|07.24.14 at 10:56 am ET|
The Red Sox finish their four-game series against the Blue Jays in Toronto on Thursday afternoon when they send Rubby De La Rosa to the mound against Marcus Stroman.
De La Rosa (3-2, 2.64 ERA) has been nearly unbeatable at Fenway Park this season. He’s given up one run or fewer in three of his four home starts, all of which have been Red Sox wins. That includes his most recent outing against Kansas City on Saturday. De La Rosa allowed just one run, five hits and four walks over seven innings in a 2-1 win over the Royals.
“He’s been outstanding at home,” manager John Farrell said after the game. “Even in the couple of situations where we gave an extra base runner, he shut it down and pitched with a lot of poise tonight.”
Unfortunately for the Red Sox, those results haven’t translated away from Fenway. The Sox have lost all three of De La Rosa’s road starts. He’s allowed nine runs in 18 1/3 innings on the road, where he will pitch on Thursday.
De La Rosa has just two-thirds of an inning of experience against the Blue Jays, which came in two short relief appearances last season in which he faced just one hitter. The only current Blue Jay the right-hander has faced is Jose Bautista, with one plate appearance.
After starting his major league career in the bullpen, Stroman (5-2, 3.58 ERA) has come on strong as a starter for Toronto this season. The righty has a 2.50 ERA in nine starts since joining the rotation May 31.
Stroman’s most recent start was one of his strongest. He tossed seven shutout innings Saturday against the Rangers, giving up four hits and no walks and striking out five in a 4-1 Blue Jays win. Stroman got himself into trouble just once in the game, facing a two-on, none-out situation in the fourth inning. He quickly got out of that jam with three straight outs.
“I feel like I know what I need to do [in that situation],” Stroman said after the game. “You have to raise your intensity. You can’t be as relaxed. I’m able to make a big pitch in a crucial count, and that was one of those moments.”
Stroman has been plagued by high pitch counts in some cases this season. He allowed just two runs against the Yankees on June 17, but was pulled after throwing 98 pitches in 3 2/3 innings.
Stroman has never faced the Red Sox or a member of their current lineup in his brief career.
Red Sox vs. Stroman (RHP)
No Red Sox players have faced Stroman.
Blue Jays vs. De La Rosa (RHP)
Jose Bautista is hitless in one career plate appearance.
|07.24.14 at 10:47 am ET|
Red Sox president Larry Lucchino joined Dennis & Callahan Friday to discuss John Lackey‘s future in Boston and the team’s strategy as the trade deadline nears. To listen to the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
With just one week until the July 31 trade deadline, Lucchino said that the team’s performance over the next seven games — all against AL East opponents — will play a huge factor in determining whether to buy or sell.
“I don’t think it’s a binary process, I don’t think you’re either one or the other, you may see some moves that take place and some other moves that do not take place,” Lucchino said, continuing: “We’ve never been in this position in our 13 years. We have never been in a position where we haven’t been anything but aggressive buyers because we’ve always, even in the catastrophic years of 2011-12, we were well over .500 at this stage of the season, so this is relatively new to us. … I do think that we will be active. … We’re always active.”
Lackey has one more year remaining on his contract, which will pay him the league-minimum sum of $500,000 in 2015 — a far cry from the $15.25 million the righty is earning this year. Lucchino said that the team will negotiate with Lackey after the season in an attempt to keep him with the team beyond next season.
“I think that there will be some contract negotiations with him probably at the end of the year as well and we’ll see what his frame of mind is with respect to longer-term contracts. … We will explore how we can keep John Lackey as a member of the Boston Red Sox.”
The Red Sox front office could lose a vital cog in its machine in the coming days, as assistant general manager Mike Hazen is one of the finalists for the Padres vacant general manager position. The Padres have had a history of plucking officials from the Red Sox organization, as former Boston COO Mike Dee is now the CEO of the Padres, while the last two San Diego general managers – Jed Hoyer and Josh Byrnes – were Sox executives first.
“Mike is an extremely talented, versatile, valuable member of our front office,” Lucchino said. “He is a right hand to Ben Cherington. He has a great future in baseball. He ultimately will be a general manager someday, of that I have no doubt. I just hope it’s not right now. I know that’s a little selfish of us to say, but I hope Mike stays with us. I will say that he’s in the final four in San Diego and they have been known to take some of our front office people in the past, but we want to keep Mike Hazen if it’s at all possible.”
|07.24.14 at 10:15 am ET|
TORONTO — According to an industry source, despite the statements by Red Sox officials (principal owner John Henry to the Boston Herald, CEO/president Larry Lucchino to WEEI) that the team has agreed with pitcher Jon Lester to postpone contract negotiations until after the season, the pitcher would be open to an in-season offer that was consistent with the marketplace.
If the Sox were to make an offer in line with what the market has produced in terms of recent contracts for pitchers of Lester’s status, the source added, such an offer would permit an efficient resolution as to whether the basis for an in-season extension existed, thus avoiding concerns about potential distractions for either the pitcher or his teammates.
Lester, 30, is 10-7 with a 2.50 ERA, 9.3 strikeouts and 2.3 walks per nine innings this year. He is amidst a year in which he’s posting the best ERA, walk rate, strike0ut-to-walk rate (4.6-to-1) and WHIP (1.117) of his career.
|07.24.14 at 9:28 am ET|
During his appearance on Dennis & Callahan on Thursday, Red Sox president Larry Lucchino confirmed that contract talks with Jon Lester have been put on hold until after the season, just before the left-hander officially becomes a free agent.
“[Ben Cherington] may still have some continuing discussion with [agent] Seth [Levinson] on other issues or other matters, but certainly the negotiation, the parties have agreed to let’s step away and do this after the season,” Lucchino said, adding: “Jon made very clear to us that that was his preference.”
Lucchino said Lester wants to concentrate on his pitching for now.
“It’s done in part out of respect for Jon Lester and his desire to postpone this until after the season,” Lucchino said. “He’s on an extraordinary roll. His last five or six games, his ERA is I don’t know, 0.90 or something like that. He’s leading this team, leading the rotation, and his very strong preference, as I think you might have heard from him just a day or two ago on national television was not to have his family and himself distracted and focused on something other than pitching and winning baseball games.”
Lucchino said the move does not mean the Red Sox have given up on re-signing the pitcher, but he refused to talk about any specifics.
“I’m not going to answer a question about the analysis of the stages of this negotiation, because the negotiation will continue,” he said. “It will continue after the season, to be sure, but there will be an opportunity for us to resume negotiations with Jon and with his agent — they have made that abundantly clear to us. So, looking back and doing an analysis of, ‘Was this a wrong step or was this the right step,’ would only be counterproductive.
“I think that your listeners care about whether Jon Lester is likely to stay as a member of the Boston Red Sox for future years. And that probability will be diminished if we talk prematurely or excessively about various stages of the negotiation along the way. That’s not the way to sign Jon Lester. I know it makes for less good radio because you don’t have stages and details and ‘Who shot Jon’ analysis of various parts of the negotiation. But if the goal is to sign Jon Lester, it seems to me, and to keep him a member of the Boston Red Sox, again, negotiation on the radio waves is not the way to do it.”
|07.24.14 at 9:18 am ET|
Dustin Pedroia will get a day off as the Red Sox look to earn a series split against the Blue Jays on Thursday. Brock Holt will get the start at second base, with the outfield featuring Daniel Nava in left, Jackie Bradley Jr. in center and Shane Victorino (batting second) playing right.
Pedroia went 1-for-4 on Wednesday; he’s now 2-for-24 (.083) in six games to open the second half. Meanwhile, the start represents a landmark of sorts for Holt, who has now started at all four infield positions and all three outfield positions this year, thus becoming the first Red Sox player ever to start at every infield and outfield position in the same season.
Christian Vazquez will be behind the plate to catch Rubby De La Rosa for the matinee game.
RED SOX LINEUP
Brock Holt, 2B
Shane Victorino, RF
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Daniel Nava, LF
Stephen Drew, SS
Xander Bogaerts, 3B
Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Christian Vazquez, C
Rubby De La Rosa, SP
|07.23.14 at 11:10 pm ET|
TORONTO — The first inning Wednesday night was a nightmare for Clay Buchholz.
Not only did he allow the Blue Jays to claim three runs in the frame after the Red Sox had busted out with three in the top of the first, but the Red Sox starter also experienced another uncomfortable incident in the middle of it all — a baseball off the side of his head.
With two outs in the first, Munenori Kawasaki hit a one-hopper up the middle that somehow avoided Buchholz’ glove, hitting the pitcher in the right side of the head. The play resulted in some anxious moments, with manager John Farrell and trainer Brad Pearson running to the mound to tend to Buchholz, who had just risen to his feet upon their arrival.
“Just probably as a pitcher, when ball’s hit at you, it looks like it’s coming back either a thousand miles an hour or really slow,” Buchholz said. “Felt like I got my glove up and I was sort of falling away from it and it went over my glove.”
When asked what went through his mind at the time, Buchholz said, “Well, it didn’t get me in the face. That was the first checkpoint. It dazed me, for sure. Any time that you get hit with the ball it’s going to take you a second, but yeah, once I got up and once I got my bearings straight, I felt fine.”
The initial diagnosis after the grounder wasn’t good for Buchholz, who immediately allowed an RBI ground-rule double to light-hitting Josh Thole.
The good news was that, for the most part, Buchholz settled down the rest of the way.
With the starter fighting to stay out of the bad mechanics that had plagued him for much of the season’s first few months, Buchholz rebounded from the three-run first to hold the Blue Jays scoreless until the sixth.
“Definitely was coming out of it, jumping a little, and that’s what causes your pitches to miss,” Buchholz said of his mechanics. “Just couldn’t seem to correct it for the duration of the game. Felt like I’d get through it really good for a couple of hitters and then fall back into it. Just something that happens sometimes. Got to do a better job taking care of it.”
Said Farrell: “There was a tendency to fly open occasionally. He missed some pitches to the arm side maybe a little bit more today than we’ve seen of late, but I don’t think it was anything that was glaring. He threw some very good curveballs. He threw some changeups and mixed that in. But the overall sharpness wasn’t what it’s been the last four times out.”
|07.23.14 at 10:48 pm ET|
TORONTO — Every once in a while, you get a reminder that Xander Bogaerts is 21 years old. Wednesday night was one of those occasions.
The talent of Bogaerts was on display in the fifth inning when he doubled in Daniel Nava for what was at the time the go-ahead run for the Red Sox. After that, youth won over … and not in a good way for the third baseman or his team.
With two outs in the sixth inning and the Blue Jays having already tied things up at 4-4, Jose Reyes hit a routine grounder that Bogaerts was forced to take a few steps to his left on before gobbling up. With the speedy Reyes running, Bogaerts immediately transferred the ball to his throwing hand and fired it to first baseman Mike Napoli.
The problem came as soon as Bogaerts released the ball, as he pulled it just enough to make it a one-hopper that Napoli couldn’t stretch and gather in. The result was the go-ahead run scoring and the Blue Jays taking the lead for good instead of the teams heading into the seventh all knotted up.
“It was a ball in the dirt. Just tried to pick it. I’m pretty good at picking balls and didn’t come up with it,” Napoli said, adding, “I was kind of falling over a little bit. it’s a play I’ve made in the past and I expect to make and I didn’t make the play.”
Another sign of Bogaerts’ youth came after the game when he ducked out of the clubhouse before the media’s availability. (It’s a small item, but one veterans frown upon since they’re the ones who end up having to answer for the rookie.)
“He could see it in front of him, you’d have to ask him,” Napoli said when asked if Reyes’ speed factored into the hurried throw. “But you have to be quick with it. Him being quick down the line, it’s a play you have to get your feet under you and be quick.”
Bogaerts has taken his lumps this season while playing his new position at third base (making eight of his 15 errors at the position), although Red Sox manager John Farrell said it’s not for a lack of trying.
“I recognize that there’s a number of errors there at third base in the games he’s played,” Farrell said. “I can’t say it’s for exactly one reason that links them all together. It’s not because of effort and intensity with which he goes about his play.”
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