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Red Sox lineup: Ryan Hanigan catching Steven Wright in Houston

04.22.16 at 4:39 pm ET
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Ryan Hanigan

Ryan Hanigan

The last time Steven Wright pitched in Houston it didn’t go so well.

Making his fourth major league start, the knuckleballer lasted just one inning, allowing three runs on one hit while throwing just 18 of his 38 pitches for strikes. But the reason he was pulled was also because Ryan Lavarnway, Wright’s batterymate at the time, couldn’t handle the starter’s primary pitch, succumbing to four passed balls.

This time around at Minute Maid Park, Wright will have Ryan Hanigan handle his knuckleball in the Red Sox’ series opener against the Astros. It will be the third time the pair have teamed up.

Here is the Sox’ starting lineup against Houston starter Collin McHugh:

Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Travis Shaw 3B
Brock Holt LF
Ryan Hanigan C
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF

For all the matchups, click here.

Roenis Elias called up by Red Sox, William Cuevas sent down

04.22.16 at 2:08 pm ET
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Roenis Elias

Roenis Elias

The Red Sox announced Friday that Roenis Elias will be joining the club, with William Cuevas returning to Triple-A Pawtucket.

Elias will presumably work out of the Sox bullpen despite the fact he has spent the first few weeks of the 2016 season as a starter for the PawSox. In two starts with Pawtucket, the lefty gave up four earned runs in 9 1/3 innings (3.86 ERA).

Elias, who came to the Red Sox with Carson Smith from Seattle in exchange for Wade Miley and Jonathan Aro, has worked almost exclusively as a starting pitcher throughout his professional career. In 51 appearances with the Mariners over the past two seasons, 49 of them have been starts.

The Red Sox had worked Elias as a reliever during the final two weeks of spring training, but weren’t satisfied with the results when he pitched on a regular basis.

Cuevas’ lone appearance with the Red Sox came Thursday, pitching 2 1/3 innings while taking the loss against the Rays.

As for the players traded by the Red Sox to get Elias and Smith (who is currently on the 15-day disabled list), Miley has an 8.04 ERA in three starts, and Aro has a 2.61 ERA while pitching out of the bullpen for Triple-A Tacoma.

Friday’s Red Sox-Astros matchups: Steven Wright vs. Collin McHugh

04.22.16 at 8:44 am ET
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Steven Wright

Steven Wright

The Red Sox will kick off a three-game series against the Astros on Friday by sending out knuckleballer Steven Wright. He will be seeking his first win of the season while facing off against righty Collin McHugh.

Both of Wright’s first two starts have come against the Blue Jays, and he has given the Red Sox two solid outings despite losing both of them. In his last start on Sunday, he went six innings, allowing two runs on six hits. He struck out six and did not walk a single batter. The Red Sox went on to lose the game, 5-3.

In a scary moment during the game, Wright hit Blue Jays batter Chris Colabello in the head. The look of concern on Wright’s face made it clear the pitch was unintentional. The next day, Colabello had a nice bottle of liquor sent to him from Wright as an apology.

“Steven decided that he was gong to send over a gift,” Colabello revealed. “He didn’t have to. I’m sure that’s not cheap, too.”

Wright has had had two career appearances against the Astros, including one start. In five total innings he has a 7.20 ERA and 1.400 WHIP, along with five strikeouts and two walks. He has not factored into a decision in either of those outings.

McHugh is 1-2 in three starts to begin the year. In his last outing last Saturday against the Tigers, he was hit hard. He allowed four runs on 10 hits, lasting 5 1/3 innings. He struck out seven and walked none in a game both he and the Astros would lose.

“I thought McHugh hung in there pretty well,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said after the game. “He obviously had a couple of innings where they got back-to-back doubles, got a couple hits in a row, they had guys on base the whole game. Just traffic all over the place and they never let up.”

In three career starts against the Red Sox, McHugh is 2-1 with a 2.95 ERA and 1.582 WHIP. He has 11 strikeouts and eight walks in 18 1/3 innings.

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Friday Red Sox Farm Report: Yoan Moncada, Andrew Benintendi have 11-game hit streaks

04.22.16 at 8:25 am ET
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Here’s a look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Thursday.

Brian Johnson

Brian Johnson

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (9-6): L, 5-0, at Rochester (Twins)

— LHP Brian Johnson (Boston’s No. 6 prospect at MLB.com) took the loss with a final line of: 5 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 5 SO (95 pitches, 54 strikes). The 25-year-old Johnson (1-2, 2.51 ERA) battled control problems early, walking three in the second inning alone although keeping the game scoreless into the third.

Two PawSox errors then led to two unearned third-inning runs. First, third baseman Jantzen Witte bounced a throw home on a first-and-third ground ball induced from Johnson. Later in the inning, shortstop Marco Hernandez airmailed a throw to third after recording a pop-out as he tried to catch the lead runner at the bag.

A fourth-inning triple and ensuing sacrifice fly finished the damage against Johnson. On the season, through three starts, the 6-foot-4 southpaw has allowed four earned runs over 14 1/3 innings with 14 strikeouts and eight walks.

— RHP Pat Light (Boston’s No. 15 prospect at MLB.com) entered with one out and a runner on second in the seventh, cleaning up the frame with a ground out and a strikeout via his split-finger fastball. However, Light was touched up in the eighth as he allowed a deep shot on a first-pitch fastball pulled over the left-center fence. It was the first homer allowed by Light this season. In five outings so far in 2016 Light has allowed three earned runs in 6 2/3 innings with 10 strikeouts and three walks.

— Twins top prospect Jose Berrios limited the PawSox offense to just three baserunners over the first seven innings, taking a no-hitter into the sixth. Pawtucket managed just a walk (Swihart) and two singles (Witte and second baseman Sean Coyle) against the 21-year-old righty, striking out seven times.

Pawtucket scratched out three more singles (catcher Sandy Leon, Hernandez and center fielder Rusney Castillo) against the Rochester bullpen but could not manage a run. Swihart hit into a double play with two runners on to end the game, and through five games with Pawtucket since his demotion he is just 3-for-21 (.143) with a double.

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Why William Cuevas was pitching for Red Sox with game on line

04.21.16 at 8:23 pm ET
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William Cuevas

William Cuevas

Nobody could have envisioned it unfolding like this.

With the Red Sox trailing by a run, starter David Price already gone from the game for the last 2 1/3 innings, and the Rays offense having put up an eight-spot, William Cuevas was brought on by John Farrell to make his major league debut.

Cuevas got out of the seventh inning after issuing just a walk. That allowed the Red Sox to knot things up with a run later in the frame, giving the rookie reliever an opportunity to pitch in a tie game to start the eighth.

Normally, more experienced members of the Red Sox bullpen would have been called on to navigate through the late innings with a tie game. But Red Sox manager John Farrell left Cuevas in.

The result wasn’t what Farrell was looking for, with the 25-year-old ultimately giving the lead back with two outs in the eighth on a Steven Souza Jr. RBI double. Then, after getting out of the inning, Cuevas remained in the game and started ninth.

Tampa Bay left-handed batter Kevin Kiermaier immediately greeted Cuevas with a leadoff double in the ninth, getting the ball rolling on the visitors’ three-run inning. (Noe Ramirez came on after a sacrifice bunt and would be charged with two runs over 2/3 innings.)

“I thought [Cuevas] handled the environment well,” Farrell said. “He threw his offspeed pitches for strikes. His first pitch of his major league career is a changeup, which I don’t know you see that very often. So I think it gives you some sense of his presence and fuel for the situation.”

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John Farrell didn’t pinch-hit for Travis Shaw, which made Travis Shaw pretty happy

04.21.16 at 7:48 pm ET
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Travis Shaw

Travis Shaw

For the first few weeks of the season, John Farrell had made his approach clear.

With a lefty reliever on the mound in the sixth or seventh inning and Travis Shaw up, the Red Sox manager was usually going to go with righty-hitting Chris Young.

But after subpar success with such a strategy, Farrell altered course, at least during one key spot during the Red Sox’ 12-8 loss to the Rays on Thursday afternoon.

With the Sox trailing by a run heading into the seventh inning, and Rays lefty reliever Xavier Cedeno on the mound, David Ortiz doubled. After a Hanley Ramirez, it came time to make the decision regarding whether or not to left Shaw has his chance.

Farrell left him in, and it paid off.

Shaw rifled a double into the left-center field gap, scoring Ortiz and perhaps cementing his role as a late-inning option, regardless of the pitcher.

Asked if it was encouraging to have the chance to hit against the southpaw, Shaw replied, “It was. I’m pretty confident in myself against lefties. I like being given that opportunity to come through right there, and thankfully he made a mistake, left a ball out of over the plate and I did what I was supposed to do.”

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How will David Price bounce back from Thursday? Chris Archer predicts complete-game shutout

04.21.16 at 7:21 pm ET
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Former teammate Chris Archer predicts David Price will bounce back in a big way from Thursday's rough start. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

Former teammate Chris Archer (right) predicts David Price will bounce back in a big way from Thursday’s rough start. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

Few pitchers in baseball know David Price as well as Chris Archer does.

Archer and Price were teammates in Tampa Bay from 2012 until Price was traded at the trade deadline in 2014, and both are among the best pitchers in baseball. Price uncharacteristically struggled Thursday against his former team, allowing eight runs in just 3 2/3 innings.

Archer is confident Price will bounce back in a big way.

“He’ll throw a [complete-game shutout] next game,” Archer told WEEI.com.

“It’s hard to say [why he struggled] because he does a good job of competing even when he doesn’t have his best stuff,” Archer added. “Sometimes you have to tip your cap to the other team and just say, ‘Hey, those guys on the other side of the ball are big leaguers too. They are here for a reason.’ [The Rays] do exceptionally well against left-handed pitching. More so than trying to always find fault in what the starter does, tip your cap, move on and say it was a bad game against a good team.”

With Price opening the year with a 7.06 ERA through four starts, Archer acknowledged Boston fans might have some concerns with their $217 million pitcher, but he said not to worry.

“It’s April,” Archer said. “Every pitcher has ups and down and ebbs and flows, but we make 34, 35 starts for a reason, and at the end of those starts you’ll get your consistent, high-level star pitcher that you expect.”

Within the eight runs he allowed, Price allowed two home runs — one to Evan Longoria and one to No. 9 hitter Curt Casali, who now has three homers off Price in his career. Coming into the at-bat, Longoria had never recorded a hit off his former teammate.

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David Price takes blame for ‘unacceptable’ start, blowing 4-run lead

04.21.16 at 6:52 pm ET
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David Price called Thursday's start against the Rays "unacceptable." (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

David Price called Thursday’s start against the Rays “unacceptable.” (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

The Red Sox must have felt pretty good after the first inning with a 5-1 lead and David Price on the mound against the Rays, but the left-hander allowed six runs in the fourth inning and departed before the inning ended in one of the worst starts of his career.

After Price allowed six runs, the Red Sox rallied and eventually tied the game, but in the end fell they to the Rays, 12-8.

“That’s not fun. I know I am better than that,” Price said. “When you get five runs in the bottom half of the first inning, that’s unacceptable.”

After four starts with the Red Sox, Price now has an ERA of 7.06 and his eight earned runs allowed tied a career high. It also was his shortest outing since April 22, 2015, when he went 2 1/3 innings and also allowed eight runs against the Yankees.

Warming up, Price said it was the best he’s felt this season, which made it even that much more difficult to see the end result not be there.

“That’s the best I’ve felt in my four starts here,” Price said. “To me, that is the most disappointing thing, to feel as good as I felt. I wanted to go out there and get the results I expect.”

Added Price: “Strength-wise, everything, my entire body. I felt good. I felt good in the bullpen. That is the best I’ve warmed up in my four starts here. To not have that carry over to the game is frustrating.”

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Closing Time: David Price struggles, Red Sox rally but ultimately fall to Rays

04.21.16 at 5:51 pm ET
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David Price allowed eight runs in 3 2/3 innings to take the loss. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

David Price allowed eight runs in 3 2/3 innings in one of the worst outings of his career. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

With the Red Sox leading 5-1 after the first inning, it seemed like everyone could enjoy a beautiful spring afternoon at Fenway Park with David Price on the mound, but that couldn’t have been any more wrong.

Price allowed six runs in the fourth inning, which he didn’t even make it out of, but fortunately for him, the Red Sox offense rallied to tie the game, taking him off the hook.

In the end it was all for naught, as the Rays scored in the eighth and ninth innings to come away with a 12-8 win over the Red Sox in a game that took over four hours to play. The Rays won 2-of-3 games in the series.

With William Cuevas (major league debut) on the mound in an 8-8 game in the eighth, Steven Souza Jr.’s two-out double off the Green Monster scored Desmond Jennings, proving to be the game-winning run. The Rays added three insurance runs in the ninth — two charged to Cuevas and two to Noe Ramirez.

The biggest story of the game was Price, as the left-hander lasted just 3 2/3 innings, allowing eight runs on nine hits, while walking two, hitting two and striking out six. He also allowed two home runs. His ERA is 7.06 after four starts. The eight earned runs tied a career high.

Price didn’t have command of any of his pitches, leaving many up in the zone against his former team. Evan Longoria and No. 9 hitter catcher Curt Casali hit the home runs.

Trailing 8-5 in the sixth, Mookie Betts crushed his second home run in as many days too cut the deficit to 8-7. The Red Sox then added a run in the seventh to tie the score when Travis Shaw doubled home David Ortiz, who led the inning off with a double.

Things were looking good for the Red Sox as they were able to get to Rays starter Jake Odorizzi early. Dustin Pedroia crushed his first home run of the season into the Monster seats to make it 2-0 after only two batters in the bottom of the first. They added three more runs in the frame, including the fifth on a double-steal where Brock Holt stole second and Shaw technically stole home.

Closing Time note

It was the shortest start for Price since April 22, 2015, when he went 2 1/3 innings and allowed eight runs against the Yankees.

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Read More: David Price, Dustin Pedroia, mookie betts, william cuevas

David Price allows 8 runs in just 3.2 innings against former team

04.21.16 at 3:43 pm ET
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David Price

David Price

David Price was not David Price on Thursday against the Rays.

The left-hander went just 3 2/3 innings allowing eight runs on eight hits, while walking two, hitting two and striking out five. He also allowed two home runs and departed with the Red Sox trailing 8-5.

It was Price’s shortest start since April 22, 2015 when he went 2 1/3 innings and allowed eight runs against the Yankees. It’s also the 11th time Price wasn’t able to make it through four innings.

He entered the game with an 11-1 record since August 1 of last year, by far the best in the American League.

The Red Sox starting rotation isn’t off to a great start to the season as Price has an ERA of 6.65 through four starts. The best pitcher in terms of ERA is Steven Wright, who in two starts has a 2.13 ERA.

For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

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