|Trying to make sense of Yoenis Cespedes’ situation||10.27.14 at 12:02 pm ET|
October has not been kind to the public perception of Yoenis Cespedes.
Trade rumors. Surfaced concerns over his game. And now a report suggesting that not only would the Red Sox hesitate offering the four- to five-year deal they had been contemplating offering due to Cespedes’ switch in agents, but that (according to a “Red Sox insider”) “he marches to his own drum and the coaches all hate him.” (To read the entire New York Daily News report, click here.)
Perhaps it’s time to take a step back and look at the reality of Cespedes’ situation.
When last we saw the Red Sox left fielder, he was catching a bit of heat for some poorly played balls in left field while finishing his two-month stint in Boston with five home runs, 33 RBIs, 48 strikeouts, seven walks, four stolen bases, a .269 batting average, a .296 on-base percentage and a .719 OPS.
His new fan base loved his arm and ability to supply a much-needed commodity for an offense devoid of timing — the ability to drive in runners when it counted, hitting .338 with a .907 OPS with two outs and runners in scoring position (for the season).
Cesepdes also seemingly supplied some additional protection for David Ortiz in the middle of the lineup, while possessing the much-needed skill set of being able to hit a baseball over the fence.
And, as was the case in Oakland, he was a popular figure in the Red Sox clubhouse among his teammates.
But there were other factors that didn’t make a long-term commitment to the outfielder a no-brainer.
The initial issue came when, after the Red Sox publicly gushed about the notion that Cespedes would be using his excellent side-to-side speed in right field at Fenway Park, he never played a moment at the position. Instead, there were a few days of shagging balls next to Pesky’s Pole before abandoning the workouts in right altogether.
|Monday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. J.A. Happ||08.25.14 at 3:40 pm ET|
After posting back-to-back solid outings on Aug. 9 and 15, Buchholz (5-8, 5.94 ERA) took a step back in his last start Wednesday against the Angels. The right-hander started off strong, retiring nine of the first 10 batters he faced, but fell apart in the fifth, giving up five runs en route to 8-3 Red Sox loss.
“The difference between everything going on this year and last year is a lot of balls finding holes or are home runs or doubles, they were hit at somebody last year and I got a lot of double plays that way,” Buchholz said after the game. “Sometimes that’s the way it goes. You don’t ever want it to be a full season but that’s the way it is sometimes, and I’ve got to keep grinding.”
Inconsistency has been the name of the game for Buchholz this season, as the right-hander has given up at least six earned runs in three of his last five starts.
Buchholz took the loss in his last outing against the Blue Jays on July 23, giving up four earned runs in six innings. In 22 career appearances (21 starts) against Toronto, Buchholz is 10-8 with 3.22 ERA.
Happ (8-8, 4.39 ERA) also struggled in his last start Tuesday against the Brewers, giving up six hits and four runs in just 3 1/3 innings of work.
“I don’t know,” Happ said after the game. “We’ve got to … I don’t know, just find a way. It starts with pitching. It started with me tonight. We got outplayed and it started with me, I guess. In a hole behind early and that’s tough against anybody, let alone a first-place team. Everybody’s gotta do their part and I came up short tonight.”
|Red Sox-Blue Jays series preview||at 1:11 pm ET|
What began with a promising 2-1 start on an 11-game homestand quickly was scuttled thanks to an eight-game losing streak that resulted in a massively disappointing 2-9 mark against the Astros, Angels and Mariners during their season-long stretch at Fenway.
Boston’s last three games were especially deflating, as the Red Sox blew 3-0 leads in consecutive games and left 15 runners on base Sunday en route to a three-game sweep by the Mariners — Seattle’s first sweep at Fenway since the franchise’s inception in 1977.
“That’s just the game. So many things you can’t control,” said third baseman Will Middlebrooks after Sunday’s game, adding: “What are you going to do?”
The remainder of the 2014 season will see the Red Sox mostly taking on their familiar foes in the AL East, as 25 of Boston’s final 32 games will be against division opponents, starting with a three-game set against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
The Blue Jays have slumped as of late, posting a 3-7 record over their last 10 games — including a series loss against the Rays that culminated in a 2-1 extra-innings defeat Sunday.
The Red Sox will be looking for a different outcome from the last time they faced off against Toronto on July 28-30, as the Blue Jays outscored Boston 24-4 during a three-game sweep.
Here are the probable pitchers for the three-game series.
Monday: Clay Buchholz (5-8, 5.94 ERA) vs. J.A. Happ (8-8, 4.39 ERA)
Tuesday: Rubby De La Rosa (4-5, 3.69 ERA) vs. R.A. Dickey (10-12, 4.08 ERA)
Wednesday: Joe Kelly (0-1, 4.09 ERA) vs. Marcus Stroman (7-5, 4.11 ERA)
WHO’S HOT: RED SOX
– Yoenis Cespedes was acquired by Boston at the July 31 trade deadline to drive in runs. So far, he’s been doing a great job of it. Since his first game with the Red Sox on Aug. 2, Cespedes has driven in 18 of Boston’s 79 runs — 23 percent of the team’s total scoring output. Despite his aggressive approach at the plate, the Cuban left fielder has more RBIs than strikeouts (16) in his 21 games in Boston.
|Sunday’s Red Sox-Mariners matchups: Allen Webster vs. Hisashi Iwakuma||08.24.14 at 10:12 am ET|
Webster (3-1, 4.73 ERA) has turned in three straight quality starts for Boston, compiling a 3.86 ERA with a .239/.333/.388 line during that stretch.
In his last start Tuesday against the Angels, Webster gave up seven hits and three runs with three strikeouts over six innings of work in what was eventually a 4-3 Los Angeles win.
“When he’s right like for the vast majority of tonight, put the ball on the ground, ground balls,” manager John Farrell said. “It’s good to see him continue to back up outings in a positive way and build some momentum and I’m sure some confidence in his own right.”
While Webster has settled down after his shaky debut this season, the third inning has continued to be a thorn in the side of the 24-year-old. Twelve of the 15 earned runs that Webster has allowed this season have come during the third.
Webster was rocked in his only career appearance against the Mariners on July 9, 2013, surrendering six hits and seven earned runs over just 2 1/3 innings.
Iwakuma (12-6, 2.57 ERA) has been extremely effective as of late, posting a 7-2 record with a 1.63 ERA over his last 10 starts.
In his last outing Tuesday, the 33-year-old shut down the Phillies for eight innings, holding his opponents to just four hits and no runs while racking up 11 strikeouts.
|Brandon Workman’s latest struggle raises questions about rotation future||08.23.14 at 11:43 pm ET|
Although his time in the majors has been brief, Red Sox starter Brandon Workman already has seen his career marked by two vastly different stretches of play.
Through his first eight big league starts, Workman looked like he belonged in the Red Sox rotation, posting a 2-1 record with a 2.91 ERA. He became the first Red Sox pitcher to make eight straight starts of five or more innings and three or fewer runs allowed since World War II.
Unfortunately for the 6-foot-5 righty, the last eight outings have been a far cry from his stellar debut, with an 0-8 record and a 6.75 ERA bloating his career numbers during the second half of the 2014 season. He now has achieved history of another sort, becoming the first Sox pitcher since Red Ruffing in 1929 to absorb a loss in eight or more consecutive appearances.
Workman’s latest outing fit his current trend of ineffectiveness, as the 26-year-old was torched for 10 hits and seven earned runs in just 3 1/3 innings against the Mariners on Saturday in what eventually resulted in a 7-3 Red Sox defeat.
Despite his discouraging box score, Workman began the game on a good foot, holding Seattle scoreless through the first three innings, including a 1-2-3 inning in the third.
“It was a quick inning,”Workman said. “I threw strikes, made some good pitches, got ground balls. … I didn’t execute like that in the fourth.”
|Closing Time: Brandon Workman’s implosion extends Red Sox losing streak to seven games||at 5:03 pm ET|
However, this collapse came much earlier than the ninth inning.
The culprit Saturday was Red Sox starter Brandon Workman, who was tagged for 10 hits and seven earned runs in a nightmare of a fourth inning that proved to be the difference maker in a 7-3 Mariners win.
The Red Sox have now lost seven games in a row, marking the second-longest losing streak for the club this year, behind only 10 straight contests from May 15 to May 25.
Boston got off to a promising start Saturday afternoon against Seattle, scoring a run off of Mariners southpaw starter Chris Young in each of the first three innings to build up a 3-0 cushion for Workman. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox pregame notes: Xander Bogaerts continues to be evaluated for possible concussion; Joe Kelly feels ‘no ill effects’ after exiting early from Friday start||at 1:50 pm ET|
Xander Bogaerts‘ status going forward with Boston is uncertain in the wake of the 21-year-old taking a Felix Hernandez pitch off the helmet in Friday’s loss to the Mariners.
Red Sox manager John Farrell said that Bogaerts — who is not in the lineup for Saturday’s game against Seattle — still needs to undergo additional evaluations to rule out the potential for a concussion.
“Anytime you get hit in the head like he did last night and get removed from the game, he’s got to go through a protocol, which he’s going through today, just to see if there’s any concussion symptoms,” Farrell said. “So that’s what’s taking place this morning.”
While it appeared that Bogaerts was healthy enough to remain in the game after being struck in the head by the 89 mph changeup, it became apparent to Farrell that his shortstop was beginning to lose focus as the game dragged on, leading to his removal from the game.
“The eye tests, the walking in a straight line, having him stand there with his eyes closed, all those were negative results, so it was determined at that point that he continue, based on his response to questions and all that our trainers put him through in the moment,” Farrell said. “But it’s not uncommon, as time goes on, that you start to feel the onset of symptoms and that was the case last night and that’s when he was removed.”
Even though no results have been released in terms of Bogaerts’ latest series of tests, he told WEEI.com’s Alex Speier Saturday morning that he felt better and hopes to play Sunday in the series finale against Seattle.
OTHER RED SOX NOTES
— Another Red Sox player was removed early from Friday’s game, as starter Joe Kelly was lifted after five innings despite only throwing 86 pitches. Kelly said after the game that he felt a slight sensation in his shoulder after delivering a curveball in the fifth inning, but that his exit was merely precautionary.
Farrell agreed with Kelly’s claims, adding that he expects no limitations for the right-hander going forward.
“Joe came in and felt no ill effects from last night after a battery of tests that he went through after the game that didn’t reproduce any of the symptoms,” Farrell said. “It was followed up with him feeling well this morning and he’s on target to start in five days.”
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