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Wednesday’s Red Sox-Rays matchups: Anthony Ranaudo vs. Jake Odorizzi 09.24.14 at 8:12 am ET
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Anthony Ranaudo

Anthony Ranaudo

The Red Sox will play the middle game of their series with the Rays on Wednesday night when Anthony Ranaudo pitches against Jake Odorizzi.

Despite a quality start against the Pirates last Tuesday, Ranaudo (3-3, 5.29 ERA) was charged with the loss after allowing three runs over 5 2/3 innings at PNC Park. The home run ball did Ranaudo in, as he allowed a two-run homer to Russell Martin in the second inning and then a solo blast to outfielder Starling Marte in the sixth. The latter home run ended Ranaudo’€™s night.

Ranaudo has served up 10 homers this year, accounting for 14 of the 19 runs he’€™s allowed through his first six major league starts. The right-hander said after his latest outing that he needs to change is his pitch selection more.

“I think it’s continuously mixing my pitches better and understanding the strike zone and just being more consistent with my pitches and understanding what some of these hitters’ approaches are and things like that,” Ranaudo said. “I think that’s all going to come with experience, and obviously I’d like to be making the adjustments a little quicker, but it’s something that’s part of the learning process that I just have to do a better job of.”

Of his first six appearances with Boston, one of the best came on Aug. 29 against the Rays at Tropicana Field. In six innings of work, Ranaudo struck out four and allowed three runs in the win. Brandon Guyer did the most significant damage with a two-run home run in the fifth inning. Other than that, Ranaudo pitched well, which earned him praise from manager John Farrell.

“I thought tonight, of the three starts he’s made for us, this was probably the best overall mix of three pitches that he had — particularly a little bit more use of his changeup tonight,” Farrell said of Ranaudo. “A solid night all the way around.”

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Tuesday’s Red Sox-Pirates matchups: Anthony Ranaudo vs. Charlie Morton 09.16.14 at 10:54 am ET
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The Red Sox open up an interleague series with the Pirates on Tuesday at PNC Park. Anthony Ranaudo will get the start against Pittsburgh’€™s Charlie Morton.

Anthony Ranaudo

Anthony Ranaudo

Ranaudo (3-2, 5.40 ERA), who is one of the many Red Sox pitchers fighting for a rotation spot next season, had one of his poorest outings of the season last Tuesday against the Orioles. He allowed four runs in 3 1/3 innings, which included three home runs. Alejandro De Aza hit two home runs and Adam Jones hit one that cleared the Green Monster. Ranaudo has served up eight home runs in five big league starts.

Manager John Farrell said the Orioles did not let Ranaudo get away with anything over the middle of the plate.

“He didn’t get away with many mistakes,” Farrell said after the game. “Where he’s gotten some swing and miss in some previous starts with some mislocated pitches, that wasn’t the case tonight.”

Ranaudo added after the start that hitters have been getting more familiar with his pitches now that he’s had more time in the majors.

“I think this is my fifth start now. Guys have seen film, seen me pitch a couple times,” Ranaudo said. “Those kind of pitches aren’€™t going to fly here, especially late in the season. Fatigue might be setting in. I’€™ve got to be a little bit sharper about some things, make some better adjustments quicker. Obviously they’€™re making adjustments to me now. It’€™s my job to make adjustments to them.”

Prior to his short outing against the Orioles, Ranaudo had a quality start against the Yankees on the road. He threw 5 1/3 innings and gave up three runs back on Sept. 3. A Brian McCann two-run homer was Ranaudo’€™s undoing in that contest.

Though it’€™s a small sample size, Ranaudo has pitched a little bit better away from Fenway Park this season. He’€™s made three starts and pitched 17 1/3 innings on the road, posting a 2-1 record with a 5.19 ERA. So far in the early part of his career, the fifth inning has been Ranaudo’€™s most problematic inning. In the frame, the right-hander has a 9.00 ERA. He’€™s also had more trouble against left-handed hitters, who are batting .300 with a .377 on-base percentage against him.

Ranaudo has yet to face the Pirates in his major league career.

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Tuesday’s Red Sox-Orioles matchups: Anthony Ranaudo vs. Chris Tillman 09.09.14 at 12:45 pm ET
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Anthony Ranaudo

Anthony Ranaudo

The Red Sox will play their second game of a three-game series against the Orioles on Tuesday night. Rookie right-hander Anthony Ranaudo will oppose Chris Tillman.

On the road against the Yankees last Wednesday, Ranaudo (3-1, 4.63 ERA) lost his first major league start, which ended his three-game winning streak with the Red Sox. It still was a quality outing, as he allowed three runs over 5 1/3 innings. He also struck out one and walked just two batters.

Ranaudo did not win his fourth-ever big league start, but he said he felt confident in stuff at Yankee Stadium, despite pitching against the team he watched growing up as a kid.

“I felt really good, this is probably the most comfortable I’ve felt on the mound, the best I’ve felt about my stuff throughout the game and I felt probably it was the best I mixed my stuff,” Ranaudo said after the game

Tuesday’s start will be the fifth of Ranaudo’s career and fourth against an American League East opponent. He’s faced the Yankees twice, last time out and his first major league start — a win where he allowed two runs over six innings on Aug. 1. He also beat the Rays on Aug. 29 with six innings of three-run ball.

He has never faced the Orioles, and Tuesday’s outing will be just his second ever at Fenway Park.

Compared to his minor league season with Triple-A Pawtucket where he struck out 111 hitters in 138 innings, Ranaudo has only punched out a combined eight hitters through his first four starts with the Red Sox. Pitching to contact more at the big league level, Ranaudo has seen his batting average against jump from .223 to .264 from the PawSox to the Red Sox.

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Why You Should Have Cared About The Red Sox Game: Allen Craig’s alarming performance 09.04.14 at 12:32 am ET
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(For the final month of the regular season, ‘€˜Closing Time’€™ will now 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.)

Allen Craig matched a career-high with four strikeouts on Wednesday. (Getty Images)

Allen Craig matched a career-high with four strikeouts on Wednesday. (Getty Images)

NEW YORK — When the Red Sox made the decision on July 31 to take a wrecking ball to their rotation, their decision was motivated chiefly by a desire to reload a league-worst offense and turn it into a deeper, more formidable group for 2015. The trade of Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes for Yoenis Cespedes represented part of that strategy, but only a first part. The team also made the decision to trade John Lackey, who remained under team control for 2015 at the major league minimum, to the Cardinals in exchange for right-hander Joe Kelly and corner bat Allen Craig.

Kelly — a young, controllable pitcher with a solid starter’s mix — was an important component. But Craig represented a key piece, someone with the potential to offer the Sox a middle-of-the-order right-handed bat if he could show that his poor performance with the Cardinals this year prior to the trade deadline (a .237 average, .291 OBP and .346 slugging mark) represented an aberration, and that he could return to the standout level of play he’d established from 2011-13 (.312/.364/.500) as a lineup anchor.

Yet this year increasingly looks like a lost one for Craig, and so rather than having any measure of defined expectations for Craig going forward, the Sox will have to rely heavily on hope. And in his very limited time in a Red Sox uniform, the 30-year-old has given few glimpses to suggest cause for optimism.

Wednesday represented a low-point. In the Red Sox’ 5-1 loss to the Yankees, Craig went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts, just the second time (and first since April 8, 2011) that he’s punched out four times, and the first that he’d done so in the same number of plate appearances. In 10 games with the Sox, he’s 4-for-36 with four walks and 15 strikeouts in 41 plate appearances, resulting in a line of .111/.220/.250 in a very brief sample. Overall this year, he’s now hitting .226/.285/.337 while striking out in 22.8 percent of plate appearances, a career-worst. Read the rest of this entry »

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Wednesday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Anthony Ranaudo vs. Hiroki Kuroda 09.03.14 at 8:50 am ET
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Anthony Ranaudo

Anthony Ranaudo

After a 9-4 win in the series opener, the Red Sox will face the Yankees on Wednesday night in the middle game of their three-game set at Yankee Stadium, with rookie Anthony Ranaudo taking the mound opposite Hiroki Kuroda.

Ranaudo (3-0, 4.50 ERA) came through with a quality start his last time out, Friday against the Rays at Tropicana Field. He struck out four and scattered five hits over six innings in the winning effort.
Red Sox manager John Farrell said after that game that he was impressed with Ranuado, who was making just his third-ever big league start.

“I thought tonight, of the three starts he’s made for us, this was probably the best overall mix of three pitches that he had — particularly a little bit more use of his changeup tonight,” Farrell said after the game. “A solid night all the way around.”

The rookie right-hander’€™s first start this season just happened to come against the Yankees. The outing got off to an inauspicious start when he walked leadoff natter Brett Gardner to begin the first inning, but Ranaudo worked out of the jam and finished the game going six strong innings, allowing just two runs. He recorded just two strikeouts, but Ranaudo effectively pitched to contact and worked out of major jams.

Outfielder Carlos Beltran seemed to be the only real thorn during Ranaudo’€™s side that evening, as the veteran outfielder clubbed both a solo home run and an RBI single during the Red Sox’€™s 4-3 victory. Other than that, Farrell said the rookie did well in his major league debut.

“I thought he did a good job keeping the game under control,” Farrell said after that game. “There were a number of innings where the leadoff hitter would get on base and [he] found a way to navigate through three walks to lead some innings off. I thought he threw the ball downhill well and kept the ball out of the middle of the plate for the most part.”

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Friday’s Red Sox-Rays matchups: Anthony Ranaudo vs. Chris Archer 08.29.14 at 10:42 am ET
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Chris Archer

Chris Archer

With the Red Sox and Rays holding firm in the bottom two spots in the American League East, Friday’s game in St. Petersburg, Florida, holds little importance in terms of postseason implications. However, with Chris Archer on the mound for Tampa — opposite young Sox hurler Anthony Ranaudo — there could be some intensity to the series opener.

When Archer (8-6, 3.09 ERA) last faced the Sox on July 27, he surrendered a three-run home run to David Ortiz and lost the game 3-2. Afterward, Archer echoed then-teammate David Price‘s assertion that Ortiz “feels like he’s bigger than the game” because the slugger “pimped a home run off me.”

Ortiz, who is 5-for-12 against Archer, said the 25-year-old is “not the right guy to be saying that. I don’t think, you know, you’ve got two days in the league, you can’t be just [whining] and complaining about [expletive] like that.”

Archer has struggled again the Sox, going 1-3 with a 4.75 ERA in six career starts, but he’s pitched well of late. When he held the Blue Jays to one run over seven innings in his last outing Sunday, it was his eighth quality start in 10 appearances. He has a 1.40 ERA and 30 strikeouts over his last four appearances, encompassing 25 2/3 innings.

Ranaudo (2-0, 4.50) will be called up from Triple-A to pitch in Friday’s game. The 24-year-old last pitched in the majors Aug. 13, allowing four runs in six innings to the Reds.

On Tuesday Ranaudo was named the International League‘s Most Valuable Player. He is 14-4 with a 2.61 ERA in 24 starts for Pawtucket.

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Red Sox minor league roundup: Garin Cecchini getting hot; Manuel Margot sailing in Salem; Ryan Lavarnway, Keury De La Cruz streaking; Portland punches postseason ticket 08.20.14 at 12:13 pm ET
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Garin Cecchini

Garin Cecchini

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

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX:

Jackie Bradley Jr. went 2-for-5 with a pair of singles (one to the opposite field in left, one to center), a flyout to left, a groundout to second and a strikeout. He’s now 2-for-10 since joining the PawSox, though with some positive signs based on the willingness to hit the ball up the middle and to the opposite field.

— Right-hander Anthony Ranaudo rolled through six shutout innings, working around seven hits (all singles) while walking just one and punching out four. He threw 62 of 94 (66 percent) of his pitches for strikes while improving to 14-4 with a 2.46 ERA, looking like a reliable provider of solid innings in the process. Between Pawtucket and the big leagues, Ranaudo has logged at least six innings in each of his last six starts, something he’s done in 14 of 25 overall starts this year.

Scouts still suggest that the 24-year-old’s mix is solid rather than overpowering, with a 7.0 strikeouts per nine rate and somewhat stark fly ball tendencies (of the pitches put in play against him, just 38 percent have been on the ground), but Ranaudo has made considerable strides in the execution of his craft to the point that he looks at the least like a solid option for a No. 4 or No. 5 big league starter who has now proven over a two-year span that he can stay healthy. Ranaudo is up to 143 2/3 innings this year, and he’s shown no signs of diminished stuff into August.

Garin Cecchini, playing third base, went 2-for-4 with a double to extend his hitting streak to nine games, during which he’s hitting .405/.436/.703 with two homers and five doubles, a run that suggests that he’s reclaimed something akin to his typical swing and results at the plate. The timing is particularly noteworthy given that Will Middlebrooks had to leave Tuesday’s big league game with tightness in his right hamstring. Also of note: Manager Kevin Boles said that Cecchini, who has added left field to his third base duties this season, has also been taking fly balls in right, though for now, he’s not expected to play right field in games over the rest of this year.

Ryan Lavarnway has reached base in all eight of his plate appearances in his last two games. He went 2-for-2 with a pair of singles and a pair of walks on Tuesday, after going 1-for-1 with a single and three walks on Monday. In his last four games, he’s 7-for-10 with six walks, elevating his line for the year to .286/.393/.360 in Pawtucket.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 5-4 WIN AT HARRISBURG (NATIONALS) Read the rest of this entry »

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