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Red Sox notes: David Ross sidelined indefinitely by latest concussion 06.21.13 at 8:15 pm ET
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David Ross (AP)

David Ross (AP)

Red Sox catcher David Ross, who was placed on the seven-day concussion DL on Tuesday, visited with Dr. Micky Collins, a concussion specialist at the University of Pittsburgh, on Thursday. Based on the visit, the catcher — who is dealing with a second concussion (after having already been placed on the seven-day concussion DL earlier this year for a separate incident) — has been sent home to recover, with no timetable for his return.

“Clearly, he’s got a concussion. The results were evident in those tests. The recommendation by Dr. Collins was to basically shut down for a period of time here. So he’s going to be away for the team,” manager John Farrell told reporters in Detroit. “He’ll return home to Tallahasee, until his next scheduled appointment with Dr. Collins, which is the first week of July. So the thing we have to really be cautious with here, it’s the second time he suffered one. That will take some additional time to get over his symptoms. There’s no timetable on his return. The only timetable we have is on that next appointment and where he’ll be until then.”

OTHER RED SOX NOTES

– With Ross sidelined, Farrell suggested that he expects call-up Ryan Lavarnway to serve the same complementary role to starter Jarrod Saltalamacchia that Ross had been playing — with his primary action coming on days when the opponent features a left-handed starter.

– With Will Middlebrooks out of the lineup for the fourth time in eight games, sitting in favor of Jose Iglesias in each of those instances, Farrell said that Iglesias simply has outperformed his counterpart to claim an increase in playing time. Prior to the series, the Sox had planned for Middlebrooks to play on Friday, but Iglesias’ steady play and Middlebrooks’ struggles led to a change of course.

“Through competition, Iggy’s playing well,” Farrell told reporters. “In talking with [Middlebrooks], I think he feels like he’s starting to see the ball better. And yet we’ve got that internal competition that I’m responding to, we’re responding to.”

Farrell said the Sox have not gotten to the point where they’d consider sending Middlebrooks to the minors to assure his playing time.

David Ortiz entered Friday night with 54 RBI, most in the majors since his return from the DL on April 20.

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Red Sox lineup: Jose Iglesias starts, Will Middlebrooks sits at 3:05 pm ET
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When the Red Sox made the decision to keep Jose Iglesias on the roster, manager John Farrell suggested that he would get at least two to three starts a week in order to ensure that his big league utility role did not come at the expense of playing time necessary for his further development. But of late, it appears that Iglesias is actually getting quite a bit more time than that initial outline.

Iglesias is once again in the Sox starting lineup for Friday night’s contest against the Tigers, penned in at third base with Will Middlebrooks sitting for the third time in four games. This marks the seventh time in the last eight games in which Iglesias has started, with four starts at third, two at short and one at second. The lone game in which the 23-year-old has sat came in the first game of a day-night doubleheader on Tuesday. In these past six contests, Iglesias is hitting .316/.409/.474. Meanwhile, Friday will mark the fourth time in eight games that Middlebrooks has not been in the lineup. Over the Sox’ last eight games (Middlebrooks’ last four), he’s 1-for-14 with a homer and a walk (though just one strikeout).

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who is 4-for-6 with two doubles and a homer against Tigers starter Doug Fister, will be behind the plate for Sox starter Jon Lester. For full batter vs. starting pitcher matchups, click here. For complete Red Sox coverage, visit weei.com/redsox.

RED SOX LINEUP

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Shane Victorino, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Daniel Nava, LF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Stephen Drew, SS
Jose Iglesias, 3B

Jon Lester, SP

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Kevin Millar on M&M: Andrew Bailey ‘needs to get that confidence back,’ AL East poised for exciting summer at 1:31 pm ET
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Kevin Millar

Kevin Millar

Kevin Millar joined Mut & Merloni Friday afternoon, and the MLB Network host was sure to chime in on the latest controversy in Red Sox Nation— that of the team’s closer, or lack thereof.

John Farrell indicated Thursday night he will start to look at other options at the end of close games after Andrew Bailey blew another save, this time in a 4-3 loss to the Tigers.

According to Millar, Bailey’s problem is similar to the one he said last week that Jon Lester has.

“He needs to get that confidence back,” the former Sox first baseman said. “This game is all about confidence. Everybody at this level can throw, hit and catch, but you go through these little two-, three-week periods where we all lose our confidence. I don’t care who you are, Tiger Woods on the golf course, it happens. And right now Bailey just needs to take a deep breathe and realize, ‘You know what? I’m OK.’ ”

Millar suggested a few days off, or at least in low-pressure situations, would do Bailey a lot of good and help him get back on track. In the long term, he added, Bailey is the team’s closer since the Red Sox don’t have too many other legitimate options.

Millar also stuck to his guns when it came to the left side of the Red Sox infield. He said in his appearance last Friday that Will Middlebrooks is the third baseman, and there shouldn’t be any controversy about that.

That leaves the Red Sox with making a decision between Stephen Drew and Jose Igelsias.

“I’ve never been a fan of the whole platoon situation,” Millar said. “I couldn’t stand having to look at the lineup every single day. … We know [Iglesias] isn’t going to be a third baseman unless he starts running into 15 to 20 [home runs] a year, let’s face it.

“I don’t think this whole revolving door is healthy.”

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Closing time: Andrew Bailey blows another save as Sox suffer walkoff loss to Tigers 06.20.13 at 10:08 pm ET
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Closer Andrew Bailey has now given up homers in four of his last five outings. (AP)

Closer Andrew Bailey has now given up homers in four of his last five outings. (AP)

Two days ago, Red Sox manager John Farrell stated unequivocally that, despite his recent struggles, Andrew Bailey remained his closer. After Thursday’s 4-3 walkoff loss to the Tigers, however, Farrell will undoubtedly once again have to answer the question as to whether Bailey deserves ninth inning duties.

On Thursday, the Sox entrusted a 3-2, ninth-inning lead to Bailey. And the closer immediately proceeded to self-immolate, missing the strike zone with four of five fastballs en route to walking Victor Martinez, then leaving a 1-2 cutter too much over the plate to Jhonny Peralta, who crushed a two-run, walkoff homer.

Bailey has now given up homers in four of his last five outings. For the first time in the four games in which he’s blown saves, the Sox suffered a loss, this one of the crushing variety given how strong the performance of both starter John Lackey and the Sox lineup had been to position the team for an impressive road win in Detroit. With Bailey now having just a 67 percent conversion rate in his save opportunities — the worst among AL closers with at least five saves — the questions about his job security will amplify.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

– Bailey essentially gave up on his fastball in the ninth inning. After he walked Martinez on five pitches (all fastballs), he threw a fastball on just one of his four offerings to Peralta (a ball), resorting to his cutter on the other three pitches, including the one on which Peralta went deep for the win.

Dustin Pedroia went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and five men left on base, the latest hiccup in a bit of a dry spell for the second baseman. In the week since the Red Sox’ 13-inning marathon with the Orioles June 13, a 5-4 loss, Pedroia is 2-for-21 with more strikeouts (four) than walks (three).

– After David Ortiz‘ home run in the fourth, Mike Napoli hit a ground ball deep in the shortstop hole. Jhonny Peralta came up with it and made a strong, accurate throw to get Napoli at first — by plenty. Replays showed Napoli didn’t run hard out of the box, and whether it was a mere lack of effort or something more — be it his hip condition or remnants of an illness that kept him out of three games late last week — it’s not good news for the first baseman, who has just two extra-base hits this month. He went 1-for-4 with a strikeout.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX Read the rest of this entry »

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Closing Time: Red Sox offense continues struggles in loss to Rays 06.19.13 at 10:32 pm ET
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David Ortiz had a double, but the Sox offense was otherwise hardly worthy of the term. (AP)

David Ortiz had a double, but the Sox offense was otherwise hardly worthy of the term. (AP)

A steady drumbeat of offense proved a hallmark of the Red Sox’ march to the best record in the American League. Through the team’s first 65 games, the Sox led the American League with 5.3 runs per game, with regular yields of six or more runs.

But of late, the supply of runs has diminished. That trend continued on Wednesday, as the Sox were subdued by Jeremy Hellickson and the Rays in a 6-2 loss. The Sox now have scored five or fewer runs in each of their last nine games — their longest such streak of the year — while averaging exactly 3.0 runs per contest, 12th in the AL in that stretch.

The result? A sideways 4-5 stagger through games against AL East foes.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

– Although he turned in a solid outing, Ryan Dempster labored through his first inning. He allowed two runs (both earned) coming on three consecutive hits. Desmond Jennings, the second batter of the game belted a ball over the Green Monster. Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria then strung back-to-back singles together, with the second run coming on a James Loney sacrifice fly.

Dempster continued to be home run prone this season, now having given up 16 on the year, which is tied for third most in the big leagues. In addition, Dempster has had his struggles with the first inning long ball, as Jennings’ blast was the fifth home run Dempster has surrendered in the first inning.

Still, although Dempster was saddled with the loss, dropping to 4-8, his yield of three runs in six innings gave the veteran his ninth quality start in 15 outings this year, a 60 percent rate that is third best on the team behind Clay Buchholz (83 percent) and John Lackey (63 percent).

Jose Iglesias had a tough night all-around, going 0-for-2 (with a walk) to snap his 18-game hitting streak and making his first error on the season. The error came when a Jonny Gomes throw from left field skipped by the usually sure-handed Iglesias, allowing Longoria to advance to second base following his single in the first inning. Read the rest of this entry »

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Closing Time: Red Sox rebound from Andrew Bailey’s blown save to walk off with sweep of Rays 06.18.13 at 10:38 pm ET
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Felix Doubront logged eight shutout innings against the Rays on Tuesday. (AP)

Felix Doubront logged eight shutout innings against the Rays on Tuesday. (AP)

The Red Sox continue to show a flair for the dramatic, as the team claimed its sixth walkoff victory of the young season when Jonny Gomes launched a two-run homer down the left-field line and over the Green Monster for a 3-1 victory over the Rays. With Gomes’ blast, the Sox swept a doubleheader from the Rays, shaking off a ninth-inning blown save by Andrew Bailey — who vultured a victory (3-0) — to rally back immediately.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

– Gomes launched the third walk-off homer of his career, jumping on a 1-0 fastball and launching it. He’s now driven in runs in 15 of his last 23 games with a plate appearance.

– For the first time in his professional career at any level, Felix Doubront worked more than seven innings, firing eight shutout innings in an outing that was nothing short of dominant and startling.

Doubront — who had required 104 pitches for five innings of work against the Rays a month ago — needed just 93 pitches to sail through the longest outing of his career. He gave up just three hits — all singles — and retired the last 17 batters he faced. For just the third time in his big league career — and the first time in an outing of more than six innings — Doubront did not walk a batter. Doubront had the most efficient outing of his career. He averaged fewer than 12 pitches per inning, and did not throw more than 13 pitches in an inning all night.

On a night when he had virtually no margin for error, Doubront needed none. The outing represented the punctuation mark on what has been an excellent stretch, as Doubront has allowed three or fewer earned runs in each of his last seven starts, with a 2.81 ERA in that time. Indeed, the only question in the wake of his excellent work was why manager John Farrell elected to lift the left-hander after the eighth inning. Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox-Rays series preview at 8:51 am ET
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Evan Longoria continues to produce for the Rays. (AP)

Evan Longoria continues to produce for the Rays. (AP)

It’ll be a busy two days at home for the Red Sox, who will play three games against the Rays before heading back out on the road.

The Red Sox will be happy to come home after a frustrating series in Baltimore, even if it is only for two days. The Sox went 3-4 on the trip, dropping three games in a four-game set at Baltimore. The Orioles edged out the Sox in a few close games, winning by a one-run margin in the first game, a two-run margin in the second game and a three-run margin in the last game of the series. Despite the tough set against the divisional rival, the Sox still sit in first place with a 42-29 record, two games ahead of the Orioles, and own the best record in the American League.

The Red Sox have gotten the better of the Rays so far this year, taking seven of the nine games they’ve played against Tampa Bay. After losing two of three to the Red Sox last week, the Rays dropped their second series in a row, losing three of four in a series at home against the Royals. The Rays have scuffled on the road, with a 15-17 record away from Tropicana Field compared to a 21-16 record at home. At 36-33, Tampa Bay has fallen to fourth place in the division, sitting five games behind Boston and only three games ahead of the last-place Blue Jays.

The Rays offense has been better than anticipated, ranking in the top 10 of major league teams in runs scored, home runs and OPS, but the pitching staff has been failing to come through and earn the team wins. After a series in which the Rays scored nine runs over four games against the Royals, the club decided to bring up the player they got from Kansas City in exchange for James Shields and Wade Davis: highly touted outfield prospect Wil Myers. Myers has been hot in Triple-A, with a .286/.356/.520 line in 64 games. The slugger has also crushed 14 home runs and 13 doubles, while driving in 57 runs this season for the Durham Bulls of the International League.

Myers likely will make his much-anticipated major league debut sometime during Tuesday’s doubleheader. The twinbill, which is due to the postponement of a game back on April 12, is the Boston’s third doubleheader of the season, while the Rays haven’t played two in one day yet this season. The Red Sox are 1-3 in doubleheader games this year.

Here are the pitching matchups for the three-game set.

Tuesday Game 1: Alfredo Aceves (3-1, 5.58) vs. Chris Archer (1-2, 4.80)
Tuesday Game 2: Felix Doubront (4-3, 4.91) vs. Jake Odorizzi (0-0, 8.03)
Wednesday: Ryan Dempster (4-7, 4.21) vs. Jeremy Hellickson (4-3, 5.67)

WHO’S HOT: RED SOX

• Mike Carp continues to make the most of the opportunities he’s been given. The first baseman/outfielder is 11 for his last 28 with a double, four home runs and eight RBIs, and has raised his line on the season to .324/.379/.686 despite an 0-for-19 stretch back in May. Carp already has three more home runs in 2013 than he did in 2012, and that’s in 59 less at-bats. The former Mariner had only 11 extra-base hits in 59 games for Seattle last year yet has clubbed 10 doubles, two triples and eight home runs this year in 42 games.

• The hits just keep on coming for Jose Iglesias. He’s hit in 18 straight games, good for the longest active streak in the majors and the sixth longest streak by a rookie in Red Sox history (Nomar Garciaparra is atop that list with a 30-gamer in 1997). Iglesias’ ridiculous production has forced the Red Sox to find ways to put him in the lineup on a regular basis, and Iglesias has done all he can to make himself more valuable. The sure-handed shortstop has taken his defensive talents all over the infield, making 16 starts at third base and even making a start at second base, giving Dustin Pedroia his first day off. Although the type of offensive production Iglesias is contributing is not likely to last, he’s hit .438/.485/.562 with eight doubles and a home run through 99 plate appearances with the big league club.

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