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Red Sox-Blue Jays scheduled for 8:20 p.m. start

09.06.14 at 7:46 pm ET
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The start of the Red Sox‘ Saturday night contest against the Blue Jays has been delayed by the threat of thunderstorms. As the weather system passes the area, the two teams are now scheduled for an 8:20 p.m. first pitch.

Red Sox minor league roundup: Henry Owens’ Triple-A challenge; Travis Shaw mashes; Rusney Castillo makes his mark; electric Eduardo Rodriguez

09.06.14 at 9:52 am ET
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Left-hander Henry Owens allowed five runs in four innings on Friday. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox)

Left-hander Henry Owens allowed five runs in four innings on Friday. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox)

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

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 7-6 WIN AT SYRACUSE (NATIONALS); WIN BEST-OF-FIVE SERIES, 3-0

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– The routine dominance that characterized Henry Owens‘ march through the last two years has yielded to a more challenging reality in Triple-A. The left-hander allowed eight hits (including a homer and two doubles) and three walks en route to a five-run, four-inning outing. He did show the ability to elicit swings and misses, punching out six, and he now has 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings in Triple-A, but there are markers to suggest the challenging nature of the transition Owens has faced from Portland to Pawtucket.

He has a 4.71 ERA in his seven Triple-A starts. He’s now given up five homers in 42 innings with the PawSox, one fewer than the number he gave up in 121 innings in Portland this year. The four innings on Friday matched his shortest outing of the year. The five runs represented his second-largest yield.

Some of Owens’ struggles in Triple-A may represent an adjustment to the level. Some may point to fatigue as he’s now up to 164 innings between the regular season, postseason and All-Star Futures Game, a 21 percent bump from his 135-inning total of a year ago. And some of it simply may be a matter of imprecise execution.

Regardless, the fact that Owens is being challenged in Triple-A likely helps to pump the brakes on the notion of his big league timeframe. The Sox have already stated that he won’t be brought up to the big leagues this month, and the fact that Owens has had to work in Triple-A suggests that he’ll have more to prove at that level in order to position himself for the possibility of a mid-year big league summons.

– Outfielder Bryce Brentz had his second three-hit game of the series, going 3-for-5 with a double. He was 6-for-14 with a walk, two doubles and two strikeouts in the three contests, scoring a run in each game.

– For the third straight game, Travis Shaw had an extra-base hit and reached base multiple times. The 24-year-old first baseman went 2-for-4 with a double and walk, finishing the series 5-for-10 with a homer, two doubles, four walks and two strikeouts. After Shaw hit just .209/.273/.319 to close out the regular season in August, the playoff series represented a very different final note of the year for the 2011 ninth-rounder.

– Catcher Blake Swihart went 1-for-3 with an RBI infield single and a walk, and went 4-for-7 in the series.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 6-3 WIN VS. BINGHAMTON (METS); LEAD BEST-OF-FIVE SERIES, 2-1

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– Center fielder Rusney Castillo had his most impactful game since signing with the Sox, going 2-for-3 with an opposite-field double into the right-field corner, a walk and two runs while playing seven innings. His double came on a first-pitch with a runner in scoring position, suggesting an aggressive approach when given a chance to produce runs.

– Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez logged 6 2/3 innings in which he gave up three runs (two earned) on just three hits (all doubles) while walking two and striking out six. Opponents are now hitting .198 against the 21-year-old in his seven starts with Portland following his July 31 trade from the Orioles in exchange for Andrew Miller. The outing marked the first time with Portland that Rodriguez had given up as many as two earned runs.

Here’s a look at his somewhat electrifying stuff, a mid- to high-90s fastball with an above-average changeup. (His slider, which flashes as an above-average pitch but remains inconsistent, isn’t used in this sequence.)

– Eight of the nine members of the Sea Dogs lineup had at least one hit.

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 5-0 LOSS AT MYRTLE BEACH (RANGERS); LOSE BEST-OF-THREE SERIES, 2-1

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– Left-hander Cody Kukuk‘s start lasted just two-plus innings, as the 21-year-old allowed four hits and two walks en route to a three-run yield. He closed out the year with six straight outings of at least four walks. In 21 Carolina League starts, the wildly talented (emphasis on wild) 2011 seventh-rounder issued 75 walks in 80 2/3 innings. He had a 5.47 ERA in Salem. But while that mark makes clear that a big league future is anything but a certainty for Kukuk, from a scouting perspective, his tremendous three-pitch arsenal (mid- to high-90s fastball, wipeout slider, swing-and-miss change … when thrown for strikes) suggests a potential impact arm if he can use his athleticism to lock in his mechanics and throw strikes with any kind of consistency.

Read More: cody kukuk, eduardo rodriguez, henry owens, Rusney Castillo

Saturday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. J.A. Happ

09.06.14 at 8:27 am ET
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The Red Sox will play the Blue Jays in the second game of their three-game series Saturday night, sending out pitcher Clay Buchholz to oppose J.A. Happ. This comes after the Red Sox won a thrilling, walkoff win Friday night.

After his ERA eclipsed the six mark in early August, Buchholz (6-8. 5.40 ERA) has pitched well over the last month. He’€™s thrown at least six innings in each of his last five outings, including a complete game last time out against the Rays on Sunday.

Buchholz kept the Rays off balance all game long, striking out six and scattering three hits. Catcher Christian Vazquez credited Buchholz’€™s pinpoint location throughout the contest.

“€œHe was hitting all the spots, every pitch,” Vazquez said of Buchholz. “He was painting every pitch. He was pitching to his best, and it was easy for me.”

The Blue Jays saw the resurgent Buchholz firsthand when they faced him on Aug. 25. The right-hander was nearly as good that outing with 8 1/3 innings of three-run ball, however he did not factor into the decision because he gave up the lead in the last half of the ninth inning.

Buchholz said he was disappointed by letting the lead slip away but was happy the Red Sox came away with the victory in extra innings.

“The most important part is winning ball games, regardless of individual stats or whatever,” Buchholz said. “You definitely don’t want to go out there and give it up in the ninth, but the team was able to fight back.”

This will be the sixth time this season that Buchholz will duel against the Blue Jays. After winning his first start against Toronto in April, he dropped three consecutive decisions against the Blue Jays between May and July. In the three losses, he was charged with at least four runs each time out.

One batter Buchholz might want to be especially careful with is Adam Lind, who has 17 hits in 49 at-bats against Buchholz, including two home runs and three doubles. Shortstop Jose Reyes has a .304 batting average against Buchholz in 23 at-bats.

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Read More: Clay Buchholz, J.A. Happ,

Why You Should Have Cared About Friday’s Red Sox Game: This is how the youth movement was supposed to work

09.05.14 at 11:07 pm ET
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Xander Bogaerts

Xander Bogaerts

(For the final month of the regular season, “Closing Time” will be called “Why You Should Have Cared,” looking beyond the final score — at a time when losses are arguably more valuable to the Sox than wins (for draft and waiver position) — for either meaningful signs for 2015 or simple aesthetic considerations.)

Heading into the month it was a real issue for the Red Sox: How could they get the young players on this roster to actually offer some certainty heading into 2015.

Finally, Friday night offered a big step in that direction.

The grouping of Mookie Betts, Christian Vazquez, Xander Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks all offered something in the Red Sox‘ 9-8, 10-inning win over the Blue Jays that suggested better times were ahead.

The signature moment came in the Sox’ three-run 10th, which led off with the trip of Betts, Bogaerts and Vazquez.

With the hosts trailing by a pair of runs, Betts kicked things off with a single up the middle.

“Leading off an inning, it’s a big confidence booster,” the center fielder said. “Going into the rest of the games into next year, being comfortable late in game situations against their closer, one of their best pitchers, I think it’s a good thing.”

He was followed by Bogaerts’ base hit into left.

“Just coming up that inning it was like Mookie, me and then Vazquez. I was like, ‘€˜Wow, we’ve got three young guys to start something going,’” said Bogaerts, who came into the night hitting .126 with runners in scoring position. “I’€™m glad all of us got something done so the other guys could drive us in.”

Then came Vazquez’ push bunt — into the air and over the charging first baseman — loading the bases. (Earlier in the game the catcher tied Rich Gedman’s club record for most pickoffs in a season, nabbing Melky Cabrera at first.)

“He’€™s an intelligent player,” said Bogaerts of Vazquez. “That was probably on purpose. Smart baseball guy. You don’€™t see that often.”

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New Red Sox closer Edward Mujica: ‘This opportunity for me is going to be big’

09.05.14 at 8:26 pm ET
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Edward Mujica

Edward Mujica

When Edward Mujica signed his two-year deal with the Red Sox, he knew this was going to be a possibility — filling for Koji Uehara as closer.

How he got to this point, however, wasn’t exactly what anybody expected.

“When I signed here they told me I was going to be backing up Koji sometimes when he had a day off,” Mujica said before Friday night’s Red Sox tilt against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park. “Right now, he’s had some rough outings and they’re going to give me the opportunity to go out there and try to pick up Koji in that situation.”

Earlier in the season, it would have been difficult to imagine either Uehara leaving the closing role, or Mujica sliding in. The former Cardinals closer struggled through the first three months of his Red Sox career, with Mujica totaling a 5.65 ERA and .297 batting average against on July 1.

But since then, the 30 year old has figured some things out. After the first day of July, Mujica has compiled a 2.28 ERA, walking three over 26 appearances.

“Adjusting to the American League, for me, was different,” Mujica said. “The last month I’ve just been doing the same thing, working hard every day. Nothing has changed, but the results have come out a little bit better.”

The comeback was punctuated, of course, with the announcement Friday that Uehara — who has allowed opponents a .500 batting average over his last six appearances — would be handing off the closing duties for Mujica.

“I’m going to be here next year and this opportunity for me is going to be big,” said the reliever, who compiled 37 saves in 41 chances for St. Louis in 2013. “I have to just go out there, try and do my best and see what they’re going to do next year.”

Koji Uehara asks out of closers role; Jackie Bradley, Drake Britton called up

09.05.14 at 4:35 pm ET
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Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara

Prior to the Red Sox‘ game against the Blue Jays Friday night, Sox manager John Farrell announced that Koji Uehara has been taken out of the closers role, with Edward Mujica assuming the position.

Farrell made it clear that Uehara wouldn’t be shut down, and the team’s hope that he would reclaim the role before the end of the season.

(Update: According to Tokyo Sports, Uehara asked Farrell to be taken out of the closers role, but not be shut down for season.)

“After having a chance to sit with Koji he was understanding,” Farrell said. “He understands the reason for it. We’ll probably give him a couple of days to regroup some and then look to get him back in some lower-leverage situations.”

Uehara has struggled mightily over his last six appearances, totaling a 19.29 ERA (10 earned runs in 4 2/3 innings), with opponents hitting an even .500 (14-for-28) against the righty.

The reliever’s latest hiccup came Thursday night in Yankee Stadium when he failed to hold a one-run lead against New York, allowing the hosts a walk-off victory thanks to solo home runs from Mark Teixeira and Chase Headley.

“First of all he’s healthy, and there’s no reason to shut down a healthy player,” Farrell said. “There’s no physical ailments. He doesn’t complain of anything. He downplays the fatigue that has been written about and reported. So we have to factor all that in and yet not be blind to the number of appearances he’s had over the last two years. There’s no intent to shut him down, but with the stretch of games that might be similar to the he had when he first started in Texas, and we’re working with him to get through this.”

In other Red Sox news, outfielder Jackie Bradley has been recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket. Bradley had hit .213 in his last 10 games, striking out 12 times and drawing three walks.

“When we sent him out we said we would bring him back in September,” Farrell said, “and we feel the work he’s been doing in Pawtucket will continue with us here in Boston. … It will be a balance to get everybody equal playing time, and I can’t even guarantee it will be equal because we’re trying to get a read on multiple guys.”

Also getting the call is lefty reliever Drake Britton, who totaled a 5.86 ERA in 45 appearances out of the PawSox’ bullpen this season. The lefty struck out 37 while walking 38.

 

Red Sox lineup: Dustin Pedroia returns for series-opener vs. Blue Jays

09.05.14 at 3:37 pm ET
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Dustin Pedroia is back in the lineup for the Red Sox‘ series-opener against the Blue Jays Friday night at Fenway Park. Pedroia had missed the previous five games with concussion-like symptoms after a collision in last Saturday’s game against the Rays. Pedroia is hitting second, with Mookie Betts dropping down to seventh in the lineup after hitting second each of the last three games. Brock Holt remains in the leadoff spot.

RED SOX LINEUP

Brock Holt, 3B

Dustin Pedroia, 2B

David Ortiz, DH

Yoenis Cespedes, LF

Mike Napoli, 1B

Danial Nava, RF

Mookie Betts, CF

Xander Bogaerts, SS

Christian Vazquez, C

Allen Webster, SP

For complete batter matchups vs. Blue Jays starter Drew Hutchison, click here.

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