|What went wrong in disastrous 8-run 6th inning for Red Sox||08.29.16 at 12:43 am ET|
The Red Sox were looking good after coming back from a 2-1 deficit to take a 4-2 lead after the fifth Sunday night against the Royals, but then things all came crashing down in a hurry in the top of the sixth.
The Royals turned a 4-2 deficit into a 10-4 lead with an eight-run top of the sixth, taking away all the momentum the Red Sox had created in the half inning before in their 10-4 rout.
“Obviously, always the biggest inning is the shutdown inning after we take the lead,” manager John Farrell said.
The “biggest inning” was anything but big.
Things didn’t start right as starter Eduardo Rodriguez walked the lead off man, Eric Hosmer. Then he allowed a double to Kendrys Morales, followed by a walk to Salvador Perez to set up bases loaded with nobody out where hardly ever good things happen for the defense.
“I think going through the at-bat against Hosmer in pretty good shape,” Farrell said. “He’s not getting to his fastball. He throws a 3-2 slider for the walk. Morales is a darn good hitter, particularly from the right side of the plate, so the walk kind of set the tone for the inning.”
After getting a fly out to shallow left, Rodriguez departed after 98 pitches, but didn’t leave reliever Matt Barnes in the best shape as the bases were still loaded with one out and unfortunately for Barnes, he couldn’t get out of the jam — actually, he made it worse.
The first batter Barnes faced — Alcides Escobar — hit a high chopper in front of the plate that Barnes had no play on to plate the first Royals run in the inning and then came the big blow when No. 9 batter Raul Mondesi cleared the bases with a three-run triple to right-center.
And the Royals didn’t stop there.
Paulo Orlando was then hit by a pitch to set up first and third with one out. Cheslor Cuthbert followed with another high chopper that left the Red Sox with no play and saw another Royals run cross the plate. Then, Lorenzo Cain ended Barnes’ night with a single to center.
|Closing Time: Eduardo Rodriguez, Matt Barnes fall apart in 6th inning as Royals rout Red Sox||08.28.16 at 11:34 pm ET|
Shutdown innings are something to which the Red Sox play close attention. Unfortunately for the Sox and starter Eduardo Rodriguez, the sixth inning Sunday night wasn’t a good example of one.
After scoring three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Red Sox took a 4-2 lead. However, that lead lasted all of half an inning as they allowed eight runs in the top of the sixth and the Royals ended up routing the Red Sox, 10-4.
Kansas City took two of three in the weekend series.
Rodriguez started the sixth inning by walking Eric Hosmer. Following a double and a walk, the Royals had bases loaded with no outs and the left-hander clearly was laboring. After getting a fly out, Rodriguez left the game with the bases still loaded. Unfortunately for him, reliever Matt Barnes couldn’t bail him out.
In fact, he did even worse.
Barnes pitched to five batters and didn’t record an out. He finished by allowing five runs on three hits with a hit batsman. The big blow was a bases-clearing triple from No. 9 batter Raul Mondesi. Robbie Ross Jr. eventually got out of the inning, but not before the Royals plated a season-high eight runs in the frame.
“Unfortunately, it didn’t go the way I would have hoped,” Barnes said. “I thought I made a good pitch to [Alcides] Escobar. He hit the 30-foot chopper and didn’t have a plan on anybody. Next hitter Mondesi, he jumped a first-pitch heater, and I went back and looked and I thought the pitch was to him maybe not a good pitch, but in the grand scheme I thought it was on the outer corner of the plate. Jumped a first-pitch heater. Let a couple of balls go. Didn’t think I threw terrible pitches, maybe a combination of bad luck and obviously they squared some balls up. That one is on me. I have to do a better job of securing that lead and getting out of that inning.”
In his first time back after being skipped due to hamstring tightness, Rodriguez finished the night going 5 1/3 innings, allowing five runs on four hits while walking four and striking out one. The four walks tied a season high.
|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.
|Craig Kimbrel on knee after brutal outing: ‘It’s something I’m going to battle with until it’s all gone’||08.10.16 at 12:30 am ET|
After one of his worst outings of the season, Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel revealed that his surgically repaired left knee continues to give him trouble.
He certainly didn’t look right in Tuesday’s 5-3 win over the Yankees, walking four to force in a run before being lifted in favor of right-hander Matt Barnes, who nailed down the victory with a strikeout of Mark Teixeira to earn the first save of his career.
“I walked four guys,” Kimbrel said. “I mean, I was out there watching the same game y’all were. I didn’t have my best stuff tonight. In that situation I tried to make pitches to get strikeouts, I didn’t really want them to put the ball in play. Bad day, bad night. But, on the positive side, we still won the game. We put this outing behind us and we go into tomorrow.”
The performance wasn’t as concerning, in some respects, as what Kimbrel said after. He acknowledged that his knee continues to give him trouble, a month after surgery, though he stopped short of blaming it for Tuesday’s woes. He had never walked four batters in less than an inning.
“When you’re sore, does it affect you?” he said. “I wouldn’t say it affected me in my performance, but I definitely, it’s something I’m going to battle with until it’s all gone. I’m still four weeks out of surgery. I’m good enough to pitch, I’m good enough to play, but it’s not going to affect me each and every night.”
Barnes, meanwhile, got the job done, continuing a breakout season as one of manager John Farrell’s most reliable arms.
“With the two left-handers coming, just wanted the power, particularly against Teixeira where we’ve seen that power kind of works as a better matchup,” Farrell said. “And how he [Barnes] has been with men on base this year. He has been outstanding as far as stranding inherited runners. No more important time than tonight.”
|Red Sox pregame notes: Blake Swihart’s ankle ‘is starting to talk back to him’||07.21.16 at 5:31 pm ET|
Prior to Thursday’s Red Sox game against the Twins, manager John Farrell discussed the status of Blake Swihart’s ankle rehab and how pivotal Matt Barnes has been for the team.
After weeks of steady progress, Swihart reached a setback in his ability to make cuts while running and exploding when starting.
“As he’s ramped up the intensity and the different cuts, his ankle is starting to talk back to him a little bit here,” Farrell said. “Much like it was when he first started to initiate some movement, then got into a pretty good stretch where he was making some good gains on it. As that intensity’s picked up, he’s going through a phase now where he’s got to quiet some things down.”
Swihart has been on the 60-day disabled list after being transferred there July 9 following severely spraining his ankle on June 4.
After saving a potentially disastrous situation Wednesday night, getting Tommy Layne out of a bases loaded, no out jam, Farrell discussed Barnes’ effectiveness in critical situations.
“He’s pitched in some of the highest leverage, non-ninth inning situations that we’ve had, and we’ll continue to do so. Given the current makeup of our bullpen, he’s probably going to be a one-plus inning type of guy in those key moments,” Farrell said. “We don’t have the three guys in New York. We don’t the three guys that are in Kansas City where regardless of the score, who’s coming up, here, run it out. So to have the flexibility to use a guy like Matt, whether it’s in the seventh because it’s you’re in the heat of their lineup, that flexibility is in the current makeup of this bullpen.”
Part of what has made Barnes successful has been his ability to distance himself from his previous habit of surrendering multiple walks. After giving up a combined 14 walks in April and May, he’s allowed five in June and July combined.
“That’s one of the key contributors,” Farrell said when asked if limiting his walks has made him successful as of late. “The other is his percentage of his curveball is being thrown for strikes. And when he’s missed he’s backed it up with a strike curveball to keep some hitters from rushing out to get his fastball. And since early May, the velocity has climbed to the upper-90’s and he’s one of the premier arms in any bullpen around the country.”
OTHER RED SOX NOTES
It wasn’t the easiest of situations to come into.
Tommy Layne allowed the bases to be loaded with no outs in the sixth inning with the Red Sox clinging to a 8-7 lead over the Giants and manager John Farrell called for Matt Barnes out of the bullpen.
The UConn product delivered as he was able to get out of the jam with no runs. Barnes got pinch-hitter Gregor Blanco to hit into a 3-2 double play as Hanley Ramirez stepped on first base and fired home to get the runner at home on a close play at the plate. Then, Barnes got another pinch-hitter Conor Gillaspie to fly out to first base and get out of the inning with no damage and keep the Red Sox on top.
The inning proved large as the Red Sox scored two runs in the bottom half of the frame on their way to a 11-7 win. Barnes earned the win, his third of the season, which tied a career-high.
“It’s not easy, but it’s kind of fun,” Barnes said. “It’s kind of the excitement of it and knowing that one, you’re coming through for your team and two, you get to pick up another guy in the bullpen.”
Added Barnes: “In a situation like that you have to take it one pitch at a time. You can’t try and do too much or make the second pitch without making the first one. You have to stay relaxed and execute pitch-by-pitch and hopefully the results are in your favor.”
Barnes wasn’t done there as he then pitched the seventh and eighth innings, allowing just two hits in the three total innings.
Manager John Farrell called it the best relief performance of the season.
“Yeah, I would say it is,” he said. “Given that he comes in in a bases loaded situation and going into tonight’s game, the plan was for him to pitch the eighth. I didn’t think he would pitch the sixth, seventh and eighth. He held his stuff throughout. He’s done a great job with inherited runners and shutting down threats. That three innings or work, given the high stress of the first inning that he pitched, an outstanding effort on his part.”
If not for Hanley Ramirez and his three home runs, the MVP of Wednesday night would been Barnes, but certainly he and the Red Sox will take the win.
|Closing Time: Hanley Ramirez (3 home runs) tees off, Drew Pomeranz implodes, and Red Sox beat Giants in wildest game of year||07.20.16 at 10:57 pm ET|
Hanley Ramirez gave the Red Sox a night to remember on an evening Drew Pomeranz hopes to forget.
Ramirez delivered the first three-homer game of his career and made a trio of outstanding defensive plays to overcome an absolute implosion by Pomeranz in his debut as the Red Sox claimed a wild 11-7 victory over the Giants in a possible World Series preview.
With the victory, the Red Sox also moved into sole possession of first place in the American League East for the first time since June 4.
“The crowd, that was probably the most electric atmosphere we’ve had this year, and since I got called up,” said third baseman Travis Shaw. “The crowd was into it, they were loud, you could feel the energy tonight. It was different than any other game we’ve played.”
Ramirez put a charge in the place by hitting homers to right, center, and left while driving in six runs. His final homer came two innings after he appeared to vow, “I’ll get you back,” to Giants reliever Albert Suarez, who had drilled him in the fourth. He also made the defensive play of the game, starting a 3-2 double play with the bases loaded and no outs in the sixth inning of an 8-7 game.
“I never expected this, but it’s a great feeling, it’s a great feeling, especially to end up with a W,” Ramirez said. “This team doesn’t give up. They keep adding runs and runs. We’ve got to continue to score more runs than them.”
This one had a little bit of everything. The Red Sox raced to an 8-0 lead on Ramirez’s first two homers and a monstrous two-run blast by Shaw.
Pomeranz, who was clean through the first three innings, fell apart in the fourth. He failed to retire any of the seven batters he faced and was lifted after allowing a three-run homer to Mac Williamson and a two-run shot to Trevor Brown. His final line read three innings, 8 eight hits, five runs and four strikeouts.
“By tonight, I’ll flush everything,” Pomeranz said. “That’s not me out there.”
|Closing Time: Reliever Matt Barnes takes loss as Red Sox’ win streak ends at 5 games||05.13.16 at 10:59 pm ET|
Well, it was going to end sometime.
Coming into the game winners of five straight and scoring double-digit runs in four straight, the Red Sox came back to Earth in a 7-6 defeat to the Astros Friday night.
With the game knotted at five in the sixth, George Springer took his UConn teammate Matt Barnes into the Monster seats for a two-run home run, which proved to be the game-winner.
Barnes allowed two runs in 1 1/3 innings of work to take the loss.
“As strong as he’s been, he’s going through that inning, even with a man on, in pretty good shape,” manager John Farrell said. “He retires [Jose] Altuve and then Springer. The top of their order did a lot of damage tonight. He works the count full and a breaking ball doesn’t get to the spot he’s looking to get to, stays up in the middle of the plate, and he covers it pretty good. Matt has been so good for us in those tight spots in the middle innings. He’s been strong. We’ve been in a in a stretch where we haven’t really taxed bullpen. Thought he was fresh. On the 3-2 pitch, it didn’t really work out.”
Travis Shaw hit his fifth home run of the season in the bottom half of the inning, but the Red Sox couldn’t score again. The Red Sox actually led 5-1 in the game, but the Astros scored six straight runs to take the lead for good.
Astros starter Lance McCullers, who was making his season-debut, walked two straight batters to load the bases with no outs in the second. Ryan Hanigan ripped a two-RBI double to the right-center field gap. Then, Jackie Bradley Jr. had an RBI double of his own to extend his hit streak to 19 games. A wild pitch and a Mookie Betts single played the fourth and fifth runs of the inning.
It was Red Sox knuckleballer Steven Wright’s worst start of the season as he went a season-low 4 1/3 innings and allowed five runs nine hits, while walking two and striking out three. Four of the five runs came in his last inning — the fifth. He departed with the game tied at five.
The outing snapped Wright’s streak of going at least five innings and allowing two runs or fewer in nine straight starts. The rainy conditions likely didn’t do him any favors.
“Huge factor. Got to a point where I couldn’t keep anything dry and when you’re trying to throw a pitch with your finger tips, it makes it a little slippery, hard to get finger pressure,” he said. “They swung at some good pitches to hit. The ball wasn’t moving much because of the finger pressure issue. We have a five-run lead, I felt like have to be able to hold that and try and get a little deeper into the game and turn it over to the bullpen.”
Added Wright: “It kind of stayed the same. It got to the point I couldn’t keep dry. My pants were wet, my jersey was wet. It was tough to keep anything dry out there. It just makes it a little bit harder to keep feel for the knuckleball.”
The Red Sox have now homered in 14 straight games, which is their longest streak since August of 1996.
Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ loss:
|Red Sox notebook: John Farrell comments on Travis Shaw’s late-spring slump||04.02.16 at 12:15 pm ET|
MONTREAL — Travis Shaw’s 2016 spring training numbers are excellent: 20-for-63 (.317) with two home runs, four doubles, 10 RBIs, 10 runs and a .368 OBP over 22 games of action.
However, Shaw has hit a slump at the back end of the exhibition season, with just two hits in his last 25 at-bats. On Friday in Montreal against Toronto, Shaw started and went 0-for-4 with a walk, grounding out twice into the Blue Jays’ defensive shift with three infielders placed between first and second base.
So how should Shaw avoid the shift?
“Don’t hit into it,” manager John Farrell said with a chuckle Saturday. “When Travis is swinging the bat well he’s using the whole field. I would like to think at some point he would get some of those lanes back. Now, opposing pitchers are going to pitch accordingly, so how he looks to combat that, he’s bunted a couple of times which I would anticipate he would continue to do. The shifts are part of everyday baseball now, he’s not the only one.”
As for Shaw’s recent skid, Farrell said he has seen a few trends.
“Travis is very much a rhythm hitter,” explained Farrell. “When he’s in that good spot he’s hitting all pitches in all areas of the strike zone. At times he may get a little bit pull oriented and that might make him a little bit more susceptible to some offspeed. That ebbs and flows a little bit.”
|Takeaways from Red Sox Grapefruit League game No. 27: Some uneasiness surrounding Rick Porcello||03.28.16 at 5:28 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Rick Porcello was optimistic following his start Monday at JetBlue Park. His manager was a bit more cautious.
After Porcello’s second-to-last exhibition outing, in which he allowed five runs on 10 hits (including 3 home runs) over 6 2/3 innings, Red Sox manager John Farrell admitted that the team is looking for better from the righty when the regular season rolls around.
“He’s capable of better,” said Farrell after his team’s 6-3 loss to the Orioles. “He has shown that. We need Rick to pitch to his strengths, which are continually worked on. He’s working at it to continue to refine it and gain that consistency. We need him to be a little bit more consistent.”
Porcello, whose Grapefruit League ERA now stands at 9.77, will next pitch in Fort Myers Saturday while the rest of the team is participating in exhibition games against the Blue Jays in Montreal.
Joe Kelly will also participate in the Saturday workout at Fenway South, with Farrell still not tipping hand as to how the pitchers will line up in the third and fourth games of the season, against Cleveland and Toronto, respectively.
Despite the results, Porcello came away content in the way he felt and threw the ball. The righty pointed to 2014, when he finished that spring training with a 7.85 ERA before turning his best year in the majors.
“The numbers are what they are but at this point in my career it’s about getting prepared and doing what I have to do to set myself up to have a quality season for us,” said the righty.
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