|Closing Time: Craig Breslow, Red Sox bullpen lead way in win over Orioles||09.26.15 at 7:03 pm ET|
The Red Sox didn’t know what to expect Saturday when they didn’t have a starting pitcher available and needed to use their bullpen for the entire game, but what they got exceed any expectations.
Seven pitchers combined to allow five hits and no runs in a 8-0 win over the Orioles at Fenway Park. Six of the eight Red Sox runs were unearned. It was their second straight win, as they won Friday’s game in dramatic fashion.
The Red Sox earned shutout wins on back-to-back days for the first time since April 23-24, 2011.
Craig Breslow got the start and went four innings, allowing just one hit, while walking two and striking out two. He threw 55 pitches and went beyond the one time through the order interim manager Torey Lovullo wanted prior to the game.
“He stepped up at a moment’s notice, gave us four quality innings, scored a run, we started to play a little bit of downhill baseball. Just a great team effort, highlighted by [Breslow],” he said. “Timely hitting, solid defense. Not one thing stand out offensively. Just a solid team effort. One of those special moments for Bres. First career start, he gives us four scoreless.”
In starting the game, Breslow made his first start in 523 major league games, becoming the first pitcher to make his first start that late in a career in games played since Troy Percival in his 639th game in 2007. He also passed Scott Atchison as the oldest ever Red Sox pitcher at the time of his first major league start.
“It was (fun) — now that it’s done and went pretty well. It was a lot of fun,” Breslow said. “At the time, I was consumed by some other thoughts. It was a lot of fun. I don’t know how many guys make 500 some-odd career relief appearances and then get a chance to start their first big league game.”
“I was pretty nervous,” he added. “I had no idea — kind of stupid things you don’t think about like where am I supposed to play catch before I go into the bullpen, what do I do during the national anthem? Those kinds of things that I’ve never faced before. Like I said, I drew on some of the other starters and followed the crowd. Like I said, it worked out.”
Health Hembree (win, one inning), Matt Barnes (two innings), Alexi Ogando (1/3 inning), Tommy Layne (1/3 inning), Noe Ramirez (1/3 inning) and Jonathan Aro (one inning) all followed Breslow to combine for the shutout win.
|Red Sox injury updates: Dustin Pedroia (hamstring) getting closer to return||09.04.15 at 5:26 pm ET|
The second baseman has been dealing with a hamstring injury since late June. He returned right after the All-Star break, which may have been too soon as he aggravated the injury and hasn’t played in a game since July 22.
Pedroia has been running and working his way back to full baseball activity.
“Dustin is hitting all his checkpoints, aggressively,” interim manager Torey Lovullo said. “It’s getting close. We’re all in it with him. We’re all excited by what we’re seeing and what we’re hearing.”
“When he walks in after his work day he’s really, really excited and that’s nice to see,” he added.
Pedroia won’t go out for a minor league rehab assignment, as the minor leagues wrap up this weekend and he isn’t quite ready for that. The team has set a Sept. 10 target date for a return and Lovullo said it could be a few days before, or a few days after.
“We aren’t quite sure where exactly that return date will fall because he still has some more baseball activity to do and then he has to ramp it up, to and move as close as he possibly can to game situations,” Lovullo said. “We’ll get that feedback after that last day or two and see where he’s at.”
Lovullo acknowledged Pedroia is chomping at the bit to get back on the field, as he’s one of the most competitive players in baseball.
“In his real special way, Dustin is around and we know it,” Lovullo said.
|Red Sox pregame notes: Mookie Betts ‘sooner than later’ will play other OF spots||09.02.15 at 2:19 pm ET|
As the Red Sox have begun to expose their outfielders to other outfield spots with Rusney Castillo debuting in left field Wednesday, Mookie Betts could be the next to play either left or right field.
“That will be the next part of this and Mookie’s been working hard in left and right,” interim manager Torey Lovullo said. “Once again Arnie [Beyeler] will sign off on that when he thinks the timing is right. Also get something from Mookie to make sure he’s comfortable and ready. There all very athletic guys. They are all very gifted with their movements in any direction. We feel it’s going to be a lot sooner than later.”
As for Castillo, he’s been working with outfield coach Arnie Beyeler for almost two weeks and he and Castillo felt the timing was right.
“Arnie has been with him since the middle of last homestand and Arnie signed off on it,” Lovullo said. “We decided that he was going to be the lead dog in the situation. Get some feedback from Rusney and mentally see what he’s doing and also verbally see where he’s at. Everything checked out. Rusney was ready for that challenge and we thought the timing was right today.”
— With Matt Barnes (elbow) and Steven Wright (concussion) unable to pitch, the Red Sox haven’t been able to go to a six-man rotation like they had hoped. With the off day Thursday they will keep their starters in line over the weekend and not skip anyone.
Discussions are taking place of how they can get a six-man rotation, as they monitor Henry Owens and Eduardo Rodriguez’s innings.
“We’re talking about that right now,” Lovullo said. “We’re trying to figure out if there is another candidate. We’re trying to see if those two guys can’t go then maybe there’s a bullpen day. We’re throwing a lot of different options at one another. Obviously the two candidates are [Barnes] and Steven [Wright]. We’ll see where they’re at.”
With the team having only one Thursday game in the month of September there were off days built in, but even with those Lovullo and the team want to have a six-man rotation.
“We were aware of those day off, but we wanted to also throw in that sixth guy despite those days to give them a little bit more time in between and monitor the workload,” Lovullo said. “We were aware of that. We built those in and still decided to try the six-man thought. Obviously we’re trying to find the right candidate right now.”
|Red Sox pregame notes: Brock Holt available off bench; Matt Barnes optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket||08.23.15 at 12:18 pm ET|
Although Brock Holt will miss his fourth straight game, it appears he’s nearing a return.
Holt will miss Sunday’s game after originally being in Saturday’s lineup, but was a late scratch with left oblique tightness. Interim manager Torey Lovullo said he would be available in an emergency situation Sunday.
“Brock’s doing OK,” Lovullo said. “Still a little nicked up. His left oblique has given him problems, but he is available today if needed in an emergency situation. We’re looking to get him in the lineup tomorrow. I had a good discussion with Brock this morning where we just felt like it was best to give him one more day, give him a blow, get ahead of it and see where he’s at tomorrow.”
The utility man has played 99 games this season and this comes after he played a career-high 106 last year. Lovullo said the team is aware of the numbers of games played and him struggling in the second half of last year. He hit .219 after hitting .327 in the first half.
“It’s been on our radar that he’s had a history of wearing down, but I think overall you just have to look at the guy, productivity and what he means to the ball club,” he said. “Whether he is tired or not, he has such great value to this team that we’re going to find a spot for him in the right situation. What can he do? I don’t know if he can work any harder behind the scenes.
“He’s a very caring guy. He understands what he means to this team. He wants to stay healthy — whether he tweaks his offseason program I’m not sure, but I think in time we’re going to find a guy who can be consistent throughout the year health wise.”
— Sunday is just an off-day for Hanley Ramirez.
— Following Saturday’s game and Matt Barnes‘ second major league start, he was optioned back to Triple-A Pawtucket. With Rick Porcello returning to the rotation this week, the team needed to open up a spot.
Barnes went 5 1/3 innings and allowed five runs. Overall in his two starts, he allowed 11 earned runs in 10 1/3 innings.
Reliever Jonathan Aro was recalled as the corresponding roster move.
|Learning from mistakes: Matt Barnes will benefit long term following outing vs. Royals||08.22.15 at 11:49 pm ET|
As the Red Sox close out the 2015 season, it’s more about the future and having their younger players play and learn from certain types of situations. After all, nothing is more valuable than actual game experience.
That is what happened with Matt Barnes Saturday night against the Royals, as he was making just his second major league start following moving from the bullpen to a starter in Triple-A at the end of July after being a starter for the bulk of his minor league career.
Barnes threw 96 pitches, a season-high between Triple-A and the majors, and it was the final one that was the most costly.
In the sixth inning after walking Kendrys Morales and allowing a single to Mike Moustakas, Salvator Perez crushed a three-run home run into the Royals bullpen, which gave the Royals a 5-0 lead and chased Barnes from the game.
Interim manager Torey Lovullo said the inning was part of the 25-year-old’s growth in becoming a successful major league pitcher, as he didn’t take him out and wanted him to pitch through it.
“He had pitches left and we felt he didn’t reach the number we were looking at,” Lovullo said. “Any time you have a young pitcher that is working though lineups and having success, the last thing you want to do is pull the rug out from under them. You want to let them feel situations, you want to let them work through and have success in certain situations. In this case it works a little bit in the opposite way. I know this is going to sting a little bit and he’s going to remember it and he’s going to grow and learn, and that’s the key for a young pitcher.
“I don’t think it has anything to do with where he’s at pitch-count wise. I know he had something in the tank, I know he had a few extra moments there where he could have got some outs. He just made some mistakes at the wrong time.”
|Closing Time: Red Sox can’t complete late rally, fall to Royals ending 4-game win streak||at 10:39 pm ET|
A night after scoring seven runs off Johnny Cueto, the Red Sox couldn’t keep the offensive momentum going.
Royals starter Yordano Ventura was able to keep the Red Sox in check as he limited the Sox to one run over six innings, as the Royals topped the Red Sox, 6-3.
The loss snapped the Red Sox’ season-high four-game win streak.
The Sox’ offense finally was able to get on the board in the sixth on a Travis Shaw fielder’s choice, which scored Xander Bogaerts. Mookie Betts added a solo home run in the seventh inning, which cleared everything in left field and then Bogaerts added an RBI-single in the ninth.
Although they finished with just three runs, they had their chances.
In the first inning Shaw flew out to left field with runners on first and second with two outs. Then in the fourth, Jackie Bradley Jr. struck out with runners on first and second to end the frame. Also, in the eighth Blake Swihart popped out to second base with runners on second and third to end the threat. Finally, Shaw ended the game with the bases loaded and the tying run at first base. The team left 11 runners in base.
Matt Barnes pitched well until he got to the sixth inning when he allowed a three-run home run to Salvador Perez to break the game open and give the Royals a 5-0 lead. Barnes finished the game going 5 1/3 innings, allowing five runs on eight hits, while walking a batter and striking out two.
Barnes allowed the other two runs in the first inning on a two-run double by Kendrys Morales.
Kansas City added another run in the eighth, which was charged to Heath Hembree.
Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ loss:
Barnes has been back and forth between Boston and Triple-A Pawtucket this season. The 25-year-old has accrued a 3-3 record to go along with a 6.59 ERA this season in the majors. He sports an unseemly 1.866 WHIP, allowing 13.2 hits per nine innings. He has also demonstrated the ability to put hitters away, compiling 29 strikeouts in just 27 1/3 innings of work. He has an average fastball velocity of 94.9 mph.
Barnes has made 22 major league appearances on the season, all but one of which has come in relief. He spent the beginning of July with the Sox before being sent to Pawtucket. His return to Boston came in the form of his first career start on Monday.
The right-hander took a loss at the hands of the Indians by a score of 8-2. He threw five innings, allowing six runs on six hits and three walks. He allowed a home run and struck out seven. Despite the less-than-gaudy results, Barnes felt confident about his starting debut.
“I felt really good out there,” Barnes said. “I thought I had really good command of all three pitches.”
“I thought Matt threw the ball really, really well,” interim manager Torey Lovullo said, echoing his starter. “He gave us everything we expected. He was commanding his fastball. Everything was crisp and downhill. He was effective. He did his job for us tonight.”
|Monday’s Red Sox-Indians matchups: Matt Barnes vs. Danny Salazar||08.17.15 at 8:16 am ET|
Barnes spent time in the big leagues this year as a reliever, appearing in 21 games and 22 1/3 total innings for a 3-2 record with a 5.64 ERA. The right-hander had just one outing longer than two innings this season but started five games for the PawSox, two of which came on Aug. 5 and 10. He began the season as a starter in the minors, posting three outings that left him with a 4.50 ERA and a trio of no-decisions. Barnes allowed six earned runs over 12 innings in that time but was then transitioned to reliever. After getting scratched from his scheduled Monday start in Pawtucket, the 25-year-old instead will make his first MLB start for Boston.
“We’ve asked a lot of him, moving back and forth in the rotation and the bullpen. But he’s very capable of that,” acting manager Torey Lovullo said Saturday. “His last start, the word we got from player development was that it was aggressive. He was throwing a lot of his pitches in the zone and doing a good job. He’s been stretched out well enough that he can go out there and give us close to 100 pitches.”
That last start Lovullo referenced lasted 4 2/3 innings and Barnes was able to hold the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders — the Yankees‘ Triple-A affiliate — to just one earned run on six hits. He threw 91 pitches, 56 for strikes, and struck out five while walking three.
Barnes has never faced the Indians in his career, even in relief, but he has seen two of their division rivals in the Royals and Twins. Against those teams he has a 3.86 ERA, having given up two earned runs in an inning vs. Kansas city and none in 3 2/3 frames vs. Minnesota.
|Red Sox Sunday notes: Dana LeVangie promoted to interim bench coach, Bob Kipper to bullpen, ‘finely tuned’ Hanley Ramirez progressing||08.16.15 at 12:41 pm ET|
It’s only appropriate the Red Sox are going to the bullpen to find relief for interim manager Torey Lovullo.
The Red Sox, through Lovullo, announced Sunday morning that longtime bullpen coach Dana LeVangie would be promoted Lovullo’s bench coach in the dugout. Accordingly, Lovullo also announced that Pawtucket pitching coach Bob Kipper will leave Triple-A and come to Boston to take over for LeVangie. Those moves will take effect Monday in the series opener against the Indians.
“A lot of moving parts there,” Lovullo said. “We wanted to stay internal. We know that these two guys know baseball on a really good level, especially from within our system, and I think the fit is going to be really special.
“There’s a lot happening in the dugout. I know it’s hard for people to understand what’s going on. From my point of view, there’s three or four different areas that I’ve got to run into, to have that bench coach there to challenge some of my thoughts, to endorse some of my thoughts is going to be nice to have, especially given Dana’s background. There’s immediate trust. There’s a guy that’s respected in this game and being able to bounce off some thoughts, it’s going to be invaluable to me.”
But there’s an even bigger aspect to LeVangie moving from the bullpen to the dugout for the rest of the season.
“The second part of that is he’s our catching instructor,” Lovullo said. “We’ve got a young catcher in Blake Swihart behind the plate. He’s going to get a little bit closer to the action. He’s going to be able to have interactions with Blake and Ryan Hanigan in between innings, and there’s a lot of value to that as well.”
“We’ll announce it today but there are a lot of moving parts. We’re having to pull some guys from different areas and we don’t want to leave Pawtucket empty-handed. We have to figure out who’s going to fill in for Kip so that [move] will start [Monday].
LeVangie has had a significant and successful role in the Red Sox organization. As an advance scout, LeVangie was assigned to follow the Los Angeles Angels in anticipation of the postseason, and eventually saw the Colorado Rockies as well. During Game 2 of the 2007 World Series, Red Sox bench coach Brad Mills, armed with information from LeVangie and the scouting staff, correctly predicted Matt Holliday would attempt to steal on Jonathan Papelbon‘s first pitch with two outs in the eighth inning and the Rockies down by a run.
Mills called for a pickoff, and Papelbon, who had not picked off a runner in his big league career, picked off Holliday easily. It was the biggest play in Boston’s 2-1 win in Game 2. When Gary Tuck resigned as Boston’s bullpen coach prior to the 2013 season, LeVangie was named his successor and earned a third World Series ring when Boston won the 2013 World Series.
|Red Sox injury updates: Hanley Ramirez ‘progressing'; Rusney Castillo getting left foot examined||08.15.15 at 11:52 am ET|
Although he’s out of the lineup for the sixth straight game after fouling a pitch off his foot on the road trip, he is “progressing.”
“Hanley Ramirez is progressing and doing well,” acting manager Torey Lovullo said. “Still feeling a little discomfort with that contusion. Like I said yesterday, we’re going to do right by these players and make sure their work up will allow them to play and participate at full speed without any limitations.”
— Rusney Castillo left Friday’s game after fouling a pitch off his left foot. It was announced as a left foot contusion and he is being examined Saturday morning for further information.
“Hope for good news,” Lovullo said.
— Starter Steven Wright was placed on the 7-day concussion disabled list after taking a flyball to the back of the neck during batting practice in Miami. Garin Cecchini will take his place on the roster. Lovullo said he could see time in left field or first base in a reserve role.
— With Wright being unavailable Monday, Matt Barnes was scratched from his start with Triple-A Pawtucket Saturday and will start Monday against the Indians. He recently switched back from being a reliever, but he’s been stretched out to 90 pitches.
“We thought about a couple options as far as the rotation moving forward,” Lovullo said. “We wanted to split up our lefties so we didn’t push anyone around, we kept everyone in line. He’s going to slot in there for us on Monday.”
Barnes was drafted as a starter in the first-round of the 2011 draft out of the University of Connecticut. Although he’s spent much of the last year or so as a reliever, the Red Sox have always viewed him as a starter.
“He’s been a proven starter at the minor league level,” Lovullo said. “Player development has recommended that this is a guy who could be a very qualified major league starting pitcher. Out of necessity we needed to move him to the bullpen. I think as young player go we all look them in different ways and when you have the stuff that he has you try and get him to the big leagues and contribute in whatever gap he can fill.
“In this case it was as a reliever for a period of time, but we’ve always viewed him as starter so we’re going to get him up here and we’re anxious to see what he can give us.”
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