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Why the Red Sox’ first win with Blake Swihart behind the plate meant so much to the rookie 05.05.15 at 11:16 pm ET
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The Red Sox picked up their first win with Blake Swihart behind the plate Tuesday night. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The Red Sox picked up their first win with Blake Swihart behind the plate Tuesday night. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Catchers don’t get win and loss check marks next to their names after games, but Blake Swihart felt like he started his major league career with two L’s.

One of the Red Sox‘ top prospects, Swihart made his major league debut Saturday afternoon against the Yankees after Ryan Hanigan fractured his finger Friday night and the switch-hitter was summonsed to the big leagues.

The Red Sox fell to the Yankees 4-2 Saturday afternoon, and then fell 8-5 Sunday night in his second start, and the 23-year-old took those losses hard.

“First one, after the game I was stressed out just because I wanted it so bad, and that is what it’s all about here is winning,” Swihart said. “I almost took it like it was my fault because I was back there catching because I want to do everything we can to win.”

After resting on Monday, Swihart went out and caught Rick Porcello Tuesday. Despite it being the first time the two had ever thrown to one another — spring training game, bullpen session, etc. — the two worked extremely well and Porcello tossed seven shutout innings, as the Red Sox snapped a four-game losing streak with a 2-0 win over the Rays.

“Getting that first one out of the way is very special,” Swihart said.

Porcello went seven shutout innings, while scattering eight hits, not issuing a walk and striking out six.

“It went great,” Swihart said. “The tempo of the game was awesome. The last few days we talked about a game plan that we wanted to do and we went out and executed and like I said, I am still learning these guys, so just trying to do everything I can to help them out.”

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Mookie Betts’ 2 solo home runs lift Red Sox past Rays 05.05.15 at 11:12 pm ET
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Mookie Betts

Mookie Betts

In a pitching duel between Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly on Tuesday, Mookie Betts was responsible for the only two runs of the game.

He hit a pair of solo home runs over the Green Monster, one off of Smyly in the sixth inning and the other off of Ernesto Frieri in the eighth.

Smyly had a no-hitter going and had allowed just two base runners up until Betts first home run.

“I think it was a curveball or cutter or something that he threw, left it a little up and I put a pretty good swing on it,” Betts said, adding: “He had been blowing fastballs by me all night, so I was just kind of ready for a fastball and he left another cutter up there and I was able to swing at it.”

The second homer came on Frieri’s first pitch of his outing.

“I was just first pitch, ready to go,” Betts said. “I figured, you know, he’d try to get strike one, and I was going to be ready for that.”

The two home runs were the third and fourth of the season for Betts. The 22-year-old became the the youngest Red Sox player to hit two home runs in a game since Jim Rice did it twice in 1975.

Betts’ 2-for-4 game raised his season average to .234. He is currently riding a four-game hit streak and has hits in seven of his last eight games.

“I’ve had a couple balls that didn’t fall for me [earlier in the season] and then I’ve mixed in some bad at bats as well,” Betts said. “But I feel like I’m close and I’m right where I want to be.”

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Closing Time: Rick Porcello goes 7 strong innings, Mookie Betts homers twice in Red Sox win 05.05.15 at 9:38 pm ET
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Rick Porcello went seven strong innings in the Red Sox' win Tuesday. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Rick Porcello went seven strong innings in the Red Sox‘ win Tuesday. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Call him the stopper.

For the second time in as many starts, Rick Porcello followed a Clay Buchholz sub-par outing with a good one. Porcello went seven shutout innings and led the team to a 2-0 win over the Rays Tuesday night. The win snapped a four-game losing streak.

Porcello went seven complete innings, not allowing a run, while scattering eight hits (all singles), not walking a batter and striking out six. It was the second straight start he’s gone seven full innings.

“Seven strong innings He scattered eight hits,” manager John Farrell said. “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.”

After being no-hit through the first five innings, Mookie Betts led off the sixth inning with a solo home run over everything in left field. He would also homer in his next at-bat, a towering shot landing in the Monster seats to give the Red Sox an insurance run leading off the bottom half of the eighth. He now has five home runs this season.

“For what we saw from spring training on, take away the average, his timing at the plate is pretty consistent even though he’s had some balls where he’s hit hard right at some people,” said Farrell. “His hand-eye coordination allows him to get that kind of swing on a first pitch that he sees — I don’t know if he’s faced [Ernesto] Frieri before, but he’s able to do it in his final at-bat. One heck of an athlete that — we’re seeing some special things in a short glimpse.”

Rays starter Drew Smyly pitched well in the loss going six innings, allowing one run on two hits, while walking two and striking out six. It was his first loss of the season.

In relief of Porcello, Alexi Ugando threw a scoreless eighth and Koji Uehara made his first appearance in a game since last Wednesday to pick up the save.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Porcello. The Red Sox needed a solid start from their starter and Porcello delivered for the second straight outing. Vote on the Rock Solid Performer of the week and enter to win a VIP Boston Baseball Experience at weei.com/rocksolid.

Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ win:

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John Farrell: Hanley Ramirez injury a chance for Allen Craig to ‘gain a little rhythm’ 05.05.15 at 5:17 pm ET
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Allen Craig

Allen Craig

With Hanley Ramirez out of the lineup and listed as day-to-day after injuring his shoulder while running into the wall to make a catch Monday night, Allen Craig will get the start in left field and bat sixth on Tuesday night.

In his pregame press conference on Tuesday, manager John Farrell said that Ramirez is still being evaluated, but if he is to miss a significant amount of time, Craig would likely be one of the first in line for extra at-bats.

Craig has struggled at the plate so far this season. In 45 plate appearances, he is hitting just .146 with a home run as his only extra-base hit, two RBIs, three walks and 12 strikeouts.

Farrell hopes that a potential increase in playing time will serve Craig well.

“Any time you lose one player, it’s going to provide opportunity,” Farrell said. “Allen’s back in the lineup tonight in left field tonight with [Rays pitcher Drew] Smyly the left-hander on the mound. So any player that’s been a starting player in the past, this is an opportunity to hopefully gain a little rhythm.”

After his All-Star season in 2013, when Craig hit .315 with 13 home runs and 97 RBIs in St. Louis, the 30-year-old’s numbers have dipped. In 126 games last year split between the Cardinals and Red Sox, he hit .215 with eight home runs and 46 RBIs. His OBP dropped from .373 to .279 from 2013 to 2014. This season, his OBP is just .222.

Craig suffered a foot injury late in 2013, which may have contributed to his unimpressive numbers since then.

“I think last year, you can directly point to the foot as being a reason why [he struggled],” Farrell said. “… He wasn’t able to maybe reproduce his natural normal swing. He wasn’t hitting from a strong base that he had been accustomed to. I thought in Spring Training he started to show the player he’s been with some consistent at bats. And then you go into a reserve role, that’s a tough thing for a position to player to maintain timing.”

As long as Ramirez is out, the Red Sox will be missing one of their best offensive weapons, but Farrell hopes that Craig and the rest of the Red Sox lineup don’t try to do too much to fill his shoes.

“I think the one thing that we want to be sure of is that because of Hanley’s absense, no one thinks they’ve got to be Hanley,” Farrell said. “Perform to the best of their ability, everyone do their job, and collectively, that should make up for the difference there.”

Read More: Allen Craig, hanley ramirez, Red Sox,
Hanley Ramirez (shoulder) remains day-to-day, but has increased mobility 05.05.15 at 4:55 pm ET
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The Red Sox may have dodged a bullet.

After leaving Monday’s game after running into the left field wall attempting to make a catch down the line, and being diagnosed with a left shoulder sprain, Hanley Ramirez came in Tuesday with increased mobility and remains day-to-day.

The team will know more in two or three days.

“He’€™s dealing with a mild sprain of the left shoulder,” said manager John Farrell. “He’€™s shown improvement in his range of motion today. He’€™s still day-to-day. We should know more in the next two to three days on his status going forward. But I think it was encouraging that he came in today with some increased mobility. Still a little sore, obviously, but maybe a little bit better than we anticipated coming in.”

With the force that Ramirez hit the wall, and his previous injury history to the shoulder, the news is better than it could have been.

“We may be fortunate he didn’€™t hurt himself with more seriousness,” Farrell said.

As for what is next for Ramirez, the team hasn’t determined, or ruled out a possible trip to the disabled list. Farrell said the team generally waits until around the seven-day mark, and then can place the player on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to the date of the injury.

“If you look back to what we’€™ve done with other situations where it’€™s not been a DL, you get to that midpoint, that seventh day,” Farrell said. “Hopefully we would have much more clear information before the seven days arrive. That’€™s usually been our marker when to put a guy on the DL or not.”

Ramirez was the best hitter on the team so far this year, hitting 10 home runs. Allen Craig starts in left field in his place Tuesday night against the Rays.

Read More: hanley ramirez, John Farrell,
Tuesday’s Red Sox-Rays matchups: Rick Porcello vs. Drew Smyly 05.05.15 at 4:36 pm ET
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Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello

The Red Sox will send Rick Porcello to the mound to face Drew Smyly on Tuesday night against the Rays at Fenway Park.

Porcello is currently 2-2 with a 5.34 ERA, a 1.25 WHIP and a starting-rotation best .242 batting average against. He has been one of the more consistent of Red Sox starters but has dealt with his own struggles throughout the year as well. He has thrown at least five innings in each of his five starts but has struggled with maintaining effectiveness throughout the game at times. Porcello had one start – a five-inning outing when he allowed eight runs on 12 hits to the Orioles – that makes his stats look worse than they would be otherwise.

One of the biggest concerns with the 26-year-old at this point is the frequency of home run balls that he has allowed. Through five starts, Porcello, who relies on batters hitting the ball on the ground to be effective, has allowed six home runs.

Porcello’s last start was perhaps his best of the season. He went seven innings against the Blue Jays, allowing just one run on two hits and two walks while striking out six on the way to his second win of the season. He did not allow a home run for the first time in 2015, but still did not force batters to ground out as much as he would like. Of balls put in play, just six were on the ground while 11 were either fly balls or line drives.

“He gave us exactly what we needed,” manager John Farrell said after the game. “Seven strong innings. Turns it over to the bullpen with [Junichi Tazawa] and Koji [Uehara] doing their job. As much as we talked about the starter setting the tone, Rick certainly did that tonight.”

In seven career starts against the Rays, Porcello is 3-3 with a 3.21 ERA, a 1.05 WHIP, 30 strikeouts and eight walks.

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Red Sox lineup: Hanley Ramirez (shoulder) out, Allen Craig starts in left field 05.05.15 at 3:27 pm ET
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Allen Craig

Allen Craig

As expected after suffering a shoulder sprain Monday night against the Rays, Hanley Ramirez is out of the lineup as expected Tuesday night.

Allen Craig will start in his place in left, while after recording two hits Monday night, Brock Holt gets the start in right. It’s worth noting Mike Napoli jumped ahead of Pablo Sandoval in the the order and will hit cleanup in the absence of Ramirez.

After a day off Monday, Blake Swihart is behind the plate catching Rick Porcello as the Red Sox‘ lineup goes against left-hander Drew Smyly.

Here is the complete order:

1. Mookie Betts, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Mike Napoli, 1B
5. Pablo Sandoval, 3B
6. Allen Craig, LF
7. Brock Holt, RF
8. Xander Bogaerts, SS
9. Blake Swihart, C
Rick Porcello, RHP

Read More: Allen Craig, hanley ramirez,
Just how poorly have the Red Sox played at home in the last year-plus? 05.05.15 at 1:20 pm ET
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Once again, the Red Sox are off to a slow start to the season — 12-14 after 26 games, the same record as they were last season when they finished 71-91 and in last place in the AL East.

A major issue for last year’s team was their poor play at home, going 34-47. This year hasn’t been much better, going 6-8, including being swept last weekend by the Yankees.

That got us to thinking, just how poor have the Red Sox been at home in the last year-plus?

Since the start of 2014 season, the Red Sox have been swept nine times at home in series’ lasting three or more games. This is compared to Terry Francona‘s eight seasons from 2004-11, where those teams were only swept at home six times in such series’ — twice in 2010, once in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2011 and zero times in 2004 and 2007.

After not losing more than three games in a row in any park in 2013, John Farrell has seen nine home sweeps in 95 total home games (going into Tuesday), while Francona saw a total of six home sweeps in 567 total home games, spanning eight seasons.

For what it’s worth, the 2012 Red Sox, led by Bobby Valentine, were swept at home in series’ lasting three or more games five times.

Bottom line, for the Red Sox to get back to winning, they need to be better at home.

“You like to think your home ballpark is going to be friendly to you and give yourself a chance for some late-inning push,” Farrell said Sunday night after being swept by the Yankees. “What we’ve had a couple times this year. Still, makes it awful difficult to go out and expect to win more games on the road. So yeah, playing at Fenway and taking advantage of the wall or taking advantage of just a comfortable place for us, that’s got to be more the norm.”

Read More: Boston Red Sox, John Farrell, Terry Francona,
Marlins release former Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia 05.05.15 at 12:36 pm ET
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The Marlins have announced catcher Jarrod Saltalamachhia has been released. The team designated him for assignment last week, but could not work out a trade with any team.

He now becomes a free agent and can sign with any team.

With the Red Sox‘ catching situation (just Blake Swihart and Sandy Leon after Christian Vazquez and Ryan Hanigan went down with long-term injuries), and him spending four years in Boston, there would seem to be at least some interest, but as of last week a source told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford the Red Sox were not interested.

It is a situation that should be monitored.

For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

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Kevin Millar on MFB: Clay Buchholz ‘may need to get a little tougher’ 05.05.15 at 12:19 pm ET
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Kevin Millar

Kevin Millar

MLB Network’€™s Kevin Millar appeared on Middays with MFB Tuesday to talk about the Red Sox and specifically their rotation and Clay Buchholz. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Buchholz is 1-4 with a 6.03 ERA this season. Millar, who trains with Buchholz during the offseason, admitted it may be time for him to change something.

“[Buchholz] is a very intriguing situation because you see the stuff,” Millar said. “I think at the end of the day Buch needs to get back to the drawing board and maybe make an adjustment. Whatever that is, I’m not a pitching coach, I trained with him this offseason, Buch is a great kid.

“It’s frustrating for Clay Buchholz. It has to be frustrating. I think there’s also a thinking Clay Buchholz may need to get a little tougher. Might need to start throwing inside a little bit more. Might need to be brushing guys off the plate because the thing with Clay, he’s a strike thrower and he has four pitches we know — changeup, cutter, curveball and fastball. Mix and match all these pitches, maybe going back to the drawing board and let’s command one early.”

Overall, the rotation has been poor. Through 26 games they have an ERA of 5.73, the worst in the game. Millar points to the inconsistency of everyone.

“When this season started, I didn’t think this rotation had a probably because everyone was talking about how they didn’t have an ace, they don’t have an ace, and this was in March and this was before the first game and Buchholz goes out against Philadelphia, throws a good game, they win,” Millar said. “I thought they could at least compete because there’s only like five aces out there in the world. I think we throw around the word ace, like everyone is an ace because you make money.

“Well [even] an average pitcher these days are making $50-100 million. I like the Red Sox. Wade Miley, I change of scenery he’d be alright. Well, he’s been OK against the Yankees. I saw a start in New York and I saw a start at home and he’s throwing great. They have no consistency right now.”

Millar said even though it’s the first week of May, it may be time to make a move from the outside.

“You look at this rotation and you go, ‘What do you do now?’ This is time where you get creative,” he said. “Cole Hamels. Make the move, even though it’s the first month of the season. Go out there and figure it out.”

Read More: Clay Buchholz, Kevin Millar, wade miley,
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