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Closing Time: Joe Kelly roughed up in Red Sox’ loss to Twins 05.25.15 at 5:05 pm ET
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Joe Kelly turned in his worst start of the season Monday. (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Joe Kelly turned in his worst start of the season Monday. (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

MINNEAPOLIS — Unfortunately for the Red Sox, it seemed like old times.

After a run of solid starting pitching, and two straight wins, the Sox fell into some old habits with starter Joe Kelly lasting just 1 2/3 innings, giving up seven runs. It put John Farrell‘s team in a hole they couldn’t dig out from, losing its series opener against the Twins, 7-2, Monday afternoon at Target Field.

Kelly, whose ERA jumped to 6.24, has given up five or more runs five times in his nine starts this season.

“It’€™s not ideal, but I’ve just got to keep pitching,” the Sox starter said when asked about the inconsistencies.

Kelly allowed one run in the first before giving way to Matt Barnes after surrendering six in the second.

“A number of pitches found their way to the middle of the plate, and whether it was hard contact or soft contact, a high number of base hits,” Farrell noted. “They put up six in the first inning, and you’ve got to go to the bullpen at that point in that second inning. A short day, and unfortunately we get a hole dug pretty darn deep here [Monday].”

The dagger for Kelly was Trevor Plouffe’s three-run homer in the second, building the hosts’ lead to seven runs.

“Full count. I threw a lot of pitches that inning and I really didn’t want to give into him or walk him,” Kelly said after turning the shortest outing of his career (in 57 starts). “I threw a strike, breaking ball that kind of backed up on me a little bit. He put a good swing on it and hit a three-run homer.”

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Read More: Joe Kelly, matt barnes,
Closing Time: Red Sox allow 9 runs in 5th inning as Angels roll to blowout win 05.22.15 at 10:46 pm ET
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The Red Sox allowed nine runs in the fifth inning as the Angels rolled to a series-opening win. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Red Sox allowed nine runs in the fifth inning as the Angels rolled to a series-opening win. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

How about some consistency?

After the Red Sox scored one run or less in four of their last six games and came in averaging 2.34 runs per game in the month of May, they finally had a good offensive night, scoring five runs, but it wasn’t enough as they couldn’t continue their string of strong games from the mound, as the Angels took the first game of the weekend series, 12-5.

Red Sox starter Rick Porcello just didn’t have it. He couldn’t control any of his pitches and the Angels made him pay, especially in the fifth — a half inning that lasted over 37 minutes, and saw three pitchers combine for 46 pitches and nine runs.

Porcello walked the first two batters, and then Mike Trout singled to short left on a ball that barely got by Brock Holt at third, but a second run scored when Xander Bogaerts tried to get Johnny Giavotella at third base and the throw went against the Angels dugout. Albert Pujols then grounded out, but Trout would steal third on a tremendous slide, eluding Holt’s tag (he was ruled safe after a video review). Kole Calhoun then singled to score Trout and David Freese doubled scoring the fourth run of the inning, which was Porcello’s departure.

Matt Barnes came in relief and was even worse. He walked the first batter he faced and then allowed a three-run homer to Chris Iannetta. Marc Krauss then hit a routine fly ball to right field that Rusney Castillo, in his first major league game of the season, dropped. Two batters later Erick Aybar hit a two-run homer sending Barnes to the showers.

Robbie Ross Jr. then came on and after a harmless Trout single retired the next two batters to mercifully end the inning. It was their worst inning of the season as their previous high in an inning was seven — when Clay Buchholz allowed seven in the first against the Yankees on April 12.

Adding insult to injury (literally), Hanley Ramirez left the game in the sixth, two innings after taking a pitch off the hand. The Red Sox announced he left because of left hand soreness. Every Red Sox starter recorded a hit, besides Ramirez.

For Porcello it was his shortest outing of the season, as his fine line was 4 1/3 innings, seven runs on seven hits, while walking three and striking out four.

Trailing 11-3 going into the seventh, the Red Sox showed some fight scoring two runs, forcing Angels starter Garrett Richards from the game, and could have scored even more if it weren’t for Daniel Nava hitting into a double play with the bases loaded to end the inning.

The Red Sox have now lost four of their last five games and fall to 8-12 at home this year.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Trout. The centerfielder put on a show, as besides going 3-for-6 at the plate, he made a tremendous throw from deep left center field to throw out Napoli trying to score from first in the fourth and had a great slide to avoid a tag at third on a stolen base attempt in the fifth. Vote on the Rock Solid Performer of the week and enter to win a VIP Boston Baseball Experience at weei.com/rocksolid.

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

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, matt barnes, mike napoli, rick porcello
Closing Time: Pablo Sandoval homer lifts Red Sox over A’s in 11 innings 05.12.15 at 2:11 am ET
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Pablo Sandoval is like Two-Face in the Batman movies. From the left side of the plate, he represents goodness. From the right side, he is grotesque.

On Monday night in Oakland, he needed only one swing from the left side to make his mark, lining an Angel Castro offering over the right field fence in the 11th inning to give the Red Sox a 5-4 victory over the A’s in a game that didn’t look like it was being played by last-place teams.

Coco Crisp robbed Dustin Pedroia of extra bases to end one inning, while Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli returned the favor with a leaping snag of a Crisp liner that would’ve driven in two runs.

The respective offenses grinded out rallies, matching runs in the fourth, fifth, and seventh. And both managers treated the game like a playoff affair, with Red Sox skipper John Farrell summoning closer Koji Uehara to keep a tie game that way in the ninth, while A’s counterpart Bob Melvin utilized five relief pitchers.

But the two sides might still be playing if not for Sandoval, who hit the type of home run that is becoming his trademark ‘€“ the low-trajectory line drive that leaves the park in a hurry.

Prior to the homer, Sandoval had had another rough night from the right side. He grounded into a double play, struck out, and grounded out against A’s starter Scott Kazmir. Sandoval began the night hitting just .071 (2 for 28) from the right side, vs. .386 with a 1.017 OPS from the left.

Those numbers only skewed even further on Monday.

Right-hander Rick Porcello struggled for the Red Sox, allowing nine hits and a walk in just five innings. Porcello, who was coming off two very good seven-inning starts, struggled with his location in this one, often missing the zone badly, particularly with his changeup.

It was hard to miss the impact of youth in the seventh inning. In successive at-bats, 22-year-old shortstop Xander Bogaerts, 23-year-old catcher Blake Swihart, and 22-year-old center fielder Mookie Betts all singled to plate a run and erase a 3-2 deficit. When Betts then took out shortstop Marcus Semien with a tough, legal slide on Dustin Pedroia‘s groundout, the Red Sox had a 4-3 lead.

It proves short-lived, though, because reliever Craig Breslow gave it right back.

This was a matchup of two of the colder teams in baseball. The A’s had lost five straight, while the Sox had dropped seven of nine.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Pablo Sandoval erased a tough start at the plate by drilling the game-winning home run in the 11th. Vote on the Rock Solid Performer of the week and enter to win a VIP Boston Baseball Experience at weei.com/rocksolid.

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Read More: matt barnes, mike napoli, Pablo Sandoval, rick porcello
Red Sox Minor League Notebook: Year after playing high school ball, 2014 first-round picks reflect on turning pro 05.08.15 at 4:33 pm ET
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Michael Kopech was drafted No. 32 overall of last years draft. (Rob Bradford/WEEI.com)

Michael Kopech was drafted No. 33 overall of last years draft. (Rob Bradford/WEEI.com)

Last year at this time, Michael Chavis and Michael Kopech were spending their days in high school classrooms, and playing baseball for their high school teams after school.

Now, after both being drafted in the first round by the Red Sox in the 2014 draft, they are professional baseball players getting paid to play the game they love. Both are with Single-A Greenville after spending last summer in the Florida Gulf Coast League.

“We do talk about how crazy it is that this time last year we were playing high school baseball,” Chavis said via phone. “During the summer, my birthday is August 11 and I was talking to him [last summer], and it’s funny we were playing down in Fort Myers together and I was saying last year we were playing in the All-American game against each other when he was on the West squad and I was on the East squad. It’s just crazy looking back at that and we’ve both gone through the travel ball circuit playing against each other. Now it’s a great experience and opportunity for us to play together.”

“It’s a great experience. I am glad I got to come to Greenville, as it’s close to home,” he added. “It’s kind of cool because we had a few days off a couple days ago and I got to go to my high school and play a high school game. It was crazy watching all my buddies playing high school ball and thinking that I am at the professional level. Just a few months ago I was playing high school baseball. It’s hard to wrap my mind around.”

Chavis, an infielder, was drafted No. 26 overall, while Kopech, a right-handed pitcher, was drafted No. 33 overall.

Kopech said being a professional is much different than playing high school and travel ball, but it’s something he’s always wanted to do and had his mind focused on.

“Yeah, it’s a little different,” said Kopech via phone. “Honestly, it’s what I always wanted. It’s what I always expected. It’s fallen into place. That’s how I think of it. It’s a dream come true, don’t get me wrong. It’s exactly what I expected. It’s fun though. I like going out there with good competition and trying to compete. It’s a lot of fun.”

The biggest difference for him now that he’s a professional, is he can’t just step on the mound and throw. He has to have a plan.

“You just always have to have an approach,” Kopech said. “High school hitters you could throw three fastballs, or some you could grow three breaking pitches. You can’t do that in professional baseball. You have to have an approach. Everybody can adjust. If you’re trying to compete and challenge a hitter, you have to be smarter than them.”

Both are having successful starts to their seasons, particularly Kopech. The 6-foot-3 hard-throwing righty is 1-2 with a 3.76 ERA. He’s struck out 17 hitters in 18 2/3 innings. He was also named the South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week earlier in the year.

Kopech has received a great deal of attention of late for his velocity, as he’s hit 100 mph on the radar gun. The 19-year-old feels the best he’s ever felt.

“Right now is the hardest I’ve ever thrown,” he said. “I am sitting 95-98, 95-99. Really physically I feel better on the mound. Mentally as far as confidence wise, I’ve always kind of had the same approach. I feel just as confident last year as I do this year. That is doing me well right now.”

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Read More: blake swihart, matt barnes, michael chavis, michael kopech
Source: Edward Mujica designated for assignment 05.07.15 at 10:23 am ET
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Edward Mujica

Edward Mujica

According to a major league source, the Red Sox have designated reliever Edward Mujica for assignment after a year and just over a month with the team.

While the corresponding move isn’t yet clear, it’s worth noting Matt Barnes was scratched from his start on Wednesday with Triple-A Pawtucket and pitched out of the bullpen instead.

He is eligible to be recalled, as he’s been in the minors 10 days after being sent optioned.

Mujica has a 4.61 ERA in 13 2/3 innings this season. When acquired from St. Louis before last year, he was expected to be the backup closer for Koji Uehara, but this season he was often the first reliever out of the bullpen looking to eat up innings.

Alex Speier of the Boston Globe was first to report the news.

For more Red Sox news, check out weei.com/redsox.

Read More: Edward Mujica, matt barnes,
Red Sox recall reliever Heath Hembree, option Matt Barnes to Triple-A Pawtucket 04.26.15 at 12:01 pm ET
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Heath Hembree

Heath Hembree

It was a short stay in the majors for right-hander Matt Barnes.

Needing an extra arm in the bullpen to give the group a rest, the team called Barnes up for Saturday’s game against the Orioles, as he was scheduled to start with Triple-A Pawtucket earlier in the day. Barnes went two scoreless innings, while surrendering just two hits.

Following the game, the team sent Barnes back to Pawtucket and called up reliever Health Hembree. Hembree was acquired from the Giants in the Jake Peavy trade last summer. The right-hander pitched in six games with the Red Sox last season, allowing five runs over 10 innings (4.50 ERA).

‘€œHembree, who has been throwing the ball well, gives us another multi-inning guy with some power out there,’€ Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters in Baltimore.

Barnes will go back to Pawtucket and be inserted back into their starting rotation.

The team still has only three players available off the bench as they have 13 pitchers, and 12 position players.

For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

Read More: heath hembree, matt barnes,
Observations from Red Sox’ 9-6 win over Rays: Steven Wright, Matt Barnes shine, Hanley Ramirez (2 RBI), Mike Napoli (HR) 03.28.15 at 5:44 pm ET
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Hanley Ramirez swings away Saturday against the Rays in spring training action. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Hanley Ramirez swings away Saturday against the Rays in spring training action. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Steven Wright and Matt Barnes made their best pitches for spots on the Red Sox roster in Saturday’s 9-6 win over the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park.

Hanley Ramirez, David Ortiz and Mike Napoli also made big contributions in the win as the Red Sox try to build some momentum at the end of spring training and get over the sting of losing catcher Christian Vazquez indefinitely with a problematic right elbow.

Wright no-hit the Rays over the first three innings and appeared ready to get out of the fourth with another scoreless frame before Xander Bogaerts bobbled a routine two-out grounder in the fourth, opening the floodgates for five unearned runs off Wright.

The knuckleballing Wright still earned the win, improving to 3-0 this spring. He has an impressive 1.32 ERA, allowing just two earned runs in 13 2/3 innings.

“I thought he really established a release point from the second inning on,” manager John Farrell said. “There’s a two-out error, you’d like to see the ability to pick up your teammate a little bit. I’m not saying he lost the strike zone. They swung the bat and got their base hits. Up until that point, he’s gaining touch and feel to off-speed knuckleball. He got a strikeout of [James] Loney on it. I’m a fan of the knuckleball because of the contrast of style.”

“They got a little [more] aggressive than they were at the beginning,” Wright said. “I felt like that they were making me show them I could throw it for a strike. I don’t feel like they really got good wood on any of them but they were aggressive and they just started finding the holes. They’re a good-hitting team and some of these guys I’ve faced in the past. They’re able to put good wood on it, when you do that, put the ball in play, you start making things happen. Unfortunately, that’s what happened today.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2015 spring training, Boston Red Sox, matt barnes, steven wright
Is Matt Barnes bullpen’s new secret weapon? 03.06.15 at 10:37 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox have insisted they view right-handed prospect Matt Barnes as a starter, but on Friday morning, manager John Farrell opened the door for Barnes to make an impact in the bullpen.

It’s easy to see why. On Thursday night, Barnes struck out three in two innings of shutout relief against the Twins. His fastball touched 97 mph, he featured a tight breaking ball, and he looked very much like a guy who could help solve a power deficiency at the back of the bullpen.

There are probably two spots up for grabs, Farrell said, with Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, Edward Mujica, Craig Breslow, and Anthony Varvaro safe bets to make the squad. Lefty Robbie Ross and right-hander Alexi Ogando are the favorites for the last two spots, but could Barnes alter that equation?

“If everyone was healthy, we probably viewed two spots in competition among a group of four or five,” Farrell said. “Does an outing like last night increase the pool? I don’t know that we need to anoint that yet, but that was a really good outing to watch.”

The Red Sox selected Barnes, 24, in the first round of the 2011 draft out of UConn. He made five relief appearances with a 4.00 ERA last September, but has been used almost exclusively in the rotation (72 starts, 1 relief appearance) in the minors.

“I don’€™t have a whole lot of history with Matt Barnes, but that was a different guy than even what we saw in September,” Farrell said. “Sometimes you look for silver linings in an otherwise frustrating year and talking with Matt Barnes, he has a better understanding of who he is as a pitcher, what’€™s required at the major league level and the constant focus and concentration needed, all those were talked openly by him. And he went out last night and demonstrated some of the things he learned last year. Breaking balls much tighter. I’€™ve never seen that kind of velocity from him. He was a different guy last night.”

Might that stuff play in the bullpen?

“We have an understanding what the physical abilities are,” Farrell said. “And you try to get a sense of how are they managing the inning. When things are starting to go, when they’€™re getting challenged inside of an inning, are they handling it in a calm matter? Is their poise and composure remaining the same? Or are you seeing it play out a little bit?”

File this one under: Something to watch.

Read More: 2015 spring training, matt barnes,
Why you should have cared about Tuesday’s Red Sox game: Matt Barnes makes his mark 09.09.14 at 10:43 pm ET
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(For the final month of the regular season, “Closing Time” will 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.)

Right-hander Matt Barnes made his major league debut with three shutout innings on Tuesday. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox.)

Right-hander Matt Barnes made his major league debut with three shutout innings on Tuesday. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox.)

By and large, the process of auditioning pitchers for spots in the 2015 Red Sox rotation has been something less than dazzling. Joe Kelly and Rubby De La Rosa have shown flashes of being effective, with De La Rosa offering glimpses (not yet sustained) of an ability to dominate. Brandon Workman has struggled. Anthony Ranaudo has shown little ability to elicit swings and misses, and on Tuesday, the Orioles smashed his fastballs up in the strike zone, launching three homers to hand the 25-year-old a loss (by an eventual 4-1 count) on his birthday.

Kelly profiles as a back-end starter. Workman and Ranaudo seem most likely to project either as No. 4 or 5 starters if they don’t end up in the bullpen.

But late in Tuesday’s outing, the Red Sox got a tantalizing first glimpse at a pitcher with considerable upside when Matt Barnes took the hill in his big league debut. Barnes has arguably the best fastball in the system, a pitch that can miss bats even when in the strike zone. He sits comfortably in the mid-90s, and on Tuesday, he worked primarily off of a 94-96 mph fastball that he complemented with both a changeup and a curveball (the latter of which, notably, got the first swing-and-miss of his career).

Pitchers like Ranaudo and Workman have considerable potential value to a rotation as pitchers who know how to compete and give their team a chance to win. But Barnes represents something different, his fastball giving him a chance to be either an impact starter or, in the eyes of some, a closer, with the view of his potential as a starter tied to a changeup that grades as solid average and a curveball that he’s used to increasing effect this year.

On Tuesday, he employed all three pitches in impressive fashion, throwing three shutout innings in which he permitted three hits, struck out two batters (Chris Davis on a fastball, Adam Jones on a changeup), worked out of a second-and-third, one-out jam by punching out Jones when needed and threw a whopping 30 of 38 pitches (79 percent) for strikes — the highest strike percentage of any major league rookie in his debut (min. 30 pitches) since Jamie Vermilyea threw 24 of 30 pitches for strikes in his Blue Jays debut on April 22, 2007.

In a run of relatively undistinguished performances by Red Sox call-ups, Barnes’ outing stood out, a first opportunity to stand out from the pack of Red Sox prospects making the transition to the big league level.

OTHER REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD HAVE CARED ABOUT TUESDAY’S GAME Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox minor league roundup: Matt Barnes rolling; Garin Cecchini continues annual tradition; Justin Haley dominates; Jonathan Aro on target 09.05.14 at 2:37 pm ET
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Right-hander Matt Barnes threw seven shutout innings on Thursday. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox.)

Right-hander Matt Barnes threw seven shutout innings on Thursday. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox.)

A brief look at the action in three playoff games among Red Sox affiliates on Thursday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 8-2 WIN VS. SYRACUSE (NATIONALS); LEAD BEST-OF-FIVE SERIES, 2-0

(BOX)

— Matt Barnes continued his recent run of Triple-A dominance, logging seven shutout innings in which he gave up three hits (a double and two singles), walked none and punched out six. It marked the sixth time in eight outings that Barnes had pitched into the seventh inning, something he’d done just four times in his first 65 pro games. He threw 65 of 101 pitches (64 percent) for strikes.

In nine starts since the All-Star break including the regular season and Thursday’s outing, Barnes now has a 2.10 ERA with 7.8 strikeouts and just 2.3 walks per nine.

— Garin Cecchini went 4-for-4 with a triple. It was his first four-hit game of the year; he’s had one game of at least four hits in each of his four pro seasons. In 27 games since Aug. 1, Cecchini is now hitting .352/.424/.524. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: garin cecchini, Justin Haley, keury de la cruz, matt barnes
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