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Eduardo Rodriguez starting to feel like he belongs in major leagues: ‘I feel way better now’

07.05.15 at 7:33 pm ET
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Eduardo Rodriguez has now allowed one earned run or less in six of his eight major league starts. (Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

Eduardo Rodriguez has now allowed one earned run or less in six of his eight major league starts. (Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

It wasn’t the greatest of Eduardo Rodriguez’s first eight starts in the majors, but even with the average performance he was still able to keep the powerful Astros offense in check.

While he needed 101 pitches to get through five innings, struggling with his command at times, the left-handed rookie allowed only one run on six hits while walking two and striking out a career-high eight batters taking a no-decision in the Red Sox‘ 5-4 win.

With Sunday being his eighth start, going 4-2 with a 3.69 ERA in those starts, he’s starting to feel more comfortable being in the big leagues.

“Yeah, I feel way better now here with everybody,” the soft-spoken Rodriguez said. “They try to teach me like how to pitch, all the starting pitchers try to help me a lot, so that’s what I feel right now.”

With allowing only one run, Rodriguez became the first Red Sox player in the live ball era (since 1920) to allow one run or less in six of his first eight starts. He’s also the first left-handed pitcher in the live ball era to record seven or more strikeouts and allow one run or less four times over his first 18 starts.

Catching Rodriguez for the first time in a game, Ryan Hanigan came away very impressed.

“I got a chance to catch a couple bullpens when I was coming back and he was just on point. Then [today] it was awesome,” he said. “When he was missing, he was just missing, so his pitch count got a little high by the fifth. His command, his execution, just his stuff in general is pretty impressive for a guy his age, for sure.”

“It’s fun,” Hanigan added. “His stuff is explosive. When he shakes, I always have a lot of confidence in him because he just knows what he’s doing out there. He can read swings, he can read hitters timing. He can do different things with his pitches. It’s fun to catch him, for sure.”

Rodriguez liked working with Hanigan for the first time as well.

“It was pretty good,” Rodriguez said. “He called the right pitches — what I wanted to throw, when I wanted to throw. He was pretty good behind home plate with me.”

The left-handed also said he’s put the tipping pitches stuff behind him.

“I can’t control that now, don’t tip pitches anymore,” he said.

With allowing now allowing one earned run or less in six of his eight starts, Rodriguez has every right feel like a big leaguer.

Read More: eduardo rodriguez, Ryan Hanigan,

Hanley Ramirez makes most of serving as designated hitter with game-winning home run

07.05.15 at 7:11 pm ET
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Hanley Ramirez now has five home runs in the seven games he's DH'd this year. (Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

Hanley Ramirez now has five home runs in the seven games he’s DH’d this year. (Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

The odds may have been stacked against Hanley Ramirez in the seventh inning — down 1-2 in the count and in midst of an 0-for-9 slump facing Astros reliever Tony Sipp with a runner on first and the Red Sox trailing 4-3.

But, with one hand, he lined a changeup that just cleared the Green Monster, giving the Red Sox a 5-4 lead and proved to be the game-winner, as the Red Sox earned a series win over the Astros.

“I saw a couple changeups and I just figured he was going to throw another one,” Ramirez said. “I tried to wait on it but like I said I put a good follow through.”

“I think it just tells you how strong he is,” manager John Farrell added. “Once he gets the barrel of the bat, even the first at-bat in this series, he drives the ball out of the ballpark on Friday night. Still, when he’s able to make solid contact, he’s got the ability to drive the ball out of any park. But even if he is fooled, because his plate coverage is so good, he’s able to give us a lead and a big one at that.”

Ramirez is now batting .367 in 44 career games against the Astros, the highest active mark against the franchise (minimum 150 plate appearances). Six of Ramirez’s 18 homers this season have given the Red Sox the lead in the game at the time.

What may go unnoticed is in the at-bat prior to the home run, David Ortiz forced Sipp to throw 11 pitches, before he was able to work a walk. Ramirez said that played a role in his homer.

“That’s everything right there,” he said. “He put up a good at-bat and got on first so it’s up to me now.”

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Tony Sipp explains why he didn’t want to walk David Ortiz: ‘He’s not the same Big Papi’

07.05.15 at 6:30 pm ET
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David Ortiz has built his reputation on putting fear in opposing pitchers with his clutch power hitting late in games.

But with one out and none on and the Astros leading 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh, fear was not on the mind of lefty Tony Sipp, who was brought in by Houston manager A.J. Hinch to face Ortiz.

“I got ahead. I was just trying to go right at him, do anything but walk him,” Sipp said. “I got the 1-2 slider and it started backing up on me. I couldn’t get the one that was sharp that looked like a strike and then [would] fade out of the strike zone. That’s why he kept fouling off and he was a little disappointed because he was missing some of my mistakes.

“Right there at the end, I threw a ball that was a little bit too low and walked him. That was the last thing I wanted to do, was walk him. He’s not hitting the best right now so I wanted to at least make him put it in play. If he’s swinging the bat well, then it’s not a bad thing to do, to walk him. But right now, he’s not the same Big Papi.”

Ortiz is hitting just .228 this season, but still with 14 homers and 41 RBIs, and an OPS of .744.

Sipp’s frustration was compounded when he gave up the go-ahead and game-winning home run on a splitter to Hanley Ramirez.

“It was down but just not out [outside] like I wanted,” Sipp said. “He put the swing that I want him to put on it but he caught it out front and had enough pop to get it over the wall. I think that’s just how it goes. Sometimes they’ll hit a good pitch. He’s pretty good and caught a good pitch. Location wasn’t bad, just down the middle.”

If Sipp watched Ortiz circle the bases, he could plainly see Ortiz pumping his fist around second base, adding more salt to the wound.

“I felt like I was throwing the ball well,” Sipp said. “I got ahead of both Big Papi and Hanley but I just couldn’t put them away.”

Read More: Big Papi, Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz, hanley ramirez

Closing Time: Hanley Ramirez’s 2-run homer gives Red Sox 5-4 win over Astros

07.05.15 at 5:37 pm ET
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Hanley Ramirez's 18th homer of the season gave the Red Sox a 5-4, comeback win over the Astros. (Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

Hanley Ramirez‘s 18th homer of the season gave the Red Sox a 5-4, comeback win over the Astros. (Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

Hanley Ramirez stepped to the plate with the Red Sox trailing 4-3 and a runner on first in the seventh inning in the midst of an 0-for-9 skid, but with as good of a hitter as he is, that didn’t matter one bit.

The slugger lined a two-run homer into the Monster seats, proving to be the difference in the Red Sox’ 5-4, come-from-behind win over the Astros.

They took 2-of-3 in the series and have won three straight series for the first time since the first three of the season. Overall, the Red Sox have won four of their last five series’ — all coming against teams with records over .500.

The seventh inning homer was Ramirez’s 18th home run of the season and he has five homers over his last 10 games.

“Well first of all we’ve come back multiple times in this series and the way our offense is starting to come together, we’re capable of doing that more frequently,” manager John Farrell said. “But obviously a timely two-run homer by Hanley. He gets a changeup out front that he hits with one hand. But you look at the 11-pitch at-bat [with David Ortiz] prior to Hanley may have taken a little bit out of [Tony] Sipp in that moment. Still, a key win here today; good series win.”

Junichi Tazawa (win) tossed a scoreless eighth inning and Koji Uehara pitched the ninth, earning his 19th save, working around a Brock Holt error to open the inning.

Things didn’t look good for the Red Sox before Ramirez’s homer, as they blew a 3-1 lead in the top of the seventh inning.

Leading 3-1, reliever Alexi Ogando allowed back-to-back home runs into the Monster seats. With two outs in the inning, 20-year-old phenom Carlos Correa lined a shot over the Monster for a two-run homer to tie the game at three and then the very next batter, Evan Gattis, hit one to almost the exact same spot giving the Astros a 4-3 lead.

This all came after the bottom of the sixth when the Red Sox scored two runs to take a 3-1 lead at the time.

With the game tied at one in the sixth inning, the Red Sox took advantage of some spotty Astros defense. Ramirez reached on an error to open the frame and came around to score on Pablo Sandoval’s double to left, which was bobbled by left fielder Evan Gattis, allowing Ramirez to score from first.

Then with two outs, Ryan Hanigan slapped a RBI single to right, scoring Sandoval and giving the Red Sox a 3-1 lead.

Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez didn’t have his best stuff — needing 101 pitches to get through five innings, but he only allowed one run. The rookie left-hander went five innings, allowing one run on six hits, while walking one and striking out eight. The eight strikeouts were a career-high.

Rodriguez was able to get out of couple jams, as he stranded a runner at third base to end the second and recorded back-to-back strikeouts with a runner at second to end the fifth. He became the first pitcher since at least 1914 to allow one or no runs in at least six of his first eight major league outings, all starts.

“I got a chance to catch a couple bullpens when I was coming back and he was just on point,” Hanigan said. “Then tonight it was awesome. When he was missing, he was just missing, so his pitch count got a little high by the fifth. His command, his execution, just his stuff in general is pretty impressive for a guy his age, for sure.”

The Red Sox got their first run in the second inning on a Hanigan RBI single, which plated Sandoval who had singled earlier in the inning.

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

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Read More: Alexi Ogando, eduardo rodriguez, hanley ramirez, Ryan Hanigan

Red Sox pregame notes: David Ortiz at first base, Mike Napoli sitting about ‘putting best lineup on the field’

07.05.15 at 11:57 am ET
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It was an unusual lineup posted Sunday morning at Fenway Park with David Ortiz penciled in at first base.

With a struggling Mike Napoli, 1 for his last 17, he gets the day off with Ortiz playing first base at Fenway Park for the first time since July 16, 2005 and the first time in an non-interleague game since August 5, 2006. Hanley Ramirez will serve as the designated hitter.

“Today’s lineup I think gives us the best lineup we can put on the field,” manager John Farrell said. “Recognize it’s been quite some time since David has played first base in an American League game. Also gives us the ability to have [Alejandro] De Aza in left field. It’s about putting best lineup on the field today.”

Napoli is going through arguably the toughest stretch of his career, batting just .168 since June 1 with only eight extra-base hits in that time. He’s also walked 10 times, compared to 35 strikeouts over 113 plate appearances.

“He’s obviously in a stretch right now where he’s grinding through some things,” Farrell said. “You’ve seen him work counts, you’ve seen him go early in the count. The hard contact has been inconsistent. I think there’s been times where he’s looked for a certain pitch in the count and not got it and has resulted in a located pitch by a pitcher. He fully recognizes where he’s at and continues to work at getting this thing turned around. Felt like today was a day to give him a little bit of a breather with tomorrow being the off day and a couple of days to regroup.”

Ortiz playing first base doesn’t appear to be something which happen often. It was an opportune time with Monday being an off day, as well as another on Thursday.

“I don’t know how frequently we would see this going forward,” Farrell said.

In other news, Farrell announced Wade Miley and Rick Porcello will start Tuesday and Wednesday against the Marlins and Justin Masterson will pitch out of the bullpen for the remainder of the first half.

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Read More: David Ortiz, justin masterson, mike napoli, rick porcello

Red Sox lineup: David Ortiz starts at first base, Mike Napoli sits vs. Astros

07.05.15 at 10:42 am ET
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For the first time since August 5, 2006, David Ortiz will start at first base in a non-interleague game.

With Mike Napoli‘s struggles at the plate, Ortiz will get the nod at first base in the series finale against the Astros, as the Red Sox will go up against right-hander Lance McCullers. Each team has won a game in the series thus far.

Hanley Ramirez will be the designated hitter with Alejandro De Aza starting in left field and Shane Victorino will be in right field for the second straight day.

Ryan Hanigan will catch Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez.

For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.

Here is the complete Red Sox lineup:

Mookie Betts, CF
Brock Holt, 2B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
David Ortiz, 1B
Hanley Ramirez, DH
Pablo Sandoval, 3B
Shane Victorino, RF
Alejandro De Aza, LF
Ryan Hanigan, C
Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP

Read More: David Ortiz, mike napoli,

Sunday’s Red Sox-Astros matchups: Eduardo Rodriguez vs. Lance McCullers

07.05.15 at 8:24 am ET
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Eduardo Rodriguez

Eduardo Rodriguez

Coming off of yet another impressive start by Clay Buchholz, the Red Sox will look to win their third consecutive series Sunday afternoon when they send Eduardo Rodriguez to the mound against Lance McCullers and the Astros.

After a set of lackluster starts in June, Rodriguez righted the ship in his latest start against the Blue Jays last Tuesday. In that outing he went six innings, giving up four hits and just one earned run to go along with four punchouts. Though he tossed 67 pitches in the previous start en route to a six-run implosion and a Red Sox loss vs. the Orioles on June 25, Rodriguez was on point at the Rogers Center, drawing a season-high 11 swinging strikes.

Suspecting that Rodriguez might have been tipping his pitches against the Orioles, his teammates came to the rescue, helping him rebound for his next start.

“The last time he pitched we all got on him because he was tipping his pitches really bad,” David Ortiz said following the Sox’€™ win over the Blue Jays. “We know he has that great stuff, but when you start tipping pitches hitters start eliminating pitches so it’€™s easier to hit. So in his case [Clay] Buchholz, myself, Panda [Pablo Sandoval], everybody was pretty much trying to him some ideas for his next outing. He executed really well, worked hard on it and he wasn’t tipping at all and that’€™s why he pitched the way he did tonight.”

Rodriguez has showcased dynamite raw stuff throughout his first month or so in the big leagues. He began his Red Sox career with two straight wins and 0.44 ERA through three starts. However, it did not take long for big league hitters to discover his tell, and once they did he spiraled into a horrendous three-start stretch in which opponents slashed .339/.382/.516 against him. Buchholz, no stranger to pitch-tipping himself, pinpointed Rodriguez’s issue and gave him some pointers on how to correct it.

“We watched video and showed him what was going on,” Buchholz said after the Blue Jays game. “He had no idea that he was doing anything wrong or anything different on any one pitch. These last four days that’€™s all he’€™s been talking about is working on it. He’€™s been the hotel room in front of a mirror he’€™s been working on it. He did a good job on it today.”

Rodriguez heads into his matchup with the Astros bearing a laudable 4-2 record and a 3.92 ERA through seven major league starts. Opposing him for the Cinderellas of MLB will be Lance McCullers, a fellow rookie.

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Sunday Red Sox Farm Report: Andrew Benintendi hits first pro HR; Yoan Moncada starting to hit in Greenville

07.05.15 at 8:16 am ET
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A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Saturday:

Carlos Peguero

Carlos Peguero

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (38-46): L, 12-4, at Syracuse (Nationals)

— Left fielder Carlos Peguero homered in each of his first two at-bats, his fifth and six long balls on the season for Pawtucket, as the PawSox took a 4-3 lead in the third inning on Peguero’€™s three-run blast. Both shots were pulled over the right-center wall by the lefty Peguero, for whom 11 of his 21 hits in Triple-A this year have gone for extra bases. The 28-year-old Peguero was acquired by Boston from Texas on May 27 in exchange for cash, then designated for assignment on June 4 after just four games with the Red Sox to make way as Boston acquired Alejandro De Aza. Peguero has played in 103 major league games in his career with Seattle, Kansas City, Texas and Boston, hitting .194 with 13 homers.

— Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. went 2-for-4 to raise his Triple-A average to .324, while also scoring a run. Bradley was erased on a steal attempt in the first on a called third strike to Rusney Castillo, as batter’€™s interference was ruled on the throw to second. Bradley stopped running and was tagged out as he was looking toward the plate in confusion. Castillo took an 0-for-4 with four strikeouts on the evening.

— RHP Pat Light (Boston’€™s No. 26 prospect at MLB.com) struggled in the seventh as he allowed two singles and then walked three straight batters, his last one walking in a run in a 27-pitch outing. The final two walks were four-pitch walks, with several pitches dangerously up and in to the right-handed hitters. After blowing two saves in June, the 24-year-old Light had responded with back-to-back scoreless outings before the rare control problems Saturday. Combined this year between Double-A Portland and Pawtucket, Light had walked 15 batters in 38 innings heading into Saturday’€™s action.

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Read More: Andrew Benintendi, Carlos Peguero, manuel margot, Marco Hernandez

Clay Buchholz continues ‘very similar’ run of 2013 in Red Sox’ win over Astros

07.04.15 at 6:05 pm ET
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“He’s been slicing and dicing so we’ll sit back, press play, and watch him go forever.” — Justin Masterson on Clay Buchholz following the Red Sox‘ 12-8 extra-inning loss to the Astros Friday night.

Friday night Justin Masterson said Clay Buchholz would go forever in Saturday’s start, and while he likely didn’t mean he literally would go forever, Buchholz went as long as possible as the right-hander tossed a one-run, complete game to lead the Red Sox to a 6-1 win over the Astros on the Fourth of July at Fenway Park.

Buchholz went all nine innings, allowing one run, which came in the ninth, on six hits while not issuing a walk and striking out eight. He threw 110 pitches, 80 for strikes.

“It’s definitely good especially after a game like last night,” Buchholz said. “Taxed bullpen. Yeah, so first thing in my coming out here today was to get as deep in the game as I could. Complete games don’t always happen. There’s a lot of things that have to go right for things like that to happen, but I could throw just about any pitch I wanted to today. It doesn’t happen like that very often but I was able to locate curveballs and throw changeups in the dirt whenever I needed some swings and misses and threw some cutters off of some heaters.”

Saturday’s performance was just a continuation of the run he’s been on of late. Over his last 10 starts dating back to May 15, he has an ERA of 1.99 and is 5-2. Most recently, he’s gone seven-plus innings and allowed one earned run or less over his last four starts, going a perfect 4-0 with an 0.87 ERA in that span.

While it may not be exactly like his pre-injury stretch of 2013 where he went 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA over his first 12 starts of the year, it’s pretty close.

“Very similar,” Farrell said. “Anytime you’re talking about a guy who is going to go seven or eight innings pretty much each time out with low runs allowed, it’s a very similar run.”

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John Farrell says ‘time will tell’ if Xander Bogaerts has earned his way onto A.L. All-Star team

07.04.15 at 5:55 pm ET
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Is Xander Bogaerts All-Star worthy?

It’s a question that may not have seemed very likely in the first two months of the season but as the game approaches July 14 in Cincinnati, the Red Sox shortstop has certainly put himself in the conversation when the reserves are announced on Monday evening.

Bogaerts, hitting again in the No. 3 hole in the order in front of David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez, went 2-for-4 Saturday in a 6-1 win over the Astros. He is 9-for-18 with four RBIs in a modest four-game hitting streak. He is also batting .351 with 21 RBIs in 32 games since the end of May.

But perhaps most importantly, he’s been the most consistent offensive player in a batting order that desperately needed consistent and productive parts. It’s why John Farrell felt comfortable moving him up from seventh to fifth to eventually third in the order, when Dustin Pedroia went down with his hamstring injury.

Bogaerts is hitting .302 this season, with respectable slugging (.416) and on-base (.340) numbers. He’s also looked much more steady at shortstop, which was no small feat considering his struggles in 2014 that played a role in moving to third base to take over for Will Middlebrooks when Stephen Drew landed back on the scene in Boston.

“I would hope that he gets some recognition for the first half that he’s had,” Farrell said after Saturday’s game. “He’s been a very consistent performer for us and has grown a lot from a year ago, both defensively and offensively. Whether or not that reflects or is acknowledged through an All-Star appearance, time will tell that one.”

“Absolutely I think Xander’s going to make the All-Star team,” added outfielder and teammate Mookie Betts. “He’s been playing great from the beginning of the season. I wasn’t there to see him develop. All I know is this Xander. This is all I’ve seen. For him to continue to do this for so long, I don’t know why he wouldn’t be in the All-Star Game.”

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, John Farrell, MLB, MLB All-Star Game
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