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Red Sox lineup: Dustin Pedroia sits in series finale against Blue Jays 07.24.14 at 9:18 am ET
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Dustin Pedroia will get a day off as the Red Sox look to earn a series split against the Blue Jays on Thursday. Brock Holt will get the start at second base, with the outfield featuring Daniel Nava in left, Jackie Bradley Jr. in center and Shane Victorino (batting second) playing right.

Pedroia went 1-for-4 on Wednesday; he’s now 2-for-24 (.083) in six games to open the second half. Meanwhile, the start represents a landmark of sorts for Holt, who has now started at all four infield positions and all three outfield positions this year, thus becoming the first Red Sox player ever to start at every infield and outfield position in the same season.

Christian Vazquez will be behind the plate to catch Rubby De La Rosa for the matinee game.

RED SOX LINEUP

Brock Holt, 2B

Shane Victorino, RF

David Ortiz, DH

Mike Napoli, 1B

Daniel Nava, LF

Stephen Drew, SS

Xander Bogaerts, 3B

Jackie Bradley Jr., CF

Christian Vazquez, C

Rubby De La Rosa, SP

Red Sox minor league roundup: Matt Barnes takes a first step forward; Luis Diaz striking out everyone; DSL diamonds in the rough 07.23.14 at 11:54 am ET
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Matt Barnes logged 6 1/3 solid innings on Tuesday. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox)

Matt Barnes logged 6 1/3 solid innings on Tuesday. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox)

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

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 9-3 WIN AT SYRACUSE (NATIONALS)

(BOX)

Matt Barnes didn’t shy from the fact that his first half had been disappointing. Prior to his start on Tuesday, the right-hander took to Twitter for a public declaration of intent: “1st start of the second half. Time to turn it around and finish strong”

Barnes was anything but dominant on Tuesday, but given that he entered the All-Star break with a 4-7 record and 5.06 ERA, the 24-year-old appeared to be in need of a toehold for the stretch as much as anything. That he got, as Barnes tossed 6 1/3 innings in which he was charged with two runs (one in the sixth, one in the seventh after he’d left the game, after he sailed through five shutout innings to start the contest) on three hits (two doubles and an infield single) while walking three and striking two. The outing marked the third in 15 starts in which Barnes pitched more than six innings. Though his strike percentage (61 percent of his 102 pitches) was unspectacular, he commanded a 93-95 mph fastball to both sides of the plate and employed an 85-87 mph changeup liberally to garner weak contact throughout the start.

The 2011 first-rounder elicited just four swings and misses in the outing, and he’s averaging just 5.0 strikeouts per nine innings in his last eight starts. One interesting facet of those strikeout numbers: He’s struck out 20.1 percent of the left-handers he’s faced, compared to just 12.8 percent of right-handers.

That speaks in part to the effectiveness of his changeup against lefties, while also highlighting the long-noted absence of a consistent breaking ball to handle same-handed hitters. But, given what Barnes has done against lefties (.238/.332/.338 line, as opposed to a .338/.384/.484 line by righties), the raw materials of success may not be as far away as his first-half struggles might suggest. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: luis alexander basabe, luis diaz, matt barnes, yoan aybar
Red Sox lineup: Brock Holt in center, Jackie Bradley Jr. sits vs. LHP J.A. Happ 07.22.14 at 3:34 pm ET
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With left-hander J.A. Happ on the mound for the Blue Jays, the Red Sox will give Jackie Bradley Jr. a day off in center field. The incomprehensibly versatile Brock Holt will start there, with Jonny Gomes starting in left and Daniel Nava sitting against the lefty. Despite the presence of a lefty on the mound, Stephen Drew will start at short for a Red Sox team that, in 16 games in July, has scored 83 runs — one fewer than the club plated in 28 games in June. David Ross will be behind the plate for Jake Peavy.

For a look at how Red Sox players have fared against Happ and how Blue Jays hitters have done against Peavy, click here.

RED SOX LINEUP

Brock Holt, CF

Dustin Pedroia, 2B

David Ortiz, DH

Mike Napoli, 1B

Jonny Gomes, LF

Shane Victorino, RF

Stephen Drew, SS

Xander Bogaerts, 3B

David Ross, C

Jake Peavy, RHP

Red Sox minor league roundup: Why Blake Swihart looks increasingly like an elite prospect; Allen Webster finds consistency; Jamie Callahan gets on track; Jantzen Witte, doubles machine 07.22.14 at 12:21 pm ET
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Blake Swihart reached base three times on Monday. (365digitalphotography.com)

Blake Swihart reached base three times on Monday. (365digitalphotography.com)

A brief look at the happenings in the Red Sox minor league system on Monday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 4-3 WIN AT SYRACUSE (NATIONALS)

(BOX)

– Feats of Mookie: Regaining a foothold. Mookie Betts, one day after he failed to get on base for the first time in 24 Triple-A games, went 2-for-5 with a double. The two-bagger came against left-hander Aaron Laffey, improving Betts’ line against southpaws in Triple-A to .379/.438/.517.

– Right-hander Allen Webster allowed three runs on six hits (one double) and a walk in seven innings, striking out three and getting 10 groundball outs. In what has become an increasingly common development, Webster threw a high percentage of pitches (64 of 95, 67 percent) for strikes, permitting him to work efficiently. A year ago, Webster averaged exactly five innings per start in Pawtucket (in 21 starts), going 8-4 with a 3.60 ERA. This year, he’s striking out fewer batters (7.4 per nine innings) but is getting more early-count grounders, in the process forging a better ERA (3.10) while averaging just under six innings per start (118 innings in 20 starts). A year ago, he worked into the seventh inning just twice; this year, in one fewer start to date in Pawtucket, he’s worked into the seventh six times.

– Outfielder Corey Brown had the game-winning homer in the ninth inning, his 14th homer of the year coming against the team with whom he’d spent the previous three years. Brown, hitting .223/.291/.432 overall this year, has enjoyed a strong month of July, hitting .333/.388/.667 with four homers in 12 games.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 6-4 WIN VS. BINGHAMTON (METS)

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– Catcher Blake Swihart went 1-for-3 with a pair of walks and a stolen base. The walks offer growing evidence of Swihart’s ongoing development in Double-A, as he’s shown improvements in his strike zone management and on-base skills as the season has progressed. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: allen webster, blake swihart, jamie callahan, jantzen witte
Closing Time: Red Sox offense explodes in blowout road win over Blue Jays 07.21.14 at 9:53 pm ET
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Mike Napoli and David Ortiz led the Red Sox' offensive charge Wednesday night. (AP)

Mike Napoli and David Ortiz led the Red Sox‘ offensive charge as the Red Sox exploded for a season-high 14 runs. (AP)

Throughout the Red Sox’ offensive struggles in June, GM Ben Cherington maintained consistently that the team expected that improvement would come not from a trade but primarily from a return to form by members of the team’s lineup. That notion has been borne out in recent games, most dramatically on Monday night.

The Red Sox unloaded on the Blue Jays for a season-high in runs, cruising to a 14-1 victory. The team has now scored 83 runs in 16 games in July (5.2 per game) — nearly matching the team’s total of 84 runs in 28 games (3.0 per contest) in June. The team mashed four home runs, and seven members of the lineup had multiple hits, as the Sox won for the eighth time in nine games.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

David Ortiz said on Sunday, after going 1-for-13 in a three-game series against the Royals, that he was “about to get hotter than Jamaica in the middle of August.” According to this random website, the average temperature of Jamaica in August is 88.5 degrees. Ortiz seemed to at least equal that reading on the thermometer on Monday, when he launched a pair of two-run homers, his first two-homer game of the year against any team except the Twins. The 452nd and 453rd home runs of Ortiz’s career allowed him to surpass Carl Yastrzemski. His 42 multi-homer games since joining the Red Sox in 2003 are the most by any hitter except Albert Pujols in that time.

– As much as the Sox’ absence of middle-of-the-order hitters has become a talking point, Mike Napoli has been doing everything in his power to force a reconsideration of that notion. Napoli went 3-for-5 with a homer and double, improving for the year to .280/.398/.462. Read the rest of this entry »

Red Sox lineup at Blue Jays: Shane Victorino sits, Brock Holt in right, Xander Bogaerts returns 07.21.14 at 3:28 pm ET
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The Red Sox will open their three-game set against the Blue Jays with four rookies in the lineup. Shane Victorino, after playing back-to-back games over the weekend (and four straight overall with the conclusion of his rehab assignment), will sit out, with Brock Holt heading to right field. He’ll flank Jackie Bradley Jr. in center, while Xander Bogaerts (after sitting on Sunday) will return to the lineup at third base, and Christian Vazquez will catch John Lackey.

For a look at how Lackey has fared against the Blue Jays and how Toronto starter Drew Hutchison has done against members of the Red Sox, click here. For comprehensive Red Sox coverage, visit weei.com/redsox.

RED SOX LINEUP

Brock Holt, RF

Dustin Pedroia, 2B

David Ortiz, DH

Mike Napoli, 1B

Daniel Nava, LF

Stephen Drew, SS

Xander Bogaerts, 3B

Jackie Bradley Jr., CF

Christian Vazquez, C

John Lackey, RHP

Read More: Brock Holt, Shane Victorino, xander bogaerts,
Red Sox minor league roundup: Travis Shaw taking off in Pawtucket; Cody Kukuk figuring things out; Teddy Stankiewicz’s landmark outing 07.21.14 at 12:56 pm ET
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Travis Shaw now has 19 homers in 2014. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox)

Travis Shaw now has 19 homers in 2014. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox)

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

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 3-2 WIN VS. BUFFALO (BLUE JAYS)

(BOX)

– First baseman Travis Shaw launched a three-run homer as part of a 1-for-2 game in which he also walked. The 24-year-old is enjoying a standout month that has seen him show his characteristic pitch selection and plate discipline while driving pitches.

After walking just seven times with 41 strikeouts in his first 33 games with the PawSox following his promotion to Triple-A, Shaw has reached base in all 17 games in July while walking nearly as many times (10) as he’s struck out (11). Shaw is now hitting .302/.392/.540 with four homers among his seven extra-base hits this month. Notably, three of his four homers this month have been to the opposite field, an indicator of Shaw’s intriguing ability to stay back on the ball and drive it to the opposite field, traits that have convinced the Sox that he has a made-for-Fenway swing that could allow him to pepper the Green Monster.

Between Portland and Pawtucket, Shaw now has a .288/.365/.503 line with 19 homers — making him one of 24 players in all of minor league baseball to reach that home run total so far this year.

–  Right-hander Anthony Ranaudo allowed one run in 6 2/3 innings, the ninth time in 12 outings he’s allowed one or no runs. He permitted just three hits (all for extra bases — two doubles and a solo homer) while walking three (his most walks in eight outings) and striking out four. He is tied for the International League lead in wins (11), ranks second in ERA (2.54), eighth in innings (113 1/3) and is tied for fifth in strikeouts.

Despite his across-the-board dominance in Triple-A, one potential hiccup worth noting is that Ranaudo ranks among the most extreme flyball pitchers in the International League, with three fly ball outs for every two groundouts, the second highest such rate among qualifying pitchers in the league. Though he’s allowed just six homers in Triple-A this year, that ratio suggests the possibility of vulnerability to the longball and/or extra-base hits in the big leagues.

– For the first time in his Triple-A career, Mookie Betts did not reach base, going 0-for-4 with a strikeout while playing center field in his first contest since being sent back down to Pawtucket. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: aaron wilkerson, anthony ranaudo, cody kukuk, teddy stankiewicz
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