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Is John Farrell setting stage to replace Justin Masterson in rotation?

05.13.15 at 1:44 am ET
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OAKLAND — After his team’s 9-2 loss to the A’s Tuesday night, John Farrell officially opened the door for the Red Sox to potentially change their starting rotation for the first time this season.

Even before Farrell spoke to the media after the defeat, it wouldn’t have taken a leap of faith to suggest Justin Masterson‘s spot in the rotation was tenuous. The Sox starter allowed six runs in just 2 1/3 innings, pushing his ERA to 6.37.

But when the manager introduced the possibility that at least part of Masterson’s issues have to do with a physical issue, the likelihood of somebody else making the Sox start Sunday in Seattle grew quite a bit.

“The last two times out for Justin have not been anything close to what he’€™s even shown this year, set aside everything to the start of 2015,” the manager said. “Clearly, he’€™s not right. Whether that’€™s physical, whether that’€™s delivery-wise, the ball not coming out of his hand as he’€™s shown for the better part of this year. We’€™ve got to gather some information overnight. We’€™ve got to check on him when he comes in in the morning, go through a full work-up and just kind of get a better assessment of where things are.”

Then asked about Masterson’s physical status, Farrell responded, “Just talking with the medical staff right now and talking with Justin himself, it’€™s not anything glaring or an area of the body that could be identified to say that this is the primary reason. To what extent he feels anything that might subconsciously be in there to not allow him the freeness and the ability to cut the ball loose, that’€™s what we’€™re trying to cut to the bottom of.”

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Closing Time: Justin Masterson, Red Sox hitters fall on tough times in loss to A’s

05.13.15 at 12:40 am ET
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Justin Masterson retired just seven outs in his start Tuesday night. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Justin Masterson retired just seven outs in his start Tuesday night. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

OAKLAND — The good times for the Red Sox came to a screeching halt Tuesday night.

After winning two straight, the Sox fell upon hard (and familiar) times, dropping an 9-2 decision to the A’s at O.com Coliseum. Unfortunately for John Farrell‘s team, the defeat was born from a familiar equation: terrible work from its starter and the inability to hit lefty pitching.

The most noticeable issue for the Red Sox was the struggles of starting pitcher Justin Masterson, who allowed six runs over just 2 1/3 innings.

He was replaced by Steven Wright, who also gave up a pair of hits before finishing off the third inning with the Red Sox in a 7-0 hole after three frames.

The outing pushed Masterson’€™s ERA to 6.37, having given up 10 runs on 13 hits with seven walks over 6 2/3 innings in his last two starts. It marked the seventh time a Red Sox starter has gone fewer than five innings.

The other issue continuing to face the Red Sox is their trouble handling lefty pitchers, in this case Oakland starter Drew Pomeranz.

The Sox came into the game hitting just .190 against lefties, a number that didn’t get any better in the second game of the three-game series. The only hits against Pomeranz came from Dustin Pedroia (2), Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino. The Oakland starter finished his night allowing two runs on four hits while striking out three and not walking a batter over seven innings.

Of those on the Red Sox’ active roster, only one [Hanley Ramirez] has a batting average of better than .225 against southpaws. After facing Oakland ace Sonny Gray Thursday, the Sox are slated to go up against three lefty starters in their four-game set in Seattle over the weekend.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Former Red Sox outfielder Josh Reddick managed four hits, including a home run, to boost his average to .346. Vote on the Rock Solid Performer of the week and enter to win a VIP Boston Baseball Experience at weei.com/rocksolid.

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Justin Masterson exits after getting just 7 outs

05.12.15 at 11:17 pm ET
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OAKLAND — Justin Masterson‘s time in the Red Sox rotation may be coming to an end.

The Red Sox starter suffered through another subpar outing, this time allowing six runs on six hits in just 2 1/3 innings against the A’s Tuesday night. He would be replaced by Steven Wright, who also gave up a pair of hits before finishing off the third inning with the Red Sox in a 7-0 hole.

The outing pushed Masterson’s ERA to 6.37, having given up 10 runs on 13 hits with seven walks over 6 2/3 innings in his last two starts.

It marked the seventh time a Red Sox starter has gone fewer than five innings.

For the box score, click here.

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David Ortiz on NFL’s punishment of Tom Brady: ‘I think it’s ridiculous’

05.12.15 at 10:33 pm ET
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Tom Brady has the support of David Ortiz during these turbulent times for the quarterback. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Tom Brady has the support of David Ortiz during these turbulent times for the quarterback. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

OAKLAND — David Ortiz isn’t unlike any other Patriots fan — he’s pretty upset over the NFL’s decision to suspend his quarterback.

“I think the decision was very poor,” said the Red Sox DH regarding NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s mandate that Tom Brady miss the first four games of the 2015 season. “You’€™re not just talking about any football player. You’€™re talking about probably the best player in the game, so what is the message you’€™re sending? I don’€™t think the message they’€™re sending is good. They want to send a strong message to who? The NFL players? How about the fans. What we think of it doesn’t matter?”

Ortiz (who says he knows Brady a little) couldn’t get his head around the NFL’s choice to penalize Brady for his role in Deflategate.

Speaking before his team’s game against the A’s Tuesday night, the DH made the point that such an approach wouldn’t seem to be in the best interest of anybody.

“I don’€™t really like the whole thing,” Ortiz said. “They are going to do some damage to their sport, believe it or not. We’€™re talking about the world champion and the face of the franchise, face of the NFL. Doing that to him? That’€™s critical. I don’€™t think you’€™re going to make too many people happy.”

Ortiz, like others unhappy with the outcome, is also quick to point to perceived inconsistencies by the NFL.

“I think the NFL has been very poor in making some decisions,” he said. “I don’€™t think they have been strong enough putting up with [domestic violence]. I’€™m not talking about now, but I’€™m talking about through the years. You see all the cases popping out and I’€™m pretty sure somebody knew about it before. You have to wait for it to happen for people to know about it? That’€™s sort of weird.

“And now this Tom Brady thing, I think it’€™s ridiculous. I think it’€™s ridiculous. I don’€™t know if the commissioner is trying to send a big message. Then to who? To the players? I’€™m a football fan and when I don’€™t see Brady on the field I’€™m going to have questions. And then the answer is he deflated some freaking balls? Prove that. Prove it.”

Asked what it will be like to watch that first Patriots game next season without Brady involved, Ortiz matter-of-factly responded, “It’s going to be [expletive] up.”

He added, “I don’t think it will do anything to his legacy. Brady is on another level, you know? What I think is going to happen is the sport, in general, is probably going to lose some fans. I’m a football fan. Next year, when I don’t see Brady playing out there, I’m going to have questions. And the answer you’re going to give me is that ball thing. That’s the reason he ain’t playing? It don’t make no sense. I think the best way to deal with that was, let’s have some regulation for now, and whoever violates it, we go from there. But it’s just like that. I don’t see it right.”

Read More: David Ortiz, Tom Brady,

Red Sox lineup: Shane Victorino starts again in right field

05.12.15 at 6:15 pm ET
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OAKLAND — With another lefty on the mound for the A’s, this time Drew Pomeranz, Shane Victorino gets the start for the Red Sox Tuesday night at O.co Coliseum.

In his first game back from the 15-day disabled list (hamstring) Victorino went 0-for-4, ultimately being replaced by Jackie Bradley Jr. in the field for the final three innings of the Red Sox’ 5-4, 11-inning win over Oakland.

Here is the Red Sox’ lineup with Justin Masterson starting for the visitors:

Mookie Betts CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez LF
Mike Napoli 1B
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Shane Victorino RF
Xander Bogaerts SS
Blake Swihart C

For all the matchups, click here.

Tuesday’s Red Sox-Athletics matchups: Justin Masterson vs. Drew Pomeranz

05.12.15 at 8:35 am ET
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In the middle number of their three-game series against the A’s on Tuesday night, Red Sox right-hander Justin Masterson will get the ball at the Coliseum opposite left-hander Drew Pomeranz.

Masterson’s last outing was forgettable as he lasted 4 1/3 innings against the Rays last Wednesday, walking six and giving up four earned runs on seven hits with one strikeout. Masterson said he felt something change part of the way into the fourth inning. He was over-rotating a little bit in his pitching motion.

“The first part was great, first three innings,” Masterson said Wednesday. “The fourth, pitched through it, and fifth was just kind of the culmination of I just couldn’t make the adjustment out there to get back into throwing strikes. Close, but not close enough.

“I just felt like I was rotating more,” he added. “Which is never a good thing, when I’m already a rotational guy, to add more rotation to it is not good, but it’s something I hadn’t dealt with yet this year, so at least we’re not repeating what we’ve been doing.”

With a 5.18 ERA and a 2-1 record six starts into the year, Masterson has allowed 19 earned runs in 33 innings of work, giving up 34 hits in that time. He has issued 18 walks and struck out 23. Hitters are slashing .268/.377/.409 against him, and he has a 1.58 WHIP on the year.

In 10 starts vs. the A’s, Masterson has an ERA of 6.61 with a 2-7 record. Among teams he’s faced more than twice, Masterson has only fared worse in those categories against Tampa Bay. In 62 2/3 frames, Masterson has surrendered 66 hits, 28 for extra bases, and 46 earned runs. A’s batters have a .269/.358/.461 slash line when he’s on the hill, and his 1.53 WHIP is his fourth worst against teams he’s seen at least five times.

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Read More: Drew Pomeranz, justin masterson, Oakland A's, Oakland Athletics

Closing Time: Pablo Sandoval homer lifts Red Sox over A’s in 11 innings

05.12.15 at 2:11 am ET
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Pablo Sandoval is like Two-Face in the Batman movies. From the left side of the plate, he represents goodness. From the right side, he is grotesque.

On Monday night in Oakland, he needed only one swing from the left side to make his mark, lining an Angel Castro offering over the right field fence in the 11th inning to give the Red Sox a 5-4 victory over the A’s in a game that didn’t look like it was being played by last-place teams.

Coco Crisp robbed Dustin Pedroia of extra bases to end one inning, while Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli returned the favor with a leaping snag of a Crisp liner that would’ve driven in two runs.

The respective offenses grinded out rallies, matching runs in the fourth, fifth, and seventh. And both managers treated the game like a playoff affair, with Red Sox skipper John Farrell summoning closer Koji Uehara to keep a tie game that way in the ninth, while A’s counterpart Bob Melvin utilized five relief pitchers.

But the two sides might still be playing if not for Sandoval, who hit the type of home run that is becoming his trademark ‘€“ the low-trajectory line drive that leaves the park in a hurry.

Prior to the homer, Sandoval had had another rough night from the right side. He grounded into a double play, struck out, and grounded out against A’s starter Scott Kazmir. Sandoval began the night hitting just .071 (2 for 28) from the right side, vs. .386 with a 1.017 OPS from the left.

Those numbers only skewed even further on Monday.

Right-hander Rick Porcello struggled for the Red Sox, allowing nine hits and a walk in just five innings. Porcello, who was coming off two very good seven-inning starts, struggled with his location in this one, often missing the zone badly, particularly with his changeup.

It was hard to miss the impact of youth in the seventh inning. In successive at-bats, 22-year-old shortstop Xander Bogaerts, 23-year-old catcher Blake Swihart, and 22-year-old center fielder Mookie Betts all singled to plate a run and erase a 3-2 deficit. When Betts then took out shortstop Marcus Semien with a tough, legal slide on Dustin Pedroia‘s groundout, the Red Sox had a 4-3 lead.

It proves short-lived, though, because reliever Craig Breslow gave it right back.

This was a matchup of two of the colder teams in baseball. The A’s had lost five straight, while the Sox had dropped seven of nine.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Pablo Sandoval erased a tough start at the plate by drilling the game-winning home run in the 11th. Vote on the Rock Solid Performer of the week and enter to win a VIP Boston Baseball Experience at weei.com/rocksolid.

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Red Sox GM Ben Cherington will give team chance to escape slump before exploring trades

05.12.15 at 12:51 am ET
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Ben Cherington

Ben Cherington

With the Red Sox struggling as they open the West Coast portion of a 10-game road trip in their personal house of horrors — they’re just 2-11 in Oakland since 2012 — general manager Ben Cherington told reporters he believes the pieces are in place for the Red Sox to return to contention.

“We’€™re judged by the results,” Cherington said in O.Co Coliseum on Monday. “Thirty-one games in, our record isn’€™t what we want it to be, but it’€™s 31 games. We’€™ve got a lot of season to play good baseball and I’€™m confident we will.”

Cherington touched on a number of topics.

On the possibility of swinging a blockbuster trade:

“Not a lot of teams in that mode, but there wouldn’t normally be this time of year anyway. We’re not really there yet. There’s kind of a little bit of conversation, but not a lot yet. Probably more like the kind of trades that get made early in the season are ones where a team might be trying to find a spot for someone, moving some pieces around, but there’s not a lot of team-altering moves being discussed this early. Probably need a little bit of time on that.”

On the starting pitching staff:

“I believe we’€™ll pitch better and I believe we have a lot of the solutions here already. We’€™re trying to create some stability around that group. We lost two catchers in spring training and one earlier in the season, so that’€™s a change that affects pitching to some degree. We obviously changed the pitching coach and we want to see this group have a chance to perform with some stability around it. We believe they’€™ll perform well. Look, we’€™re always looking for ways to get better and will continue to do that as we get deeper into the season.”

On the struggling offense:

“We haven’€™t clicked offensively yet as a team. I still think we will. We have too many good players for the offense not to click as a group and so that will happen. . . . I think the offense is going to be fine. On an individual basis, have a run of at-bats and feel better about themselves. And as a group it’€™s just about doing what they can do and trusting the guy behind them. Letting that team’s offensive mindset take over.”

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Red Sox-Athletics series preview

05.11.15 at 10:46 am ET
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Stephen Vogt (Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

Stephen Vogt is hitting .321/.424/.786 with four home runs this month. (Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

Sporting identical 3-7 records in their last 10 games, the Red Sox and Athletics are set to start a three-game series in Oakland to begin the week. The Sox picked up a win in Sunday’s Mother’s Day matinee against the Blue Jays, avoiding their second sweep in three series. Oakland is in a similar situation, winning just three games this month and riding a five-game losing streak and most recently, a sweep at the hands of the Mariners.

The A’s are a little worse off than Boston overall this season, as they own a 12-21 record and sit in last place of not only their division but the whole American League in winning percentage (.364).

Regardless, Oakland manager Bob Melvin said his team is better than its record and that the Athletics will start winning as they return home for the upcoming stint at O.co Coliseum.

“We’re in every game,” Melvin said after Sunday’s loss. “It’s small little things that are going to make the difference for us. And we’re going to start winning when we get home.

“It’s never about the effort,” Melvin added. “The effort’s always there. It’s about some of the other things that we need to tighten up. We walk too many people at times. Defensively, we’re Jekyll and Hyde.”

The A’s have the worst fielding percentage in the majors, ringing in at 97.3 percent, and have committed the most errors of any team at 33. In turn, the Sox are top 10 with a .986 percentage and 22nd for errors with 17. Because of that, Oakland has given up 20 unearned runs, second only to the Nationals (25).

Despite its poor defense and record, Oakland features a productive offense. The A’s are tied for fourth in the league in runs scored with 153 and are second among all 30 teams with 301 hits. As a team, they are hitting .258/.315/.397 with a fifth-best 146 RBIs and a top-10-worthy 93 extra-base hits.

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Read More: Marcus Semien, Oakland A's, Oakland Athletics, Sonny Gray

Monday’s Red Sox-Athletics matchups: Rick Porcello vs. Scott Kazmir

05.11.15 at 10:25 am ET
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Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello gets the start as the Red Sox continue their road trip with a visit to Oakland on Monday night. The A’s will send out a pitcher who has become familiar with the Sox over the years, Scott Kazmir.

After an inconsistent start to the season, Porcello has settled down over his last two outings. He has recorded two wins in a row with back-to-back seven-inning appearances against the Blue Jays and Rays. After struggling with home run balls in his first few starts, Porcello kept the ball in the park in each of those games. The 26-year-old also has been inducing more ground balls of late, as 50 percent of balls in play were on the ground in his last start, compared to times when he has struggled this year and that number dropped to 40  and 20 percent.

In his last start, a seven-inning shutout of the Rays, Porcello allowed eight hits, all of them singles, while walking none and striking out six.

“Seven strong innings. He scattered eight hits,” manager John Farrell said after the game. “We turned an uncommon double play to get out of a potential jam. The biggest thing was he didn’t walk anyone, and I thought after the fourth inning, those final three innings, he threw the ball down in the strike zone a little bit more consistently. But on a day where we needed a strong performance, he gave it to us.”

Porcello now leads Red Sox starters with a 4.38 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP, and is second with a .250 batting average against.

In 11 career outings against the A’s, Porcello is 4-5 with a 3.73 ERA, a 1.42 WHIP, 26 strikeouts and 20 walks. He has made seven appearances at O.co Coliseum, going 1-for-4 with a 5.09 ERA, a 1.78 WHIP and five home runs allowed in 35 1/3 innings of work.

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Read More: Oakland Athletics, Red Sox, rick porcello, Scott Kazmir
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