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David Ortiz leaves game with sore back, expected to play Saturday

08.20.16 at 10:34 am ET
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David Ortiz

David Ortiz

DETROIT — The management of David Ortiz continues.

The Red Sox slugger may appear ageless on the field — he slammed his 28th homer in the first inning of Friday’s victory over the Tigers — but his body offers frequent reminders that he’s in fact every one of his 40 years as he guts out his final season.

Case in point: he left Friday’s 10-2 win with what manager John Farrell described as a sore upper back, but he’s expected to rejoin the lineup on Saturday night.

“Little stiffness in the upper back, but nothing significant,” Farrell said. “He should be good to go.”

Ortiz left the clubhouse on Friday before reporters arrived, so he was unavailable for comment, but Farrell saluted the All-Star slugger, who continues to amaze during his farewell tour. He’s hitting .317 with 28 homers and 95 RBIs, and he leads the league in doubles (38), slugging percentage (.628), and OPS (1.038).

“I guess you could say he’s defying the odds when you look at the age,” Farrell said. “But he’s been such a good performer for so many years. We kind of felt early in the season, after he made the announcement, he was even that much more free of mind to go out and enjoy the game, play it as it unfolds in front of him. As well as David does to balance all the requests and all the potential distractions some other players might succumb to, he handles it all in stride and continues to be a main cog in this offense.”

Read More: David Ortiz, Red Sox,

Saturday Red Sox Farm Report: Mauricio Dubon homers in Sea Dogs win; 2016 4th-round pick Bobby Dalbec continues hot start in Lowell

08.20.16 at 10:25 am ET
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Here’s a look at the action in the Red Sox farm system Friday.

William Cuevas

William Cuevas

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (66-60): L, 7-4, at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Yankees)

— Pitching in relief, William Cuevas allowed four runs (two earned) over the final three innings to take the loss. This spoiled a decent start from Sean O’Sullivan, who went five innings and allowed three runs on six hits, while striking out four. Cuevas is now 6-7 with a 4.35 ERA.

— Right fielder Brennan Bosech paced the offense with three hits. He had been in a recent funk, as he was just one for his last 16. With the PawSox this year he is batting .238.

— Rusney Castillo and catcher Dan Butler had two hits apiece in the game as well. Castillo has seemed to have found something of late as in his last 10 games the outfielder is batting .355, while collecting eight walks in that span. For the season, he’s hitting .265

— Continuing his rehab, Chris Young went 1-for-4 with a walk, a strikeout and a RBI. In six rehab games, he’s 4-for-19 with six strikeouts.

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Read More: Bobby Dalbec, mauricio dubon, Sean O'Sullivan,

Saturday’s Red Sox-Tigers matchups: Drew Pomeranz vs. Daniel Norris

08.20.16 at 8:45 am ET
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The Red Sox will send Drew Pomeranz to the hill to face 23-year-old left-hander Daniel Norris on Saturday night in Detroit.

Pomeranz, 27, is 1-2 with a 4.59 ERA and a 1.440 WHIP in six starts as a Red Sox. This season as a member of the Padres and Red Sox, Pomeranz is 9-9 with a 2.99 ERA and a 1.153 WHIP in 23 starts. He earned his first win with Boston on Monday after pitching 7 2/3 innings and allowing two runs, five hits and two walks with six strikeouts in a 3-2 win over the Indians.

In two games (one start) against the Tigers, Pomeranz is 0-1 with a 2.57 ERA and a 0.857 WHIP. The southpaw last faced the Tigers on July 25. In that outing, Pomeranz went six innings, allowing two runs, four hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in a 4-2 Sox loss.

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Read More: Daniel Norris, Drew Pomeranz,

Closing Time: Rick Porcello a winner in return to Detroit as Red Sox pummel Tigers

08.19.16 at 9:56 pm ET
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Rick Porcello was the picture of concentration while beating the Tigers on Friday. (Rick Osentoski/USA Today Sports)

Rick Porcello was the picture of concentration while beating the Tigers on Friday. (Rick Osentoski/USA Today Sports)

DETROIT — It’s not as if Rick Porcello can say he was out to prove the Tigers wrong, since the man who traded him away now runs the Red Sox.

But there’s no question Porcello took a little extra pleasure in beating his former team on Friday night as the Red Sox bounced back from one of their worst losses of the season with an overwhelming 10-2 victory.

The Sox tagged standout rookie starter Michael Fulmer with a career-worst six runs, and that was more than enough for Porcello, who allowed a two-run homer in the second and then silenced the Tigers en route to his 17th win of the season.

At 17-3 with a 3.22 ERA, Porcello strengthened his dark-horse candidacy for the American League Cy Young Award in a wide-open field. He allowed 2 runs (1 ER) on four hits in seven innings, lowering his ERA from 3.30 and joining Toronto’s J.A. Happ as the only 17-game winners in the big leagues.

“He’s putting himself in the conversation, there’s no doubt,” manager John Farrell said of the Cy Young race before the game. “Innings per start, efficiency, all that. He’s been our stopper, and has had one heck of a year for us.”

The Red Sox needed it on Friday after Thursday’s bullpen meltdown turned a 3-1 lead into a 4-3 loss.

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Read More: David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, jackie bradley jr., Red Sox

Dave Dombrowski, Rick Porcello reflect on how, why pitcher left Detroit, landed as ace in Boston

08.19.16 at 12:34 pm ET
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Rick Porcello has proven a lot wrong, and some right. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Rick Porcello has proven a lot wrong, and some right. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

The pair have returned to Detroit with smiles on their faces.

Dave Dombrowski is running a Red Sox team that is knee-deep in a pennant race, and Rick Porcello finds himself swimming in Cy Young conversation with a 16-3 record and 3.30 ERA.

It has been an odd path for the pair. There was the trade of Porcello by Dombrowski to the Red Sox for Yoenis Cespedes and Alex Wilson, the commitment of a four-year, $80 million extension for the pitcher from his new team, a 2015 campaign that left doubts all over the place, and finally the reunion of the two last August.

“The whole process of when you get traded, it’s like, ‘We don’t want to re-sign you so we’re going to get our value and get what we can get, and we’re going to move on.’ You try not to take it personally, but there is a little aspect of, ‘OK, I’m not wanted at this place anymore.’ You feel that confidence and support that people in the organization have you, extending themselves, from ownership to the coaching staff,” Porcello said. “That’s definitely there.

“When you have that confidence and belief you want to go out there and prove them right. You want to go and play somebody that has given you that opportunity. When it’s not going that way it makes it even harder because you’re not just thinking about yourself, you’re thinking about everybody who stuck their neck out for you. That all factors into it.”

It has worked out for both, with Porcello becoming the ace of Dombrowski’s staff.

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3 possible solutions for a Red Sox bullpen in shambles after another demoralizing loss

08.19.16 at 11:13 am ET
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Jonathan Papelbon

Jonathan Papelbon

The Red Sox had all the pieces in order for a rousing victory on Thursday afternoon in Detroit, but as has so often been the case over the last month, the bullpen wouldn’t let it happen.

Entrusted with a 3-1 lead in the eighth inning, right-hander Junichi Tazawa once again imploded, opening manager John Farrell to a massive second guess about why he didn’t go to Brad Ziegler instead. But the reality is Ziegler represented a sub-optimal option in that situation as well, leaving the Red Sox in a precarious position — who pitches the eighth inning?

With former closer Koji Uehara sidelined by a pectoral injury and Tazawa scuffling horribly, it’s unclear whom the Red Sox should pair with right-hander Matt Barnes. Here are three options, none of them necessarily great, but all worth considering in light of recent crushing losses to the Yankees (twice) and Tigers, all undone in the late innings.

1. Jonathan Papelbon

The longer Papelbon remains unsigned, the fairer it is to wonder if he’ll sign at all. Perhaps he sits out the rest of the season and tries to find a job over the winter. Or perhaps he’s just taking a couple of extra days to assess his options. In any event, Farrell is on record that he’d like to see Papelbon in Boston, and even if his fastball (91.7 mph) isn’t what it once was, he knows how to pitch in the late innings. He lost his job in Washington for a reason (4.37 ERA), so he’s no savior, but he’d give the Red Sox some experience and swagger.

2. Clay Buchholz

This is a tough one, because Buchholz just delivered his best start of the season (6 IP, 1 ER) with nothing to show for it, and uncertainty over both Steven Wright and Eduardo Rodriguez means he’s probably needed in the rotation. But with Buchholz finding his groove pitching exclusively from the stretch, he’d clearly be an upgrade on Tazawa and probably even Ziegler, since he can face lefties and righties when he’s on his game. Jerking him back and forth between the bullpen and rotation isn’t a recipe for success, and he’s no longer a strikeout pitcher (5.5/9 IP), but with all due respect to Heath Hembree, Buchholz is the best option on the roster. “I’ll do whatever they want me to do,” Buchholz said. “That’s what I get paid to do.”

3. Joe Kelly

The Red Sox made the long overdue move of sending Kelly to the bullpen after he posted an 8.46 ERA in six starts. He has since compiled a 1.64 ERA with 16 strikeouts and three walks in 11 innings of relief at Triple-A Pawtucket. Kelly has the stuff for the late innings, with a fastball that has reached 100 mph. The Red Sox sent him to the minors to pitch exclusively from the stretch and eliminate some of the moving parts in his delivery. They also wanted him to build endurance, because he has already spent time on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. With Kelly pitching well in Pawtucket, however, his time may be coming sooner than later. He pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings on Thursday, striking out two.

Read More: Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly, John Farrell, Jonathan Papelbon

Friday’s Red Sox-Tigers matchups: Rick Porcello vs. Michael Fulmer

08.19.16 at 11:07 am ET
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Game 2 of the Red Sox-Tigers four-game series on Friday night will feature Rick Porcello and rookie right-hander Michael Fulmer.

Porcello is 16-3 with a 3.30 ERA and a 1.051 WHIP in 24 starts. Porcello’s 16 wins are among the most in the majors. The 27-year-old right-hander delivered another quality start last Sunday by throwing seven innings and allowing just one run (a solo home run), three hits and no walks with four strikeouts in a 16-2 win over the Diamondbacks.

“We got off to a big lead, and I didn’t want to mess it up,” Porcello said (via MLB.com). “We just went after it. I tried to throw strikes, tried to get us back in the dugout as quickly as possible. I can’t say enough about the way they swung the bats today. It was a lot of fun to watch.”

Porcello became the first Red Sox pitcher to start a season 12-0 at Fenway since Dave Ferriss in 1946 (13-0).

“I’m definitely very comfortable pitching here, especially with the way we swing the bats here and play defense,” Porcello said. “I enjoy pitching at home.”

Porcello was a first-round draft pick of the Tigers in 2007 and pitched in Detroit until 2015, when he signed with the Red Sox as a free agent. In 2015 in his only start against his former team, Porcello pitched seven innings, allowing one run, five hits and no walks with six strikeouts in a 2-1 Boston win.

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Read More: michael fulmer, rick porcello,

Friday Red Sox Farm Report: Chris Dominguez homers twice in PawSox rout; Michael Kopech fans career-high 11 for Salem

08.19.16 at 8:24 am ET
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Here’s a look at the action in the Red Sox farm system Thursday.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (66-59): W, 9-3, at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Yankees)

— Left fielder Chris Dominguez hit a pair of two-run home runs to lead Pawtucket’s 13-hit attack. Dominguez, who also hit a home run in the previous game, finished 2-for-4 and now is hitting .230/.264/.434 with 11 home runs and 33 RBIs in 62 games.

— Catcher Christian Vazquez and designated hitter Chris Marrero each went 3-for-5 with a double and two RBIs. Vazquez, who scored twice, is hitting .272/354/.386 in 32 Triple-A games. Marrero upped his average to .291/.349/.518 in 116 games. Marrero also has 23 home runs and 64 RBIs.

— Third baseman Jantzen Witte went 2-for-4 with a double, while center fielder Rusney Castillo had a hit and two walks and scored twice.

— Left-hander Roenis Elias started and pitched 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball, allowing three hits and three walks with five strikeouts. He’s now 9-4 with a 3.62 ERA and 1/41 WHIP in 18 Triple-A games.

— Right-hander Roman Mendez came on in the sixth and prevented two inherited runners from scoring, but in the eighth he surrendered two runs. He finished the night allowing four hits and one walk with two strikeouts.

— Joe Kelly pitched the final 1 1/3 innings, allowing two hits but no runs while striking out two. He lowered his ERA to 1.80 in 12 games with the PawSox.

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Read More: Bobby Dalbec, Bobby Poyner, Chris Dominguez, kevin mcavoy

John Farrell steamed over ‘ass-backwards’ call that doesn’t go team’s way in loss to Tigers

08.18.16 at 6:26 pm ET
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Home plate umpire Scott Barry ejects Red Sox third base coach Brian Butterfield in Thursday's loss to the Tigers. (Rick Osentoski/USA Today Sports)

Home plate umpire Scott Barry ejects Red Sox third base coach Brian Butterfield in Thursday’s loss to the Tigers. (Rick Osentoski/USA Today Sports)

The umpires didn’t cost the Red Sox Thursday’s ballyhooed matinee with the Tigers. Their bullpen did.

But that didn’t stop the Sox from steaming over a peculiar play that didn’t go their way in the second inning.

With one out and J.D. Martinez on first, Casey McGehee sent a sinking liner to center, where Jackie Bradley dove in vain. The ball ticked off his glove and rolled under him. First base umpire Jerry Layne, however, signaled catch, so Martinez reversed field halfway to third and retraced his steps back to first.

Meanwhile, McGehee passed him on the bases before first baseman Hanley Ramirez tagged both. The Tigers challenged the ruling of catch, and also argued that Martinez should be awarded third, since he was running on the play and only returned to first because of an incorrect call.

The umpires eventually agreed after a replay review, putting runners on the corners with one out. Jarrod Saltalamacchia followed with a sacrifice fly before Clay Buchholz escaped further damage. So what happened?

Layne told a pool reporter from the Associated Press that once replay showed no catch, the umps had to place the runners.

“J.D. Martinez [had] rounded second, because he had to go back and touch, because he’d seen that my arm was up, thinking that I had an out,” Layne said. “He didn’t know. He was going on my call. So he would’ve clearly gone to third, and by the guy not catching the ball, first and third.”

The Red Sox protested, with third base coach Brian Butterfield ejected from the dugout on the next batter for what Layne said was arguing balls and strikes.

“Martinez going back to first base was based on Jerry Layne’s call which again, Jerry Layne is behind him,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “Brian O’Nora gives the safe sign, so Martinez is advancing to second base. The batter-runner is passing the other baserunner. I still don’t have an explanation. It is ass-backwards to be honest with you. We go from a potential double play to a first-and-third situation. I still don’t buy it.”

Read More: brian butterfield, jackie bradley, jerry layne, John Farrell

Closing Time: Bullpen implosion turns Red Sox comeback into nightmare loss to Tigers

08.18.16 at 4:33 pm ET
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Red Sox manager John Farrell argues with home plate upm Scott Barry on Thursday. (Rick Osentoski/(USA Today Sports)

Red Sox manager John Farrell argues with home plate upm Scott Barry on Thursday. (Rick Osentoski/(USA Today Sports)

For an August 18th game against two non-division teams, so many question marks surrounded Thursday’s matinee vs. the Tigers. How would the Red Sox perform on short rest? Why wouldn’t the Tigers move the start time? Would Clay Buchholz implode again?

It turns out we should’ve been asking a different question: Will the bullpen show up?

The answer to that one was unfortunately no, and the Red Sox suffered one of their toughest losses of the season as a result, blowing a 3-1 lead in the eighth en route to a 4-3 loss.

This one falls largely on reliever Junichi Tazawa, who was summoned to protect a 3-1 lead, but allowed three hits without retiring a batter. He left with runners on the corners and no outs and sidearmer Brad Ziegler nearly escaped with the game still tied before walking in the go-ahead run.

The latest bullpen collapse ruined an otherwise inspiring effort. Fresh off the bereavement list, first baseman Hanley Ramirez stroked the go-ahead single in the eighth inning to back Clay Buchholz’s gutsiest outing of the season.

Playing with a lineup that saw Aaron Hill hitting first for just the 20th time in his career, Sandy Leon as the designated hitter, and Deven Marrero playing second base, the Red Sox nevertheless appeared headed for their seventh straight win before the bullpen gave it away.

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Read More: John Farrell, junichi tazawa, Red Sox, Red Sox Bullpen
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