|Closing Time: Jose Altuve’s walkoff homer stretches Red Sox losing streak to 8 games||07.23.15 at 11:49 pm ET|
HOUSTON — There was seemingly no other way to punctuate this road trip.
Seven games. Seven losses. Outscored 39-13. Eight-game losing streak. Twelve games out of first place. Twelve games under .500.
It was a stretch that saw the Red Sox hit .204 with just three home runs, striking out 51 times and drawing 13 walks. Their ERA was 5.37 (6.29 for the starters), with Sox pitchers giving up 16 homers.
And then there was the finale.
The latest loss would come courtesy a walkoff, solo homer from Jose Altuve in the ninth inning against Craig Breslow, giving the Astros a 5-4 win over the Red Sox on Thursday night at Minute Maid Park.
“It was a fastball down,” Breslow said. “Probably got a lot of plate. But in a 3-1 count, I wanted to throw the ball over the plate, didn’t want to give him a chance to get on base via the walk. He’s obviously a fast guy, base-stealer, so that presented a different host of problems. But once I fell behind, I needed to make sure the ball was in the strike zone.”
Altuve’s blast just cleared the left-field fence (coming in Breslow’s second inning of work), and spoiled the Sox’ eighth-inning comeback, which had been led by Mike Napoli.
The Red Sox first baseman notched three hits, including a solo home run and a line-drive RBI double in the eighth that tied the game at 4. The last hit — coming with two outs — plated Hanley Ramirez, who had followed Ortiz‘ leadoff homer with a single and stolen base.
In the end, however, the latest defeat came courtesy an overall bullpen meltdown, with the combination of Alexi Ogando and Junichi Tazawa proving unable to protect another gem from Wade Miley. The pair of relievers allowed three seventh-inning runs to the Astros, blowing the win for the starter.
|Red Sox pregame notes: How long will Xander Bogaerts hit third?; Craig Breslow on paternity leave||06.12.15 at 5:42 pm ET|
For the first time in his major league career, Xander Bogaerts got to the park and saw his name penciled in as the Red Sox‘ No. 3 hitter.
With Hanley Ramirez getting a day off dealing with a left hamstring issue from Thursday and fouling a pitch off his knee Tuesday, Bogaerts will take his place in the batting order.
Bogaerts is currently on a seven-game hit streak, but manager John Farrell said Ramirez is the team’s No. 3 hitter.
“Hanley is probably our three hole hitter, for the time being,” he said. “But, [Bogaerts] has been swinging the bat well, he’s had a number of quality at-bats for a period of time now. With Hanley out, Bogey I think the obvious choice to settled into that spot. Where we go going forward when we have a full complement of players, Bogey has been in the middle of a lot of our scoring opportunities.”
Bogaerts hasn’t hit higher than fifth in the order this season. Currently he’s batting .295, the third-best on the team behind Dustin Pedroia and Brock Holt.
“I would like to think the spot in the order doesn’t dictate what the hitter is going to do,” Farrell said. “Yes, we’d like to find combinations that work in tandem if possible. Once you get past the first time through the order, whether you’re in the three hole or the eight hole, that becomes a little irrelevant to be honest with you. Yeah, the higher up you’re going to get an additional at-bat each night. Bogey has done an excellent job of gradually coming along and being a steady performer to the point of a .300 hitter. He’s going to get added responsibility.”
— Craig Breslow has been placed on paternity leave, as he’s expecting twins. Heath Hembree has been recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket to take his place.
— Farrell said Justin Masterson (right shoulder tendinitis) is physically able to pitch on Monday, but it is unclear where that will be. He said the two would meet before Friday’s game to map out a plan.
— Ryan Hanigan (fractured right hand) will take batting practice on the field Saturday for the first time. He’s on the 60-day disabled list and should be able to return right around the All-Star break.
|Red Sox designate Dan Butler for assignment to make room for Craig Breslow||01.07.15 at 11:12 am ET|
In the end, Drake Britton’s potential was too good to part ways with quite yet.
The decision always appeared like it would come down to either Butler or Britton. The case for keeping the catcher was that if something happened to Ryan Hanigan or Christian Vazquez early in the season, the former undrafted free agent out of the University of Arizona would be needed. Top prospect Blake Swihart is the only other catcher on the Red Sox‘ 40-man roster, and he wouldn’t seem to be a major league option until later in the season.
Britton also was out of options, meaning if he didn’t make the team in spring training he couldn’t be sent down to the minor leagues. Butler does have options.
But with the Red Sox needing another lefty in the bullpen, and with Britton bouncing back from a horrific minor league campaign in 2014 to impress in his seven outings with the Sox at the end of the year (6 2/3 innings, 5 hits, 0 runs), the value of the reliever was too much to part ways with quite yet.
Butler, who could re-sign with the Red Sox on a minor league deal, was one of the best Sox stories in ’14. The 28-year-old made his major league debut and appeared in seven games, hitting .211 with three doubles.
The Breslow announcement comes after the lefty agreed to a one-year, $2 million deal with the Red Sox on Dec. 19. The lefty passed his physical, which was taken Monday. (To read about how Breslow landed back with the Red Sox this offseason, click here.)
|What the Red Sox bullpen might look like||12.23.14 at 10:34 am ET|
Today we wrote about how the Red Sox priority has to be finishing off the construction of the bullpen. With some uncertainty involving the starting rotation, it would seem to make sense to have as good a read on the relievers heading into the season as possible.
So far, this is what we know …
— Koji Uehara will come in as closer.
— Edward Mujica (he had a 1.78 ERA in his 79 post-All-Star break appearances) will join Junichi Tazawa as the primary set-up men.
— If Craig Breslow‘s 2014 is, indeed, an aberration he also enters into that group.
— Brandon Workman should get every opportunity to become the factor he was at the end of 2013.
— Newly-acquired Anthony Varvaro almost certainly will be in the equation as a viable ground ball-inducer, heading to camp out of options.
That’s six. There would seem to be room for one more.
Last Opening Day, the only differences in the group was the presence of Burke Badenhop, Chris Capuano and Andrew Miller. (Breslow started the year on the disabled list)
While Varvaro might be viewed as a cheaper replacement for Badenhop (although the jack-of-all-trades free agent would seemingly still be valuable fit if re-signed), the Sox would seemingly be down one lefty. There are still free agent options (Phil Coke, Neal Cotts, Joe Beimel among them).
But this might be a spot the Sox look to fix with an internal option. For this very reason, the Drake Britton vs. Tommy Layne camp competition will be something to watch. If Britton impresses to the level which he did until the very end of spring training last year, he would certainly have the upper-hand considering the 25 year old is out of options.
(As a quick aside, here are the players who are — or will be — on the 40-man roster and out of options: Varvaro, Britton, Breslow, Mujica and Daniel Nava.)
That would still seemingly leave one spot to find an impact arm, via promotion, trade or free agency. Matt Barnes might be an interesting option, although it is unclear if the Red Sox plan on continuing him down the road of a starter for the 2015 season. With options, the likes of Heath Hembree, Edwin Escobar and newly-acquired Zeke Spruill would have to separate themselves dramatically in camp to have a shot at opening with the big club.
Of the free agents, Badenhop might be the best option/fit, but one of an intriguing group just might slip through the cracks and add an unexpected element to this group…
|Sources: David Ross agrees to 2-year deal with Cubs; Craig Breslow deciding between Red Sox, Cubs||12.19.14 at 6:15 pm ET|
According to a major league source, David Ross has agreed to a two-year, $5 million deal with the Cubs.
The 37-year-old had narrowed his decision down to the Red Sox, Padres and Cubs prior to Friday. The Red Sox, however, appear to be on the verge of acquiring Ryan Hanigan from San Diego for third baseman Will Middlebrooks.
With the choice coming down to the Padres and Cubs, Ross made the move to join his former teammate Jon Lester in Chicago.
Ross battled various injuries during his two-year stint with the Red Sox, including concussions. He played in a combined 86 regular-season games with the Sox, thriving during the team’s 2013 postseason run when the backstop took over starting duties for the final two rounds.
Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com was first to report the agreement.
The Cubs and Red Sox seemingly have at least one more free agent showdown, with another major league source suggesting reliever Craig Breslow has narrowed his decision down to the two teams. The Red Sox declined their $4 million option on the lefty earlier this offseason.
|David Ross, Craig Breslow still in mix with Red Sox||12.17.14 at 10:13 pm ET|
The Red Sox and Cubs evidently aren’t done battling for players this offseason.
According to a major league source, free agent catcher David Ross was choosing between the Red Sox, Cubs and Padres as of early Wednesday night. Reliever Craig Breslow is also narrowing his potential landing spots, with his agent having had recent discussions with both the Sox and the Cubs.
Ross, who battled injuries and concussions throughout his two-year tenure with the Red Sox, is valued by Chicago in part due to his relationship with newly-acquired ace Jon Lester. The Sox, however, view the 37-year-old as a good complement to projected starter Christian Vazquez.
The fit with San Diego might have gotten more complicated Wednesday night with the Padres’ acquisition of Ryan Hanigan in their three-way trade that also netted San Diego Wil Myers from Tampa Bay. The Padres also figure to have Tim Federowicz, who comes over from the Dodgers in the swap for Matt Kemp.
Breslow, whose $4 million option wasn’t picked up by the Red Sox following the 2014 season, has seen talks with the Sox intensify over the past few days. The lefty recently attended the winter meetings in an effort to paint the picture of what transpired in a down ’14 campaign.
The odds of the Red Sox signing their other free agent reliever, Burke Badenhop, likely diminished with the team’s trade of former Braves sinkerballer Anthony Varvaro Wednesday.
|Red Sox decline option on Craig Breslow||10.31.14 at 2:28 pm ET|
The Red Sox announced that they’ve declined their $4 million option for the 2015 season on left-handed reliever Craig Breslow. The 34-year-old went 2-4 with a 5.96 ERA in 60 relief appearances this season, a marked departure from a six-year stretch that had established him as one of the most consistent left-handers in the game, with a 2.82 ERA while averaging 62 innings and 65 games a year. It was that track record that led the Sox to sign Breslow to the first multi-year deal of his career, a two-year, $6.25 million deal that included the 2015 option.
Breslow proved a pivotal part of the Sox bullpen in 2013, posting a 1.81 ERA in the regular season and then seven scoreless innings in the first two rounds of the postseason before he faltered in the World Series, retiring just one of the seven batters he faced in three appearances, at a time when he was running on fumes. That October run undoubtedly had a lingering toll in 2014, with Breslow frustrated by his inability to perform to his customary levels.
“I’ve never before had to play the last game of such a miserable season,” Breslow said on the final day of the season. “There were a lot of firsts this year. I’ve never struggled like this at any point of my career. I’ve never had a full season that ended up like this, especially one that had significant expectations going on. The best part of this season is that it’s done. …
“I’m not looking for sympathy. I recognize that in my mind, and I think quite pragmatically, 2014 was the complement to 2013. I wouldn’t undo any of that. I would gladly make that sacrifice. As much as this stinks, being able to contribute to a team that won a World Series is something that guys play for 20 years and never get a chance to do,” he added. “I think it’s kind of like I had the ultimate high of highs last year and the ultimate low of lows last year and in 2015 I’ll go back to being the same guy I was for six of the last seven years.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Transition coming: Clay Buchholz, Craig Breslow take stock of new Red Sox order||08.01.14 at 12:35 am ET|
Given the pure volume of trades that the Red Sox made at the deadline on Thursday, former Boston Bruin Shawn Thornton expressed concern at Thursday’s Buchholz Bowl charity event at Jillian’s and Lucky Strike Lanes in Boston.
“I’m coming to the game on Saturday and they might need me to pitch,” Thornton said with a chuckle.
Jon Lester and John Lackey not only represented the team’s most consistent pitchers, but also provided leadership for the group in the clubhouse. Buchholz said that he was slightly shocked to see two of his rotation mates shipped out of town.
“To be able to make friends and be lucky enough to be with the guys that I’ve been around, it’s a little different,” Buchholz said. “That’s the business side of baseball. Hopefully, they can make a move on and help another team reach the playoffs and reach another World Series.”
As the pitcher with the most experience on the staff, Buchholz would appear to be the de facto leader for the rotation. When asked if he was ready to lead the group, Buchholz was noncommittal and instead started to talk about his health.
“I feel good where I’m at right now. I feel healthy,” Buchholz said. “Obviously, the numbers haven’t gone the way that I wanted it to this season yet, but if I have 10, 11, 12 starts left, I’m going to go out there and treat it like it’s another game and go out and try to do the best I can to help the team win.”
|Closing Time: Sox bullpen falters, Indians snap Boston’s seven-game home win streak||06.14.14 at 7:31 pm ET|
Entering Saturday’s game, the Red Sox bullpen posted a collective 2.90 ERA – good for sixth lowest in baseball this season.
The loss snaps Boston’s brief two-game win streak and seven-game home winning streak, which originated on May 28 against the Braves.The Red Sox are now 8-15 this season in one-run games this season.
With the Red Sox leading 2-1 going into the seventh, Breslow entered the game and surrendered two-straight singles to Asdrubal Cabrera and Michael Brantley, putting runners at the corners with no outs.
Jason Kipnis followed with a groundout to Dustin Pedroia, who proceeded to throw home in an attempt to retire the advancing Cabrera. While the throw was in time, Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski mishandled the ball, allowing Cabrera to score and put runners on first and second.
After walking David Murphy to load the bases, Breslow was pulled for Junichi Tazawa, who proceeded to walk Carlos Santana, forcing in a run and giving Cleveland a 3-2 lead. It was the first time that Tazawa has walked in a run in his major-league career.
|Craig Breslow on M&M: ‘Biggest goal is getting healthy’||04.28.14 at 2:08 pm ET|
Red Sox pitcher Craig Breslow joined Mut & Merloni on Monday to talk about the Red Sox getting back to .500, Clay Buchholz‘s “dead arm”, the differences between the bullpen in 2013 and 2014 and Michael Pineda‘s pine tar incident last week. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
(Breslow’s charity — the Strike 3 Foundation — will be holding their annual charity event, “Sip Happens,” May 19 at the Boston Children’s Museum to benefit the fight against pediatric cancer. To purchase tickets, or more information, click here.)
The Red Sox haven’t gotten off to the hot start they had in 2013, instead staying below .500 for the majority of the season, holding a record of 12-14. Breslow pointed out that while getting over that mark is one of the priorities, the biggest priority at this point is getting all the starters on the field.
“I think different teams probably have different goals at this point, and for us I think the biggest goal is getting healthy. … Obviously we’ve suffered through some early season injuries,” Breslow said. “We’re now just getting back some key players. Obviously, (it’s) great to get (Shane) Victorino back, (Will) Middlebrooks back. And I think just being able to run out the lineup that we had envisioned taking the field with on opening day consistently is really our first step towards, kind of, identifying who we are and who we will be as a team.”
Buchholz, who has struggled in 2014 with a 1-2 record and a 6.66 ERA, is thought, by many, to have “dead arm.” Breslow contends that he too may be struggling through the same thing.
“There are probably a lot of parallels between Clay, and I just in terms of a heavy workload, battling some shoulder issues last season, wanting to make sure that we were completely healthy going into this season, picking up a throwing program a little bit later,” Breslow said. “I kind of felt like I ran out of time towards the end of spring training and needed a little bit longer to get myself in game shape.”
Added Breslow: “This whole dead arm phenomenon is really a bizarre thing because you don’t feel hurt or unhealthy or weak, but when you go to throw a baseball, despite the fact that you feel you’re putting the same effort into it, it’s just not coming out as hard.”
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