|John Farrell ‘confident’ Red Sox’ recent struggles with men on base will change||08.26.16 at 11:40 pm ET|
The biggest issue for the Red Sox of late hasn’t been their pitching staff, rather their lack of timely hits.
The trend continued Friday night in the Red Sox’ 6-3 loss to the Royals where they went 4-for-15 with runners in scoring position and left a total of 12 men on base.
The top four spots in the order went 13-for-19, including Mookie Betts going 5-for-5, but the No. 5-9 spots went just 2-for-21 with 10 strikeouts.
“We continually do a great job of creating opportunities and I am confident this will turn,” manager John Farrell said. “I can’t say that we expanded the strike zone with men in scoring position or the bases loaded. [Ian] Kennedy challenged us and we came up empty with a number of scoring opportunities.”
With the loss, the Red Sox have now lost three straight games for the first time since July 27. They’ve also dropped four out of their last six games, overall.
In those six games, the allusive key hit just hasn’t been there. In those games, the team is batting just .233 with runners in scoring position. Overall, going into Friday, they were batting .286 for the season.
Friday was also a good example of how players at the bottom of the order are hurting them as the top of the order has been getting on base (evident by Betts and Dustin Pedroia going 9-for-9), but some of the players in the bottom half haven’t been producing to drive them in.
|John Farrell on D&H: It ‘looks like Clay [Buchholz] by default’ for return to bullpen once Steven Wright, Eduardo Rodriguez are healthy||08.24.16 at 4:08 pm ET|
Red Sox manager John Farrell made his regular appearance on the Dale & Holley show with Thornton on Wednesday to discuss the starting rotation and other team news. To hear the interview, visit the D&H audio on demand page.
Clay Buchholz has made three spot starts for the Red Sox with both Steven Wright and Eduardo Rodriguez out with injuries, and he has performed well enough to put himself in the running for a permanent spot in the rotation. Farrell said “it probably looks like Clay by default” will return to the bullpen, however, once Wright and Rodriguez are healthy enough to start.
“Setting aside the decision, he’s done a heck of a job in the three starts he’s made for us,” Farrell said. “He seemingly is getting deeper into games, looks stronger as he goes. Steven Wright is going to come off of the DL Friday to make that first start against Kansas City. I think until we get to the bullpen tomorrow with Rodriguez, that will give us a better read on when he slides back in.”
Added Farrell: “The one thing we do have to contend with is with Wright coming back, we’re going to have to make room for him on the roster. If that looks as a reliever going out, then obviously there’s going to be a need in that bullpen. Those are the things that are being factored in, but nonetheless, Clay has done a heck of a job at giving us a boost, and when you look at the way the rotation has gone the last two or three times through, it’s been extremely encouraging.”
Farrell said Buchholz has been much more consistent throwing quality strikes, which has helped spark his turnaround on the mound.
“Obviously, going out of the stretch exclusively has minimized some of the movement in his delivery when he’s in the windup,” Farrell said. “It’s allowed him to make adjustments from one pitch to the next. I think just some subtle adjustments have really added to the depth to his cutter. Last night it was probably the best cutter he’s had I would say in a couple of years time. In addition to staying behind his arm and you saw the power and the velocity, he held 94 pretty much throughout. Those are the reasons why he’s been so consistent in really these three starts.”
Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling made his weekly appearance on Dennis & Callahan with Minihane on Wednesday morning to discuss the Red Sox’ playoff chances, Clay Buchholz’s resurgence, John Farrell’s job security and more. To hear the full conversation, go to to the D&C audio on demand page.
Through nine games of the Red Sox’ 11-game road trip, the Sox have posted a 7-2 record, which is something Schilling said is a good omen.
“I think by the end of this month you are going to know if they are in the playoffs,” he said. “I thought that this road trip, the amount of travel that they were going to have to do, the pitching had to be the thing carrying them and for the most part that is exactly what has happened. They are playing a good stretch of games on a nightmarish stretch of schedule. I like their chances, very much like their chances. If I was betting today, I would bet on them being in, but my issue gets back to you are going to play that Monday play-in game. Are you battling up to the last day of the season to get in, and if so, who is pitching that game for you? Listen, we are 5 1/2 weeks away, so anybody right now could get hot and you could say that is who I am giving the ball to, but who are you giving the ball to win that one game?
Buchholz pitched in his third spot start on Tuesday night and picked up his first win in almost a month after going 6 1/3 innings and allowing one run on five hits and two walks with nine strikeouts in a 2-1 victory over the Rays.
“The reason I think it feels like such a huge relief or a huge bump is he went into these last two starts, no one was expecting anything, right?” Schilling said of Buchholz. “We talk about seven innings and one run against Tampa as if he threw a no-no. … What happens in the postseason? How is that going to play itself out in the postseason? Is he going to be one of your three or four guys?”
|Red Sox notebook: E-Rod’s status, Clay Buchholz from stretch, Jonathan Papelbon’s old number||08.21.16 at 1:03 pm ET|
DETROIT — Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez remains day-to-day with a sore left hamstring, and manager John Farrell hopes he’s able to avoid the disabled list.
Speaking before Sunday’s series finale in Detroit, Farrell said the team will progress cautiously with Rodriguez, who reported last-minute discomfort at 5:45 p.m. on Saturday, just hours in advance of his scheduled start.
“We have to get him through a simulated game at this point, and hopefully that’s over the next couple of days while we’re in Tampa, just to test his hamstring more than the normal in-between side bullpens, which he threw with his normal intensity, for a side day,” Farrell said. “But where he had reluctance was thinking about and envisioning trying to be 100 percent and not having complete confidence or conviction with those pitches. With that mindset, took it out of his hands and made the adjustment for Henry [Owens] today.”
Owens had a whirlwind Saturday. The Red Sox informed him around 6 p.m. that he needed to get to Detroit. There were no late flights, so he drove to Philadelphia and flew into Detroit on Sunday morning at 6:30.
“Short notice, quick travel, 1:10 start,” Farrell said.
|Red Sox owner John Henry, in Boston Herald, supports John Farrell, discusses likelihood of David Ortiz playing in ’17||08.20.16 at 11:35 pm ET|
Red Sox owner John Henry has been the silent partner this year, but he gave an interview to the Boston Herald’s Mike Silverman via e-mail that includes a number of interesting tidbits. Here are some highlights:
— Henry gave manager John Farrell a vote of confidence.
“Managers are always overly blamed and John knows that comes with the territory,” Henry said. “So do I. It’s mainly a radio and internet thing. If you watch enough managers over 162 games you know what’s important and a lot of it is how a manager manages the clubhouse. Is he doing everything he can to help his players be successful on the field for 162 games? Do they feel he has their backs? Are they willing to sacrifice personal goals for team goals? You often see the focus either on the field or off the field. That makes all the difference.”
— Henry admitted he’d love to convince David Ortiz to unretire, but he doesn’t see it happening.
“There’s going to be a big hole in that lineup if he doesn’t return and I know he would return if he thought he could,” Henry said. “But it’s a struggle for him. That’s why he announced. If at some point he seriously considers coming back, it would be a great day for the organization. But, unfortunately, I don’t think that is in the cards.”
— Henry believes NESN should use a three-man broadcast booth more often.
For more, including Henry’s thoughts on Pablo Sandoval, David Price, and the biggest impediment to the Red Sox making the playoffs, check out the rest of the story.
|Steven Wright doesn’t anticipate making start on Tuesday, but Red Sox manager John Farrell isn’t ruling it out||at 7:07 pm ET|
DETROIT — Red Sox knuckleballer Steven Wright does not expect to start on Tuesday when he’s eligible to come off the disabled list, but manager John Farrell isn’t closing the door.
Speaking to WEEI.com before Saturday’s game against the Tigers, Wright said he wants to be careful with his shoulder. He threw on flat ground without pain and is scheduled to throw a bullpen on Sunday.
“No, I don’t think I’ll be back Tuesday,” Wright said. “It’s one of those things, I just found out about it a couple of days ago. I know that’s the first day I’m eligible to come off the DL, but for me, because it’s my shoulder, I’m not going to rush. The last thing I want to do is try to go out there and pitch and have something really bad go wrong. Today was my second day throwing with pretty much no pain, which is great.”
Wright said his biggest test will be how he recovers on Monday. In a perfect world, he’d throw another side session on Tuesday, see how he feels on Wednesday and Thursday, and then slot back into the rotation.
Farrell isn’t ruling out a Tuesday start, however.
“I think that’ll be determined after we get through [Sunday],” Farrell said. “Might be one [bullpen], maybe two. If it is two, then we would obviously slot him in and build in another day of rest for the rotation, maybe buy an added day of rest for each guy as we’re into this consecutive stretch. If that were to be the case, we’ve also got a chance to break up the left-handers if it fits. And then look at the schedule to see what the best matchups will be along the way.”
Wright is behind on his between-starts workouts. He said he lifted upper body for the first time in two weeks on Friday.
“The biggest test is, how does it feel Monday after throwing off the mound,” Wright said. “I haven’t thrown off the mound in two weeks.”
Wright injured his shoulder diving back into second as a pinch runner in Los Angeles on Aug. 7. He has not received any shots, instead attempting to heal through rest. He said the injury is to his bursa sac, and not the more serious labrum or rotator cuff.
“I try to avoid needles in my shoulder,” Wright said.
Making a slower return more palatable for Wright is the success of right-hander Clay Buchholz, who limited the Tigers to one run in six innings on Thursday. Wright noted that Buccholz, “is throwing the hell out of the ball.”
“When you’re talking about your throwing arm, it could be the smallest thing, but if you’re not mentally confident, it’s going to affect you whether you are physically OK or not,” he said. “The two go hand in hand.”
|3 possible solutions for a Red Sox bullpen in shambles after another demoralizing loss||08.19.16 at 11:13 am ET|
The Red Sox had all the pieces in order for a rousing victory on Thursday afternoon in Detroit, but as has so often been the case over the last month, the bullpen wouldn’t let it happen.
Entrusted with a 3-1 lead in the eighth inning, right-hander Junichi Tazawa once again imploded, opening manager John Farrell to a massive second guess about why he didn’t go to Brad Ziegler instead. But the reality is Ziegler represented a sub-optimal option in that situation as well, leaving the Red Sox in a precarious position — who pitches the eighth inning?
With former closer Koji Uehara sidelined by a pectoral injury and Tazawa scuffling horribly, it’s unclear whom the Red Sox should pair with right-hander Matt Barnes. Here are three options, none of them necessarily great, but all worth considering in light of recent crushing losses to the Yankees (twice) and Tigers, all undone in the late innings.
1. Jonathan Papelbon
The longer Papelbon remains unsigned, the fairer it is to wonder if he’ll sign at all. Perhaps he sits out the rest of the season and tries to find a job over the winter. Or perhaps he’s just taking a couple of extra days to assess his options. In any event, Farrell is on record that he’d like to see Papelbon in Boston, and even if his fastball (91.7 mph) isn’t what it once was, he knows how to pitch in the late innings. He lost his job in Washington for a reason (4.37 ERA), so he’s no savior, but he’d give the Red Sox some experience and swagger.
2. Clay Buchholz
This is a tough one, because Buchholz just delivered his best start of the season (6 IP, 1 ER) with nothing to show for it, and uncertainty over both Steven Wright and Eduardo Rodriguez means he’s probably needed in the rotation. But with Buchholz finding his groove pitching exclusively from the stretch, he’d clearly be an upgrade on Tazawa and probably even Ziegler, since he can face lefties and righties when he’s on his game. Jerking him back and forth between the bullpen and rotation isn’t a recipe for success, and he’s no longer a strikeout pitcher (5.5/9 IP), but with all due respect to Heath Hembree, Buchholz is the best option on the roster. “I’ll do whatever they want me to do,” Buchholz said. “That’s what I get paid to do.”
3. Joe Kelly
The Red Sox made the long overdue move of sending Kelly to the bullpen after he posted an 8.46 ERA in six starts. He has since compiled a 1.64 ERA with 16 strikeouts and three walks in 11 innings of relief at Triple-A Pawtucket. Kelly has the stuff for the late innings, with a fastball that has reached 100 mph. The Red Sox sent him to the minors to pitch exclusively from the stretch and eliminate some of the moving parts in his delivery. They also wanted him to build endurance, because he has already spent time on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. With Kelly pitching well in Pawtucket, however, his time may be coming sooner than later. He pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings on Thursday, striking out two.
|John Farrell steamed over ‘ass-backwards’ call that doesn’t go team’s way in loss to Tigers||08.18.16 at 6:26 pm ET|
The umpires didn’t cost the Red Sox Thursday’s ballyhooed matinee with the Tigers. Their bullpen did.
But that didn’t stop the Sox from steaming over a peculiar play that didn’t go their way in the second inning.
With one out and J.D. Martinez on first, Casey McGehee sent a sinking liner to center, where Jackie Bradley dove in vain. The ball ticked off his glove and rolled under him. First base umpire Jerry Layne, however, signaled catch, so Martinez reversed field halfway to third and retraced his steps back to first.
Meanwhile, McGehee passed him on the bases before first baseman Hanley Ramirez tagged both. The Tigers challenged the ruling of catch, and also argued that Martinez should be awarded third, since he was running on the play and only returned to first because of an incorrect call.
The umpires eventually agreed after a replay review, putting runners on the corners with one out. Jarrod Saltalamacchia followed with a sacrifice fly before Clay Buchholz escaped further damage. So what happened?
Layne told a pool reporter from the Associated Press that once replay showed no catch, the umps had to place the runners.
“J.D. Martinez [had] rounded second, because he had to go back and touch, because he’d seen that my arm was up, thinking that I had an out,” Layne said. “He didn’t know. He was going on my call. So he would’ve clearly gone to third, and by the guy not catching the ball, first and third.”
The Red Sox protested, with third base coach Brian Butterfield ejected from the dugout on the next batter for what Layne said was arguing balls and strikes.
“Martinez going back to first base was based on Jerry Layne’s call which again, Jerry Layne is behind him,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “Brian O’Nora gives the safe sign, so Martinez is advancing to second base. The batter-runner is passing the other baserunner. I still don’t have an explanation. It is ass-backwards to be honest with you. We go from a potential double play to a first-and-third situation. I still don’t buy it.”
For an August 18th game against two non-division teams, so many question marks surrounded Thursday’s matinee vs. the Tigers. How would the Red Sox perform on short rest? Why wouldn’t the Tigers move the start time? Would Clay Buchholz implode again?
It turns out we should’ve been asking a different question: Will the bullpen show up?
The answer to that one was unfortunately no, and the Red Sox suffered one of their toughest losses of the season as a result, blowing a 3-1 lead in the eighth en route to a 4-3 loss.
This one falls largely on reliever Junichi Tazawa, who was summoned to protect a 3-1 lead, but allowed three hits without retiring a batter. He left with runners on the corners and no outs and sidearmer Brad Ziegler nearly escaped with the game still tied before walking in the go-ahead run.
The latest bullpen collapse ruined an otherwise inspiring effort. Fresh off the bereavement list, first baseman Hanley Ramirez stroked the go-ahead single in the eighth inning to back Clay Buchholz’s gutsiest outing of the season.
Playing with a lineup that saw Aaron Hill hitting first for just the 20th time in his career, Sandy Leon as the designated hitter, and Deven Marrero playing second base, the Red Sox nevertheless appeared headed for their seventh straight win before the bullpen gave it away.
|Gamesmanship alive and well among American League contenders, as Red Sox learn in Baltimore and Detroit||at 12:07 pm ET|
The Red Sox looked suitably bleary-eyed as they stumbled into Comerica Park on Thursday morning, and with good reason. To recap some of the happenings from the last 24 hours:
— On Wednesday night, the Red Sox beat the Orioles 8-1 behind an excellent start from David Price. That game wasn’t without its minor controversy, though. After Price’s first pitch, a 90 mph fastball, manager John Farrell consulted with the umpires about the stadium radar gun.
While Orioles pitcher Dylan Bundy was on the mound, the scoreboard only registered pitch type. As soon as Price took the mound, it immediately began showing velocity as well. Because that information gives the Orioles an unfair advantage, Farrell complained and the velocity was removed for Price.
— The game was called in the seventh inning because of heavy downpours after a delay of one hour and 17 minutes. The Red Sox hustled to the airport at midnight and proceeded to sit on the runway for more than two hours because the conveyor belt that loaded their luggage onto the plane was broken. Once that was fixed, they taxied a short distance before they had to stop again because of a faulty generator.
They finally took off at 2 a.m., checked into the hotel around 4, and didn’t fall asleep until 5. Most players arrived at the park between 10 and 10:30, meaning they’ll play Thursday’s game on roughly four hours sleep.
“It was a quick turnaround, but we’re here and ready to go,” manager John Farrell said.
— The Tigers, who gain a competitive advantage by forcing the Red Sox to play under adverse circumstances, were under no obligation to move the game time, though it’s worth noting that three times since 2012, when the Tigers have played a Wednesday night game on the road, they’ve returned to play Thursday night home games.
Also, the idea that the game wasn’t moved because of a conflict with the Lions is disingenuous, since the baseball schedule was released last September and the NFL preseason schedule didn’t come out until April. The Red Sox filed their first complaints before the new year, according to a team source.
— That said, the Red Sox are notorious for making visiting teams play night games at Fenway Park on getaway day, so what goes around comes around. Earlier this year, for instance, the Red Sox made the Braves play a night game before Atlanta flew to Chicago for a day game the next afternoon with the Cubs.
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