|08.22.14 at 10:53 pm ET|
This isn’t something Red Sox fans are used to seeing. In fact, it’s not something they’ve ever seen from closer Koji Uehara.
Only four times during his tenure as a member of the Red Sox has Uehara given up multiple runs in an outing. On Friday night, he came in to secure the save with the Red Sox on top 3-0. By the end of the inning, the Mariners took a 5-3 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.
Prior to the defeat, the 2014 Red Sox were 44-0 when leading after eight innings.
It was nothing short of a disastrous outing for Uehara, who allowed a total of five earned runs on five hits and a walk. It’s the first time the closer has allowed more than three earned runs in an appearance as a reliever, and his first time allowing more than two runs in any appearance in a Red Sox uniform.
Friday night was the third consecutive outing in which Uehara gave up runs, allowing a run on two hits in each of his last appearances. With the implosion, Uehara’s ERA jumped from 1.53 entering the game to 2.28 by the time he left.
Uehara was the only Red Sox pitcher to allow a run on the night for the Red Sox, a team that looked poised to beat Felix Hernandez and the Mariners upon entering the ninth inning.
Yoenis Cespedes added some offense to what was a pitcher’s duel initially, smacking a three-run home run off of Seattle starter Felix Hernandez in the sixth inning to break the scoreless tie.
The shot, a high and deep drive over the Green Monster that left the park entirely, was Cespedes’s 21st home run on the season and fourth since joining the Red Sox. Cespedes hasn’t hit for a high average lately – he’s batting just .200 over his last 14 games. But in that same span, he’s been a RBI machine, knocking in 16 runs.
His home run on Friday served as a perfect example of what kind of effect a deeper lineup can have for the Red Sox. Daniel Nava led off the inning with a base hit up the middle that he stretched into a double. A batter later, David Ortiz was intentionally walked to get to Cespedes. The presence of a bat like Cespedes’s provides some protection for Ortiz, as illustrated by his go-ahead knock.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX:
- Allen Craig still has just one hit since joining the Red Sox, going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and a walk.
- With an 0-for-4 night, Will Middlebrooks is hitting just .176 since rejoining the Red Sox at the beginning of the month with 13 strikeouts.
- A scary scene ensued at Fenway when Xander Bogaerts was hit in the helmet by an 89 mile-per-hour changeup from Hernandez. Bogaerts stayed in the game and took his base, but he was pinch-hit for in his next at-bat. The Red Sox announced that he was removed from the game to be evaluated for a concussion.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX:
- The Red Sox’ pitching played just as crucial a role in Friday night’s victory as Cespedes’s homer, however. For five innings, Red Sox starter Joe Kelly went toe-to-toe with Hernandez. Kelly sailed through his first four frames showing excellent command, allowing just one hit and striking out four while issuing just one walk. His fastball was on, touching 97 on the Fenway radar gun and sitting in the mid-90′s. The right-hander pitched himself into a jam in the fifth inning when he walked a pair and hit a batter to load the bases, needing 23 pitches to get through the inning, but ultimately escaped unscathed.
In the midst of that unusual fifth inning, manager John Farrell and trainers came out to check on Kelly after an apparent injury; Kelly finished out the inning, but did not come back out for the sixth despite the scoreless tie. He’d thrown just 88 pitches. The Red Sox announced the pitcher was pulled from the game for what they called “precautionary reasons.”
Though Kelly lasted just five innings, he showed impressive command that had eluded him in his previous outings since coming over from the Cardinals. The righty did end up issuing three free passes on the night, but he exhibited great fastball command through the first four frames. Kelly had walked six in his previous outing, and hasn’t walked less than three in any of his four starts for the Red Sox. After throwing just 53 percent of his pitches for strikes in his last outing, Kelly threw strikes 61 percent of the time on Friday, his highest strike percentage since joining the Red Sox.
- Ortiz continues to swing a hot bat, going 2-for-2 with a pair of walks on the evening. Since the Red Sox added Cespedes to their lineup on August 2, Ortiz has hit .385 with 11 walks and nine extra-base hits. For comparison, prior to the trade, Ortiz hit .250/.344/.497 in 105 games.
- Other than Uehara’s performance, the bullpen was impressive, allowing just one hit and three walks collectively. Craig Breslow was solid through 1 2/3 innings, while Tommy Layne continues to impress; he’s allowed just one run in nine innings with the Red Sox this season.
|08.22.14 at 7:42 pm ET|
Rather, it was a move slated for next season and beyond.
According to multiple sources, Boston is closing in on a seven-year, $72.5 million deal with Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo that will last until the 2020 season.
“Nothing other than what I think everyone has read,” Farrell said. “I’m aware of the reports. There are still some administrative things that he would have to go through before anything is announced officially, so until that time, I’m kind of like everyone else.”
Once the deal is made official, Castillo’s contract will stand as the largest ever given to a Cuban defector, surpassing the six-year, $68 million deal given to slugger Jose Abreu last offseason by the White Sox.
Standing at 5-foot-9, Castillo has enticed scouts all across baseball with his great speed, excellent defense and the potential to be an impact player with his bat. Speaking with WEEI.com earlier this month, Red Sox left fielder Yoenis Cespedes compared Castillo to Dodgers All-Star Yasiel Puig.
“Above-average speed,” Farrell said of Castillo. “He can play in center field or right field. What kind of power, what kind of average? Obviously, our scouts liked him enough. If the reports are true, that’s a significant investment. It’s an exciting, athletic player, by all accounts.”
While shelling out over $70 million dollars to a player that has yet to play a game at any professional level in the United States might be seen as a risky move by some, Farrell noted that Cuban players such as Cespedes, Puig, and Abreu have been able to adjust to playing in the big leagues in a short amount of time, making Castillo’s new contract seem more like a formality than a risk.
“That’s the one thing that stands out more than anything,” Farrell said. “When you look at Yoenis’ performance right away in Oakland, Abreu in Chicago, hopefully the same holds true for every other player that comes over. I think when you look at how many games they play on the international stage and the talent in which they play against, just by nature, they’re seemingly a very strong group physically and they’re able to transition and handle the wear and tear of a long season.”
|08.22.14 at 7:42 pm ET|
With the rumored signing of Cuban defector and free agent Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million deal, the Red Sox made further progress towards rebuilding their lineup for 2015 and beyond.
The Red Sox addressed some of their offensive needs at the trade deadline, adding Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig to an outfield that has been one of the least productive in the majors this season. The addition of Castillo brings some more speed and possibly power to a lineup that has become much more potent since the deadline.
“[The lineup is] lengthened out, and just focusing on the guys who are in uniform today, we’ve added right-handed power and we’ve added a couple of middle-of-the-order bats,” manager John Farrell said. “You could say right now we’re leaning a little heavy on the right-handed side, but prior to Opening Day next year there’s a lot of time, and I know a lot of thought will be put into how we can continue to improve this team.”
With Craig healthy and Castillo having the potential to debut with the Red Sox this September, the Red Sox offense, which has been a weak spot for the club all season, has begun to take a new shape. Someone like David Ortiz has more protective in the middle of the order with the presence of Cespedes and Craig, which Farrell says can only make things tougher for opposing pitchers.
“It makes managing the lineup that much more challenging,” Farrell said. “You can’t pick one spot and look to avoid it knowing that your might have a more favorable matchup somewhere behind it. The deeper the lineup, the more productive the lineup, the more pitches you’re going to get regardless of an opposition’s attempt to pitch around a particular guy.”
The Castillo signing is just another example of how the Red Sox have taken the remainder of the 2014 season to restructure their offense rather than waiting until the off-season to make moves.
“I think when you look around the trade deadline, this year was a unique year in that way, and to address current needs with current major league players…I haven’t seen a time when you are able to acquire the type of players that we have,” Farrell said. “The players that were made available this deadline were unique. We’ve been able to target those guys, and i think Ben [Cherington]‘s assessment of what the free agent pool is going to look like is pitching oriented, so there’s a clear cut plan with the retooling of this roster.”
OTHER RED SOX NOTES:
- Yoenis Cespedes is back in the lineup Friday after being removed from Thursday night’s game in the third inning due to what was called a “personal matter.”
‘The situation in which he left for last night has improved to the point of him returning, and he’s in the lineup,” Farrell said. “Other than that, it’s a personal and private matter, and that’s probably to the extent to which I would say anything.”
- Mike Napoli, who has missed the last two games with back spasms, is not in the lineup on Friday. However, Farrell said that he projects the first baseman will be back on the field for Saturday afternoon’s contest.
- With the Red Sox mustering just one hit against Matt Shoemaker and the Angels on Thursday, they’ll have their work cut out for them against Seattle ace, Felix Hernandez, in the series opener.
“[We have to] try to get him early,” Farrell said. “He’s the type of pitcher that if you let him settle into a rhythm, he’s going to be challenging nonetheless. The three pitchers we’re facing in this series [Hernandez, Chris Young and Hisashi Iwakuma] combined are the top three trio of pitchers in the league, and coming off last night’s performance, we’ve got our hands full as far as attacking their pitching.”
|08.22.14 at 1:30 pm ET|
A brief and, frankly, incomplete look at Thursday’s action in the Red Sox farm system:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 3-2 WIN (WALKOFF) VS. LEHIGH VALLEY (PHILLIES)
– Though he threw just 58 of 96 pitches (60.4 percent) for strikes, left-hander Henry Owens made the strikes he did throw count, matching a season- and career-high with eight innings during which he gave up two runs on five hits (including a two-run homer and double) while walking one and punching out six. He secured 10 more outs via groundball. While Owens has given up three homers in his first four Triple-A starts, his performance since his promotion has otherwise been strong. He has 27 strikeouts and six walks in 25 2/3 innings, holding opponents to a .226 average while forging a 3.51 ERA.
– Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. went 2-for-4 with a homer and for the first time since he was sent down, he didn’t strike out. Bradley is now 4-for-19 with the homer (.211/.211/.368) in four games with the PawSox. Read the rest of this entry »
|08.22.14 at 1:14 pm ET|
MLB Network analyst and former Red Sox first baseman Kevin Millar joined Middays with MFB on Friday to discuss the Sox and their reported contract agreement with Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
The Sox reportedly agreed to a seven-year, $72.5 million deal with the 27-year-old Castillo, who is known for his speed and his range in the outfield.
“I don’t know a whole lot about him. I don’t think any of us do. But you’re looking at the dynamic of the Cuban influence in baseball, starting off with Jose Abreu,” Millar said. “I think it’s a great thing. I think you’re starting to see that gap come closer because there’s some great players over in Cuba and they’re dynamic players and hopefully this thing pans out well for the Red Sox.”
The years and money makes for a heavy investment for a relatively unknown player in Castillo, but Millar said the Red Sox had to have known enough good things about him to take the chance.
“You have to have scouts up there. Someone had to see him other than a workout. But at the end of the day, you go with your heart,” he said. “I’m using an example of Jose Abreu of the White Sox. We didn’t have a whole lot of things on him, but did you know he was going to have 32 home runs coming into the middle of August?
“Sometimes it’s for your gut. And not everything works out. It’s just like a draft. Yes, $72 million is a lot of money, but it was a lot of money for Yu Darvish back in the day, then the [Masahiro Tanaka] situation happened for the Yankees and it was a lot of money then, but it looked like it was about worth it until the injury. So this money is a lot of money but there’s a lot of money out there to be made and spent and hopefully you get that dynamic-type player that a lot of these Cubans have turned out to be.” Read the rest of this entry »
|08.22.14 at 11:22 am ET|
According to multiple industry sources, the Red Sox are in the final stages of negotiating an agreement with Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo on a seven-year, $72.5 million deal that will take effect starting in 2014 and run through 2020.
“He’s a player we’ve seen and we’ve talked to, but we’re just one of several teams that have done that,” Cherington said Tuesday at Fenway Park. “There’s nothing more I can say.”
The 5-foot-9 Castillo, who is represented by Roc Nation Sports, a partnership of Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and CAA Sports, is viewed as a player with elite speed that allows him to be a game-changer on the bases and also permits him considerable range in the outfield, where he can play center or right. He also shows the ability to impact the ball as a line-drive/gap hitter.
Castillo’s former teammate Yoenis Cespedes offered the following description of Castillo to WEEI.com earlier this month: “If he’s not a five-tool player, he’s a least a four-tool player. He’s very comparable to [Dodgers outfielder Yasiel] Puig. Obviously a different height and size, but very similar qualities.”
Puig may be a bit of a stretch as a comparable talent; one evaluator suggested that the Sox signed Castillo more with an eye toward acquiring a player along the lines of a Shane Victorino in his prime — a terrific athlete who has outstanding speed, can play center or right field (more likely center) for the Sox at a high level, and, while not having the power of a Jose Abreu, possesses an ability to impact the baseball that suggests the potential for double-digit home run totals. Read the rest of this entry »
|08.22.14 at 11:15 am ET|
The Sox came into their 11-game homestand last weekend feeling positive after a successful road trip but have stumbled yet again, getting swept in a four-game series against the Angels. The Sox were outscored 18-8 for the series and were one-hit by Halos starter Matt Shoemaker in 2-0 loss Thursday night.
The Red Sox are 2-6 through the first eight games of the homestand to fall to 56-71 for the season. They’re 18 games back of the first-place Orioles in the AL East and six games behind the Rays for fourth place.
While the Sox have been one of the biggest disappointments in baseball this season, the Mariners, who the Sox take on in a three-game series to close out the homestand, have been one of the game’s biggest surprises.
At 68-58, Seattle is just a half-game back of the Tigers for the final AL wild card spot, putting the M’s in contention for their first postseason berth since 2001. The Mariners dropped two of three to the Phillies this week but have won seven of their last 10.
Seattle’s emergence is due largely to its pitching staff, which leads all of baseball with a 2.93 team ERA. The Mariners, as expected, are headlined by ace Felix Hernandez, who leads the team is wins (13), ERA (1.99), strikeouts (197) and WHIP (0.87). However, Seattle also has been lifted by the emergence of unlikely studs Hisashi Iwakuma and Chris Young, who both are having impressive years in their mid-30s.
The Sox were shut down by this staff when they dropped two of three in Seattle in the lone meeting between these teams June 23-25. The Red Sox scored just 10 runs in the series, which was less than the Mariners’ total (12 runs) in the first game alone.
Here are the probable pitchers for the three-game set.
Friday: Felix Hernandez (13-4, 1.99 ERA) vs. Joe Kelly (2-3, 4.67 ERA)
Saturday: Chris Young (12-6, 3.07 ERA) vs. Brandon Workman (1-7, 4.26 ERA)
Sunday: Hisashi Iwakuma (12-6, 2.57 ERA) vs. Allen Webster (3-1, 4.73 ERA)
WHO’S HOT: RED SOX
– No one has been hotter than David Ortiz as of late. The slugger was 14-for-26 (.538) with five multi-hit games through the first seven games of the Sox’ 11-game homestand before being given a day off on Thursday. Ortiz has made his mark in the Red Sox’ record books during this stretch as well. On Saturday, he hit his 400th and 401st home runs in a Red Sox uniform, making him the third player in club history to reach that mark behind Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski.Wednesday’s home run marked Ortiz’s eighth 30-home run season, tying him with Williams for most in Sox history.
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