporary inactive list for anxiety issues

05.21.16 at 2:14 pm ET
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The Red Sox announced Saturday that Triple-A starting pitcher Brian Johnson was being placed on the club’s temporary inactive list while seeking help for anxiety issues.

The 25-year-old will continue non-baseball activities at the organization’s facility in Fort Myers, Florida.

Johnson last pitched May 14, giving up five runs over five innings to push his ERA with the PawSox to 4.64 in seven starts. The lefty has struggled with his command as of late, issuing five walks in each of his last two outings.

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Saturday’s Red Sox-Indians matchups: Joe Kelly vs. Trevor Bauer

05.21.16 at 7:32 am ET
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In the middle game of the three-game series between the Red Sox and Indians, the Sox will welcome back Joe Kelly while the Indians will be depending on Trevor Bauer.

Last Monday was a good day for Kelly. In his rehab start for Triple-A Pawtucket he struck out 10 Norfolk Tides batters, allowing no runs in 6 1/3 innings.

“He had command of the zone and was explosive tonight,” Pawtucket manager Kevin Boles said after Kelly’s start. “He attacked hitters and it was a good step forward.”

Meanwhile, rain struck in Kansas City where the Red Sox were supposed to take on the Royals, which meant that the big league club would play a doubleheader Wednesday, creating a need for another starter on Saturday. Kelly’s name quickly got tossed in the ring as a possibility to fill that role. On Tuesday, manager John Farrell made Kelly Saturday’s official starter.

Kelly was placed on the 15-day DL back on April 19 with a shoulder impingement. In three starts with Pawtucket while on a rehab assignment Kelly had a 1.26 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 16 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings pitched.  Prior to going on the DL the 27-year-old right-hander was 1-0 with a 9.35 ERA and a 2.76 WHIP in three starts with Boston.

Kelly will be trying to regain a permanent spot in the rotation, and luckily for him on Saturday he will be facing a team that he has had success against. In two career starts against the Indians, Kelly has a .082 ERA with a 1.45 WHIP, seven strikeouts and four walks. Kelly’s last start against Cleveland was last Aug. 19, when he went six innings and gave up five hits and one run that was unearned in Boston’s 6-4 victory.

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Closing Time: Clay Buchholz, Red Sox come up short against Indians

05.20.16 at 10:18 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz suffered his fourth loss of the season, Friday night. (David Butler/USA Today Sports)

Clay Buchholz suffered his fourth loss of the season. (David Butler/USA Today Sports)

Clay Buchholz is still searching.

Buchholz took the loss once again, this time living on the wrong end of the Red Sox’ 4-2 defeat to the Indians on Friday night at Fenway Park.

And since he lasted six innings, and gave up three earned runs (four in total), Buchholz was tagged with his second quality start of the season. The problem was that the appearance included much of the discomfort that has accompanied too many of the the righty’s nine starts this season.

Buchholz allowed five hits and four walks, giving him more this season (24) than his entire 2015 campaign.

Yet, even with the methodical pace and lack of command, the narrative would have undoubtedly been different for Buchholz if not for Jason Kipnis’ three-run homer in the third. The blast came with nobody out, and landed deep into the right field seats.

“I’ve been around long enough,” Buchholz said. “There have been times I’ve felt lost and didn’t feel like I could get anybody out and that’s definitely not the case right now. It’s a matter of one at-bat or a couple walks leading up to one at-bat and giving up a big hit in that situation. That’s something I have to find a way to get better at.”

Kipnis’ sixth homer of the season was the ninth given up by Buchholz, who had been staked to a 2-0 lead. The Red Sox starter has now given up nine homers, which have accounted for 22 runs.

“I mean, the home run was a four-seam in,” Buchholz said. “I looked at it. It was a strike fastball. I wasn’t expecting a swing-in. I was thinking he was looking more out of the plate. Obviously he wasn’t. Other than that, I missed, even the first hitter of the game, [Carlos] Santana, tried to throw a fastball up, threw it up and he still hits it, so. It’s just the way it’s been going. All in all it wasn’t a terrible outing but it’s hard to swallow getting beat on home runs every time out. Keep pushing along and find a way to get through it.”

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