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Closing Time: Rubby De La Rosa, Red Sox keep rolling, rally past Royals

07.19.14 at 9:50 pm ET
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The Red Sox won in Shane Victorino's return from the disabled list. (AP)

The Red Sox won in Shane Victorino‘s return from the disabled list. (AP)

Entering Saturday’€™s game against the Royals, the Red Sox had only scored two runs over starter Rubby De La Rosa‘€™s last four starts, equaling out to an unsightly 0.73 run support average.

Boston was able to double that run total on Saturday night, and while two runs isn’€™t much, it was enough for De La Rosa, who spun seven brilliant innings of one-run, five-hit dominance en route to a 2-1 Red Sox victory.

Boston has now won two-straight series while also earning their first series victory against a team over .500 since the team took two out of three games from the Yankees on June 27-29. Boston’€™s last eight wins at home have all been decided by one run.

De La Rosa has now allowed three runs or less in five of his seven starts on the year while improving his ERA at home to 1.53 in four starts (4 earned runs/26 innings).

The game remained knotted at 1-1 until the sixth inning, when Mike Napoli took a 92 mph fastball from Royals starter Danny Duffy and deposited it over the Green Monster to give the Sox a one-run lead.

Shane Victorino, playing in his first game with Boston since May 23 after battling hamstring and back injuries for almost two months, was solid at the plate, going 1-for-3 while showing no limitations both in the field and on the basepaths.

With the win the Red Sox move to 45-52 on the year and have now won six of their last seven games.

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Read More: mike napoli, Red Sox, royals, rubby de la rosa

Shane Victorino shakes off ‘savior’ notion in his return to Red Sox

07.19.14 at 9:39 pm ET
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Victorino addresses the media in the Red Sox dugout before Saturday night's game.  (Conor Ryan/WEEI.com)

Victorino addresses the media in the Red Sox dugout before Saturday night’s game against the Royals. (Conor Ryan/WEEI.com)

Shane Victorino‘€™s message to the media prior to Saturday night’€™s game against Kansas City was both simple and direct:

He is not going to be the savior for this team.

However, he can certainly play a big part in a second-half turnaround for the Red Sox.

“I’€™m not the guy, I’€™m not the answer,” Victorino said. “€œI’€™m not the guy that’€™s going to carry the load, but I’€™m going to try to be as good as I can be and help this team win.”

The 33-year-old outfielder was called back up to Boston Saturday after being sidelined since May 24 with a hamstring injury. Victorino — who hit .242 with one home run and 10 RBIs in just 21 games with the Red Sox this season –€“ had a long and frustrating road back to the big leagues, suffering multiple setbacks with both his hamstring and his back injury while rehabbing in Pawtucket.

After being on the shelf for almost two months, Victorino acknowledged that he was excited to finally be back out patrolling the Fenway outfield going forward.

“œIt’€™s what it’€™s all about,” Victorino said. “You work hard, you try to do what you got to do to get back as quick as you can. Unfortunately, there were some setbacks, but I’€™m here, I’€™m at this point where I worked hard to get back to where I’€™m at. As I said, I’€™m just going to continue to work hard and try to be the best player I can be and go out there and do what I can to help make this team better.”

Victorino played six games with Triple-A Pawtucket over an almost month-long stretch following his hamstring injury. The ailing outfielder was shut down from June 24 through Wednesday due to multiple hindrances to his rehab, but after playing a total of 16 innings over Wednesday and Thursday’€™s games with the PawSox and showing no physical limitations, Victorino was ready for the call back up to Boston.

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Read More: John Farrell, Pawtucket, Red Sox, Shane Victorino

Red Sox pregame notes: Mookie Betts sent down to Pawtucket; Will Middlebrooks to get more at-bats in Triple-A; Rubby De La Rosa excelling in rehab-free season

07.19.14 at 6:59 pm ET
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Mookie Betts

Mookie Betts

While the return of Shane Victorino would seem to be good news for most involved with the Red Sox, the same likely can’€™t be said for youngster Mookie Betts, who was optioned down to Triple-A Pawtucket to make room on the roster for the veteran outfielder.

Red Sox manager John Farrell said prior to Saturday’€™s game against the Royals that he was impressed with Betts, who posted a line of .235/.278/.382 in 10 games with the Red Sox, but also noted that the 21-year-old outfielder/infielder needs more seasoning and regular playing time elsewhere.

“€œI thought he managed his at-bats well,”€ Farrell said. “€œI thought he showed very good presence, or at least composure, for a guy who’€™s flown through our system. He’€™s a work in progress defensively, particularly in the outfield and he’€™ll continue to get exposure in center and in right field in Pawtucket while also playing some second base, so that’€™s the plan going forward for him defensively.”

Farrell acknowledged that it is unclear what the future holds for Betts in terms of finding a home on the diamond, as the established second baseman has seen most of his time in the Sox outfield this year due to both injuries and Dustin Pedroia holding the position for the foreseeable future.

“I don’€™t know that there’€™s a clear-cut answer to that right now,” Farrell said of Betts’ expected long-term position. “œI think there’€™s going to be a number of things that contribute to that final positioning -€“- how the bat plays, how he further develops defensively, if it’€™s a good that potentially moves around to a number of positions. I wouldn’t rule that out, but to sit here today and say, ‘€˜Mookie is going to be at this position for the next 10 years,’€™ I don’€™t have that answer or that crystal ball.”

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Read More: mookie betts, Red Sox, rubby de la rosa, Will Middlebrooks

Red Sox activate Shane Victorino, option Mookie Betts to Triple-A

07.19.14 at 4:50 pm ET
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The Red Sox have activated outfielder Shane Victorino from the disabled list after the outfielder missed most of two months with hamstring and back injuries. To clear a spot on the roster, the Sox optioned Mookie Betts back to Triple-A Pawtucket, where he will play center field, right field and some second base.

For more on both players, click here.

Saturday’s Red Sox-Royals matchups: Rubby De La Rosa vs. Danny Duffy

07.19.14 at 11:45 am ET
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Rubby De La Rosa

Rubby De La Rosa

The Red Sox continue their three-game series with the Royals at Fenway Park Saturday when they send Rubby De La Rosa to the mound against Danny Duffy.

De La Rosa (2-2, 2.89 ERA) was effective in an outing in which he was limited to just 84 pitches over five innings last Wednesday after pitching for Triple-A Pawtucket three days prior. He gave up three runs on six hits and no walks for a no-decision in an eventual 5-4 Red Sox win over the White Sox. De La Rosa’s start may have been stronger if it weren’t for the solo home runs he surrendered in the first and second inning.

“When you miss a location, you pay the price,” De La Rosa said after the game.

De La Rosa’s outing was strong enough to keep him in the rotation for his first start after the All-Star break. Saturday will be the right-hander’s first-career start against the Royals. His only appearance against Kansas City came in a one-inning relief appearance last season. He gave up a pair of solo home runs in the inning.

Duffy (5-9, 2.76 ERA) has been more reliable for the Royals this season than his win-loss record indicates. The lefty started the season in the bullpen while still re-establishing himself after 2012 Tommy John surgery, but he has proven to be an effective starter since cracking the rotation. Duffy has allowed three runs or fewer in seven of his last eight starts, but has lost his last two.

Duffy got a bad break in his most recent outing last Saturday. He allowed two runs (one earned), five hits and no walks to go with six strikeouts over six innings, but was outdueled by Anibal Sanchez in a 2-1 loss to the Tigers.

Saturday will be Duffy’s first start against the Sox since May 8, 2012. He gave up four runs (three earned) on seven hits over 4 1/3 innings in a no-decision. Duffy is 0-1 with a 7.07 ERA in three career starts against the Red Sox.

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Read More: Danny Duffy, rubby de la rosa,

Red Sox minor league roundup: Alex Hassan streaking; Will Middlebrooks brouhaha; Michael Kopech, Kevin McAvoy make strong early impressions

07.19.14 at 8:53 am ET
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Alex Hassan

Alex Hassan

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Saturday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 4-3 WIN VS. BUFFALO (BLUE JAYS)

(BOX)

– Outfielder Alex Hassan homered for the fourth straight game, going 1-for-3 with a walk and his sixth longball of the year. He’s amidst a few impressive streaks, among them, including a 12-game hitting streak and a 21-game streak of games in which he’s reached base via hit or walk. Since rejoining Pawtucket on June 10 following the first big league stint of his career, Hassan is hitting .374/.459/.661 with five homers and 22 extra-base hits in 31 games. He has an extra-base hit in 10 of the last 11 games.

– Outfielder Shane Victorino went 1-for-4 with a double while playing seven innings, giving him three hits in the last two rehab games (all against right-handed pitchers). The Red Sox will check in with Victorino on Saturday to see if he’s physically ready for activation from the disabled list.

– Third baseman Will Middlebrooks had an eventful rehab game, going 0-for-2 with an almost-three-run-homer that was instead brought back into the park by a leaping outfielder for a sacrifice fly and getting hit by a pitch that nearly incited a brawl. The plunking on the arm was delivered by Esmil Rogers, the same right-hander who ended Middlebrooks’ rookie season in 2012 by breaking his wrist with a fastball. According to the Providence Journal, Middlebrooks slammed his bat to the ground by home plate and expressed his displeasure with what he deemed to be an intentional pitch to Rogers.

‘€œHe didn’€™t mean to hit me [in 2012],’€ Middlebrooks told the Journal. ‘€œI didn’€™t agree with tonight just because there was a base open, he missed me and then he hit me. I didn’€™t agree with that. I thought that was bad baseball. I’€™m not a guy to charge the mound, especially here. I’€™m here trying to get my innings up, not trying to fight people. It [ticked] me off, yeah’€¦ He should carry himself better than that. Think his emotions just got the better of him.’€

– Right-hander Steven Wright allowed three runs on three hits (including a solo homer and double) by the time he’d gotten through just six outs, but the knuckleballer then settled to retire 17 of the last 19 batters he faced, permitting just one more hit (a single) with another batter reaching on an error. Wright totaled eight innings — his third straight outing of eight frames — in which he allowed the three runs on four hits with two walks and two strikeouts. He has a streak of five straight starts and seven of eight outings in which he’s worked at least seven innings, and in nine starts on the year, he has a 5-1 record, 2.21 ERA, 7.4 strikeouts per nine innings and 2.1 walks per nine, with Triple-A opponents hitting just .188 against him. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: alex hassan, Esmil Rogers, michael kopech, pat mcavoy

Red Sox cautiously optimistic Shane Victorino ready for activation on Saturday

07.19.14 at 8:17 am ET
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Shane Victorino may be activated on Saturday. (AP)

Shane Victorino may be activated on Saturday. (AP)

According to a team source, the Red Sox are cautiously optimistic that right fielder Shane Victorino will be ready for activation on Saturday against the Royals. Manager John Farrell told reporters on Friday night that Victorino would be examined at Fenway Park on Saturday to verify that he’s ready to return from the D.L.

Victorino went 1-for-4 with a double while playing seven innings in his second of back-to-back games with Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday, and he was 3-for-8 over the two games (with all three hits coming against right-handed pitchers). The 33-year-old has played in just 21 games this year, spending the majority of the year on the sidelines in two separated disabled list stints for hamstring strains, the second of which was complicated by back discomfort. Victorino is hitting .242 with a .276 OBP and .352 slugging mark, and given the fitful nature of his season, the Sox have rarely benefited from the dynamic player who impacted the game in numerous ways last year.

“We’ve missed his energy. We’ve missed his talents, his in-game decision, his instincts on the basepaths — we’ve missed a very good player for the majority of the year,” said Farrell, who added that it wouldn’t be a surprise if Victorino requires some time of readjustment at the major league level before he achieves familiar levels of production given the amount of time that he’s missed.

If Victorino is activated, the Red Sox, according to an industry source, are expected to create a roster spot by optioning Mookie Betts back to Triple-A. Though hitting just .235 with a .278 OBP and .382 slugging mark, Betts has shown flashes of a far-reaching skill set. Yet he’s played in just 10 games in the three weeks since his promotion from Triple-A, and concerns about both the need for his playing time and a desire for Betts to gain further comfort in the outfield (where his routes are, unsurprisingly, a work in progress given that he has spent less than two months in the outfield as a pro) point to the merits of sending Betts back down.

Read More: mookie betts, Shane Victorino,
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