The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram » Boston Red Sox http://www.pressherald.com Fri, 01 Jul 2016 08:28:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.3.4 Price, Red Sox beaten by Rays, 4-0 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/29/moore-rays-shut-down-red-sox-4-0/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/29/moore-rays-shut-down-red-sox-4-0/#comments Wed, 29 Jun 2016 19:23:11 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/29/moore-rays-shut-down-red-sox-4-0/ ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — David Price has always been his own toughest critic.

The new Red Sox ace blames himself for Boston’s recent struggles, saying Wednesday he hasn’t set a tone for the team to be successful by pitching deeper into games.

“I need to pitch better. It’s nothing else, it’s not bad luck – it’s me. I’ve got to get better,” Price said after a 4-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays dropped Boston to 13-19 since May 26.

The Red Sox have lost seven of their last 10 games, including 2 of 3 to the Rays, who entered the series on an 11-game losing streak.

Price (8-5) was outpitched Wednesday by former Tampa Bay teammate Matt Moore. The 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner allowed four runs and nine hits while striking out 10 in 61/3 innings.

“On a day when I thought overall he probably had his best stuff of the season, in terms of velocity, in terms of the shape to his secondary pitches, they bunched a couple hits together,” Boston Manager John Farrell said.

Tampa Bay’s Brandon Guyer returned from a three-week stint on the disabled list and hit a solo homer in the second inning. He doubled down the left-field line in the third, driving in another run to make it 4-1.

Price was a lot more critical of his performance than Farrell was.

“That’s probably the worst change-up I’ve had in a month. My curveball was awful. I can’t move my cutter and slider how I want to, and command my fastball the way I need to,” Price said.

“It’s frustrating. It’s been my worst year,” he added. “It’s unacceptable.”

Moore (4-5) allowed three singles in seven innings and struck out five to beat Price, who fell to 1-3 in five career starts against his former team.

The Red Sox were held hitless until Christian Vazquez singled leading off the sixth. Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts followed with hits to load the bases with one out, but David Ortiz popped up and Hanley Ramirez hit a routine fly that ended the threat.

“Moore was very good. … We have the big opportunity with David and Hanley in the middle of the order,” Farrell said. “You figure that’s the time we cash in. But that wasn’t the case.”

Price was beaten by the Rays for the second time this season. He also lost to Tampa Bay 12-8 at Fenway Park on April 21.

“I’m just putting us behind the 8-ball in a lot of games. I’m not setting the tone the way that I need to,” Price said. “It’s crushing me right now, but I’ll get there.”

Boston was shut out for the third time this season. The Rays, who ended a streak of 13 consecutive games in which the pitching staff gave up five or more runs, also blanked the Red Sox 3-0 in 10 innings on April 19.

NOTES: Ramirez felt some discomfort on his right side after swinging and missing in the sixth. He was removed as a precaution in the eighth. “We were just trying to prevent something big,” said Ramirez, who is day to day. “It got a little bit worse, and (Farrell) took me out of the game to prevent something bigger.” … The Red Sox have not announced who will take LHP Eduardo Rodriguez’s spot in the rotation, but Farrell said the replacement will pitch Sunday against the Angels. Rodriguez was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket after allowing nine runs over 22/3 innings in Monday’s 13-7 loss to the Rays.

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Red Sox power past the Rays http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/28/red-sox-power-past-the-rays/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/28/red-sox-power-past-the-rays/#comments Wed, 29 Jun 2016 02:40:01 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=947528 ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Rick Porcello pitched six strong innings, Travis Shaw homered and drove in five runs for the third time this season and the Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 8-2 on Tuesday night to end a three-game losing streak.

Porcello (9-2) retired the last nine batters he faced after giving up a bases-loaded walk to Nick Franklin in the fourth. That was the only run the right-hander allowed while also yielding five hits.

Shaw had a solo homer, a two-run double and a two-run single for the Red Sox, who broke a close game open with a three-run seventh. David Ortiz continued to climb the career RBI list with a third-inning double, and Jackie Bradley Jr. and Hanley Ramirez also drove in runs for Boston.

Ortiz’s hit gave the Red Sox a 2-0 lead against Chris Archer (4-11), who’s gone from being an All-Star a year ago to leading the major leagues in losses this season. One night after moving ahead of Reggie Jackson for sole possession of 24th on the career RBI list, the slugger pulled even with another Hall of Famer, Frank Thomas, for 23rd with 1,704.

Light-hitting Tampa Bay snapped an 11-game losing streak on Monday night, pounding out a season-high 18 hits in a 13-7 win that saddled Boston with its sixth loss in eight games.

Tampa Bay Rays catcher Hank Conger, left, looks on as Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz hits a RBI-double to right field during the third inning of a baseball game Tuesday, June 28, 2016, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius)

Tampa Bay Rays catcher Hank Conger, left, looks on as Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz hits a RBI-double to right field during the third inning of a baseball game Tuesday, June 28, 2016, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius)

Jackie Bradley Jr. scores on a two-run double hit by Travis Shaw. Associated Press/Steve Nesius

Jackie Bradley Jr. scores on a two-run double hit by Travis Shaw. Associated Press/Steve Nesius

The offensive outburst didn’t spill over to Tuesday.

The Rays loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth, but only scored once — with Porcello’s third walk of the inning forcing in the run. The Boston right-hander, who had not walked more than two batters in any of his previous 19 starts, wiggled off the hook by getting Logan Forsythe to fly to right field and fanning Hank Conger and Brad Miller.

Porcello and reliever Junichi Tazawa didn’t allow another baserunner until Miller’s solo homer trimmed Tampa Bay’s deficit to 6-2 with two outs in the seventh.

Archer, who allowed four runs and seven hits over 6 1/3 innings, fell to 1-8 lifetime against the Red Sox, who’ve won eight straight decisions against the right-hander.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Red Sox: SS Xander Bogaerts, who leads the majors with 109 hits and is batting .343, had a scheduled day off. … C Ryan Hanigan (strained neck) will have his status evaluated after catching a full game Wednesday with Triple-A Pawtucket.

Rays: OF Corey Dickerson (sore left thumb) missed his third straight but was available to pinch hit. … RHP Alex Cobb (Tommy John surgery) is scheduled to throw a batting practice session Thursday.

CLOSING TIME

Rays closer Alex Colome was placed on the 15-day disabled list with right medial biceps tendinitis. The move was retroactive to June 19, so the right-hander is eligible to come off the DL on Monday. “We’re not too concerned,” said manager Kevin Cash, who plans to mix-and-match late in games with Colome sidelined.

MOVING DAY

Red Sox: Reliever Pat Light was recalled from Pawtucket to take the roster spot of LHP Eduardo Rodriguez, who was optioned to the International League club after allowing nine runs in 2 2/3 innings in Monday night’s 13-7 loss to the Rays. The outing increased Rodriguez’s ERA from 6.41 to 8.59. Boston won’t need a starter to replace Rodriguez until sometime between Sunday and Tuesday.

Rays: They purchased the contract of LHP Dana Eveland from Triple-A Durham to fill Colome’s roster spot.

LUCKY CHARM?

A group of Rays players put items they used during an 11-game losing streak into a “BURN BOX'” in the clubhouse before Monday’s victory over Boston. Items included shoes, batting gloves, a jock strap and one of Dickerson’s bats.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: LHP David Price (8-4, 4.68 ERA) starts the series finale against his former team. The 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner ranks among the league leaders in strikeouts, innings pitched and wins. He has an AL-leading four outings with double-digit strikeouts, most by a Boston pitcher in a single season since Jon Lester had seven in 2010.

Rays: LHP Matt Moore is 3-4 with a 5.40 ERA in eight career appearances against Boston, including seven starts. He’s 1-2 with a 6.35 ERA in three starts against the Red Sox at Tropicana Field.

 

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Red Sox Farm Report: Boston could use a commanding Owens, while Ball should be bound for Sea Dogs http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/28/red-sox-farm-report-boston-could-use-a-commanding-owens-while-ball-should-be-bound-for-sea-dogs/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/28/red-sox-farm-report-boston-could-use-a-commanding-owens-while-ball-should-be-bound-for-sea-dogs/#comments Tue, 28 Jun 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=946010 One tall left-hander, Henry Owens, looked like he was getting back in control. But that was a tease.

Another lefty, Trey Ball, appears set to follow the recent pipeline from Salem to Portland.

Owens, 23, pitched a one-hit shutout in a seven-inning game last week for Triple-A Pawtucket. Owens had been struggling, but he said catcher Dan Butler offered advice on his delivery, which helped Owens’ command.

We wanted to believe that because a commanding Owens could play a factor in Boston’s fortunes.

But alas … Owens’ next start Sunday lasted two batters into the fifth inning – with Owens giving up his fifth walk and his sixth hit. His official line featured five earned runs in four innings.

Owens is 5-4 with a 3.69 ERA, with 64 strikeouts and 49 walks in 70 2/3 innings.

When Owens made his three major league starts early in the season, he showed potential, including a solid start against the Yankees (six innings, two earned runs). But he pitched a total of 6 1/3 innings in his other two starts. He was out of control for Boston, with 13 total walks.

Boston so desperately needs dependable starting pitchers, especially if it is to keep up with division-leading Baltimore. Owens could be in that mix. His two best starts last year were against the Orioles – both 7 2/3 scoreless innings (allowing a total of one walk).

The Red Sox need that Owens to show up again.

Ball, like Owens, is 6-foot-6. He also pitched Sunday, for advanced Class A Salem. Ball turned in a seven-inning scoreless performance, allowing two hits and two walks, striking out six.

Ball, who turned 22 on Monday, is 5-3 with a 2.29 ERA (38 strikeouts, 29 walks in 59 innings). He started the season late, recovering from a knee injury. In 11 starts, he has had only one clunker, when he exited in the first inning of a June 6 game after his pitch count reached 40.

This is Ball’s second year in Salem. He is one of Boston’s highest draft picks in history (seventh overall in 2013) and will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft after next season. It’s time for Ball to move along to Portland.

IN PAWTUCKET, Aaron Wilkerson keeps looking like a possible option for Boston’s rotation, with a 4-1 record and 2.20 ERA after Monday night’s 6-2 victory in Rochester. Wilkerson does not light up the radar gun (90-92 mph fastball), but he commands his four-pitch mix.

Reliever Pat Light has earned another call-up to Boston whenever the Red Sox see fit to add him and his 97 mph fastball to the bullpen. In Light’s last 10 appearances, he has allowed no runs, six hits and four walks over 12 innings, striking out 13.

Outfielder Henry Ramos continues to rake since his promotion from Portland, batting .323 with an .841 OPS and two home runs in 18 games.

IN PORTLAND, second baseman Yoan Moncada and shortstop Mauricio Dubon have arrived from Salem. Moncada gets all the hype, and he is 8 for 24 with a double and a home run. He also has no walks and eight strikeouts. A switch hitter, Moncada has batted right-handed four times – striking out every time.

Dubon has had a hot start in three games, going 5 for 11 with a double and triple.

The other touted prospect in Double-A, outfielder Andrew Benintendi, continues to emerge from his early slump. He was batting .205 on June 9. Since then Benintendi is hitting .350 (21 for 60) in 15 games, with six doubles and three home runs.

When reliever Austin Maddox was promoted to Portland, there was little fanfare. But his numbers are grabbing attention: seven appearances, 17 innings, 20 strikeouts, six walks, 0.53 ERA, 0.71 WHIP. Maddox combines a 94 mph fastball with an effective slider.

IN SALEM, third baseman Rafael Devers, 19, is batting .329 with a .761 OPS in June after early struggles. He could be in line for a Sea Dogs sighting in August.

Pitcher Michael Kopech was promoted to advanced Class A after his first start of the year, in Lowell. But Kopech was scratched Thursday from his scheduled start for Salem, reportedly because of a leg cramp.

IN GREENVILLE, outfielder Tate Matheny, 22, is having a nice rebound season, batting .319 with an .822 OPS. A fourth-round draft pick last year out of Missouri State, Matheny was assigned to Lowell and struggled (.181). Matheny is the son of St. Louis Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny.

Pitcher Anderson Espinoza, 18, is being managed carefully, throwing only 59 pitches in his last start (42/3 innings, three hits, one run). He has a 3.90 ERA with 59 strikeouts and 22 walks over 621/3 innings.

IN LOWELL, right-hander Gerson Bautista, 21, is in the bullpen after two years as a starter at lower levels. Good move, so far. He’s 3 of 3 in save opportunities with six strikeouts and no walks in 41/3 innings, allowing two hits and no runs.

 

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Another shaky start, another loss for slumping Red Sox http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/27/another-shaky-start-another-loss-for-slumping-red-sox/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/27/another-shaky-start-another-loss-for-slumping-red-sox/#comments Tue, 28 Jun 2016 02:54:25 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/27/another-shaky-start-another-loss-for-slumping-red-sox/ ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Nick Franklin homered and drove in a career-high five runs to help Tampa Bay end an 11-game losing streak with a 13-7 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Monday night.

Franklin had his first three hits of the season, and Logan Forsythe and Desmond Jennings also homered in support of rookie left-hander Blake Snell (1-2), who allowed four runs and eight hits over 5 1-3 innings to get his first big league win.

Tampa Bay’s skid matched the longest in the majors this season. Snell, 23, became the first AL rookie starter to stop a losing streak of 11 or more games since 2009, when David Price also stopped an 11-game skid for the Rays.

Forsythe finished with three of Tampa Bay’s season-best 18 hits, including a two-run homer off Eduardo Rodriguez (1-3) that gave Snell a 9-0 lead in the third inning. Logan Morrison drove in two during a five-run first, and Jennings led off the third with a solo homer.

Rodriguez continued to struggle in his comeback from a stint of the disabled list (right patella subluxation), allowing nine runs and 11 hits in 2 2/3 innings.

Boston fans sprinkled throughout an announced crowd of 18,024 cheered sarcastically in the second, when the Red Sox finally had a reliever start warming in the bullpen after Franklin’s RBI single increased Tampa Bay’s lead to 7-0. Forsythe’s homer ended the Boston starter’s night, giving Snell a nine-run cushion — though not necessarily an easy path to victory.

Bryce Brentz had a two-run double for Boston in the fourth, and the Red Sox loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth. Snell walked David Ortiz, forcing in a run but escaped further damage by striking out Hanley Ramirez. The young lefty yielded another run in the sixth, exiting after throwing 103 pitches.

Ortiz moved ahead of Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson into sole possession of 24th place on the career RBI list with 1,703. His 168 RBIs against the Rays are the most by any Tampa Bay opponent.

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Tom Caron: Boston’s pitching problems continue to mount http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/27/tom-caron-bostons-pitching-problems-continue-to-mount/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/27/tom-caron-bostons-pitching-problems-continue-to-mount/#comments Tue, 28 Jun 2016 00:50:58 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/27/tom-caron-bostons-pitching-problems-continue-to-mount/ The Red Sox began the week four games out of first place. It’s the furthest back they’ve been since April 12, when they were 3-4 after seven games.

It has been an all-out June swoon for the Sox, who have lost six of their last eight games after Monday’s 13-7 loss at Tampa Bay. It easily could’ve been an eight-game losing streak, considering both wins were comebacks triggered by late-game offensive surges.

That offense, which has still scored more runs than any team in baseball, isn’t good enough to cover up the blemishes of the pitching staff. No offense is. Hitting is the only reason the Sox are in contention as we approach the midway point of the season.

It’s time now to address the pitching.

The starting rotation may have hit a low point over the weekend in Texas. On Friday, David Price gave up 12 hits in just 21/3 innings, a short start that was forgotten in the wake of the late-game comeback. On Saturday, Steven Wright didn’t make it through the fifth inning, giving up eight runs in a 10-3 loss. Only five of the runs were earned, so Wright’s ERA remained the lowest in the league at 2.18.

On Sunday, Clay Buchholz was asked to give the bullpen a rest with a deep start. After one inning, no one thought that was possible. Buchholz gave up three runs on five hits and two walks in the first, yet settled down to pitch deeper into the game than any other starter on the weekend.

Not that it was a good start. Buchholz gave up five runs in 51/3 innings. It was the fifth time in 12 starts this season he’s given up at least five runs. After this latest start, Manager John Farrell essentially admitted Buchholz will likely stay in the rotation, primarily because the team has so few options.

We are just over a month away from the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline, but the pressure is mounting on Dave Dombrowski, the team’s president of baseball operations, to make a trade. Through April and May, Red Sox fans jumped aboard a bandwagon that was pretty empty after back-to-back last-place seasons. The team is in danger of losing all that goodwill, as ugly pitching performances lead to ugly losses.

It seemed a three-game series with the Rays is just what the doctor ordered. But Tampa Bay ended an 11-game losing streak on Monday night, roughing up Eduardo Rodriguez for five runs in the first inning and nine runs in a 22/3 innings.

And Kevin Cash’s team is 10 games under .500.

Weak opponents won’t be enough to cure what ails the starting rotation. Reinforcements are needed. It seems clear that internal options like Henry Owens and Roenis Elias won’t get it done. And now the entire rotation is struggling – through the Texas series, Sox starters had given up at least four runs in each of the last five starts.

We’ve been talking about the need for pitching help all year. Now, the call for support is reaching a crescendo.

We’ll have to wait to see if other GMs are willing to listen to Dombrowski’s offers as we roll into July.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.

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Rangers get early jump on Buchholz, Red Sox http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/26/rangers-get-early-jump-on-buchholz-red-sox/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/26/rangers-get-early-jump-on-buchholz-red-sox/#comments Sun, 26 Jun 2016 22:49:14 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/26/rangers-get-early-jump-on-buchholz-red-sox/ ARLINGTON, Texas — Clay Buchholz allowed the first six Texas batters to reach in his second start since a brief demotion to the bullpen, and walked a season-high five.

The right-hander and Boston Manager John Farrell still saw some positives in a 6-2 loss to the Rangers on Sunday.

The Rangers scored three runs after four straight singles to start the game, and Prince Fielder homered not long before Buchholz’s exit in the sixth. In between, the two-time All-Star didn’t allow a runner to reach second base and faced the minimum in a four-inning stretch.

“In the first inning, it wasn’t really a whole lot of balls that were hit hard, they were just hit where we weren’t,” Buchholz said. “That was basically the difference.”

Texas left-hander Martin Perez won his sixth straight decision with six solid innings and helped the Rangers to yet another series victory despite a bout with control issues that had his manager questioning his body language on the mound.

“The thing that I like is that he continues to search and find ways to get himself out of the inning,” Jeff Banister said. “He seemed to throw just enough strikes to get them into swing mode. There’s still a learning process, but it’s getting better.”

Prince Fielder hit a two-run homer for the Rangers, who are 11-0-1 in series since getting swept at Oakland in mid-May. Texas improved to 8-1 in deciding games this season.

Perez (7-4) was working on a shutout before Bryce Brentz hit a solo drive with two out in the sixth for his first major league homer. Perez matched the longest winning streak of his career, from 2013, despite throwing more balls than strikes into the fifth inning.

Shin-Soo Choo, Ian Desmond, Nomar Mazara and Adrian Beltre opened Texas’ three-run first with four straight singles. The last two drove in a run apiece, and Rougned Odor drove in another run with bloop single to left.

Choo had three hits and scored twice, the second time on another RBI single from Beltre.

Buchholz (3-8) walked two in the first inning and allowed seven hits and five runs — four earned — in 5 1/3 innings, falling to 1-6 against Texas.

“There was a stretch where we’ve seen in a number of his starts where he was very good, but there’s an inning inside of it that’s the one you can point to,” Farrell said.

The Rangers, who have the best record in the American League at 49-27, won a three-game series for the seventh time after dropping the opener.

David Ortiz pinch-hit with two runners on in the eighth inning of the retiring slugger’s final regular-season game in Texas. That prompted a standing ovation from the crowd, including plenty of Rangers fans.

Ortiz pulled a run-scoring single through the shift in right before Travis Shaw flied out. Former closer Shawn Tolleson pitched a scoreless ninth for a Texas bullpen that surrendered four runs with two outs in the ninth of an 8-7 loss in the opener.

TRAINER’S ROOM

RED SOX: Utility player Brock Holt is getting close to a return after missing 34 games because a concussion, but the plan is for a cautious approach when he does get back. “To say that once he comes back, he’s good to go five to six times a week, I think that might be a little aggressive right now,” Manager John Farrell said.

RANGERS: Right-hander Yu Darvish (right shoulder discomfort) threw 30 pitches in a bullpen session.

UP NEXT

RED SOX: Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (1-2, 6.41 ERA) gets the opener of a three-game series at Tampa Bay on Monday night. He is winless in four starts since beating Baltimore 6-2 in his 2016 debut.

RANGERS: Right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez is set for his first appearance of the season in the opener of a four-game series at the Yankees on Monday night. He was 3-5 with a 4.03 ERA in 10 starts as a rookie last year.

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On Baseball: International gambles can be costly for Red Sox http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/26/on-baseball-international-gambles-can-be-costly-for-red-sox/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/26/on-baseball-international-gambles-can-be-costly-for-red-sox/#comments Sun, 26 Jun 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=942224 Read the words from Boston’s general manager after the Red Sox signed a Cuban sensation:

“This is an exciting player. He’s got a great combination of skills, defensive ability, speed, solid power. He’s got a really strong track record in Cuba. We’re excited to add him to the organization and we feel he can be part of winning Red Sox teams here for a long time.”

The player receiving all the praise was not Yoan Moncada, but Rusney Castillo.

Before the Red Sox landed Moncada in March 2015, Boston GM Ben Cherington signed Castillo in August 2014 – at the urging of team ownership.

Castillo was dropped from Boston’s 40-man roster last week, but the Red Sox are on the hook for the remainder of his $72.5 million contract that runs through 2020. Over parts of three seasons, he has played 99 games in the majors, batting .262 with seven home runs.

Interestingly, Moncada was promoted to Double-A Portland at about the same time the Red Sox were apparently giving up on Castillo, though he remains in the organization at Triple-A Pawtucket.

It’s a continuous cycle with international free agents: spend, spend, spend – and hope.

In some cases, it appears a team is looking for the best talent. In others, the spending in itself appears to be a competition. A team owner loses out on one free agent, so he spends more on the next available one.

Baseball’s free-agent market for established players has its gambles, with mega millions spent on veterans based on past performance. Boston has had success (Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon, among others) and disasters (Carl Crawford and, so far, Pablo Sandoval).

But there is even more uncertainty when it comes to spending on international free agents. Teams often are bidding on teenagers. Even older players who have proven themselves in international leagues may not adjust well to the U.S.

Todd Claus, a former Sea Dogs manager, is the Red Sox Latin America scouting coordinator. Latin American free agents, mostly from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, can be signed when they are 16. The scouting starts years earlier.

“We’re looking at 14-year-olds and trying to say whether they’re going to be big leaguers,” Claus said during a recent visit to Portland. “It’s the most difficult thing I’ve done in the game.”

Claus first saw Moncada as a 15-year-old playing in an international tournament in Mexico. He quickly notified the Red Sox that Moncada was a player “to keep an eye on.”

When Moncada left Cuba and filed for free agency, Boston won the bidding, offering a $31.5 million signing bonus. Moncada was just 19 years old.

To control outrageous spending by big-market clubs, Major League Baseball started establishing limits on signing bonuses for international free agents. Heavy fines would be imposed for violators. Boston owner John Henry shrugged and wrote a check for an additional $31.5 million to cover the fine. That makes $63 million for one prospect.

“Let’s hope he works out,” Claus said with a smile. Claus does not doubt Moncada’s ability. But no one can guarantee success in the major leagues.

Henry became the Red Sox owner before the 2002 season, when the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry was considerably one-sided in New York’s favor. By the end of the year, the Red Sox were locked in a battle for Cuban free-agent pitcher Jose Contreras, considered a sure-bet star.

While Contreras worked out in Nicaragua, the Red Sox recruited him heavily and thought they had a deal. But the Yankees swooped in with a four-year contract worth $32 million – $10 million more than Boston offered. The Contreras deal prompted the Red Sox president, Larry Lucchino, to issue his now-famous statement: “The Evil Empire extends its tentacles even into Latin America.”

The Yankees won the bidding, but did they really win? Contreras was mediocre in New York. And when his ERA ballooned to 5.64 in 2004, he was sent to the White Sox at the trade deadline.

But Henry seemed determined to outbid the Yankees. He got his chance four years later when Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka became available.

Under rules at the time, MLB teams submitted secret bids for the right to negotiate with Japanese League players. In 2000, the Seattle Mariners made a then-record bid of $13 million to negotiate with Ichiro Suzuki.

The bid for Matsuzaka figured to be higher. The Yankees reportedly bid $32 million.

Henry wanted to win this one and he made sure of it with a $51 million bid. The Red Sox then signed Matsuzaka to a six-year deal worth $52 million – making the total $103 million.

What did the Red Sox get? Two good years. He helped Boston win the American League East in 2007 (by two games over the Yankees) with a 15-12 record and 4.40 ERA. In the playoffs that season, Matsuzaka went 2-1, but with a 5.02 ERA in four starts as the Red Sox won the World Series.

Matsuzaka shined in 2008 (18-3, 2.90) although his postseason ERA was 4.50.

Over those two seasons, Matsuzaka pitched 3721/3 innings. In the four seasons after, he threw only 296 innings, going 17-22 with a 5.53 ERA. He underwent Tommy John surgery in June 2011.

Interestingly, after the Yankees lost out on Matsuzaka, they signed Japanese left-hander Kei Igawa before the 2007 season. New York won the bid to negotiate with Igawa for $26 million, then gave him a $20 million deal over five years.

For their $46 million, the Yankees got 13 starts from Igawa (2-4, 6.66 ERA). He spent the final three years of his contract in the minors.

That did not keep the Yankees from going after Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. The rules for Japanese free agents changed. Any team could negotiate with the player and then pay a posting fee (a maximum of $20 million) to his Japanese team. New York signed Tanaka for seven years and $155 million, plus the $20 million posting fee, before the 2014 season.

Tanaka has been a positive addition. Overall, he’s 29-14 with a 3.10 ERA. This season, he’s 4-2 with a 2.91 ERA.

In 2010, seven Cubans were on major league rosters on Opening Day. Six years later, the figure has more than tripled to 23. The Dominican Republic (82) and Venezuela (63) have the most major leaguers born outside the U.S.

Boston has signed Cubans before, including shortstop Jose Iglesias, who began his pro career with the Sea Dogs in 2010. He eased his way into the big leagues in 2011 and established himself in 2013, when the Red Sox traded him to Detroit and obtained Jake Peavy from the White Sox in a three-way deal.

Other Cubans – Yoenis Cespedes with the A’s in 2012 and Yasiel Puig with the Dodgers in 2013 – made immediate impacts.

When Cuban slugger Jose Abreu became an international free agent after the 2013 season, the Red Sox were interested. But in a secret bidding process, Boston came up $5 million short to the White Sox’s $68 million, six-year offer.

Abreu was the American League Rookie of the Year in 2014, batting .317 with 36 home runs.

Henry and the Red Sox would not lose out again, and signed Castillo in the summer of 2014. Castillo was called up that September and batted .333 with two home runs in 10 games.

His $72 million contract looked like a good deal and may have encouraged Boston to go all out on Moncada the next spring. The Yankees offered Moncada $25 million – $6.5 million less than Boston.

The Dodgers also have been signing Cubans and other international players, and likely will be paying a fine this year – reportedly up to $46 million.

While Puig has been an All-Star, the Dodgers have gambled unsuccessfully with other Cuban talent.

In the previous three years, they blew a total of $81 million on three players:

Infielder/left fielder Alex Guerrero signed with the Dodgers in 2013 but was released this month.

Third baseman/left fielder Hector Olivera signed in May 2015 but was traded to the Braves just two months later. Atlanta assumed his contract, but the Dodgers were out the $28 million signing bonus.

Shortstop Erisbel Arruebarrena signed in 2014 but was designated for assignment at the end of the season. He is in the Dodgers’ minor league system but was suspended in May for the rest of the season for “repeated failure to comply with the terms of his contract,” according to the team.

Boston has not had those kinds of problems. The problem with Castillo, 28, is that he hasn’t been able to hit. Now off the 40-man roster and back in Pawtucket, Castillo is trying to revive his career.

Meanwhile, one level lower at Portland, the latest Cuban sensation is showing off his tools with the Sea Dogs.

Will Yoan Moncada eventually make an impact with Red Sox?

That’s the $63 million question, isn’t it?

 

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Rangers beat up on Wright, Red Sox http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/26/rangers-beat-up-on-wright-red-sox/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/26/rangers-beat-up-on-wright-red-sox/#comments Sun, 26 Jun 2016 05:02:17 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/26/rangers-beat-up-on-wright-red-sox/ ARLINGTON, Texas — Elvis Andrus had a bases-loaded triple, Ian Desmond homered again and the Texas Rangers beat the Boston Red Sox 10-3 late Saturday night.

Desmond’s 13th homer, his sixth in June, tied the game leading off the fourth. Mitch Moreland had a tiebreaking two-run single later in the inning to put the Rangers ahead to stay.

Andrus cleared the bases with his triple to the wall in left-center that chased knuckleballer Steven Wright (8-5) in the fifth. Andrus scored on a wild pitch by Robbie Ross Jr., capping a five-run inning in which all the runs were unearned after two errors and a passed ball.

Cesar Ramos (2-3), the third Texas pitcher, pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings. The lefty struck out consecutive batters after taking over with runners at second and third and one out in the sixth.

The scheduled 8:20 p.m. CDT first pitch was the latest ever for a Rangers home game. They opted against a day game, and that was the earliest they could play at night after Fox’s national exclusive TV window and still broadcast their game regionally. The game ended at 1 a.m. ET.

Wright allowed a career-high eight runs, but since five of those were unearned, his AL-best ERA rose only from 2.01 to 2.18. The right-hander struck out four and walked two in 4 2/3 innings.

Hanley Ramirez homered for the Red Sox, who are 12-16 over the past month.

The Rangers have the American League’s best record at 48-27.

Mookie Betts had an RBI single in the fifth to pull Boston to 3-2, and the bases were loaded when Dustin Pedroia grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Jackie Bradley Jr. had an RBI double in the sixth before Ramos took over.

SHORT HOPS

The Rangers, who lost the series opener 8-7, haven’t had consecutive losses since being swept May 16-18 in three games at Oakland. … Wright has allowed only 17 extra-base hits in 15 starts this season. … Texas is 11-1 in Saturday games, winning nine in a row.

BACK ON THE BUMP

A.J. Griffin came off the 15-day disabled list (right shoulder stiffness) to make his first start for Texas since May 7. The right-hander struck out the first three batters he faced, and finished with six strikeouts and one walk in 4 1/3 innings. He allowed two runs and four hits.

TRAINER’S ROOM

RED SOX: Catcher Ryan Hanigan (neck strain) is scheduled to catch nine innings in consecutive games Tuesday and Wednesday for Triple-A Pawtucket in his rehab. … Utility player Brock Holt (33 games missed after a concussion) will get re-evaluated after playing Sunday at Pawtucket, and could rejoin the Red Sox next week in Tampa Bay.

RANGERS: Yu Darvish (right shoulder discomfort) and Keone Kela (right elbow impingement), a pair of right-handers on the disabled list, are both scheduled to throw bullpen sessions Sunday. … Right-hander Colby Lewis was placed on the 15-day DL to make room for Griffin on the roster. He won’t be able to throw for at least four weeks because of a strained lat muscle.

UP NEXT

RED SOX: Clay Buchholz is 1-5 with a 4.10 ERA in seven career starts against the Rangers. The Texas native makes his second consecutive start after his five previous appearances were out of the bullpen.

RANGERS: Left-hander Martin Perez, who is 5-0 his last six starts, makes his Texas-high 16th start. He had a career-best six-game winning streak in 2013.

 

 

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Stunning comeback for never-say-die Sox http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/25/stunning-comeback-for-never-say-die-sox/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/25/stunning-comeback-for-never-say-die-sox/#comments Sat, 25 Jun 2016 04:15:15 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/25/stunning-comeback-for-never-say-die-sox/ ARLINGTON, Texas — Mookie Betts hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning and Dustin Pedroia scored the tiebreaking run on a wild pitch as the Boston Red Sox rallied for an 8-7 win over the Texas Rangers on Friday night.

Betts’ 16th homer came with two outs off Matt Bush (2-1), who had just taken over after pinch-hitter Sandy Leon hit an RBI double on the 11th pitch of his at-bat against Jake Diekman. Pedroia then walked, went to third on Xander Bogaerts’ single and came home on the wild pitch.

Heath Hembree (4-0) worked a scoreless eighth before Koji Uehara struck out the side in the ninth for his second save.

The Red Sox trailed 6-0 early after starter David Price allowed 12 hits in only 21/3 innings.

Hanley Ramirez and Jackie Bradley both hit two-run homers off Texas starter Nick Martinez, who went six innings before Tony Barnette threw two scoreless innings.

After a day off Thursday, the Rangers went with Diekman in the ninth instead of closer Sam Dyson. Diekman had allowed a three-run homer Wednesday against Cincinnati, snapping his scoreless streak of 142/3 innings before Dyson pitched the ninth for his 15th save – and 13th in a row since becoming the Texas closer May 18.

Diekman got two outs after a leadoff walk to Bradley. The big lefty was removed after the long at-bat by Leon, and then Betts hit a 1-1 pitch from the hard-throwing Bush.

Shin-Soo Choo hit a leadoff homer against Price, and the first four Texas batters reached, including a two-run single on the first of Elvis Andrus’ three hits.

Ian Desmond also had three hits for Texas, including an RBI single in the second inning after Bobby Wilson snapped an 0-for-15 slump with a double. An inning later, Wilson hit a two-run single to chase Price with the Rangers up 6-0.

Price’s ERA in seven regular-season starts at Texas is now 7.68 – by far his worst at any opposing stadium.

He had gone at least eight innings in his previous three starts, and had a 2.47 ERA over his last eight starts for the Red Sox. The left-hander has given up more hits only once in his 234 career games.

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Red Sox win in 10 innings to avoid 4-game sweep http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/23/red-sox-win-with-walkoff-single-in-10th/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/23/red-sox-win-with-walkoff-single-in-10th/#comments Thu, 23 Jun 2016 22:07:39 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/23/red-sox-win-with-walkoff-single-in-10th/ BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox were in danger of capping an awful monthlong stretch by being swept in four games by the similarly struggling Chicago White Sox.

Then they called on Craig Kimbrel to shut things down.

Pitching two full innings for the first time in more than five years, the Red Sox closer got out of a bases-loaded jam with nobody out in the top of the 10th, and Xander Bogaerts delivered the winning single in the bottom half to give Boston an 8-7 victory over Chicago on Thursday.

“We’re staring at a four-game sweep at home, and that’s never a good thing,” Manager John Farrell said. “So you find a way to pull out all the stops. … You do what you can with what you have in the moment.”

Chicago led 3-0, 4-1 and 7-5 before Boston sent it into extra innings with a run in the seventh and another in the eighth.

The White Sox loaded the bases with nobody out in the 10th, but Kimbrel (1-3) got J.B. Shuck on an infield popup and then struck out Tim Anderson and Adam Eaton.

“We had some golden opportunities,” White Sox Manager Robin Ventura said. “We just couldn’t hold them. We were walking some people, letting them have some good opportunities. We got ourselves into some good opportunities and they got out of them.”

In the bottom half, Matt Purke (0-1) walked two before Bogaerts lined one up the middle and Mookie Betts scored easily from second.

In all, Kimbrel allowed one hit and walked two while striking out three in two innings for his first American League win.

“He shut it down,” Bogaerts said. “I mean, that’s how nasty he is. He’s pretty filthy, one of the best closers in the game. And obviously that’s what we all expect from him.”

James Shields pitched his best outing in four starts since being acquired by the White Sox on June 4. Jose Abreu hit a three-run homer and Alex Avila had four hits for Chicago, which has lost 27 of its last 40 games.

Betts, Bogaerts, Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez had two hits apiece for the Red Sox, who improved to 11-15 in their last 26 games. Boston’s leadoff hitter reached safely seven times in 10 innings.

David Ortiz walked three times and led off the ninth with a double that one-hopped the short wall behind the Pesky Pole. Travis Shaw was walked on four pitches, but Jackie Bradley Jr. struck out, Ramirez lined out and Sandy Leon struck out to end the inning.

Kimbrel, who came on to start the ninth, walked Brett Lawrie and gave up Avila’s single. Avisail Garcia walked before the Red Sox closer retired the next three batters to protect the tie.

The White Sox led 4-1 before Boston scored four in the sixth to take a 5-4 lead. Then Junichi Tazawa relieved Tommy Layne with two men on in the seventh and gave up Abreu’s three-run homer over the Green Monster that made it 7-5.

The Red Sox tied it to send it into extra innings, loading the bases in the seventh before pinch-hitter Shaw launched a long sacrifice fly. Bradley popped up a bunt, and Ramirez struck out to end the inning.

In the eighth, Marco Hernandez hit his first career double and scored on Pedroia’s single to tie it 7-all.

NOTES: Red Sox outfielder Chris Young pulled up grabbing his right leg after rounding first base on a ball hit off the Green Monster in the second inning. He was helped off the field with what the team said was a hamstring injury. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list after the game.

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Red Sox promote Dubon to Portland Sea Dogs http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/23/red-sox-promote-ss-dubon-to-portland-sea-dogs/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/23/red-sox-promote-ss-dubon-to-portland-sea-dogs/#comments Thu, 23 Jun 2016 18:36:36 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/23/red-sox-promote-ss-dubon-to-portland-sea-dogs/ The recent promotion of Boston Red Sox prospects to Double-A Portland continued Thursday as shortstop Mauricio Dubon received a call-up from the Salem Red Sox.

Dubon, 21, will be in the Sea Dogs’ starting lineup Thursday evening for a 6 p.m. game against Harrisburg at Hadlock Field.

Dubon, a 26th-round draft pick by Boston in 2013, was selected a Carolina League All-Star this season after batting .306 with 24 stolen bases in 28 attempts with Class A Salem. He is a native of San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

Dubon joins second baseman Yoan Moncada and center fielder Andrew Benintendi as Boston prospects who have earned recent promotions from Salem to Portland.

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Late home runs by White Sox sink Red Sox, 8-6 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/22/late-home-runs-sink-red-sox-8-6/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/22/late-home-runs-sink-red-sox-8-6/#comments Thu, 23 Jun 2016 03:06:22 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/22/late-home-runs-sink-red-sox-8-6/ BOSTON — Brett Lawrie hit a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning after Melky Cabrera had a tying, two-run shot, lifting the resurgent Chicago White Sox over the Boston Red Sox 8-6 on Wednesday night.

Cabrera went 4 for 5 with four RBI and Todd Frazier hit his 21st homer – a two-run drive – for the White Sox.

Chicago has won three of the first four games in this series against Boston, one of the AL’s top teams this season. The White Sox (36-36) are back to .500 after having their strong start derailed by a 10-26 stretch prior to this series at Fenway Park.

Xander Bogaerts had three hits and three RBI, and Hanley Ramirez hit a solo homer after being dropped in the order for Boston.

Dan Jennings (3-1) got four outs for the win. Zach Duke got the final three for his first save and third of his career.

Cabrera tied it with a drive into Chicago’s bullpen off Koji Uehara (2-3). After Frazier struck out, Lawrie also homered against Uehara, hitting it completely out of Fenway Park over the Green Monster seats.

Red Sox Manager John Farrell shuffled the order after it scored two or fewer runs in three straight games for the first time this season, flipping Ramirez to seventh and Chris Young up to fifth.

Ramirez homered into Boston’s bullpen leading off the sixth after Frazier’s two-run shot tied it at 4 in the top half. Bogaerts added a run-scoring single.

Boston starter Eduardo Rodriguez allowed four runs – three earned – on four hits over six innings, striking out seven with two walks.

Jose Quintana walked a career-high six, giving up a season-high six runs on eight hits in 51/3 innings.

NOTES: The Red Sox honored the 50, 40, and 30-year anniversaries of Celtics’ championships pregame, hanging a banner of each on the Green Monster. Hall of Famers Tom `’Satch” Sanders (from the ’66 team) and John Havlicek (’76) threw out ceremonial first pitches along with the GM of the ’86 team – Jan Volk. … Utility player Brock Holt (concussion) had a planned day off in his rehab stint with Triple-A Pawtucket after playing two consecutive games. … Travis Shaw left with a bruised right shin. He fouled a ball off his leg Tuesday.

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Sale’s strong start shuts down Red Sox http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/21/sales-strong-start-shuts-down-red-sox/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/21/sales-strong-start-shuts-down-red-sox/#comments Wed, 22 Jun 2016 02:24:21 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/21/sales-strong-start-shuts-down-red-sox/ BOSTON — Chris Sale became the majors’ first 12-game winner while tying his season high with nine strikeouts, Tim Anderson led off the game with his first career homer and the Chicago White Sox beat the Boston Red Sox 3-1 on Tuesday night.

Todd Frazier hit his 20th homer and David Robertson got his 18th save for the White Sox, who won consecutive games for just the second time in June.

Sale (12-2) went seven innings, allowed four hits and walked one. Chicago led the whole way after Anderson homered to left on the first pitch from Clay Buchholz (3-7) in the right-hander’s return to Boston’s rotation after spending about a month in the bullpen.

Adam Eaton doubled on Buchholz’s second pitch and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Melky Cabrera.

Buchholz settled after that, allowing three runs over five innings. He struck out five and threw only 78 pitches.

Boston left eight runners on base and was 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position.

Mookie Betts drove in Boston’s only run with a sacrifice fly in the third after Travis Shaw and Sandy Leon started the inning with back-to-back singles. Shaw scored, and the Red Sox loaded the bases with two outs before Sale struck out Hanley Ramirez swinging.

Anderson hit his shot to the seats above the Green Monster, where Frazier’s 20th homer of the season also landed in the fourth to put Chicago up 3-1.

TRAINER’S ROOM

White Sox: They placed RHP Zach Putnam on the 15-day disabled list with inflammation of the ulnar nerve in his right elbow. … RHP Chris Beck was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte.

Red Sox: DH David Ortiz was not in the starting lineup, almost getting the night off before pinch hitting in the ninth and drawing a walk. Ramirez was the DH and struck out three times.

UP NEXT

White Sox: LHP Jose Quintana (5-7, 2.63) has gone 0-6 with one no decision over his last seven starts.

Red Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (1-2, 6.97), who was moved back a day in the rotation for an extra bullpen session, will start his fifth game of the season.

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Red Sox prospect Moncada ‘excited for the promotion’ to Portland http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/21/red-sox-prospect-moncada-excited-for-the-promotion-to-portland/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/21/red-sox-prospect-moncada-excited-for-the-promotion-to-portland/#comments Tue, 21 Jun 2016 21:46:41 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/21/red-sox-prospect-moncada-excited-for-the-promotion-to-portland/ There was obviously something different about the Portland Sea Dogs’ batting practice at Hadlock Field.

When No. 11 stepped into the batting cage, several cameras turned toward him.

Yoan Moncada was about to take his first swings.

Moncada, 21, the top prospect in the Boston Red Sox minor league system, joined the Portland Sea Dogs on Tuesday. He is penciled into tonight’s lineup, batting lead-off and playing second base.

Moncada is the most anticipated prospect to arrive at Hadlock Field since Xander Bogaerts came in 2012 as a 19-year-old shortstop.

The hype surrounding Moncada not only includes his baseball ability, but the $63 million the Boston Red Sox paid to sign him in March 2015, when he was a 19-year-old free agent from Cuba. Half of that went to Moncada, the other half to major league baseball as a fine for Boston exceeding its allotted amount for international signing bonuses.

Because of the hype, the expectations are soaring for Moncada.

“I haven’t really felt any pressure,” Moncada said, as Sea Dogs trainer Eric Velazquez interpreted during an informal press conference after batting practice. “My job is to play baseball. I just work on what I do.”

Moncada got off to a slow start in low Class A Greenville last year, the result of rust after a year-long layoff. In the second half of the season, he batted .310, with a .915 OPS.

“Been feeling pretty comfortable,” Moncada said, “and working on adjustments every day.”

After a full spring training with the Red Sox this year – including a couple of appearances in major league games – Moncada was assigned to advanced Class A Salem (Virginia). He impressed with a .307 average/.923 OPS in the first half of the year, stealing 36 bases in 44 tries, while he recorded 45 walks, 25 doubles, three triples and four home runs.

“I’ve been very impressed with his progression on and off the field,” said Red Sox director of player development Ben Crockett. “He’s really gotten a good grasp of what is needed to progress, and it’s shown on the field with his performance and improved consistency.”

There was never a doubt of Moncada’s physical gifts. He is a muscular 6-foot-2, 220 pounds with speed. But being a baseball player is more than being athletic. Moncada appears to get that.

“His physical tools jump out at you,” Crockett said. “But he’s worked hard to be more consistent, day to day, and has really bought into the programs.

“He still has room to grow in many areas. But the progress he has made from spring training (in) 2015 to June 2016 is tremendous.”

Chief among those areas of growth for Moncada is his fielding. “He continues to focus on being more consistent on routine plays and slowing the game down,” Crockett said.

And, for now, that fielding will take place as a second baseman. It is a given that Moncada eventually will try another position, given that Dustin Pedroia is cemented in at second base in Boston, with a contract running through 2021 – much like Mookie Betts moved from second base to center field when he was at Hadlock Field in 2014.

Betts and Bogaerts did not take long to reach the majors once they made it to Portland. Moncada seems aware of that.

“Pretty excited for the promotion,” he said, “excited to be here.”

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Tom Caron: With Castillo gone, Red Sox need extra help in outfield http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/21/tom-caron-with-castillo-gone-red-sox-need-extra-help-in-outfield/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/21/tom-caron-with-castillo-gone-red-sox-need-extra-help-in-outfield/#comments Tue, 21 Jun 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=935858 We’ve spent much of the 2016 Red Sox season talking about their need to address pitching before the trade deadline. That hasn’t changed. Boston is still going to be aggressively looking for starting and relief pitching help between now and July 31.

They also may be looking quietly for a little more outfield depth. Chris Young has become the everyday left fielder in the wake of injuries to Brock Holt and Blake Swihart. Young has answered the call, and has hit safely in 20 of the last 22 games. He was signed this offseason to play against lefties, and has hit southpaws to the tune of .400. He’s been surprisingly good against right-handers, hitting four of his six home runs against them.

Rusney Castillo was supposed to be part of that outfield mix. The Red Sox spent $72.5 million to sign him, and now his future with the organization is very much in doubt.

The Sox have tried just about anyone but Castillo in left field this season. Holt, expected to be a super utility player this season, won the primary left-field job out of spring training. He’s been on the disabled list for more than a month with a concussion.

Swihart, a catcher for the vast majority of his pro career, was called up from Pawtucket to replace Holt. This was another clear sign that the Sox were moving on from Castillo. Castillo didn’t return to the club until Swihart (ankle sprain) joined Holt on the DL.

That return was short-lived. This weekend, Castillo was replaced by Ryan LaMarre, another right-handed hitting outfielder. Soon came reports that Castillo had been placed on waivers, exposing him to any team and removing him from the Red Sox 40-man roster.

It’s hard to imagine any team plucking Castillo – and the millions remaining on his contract – off the waiver wire. He’ll most likely wind up like Allen Craig, a high-priced minor leaguer no longer in Boston’s future plans.

LaMarre, hitting .313 in Pawtucket this season, will have to bide his time on the Sox bench as Young, Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Mookie Betts play the outfield on a near-daily basis. He was just happy to be getting a chance with the big club, with his father beaming in the Fenway seats on Father’s Day.

His stay may not last long, with Holt progressing through baseball’s concussion protocol.

For now, the Sox are short a left-handed hitting outfield option off the bench – at least until Holt or Swihart returns. They will keep an eye out for an outfielder who hits from the left side. It won’t surpass the need for pitching help, but President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski and General Manager Mike Hazen will do whatever they can to help the team’s chances this year.

We’ve said time and again that Dombrowski has empowered Manager John Farrell to make roster moves based on what it means to the 2016 team. Personnel moves at 4 Yawkey Way aren’t being made based on a player’s financial or contract status. Castillo’s demotion is another reminder of that.

Thanks in large part to that sense of urgency, the Sox begin the summer just one game out of first place. There are big moves coming as the team looks to bolster an inconsistent pitching staff.

And there also will be small moves that don’t make headlines but help a contender become a championship team.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.

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Red Sox give one away, losing 3-1 to White Sox http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/20/red-sox-give-one-away-losing-3-1-to-white-sox/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/20/red-sox-give-one-away-losing-3-1-to-white-sox/#comments Tue, 21 Jun 2016 02:59:30 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/20/red-sox-give-one-away-losing-3-1-to-white-sox/ BOSTON — Jose Abreu doubled home two runs off Boston closer Craig Kimbrel with two outs in the top of the 10th inning after Chicago escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the ninth, lifting the White Sox to a 3-1 win over the Red Sox on Monday night.

Chicago snapped a three-game losing streak and won for just the eighth time in 26 games. Boston has lost five of eight.

Zach Duke (2-0) wriggled out of the ninth to get the win. David Robertson worked the 10th for his 17th save.

Red Sox knuckleballer Steven Wright pitched nine innings, giving up only an unearned run and five hits. He struck out six and walked three while lowering his AL-best ERA to 2.01.

Abreu doubled to right-center off Kimbrel (0-3) after Avisail Garcia walked and J.B. Shuck singled.

In the ninth, the Red Sox loaded the bases on three walks by Zach Putnam. Duke relieved and struck out pinch-hitter Dustin Pedroia before Christian Vazquez bounced to a fifth infielder placed in front of second base. Tyler Saladino threw home for a force, and then Duke fanned pinch-hitter Ryan LaMarre to end the threat.

White Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez gave up one run and four hits. He was lifted after giving up the tying hit with two outs in the seventh.

Gonzalez entered 6-1 with a 3.27 ERA against the Red Sox and was 4-0 against them in five starts at Fenway Park.

He mostly mixed a sharp-breaking slider with a mid-90s (mph) fastball, keeping Boston off stride and inducing a number of weak swings. The highest-scoring team in the majors was getting shut out until Vazquez’s broken-bat single dropped into center, tying it at 1.

Gonzalez was a contrast to Wright, who had his usual array of knucklers moving, but mixed in occasional curveballs — one at 64 mph — and fastballs in the mid-to-upper 80s (mph).

Coming off a weekend when they were swept in three games at Cleveland and scored just six total runs, the White Sox grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second. Brett Lawrie had a one-out double, advanced on a flyout and scored on Vazquez’s passed ball.

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Red Sox Farm Report: Top prospect Yoan Moncada arrives in Portland http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/20/red-sox-farm-report-top-prospect-yoan-moncada-arrives-in-portland/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/20/red-sox-farm-report-top-prospect-yoan-moncada-arrives-in-portland/#comments Mon, 20 Jun 2016 23:44:39 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/20/red-sox-farm-report-top-prospect-yoan-moncada-arrives-in-portland/ Every once in a while, a prospect arrives in Portland and creates a buzz around Hadlock Field and throughout Red Sox Nation.

In 2004, it was Hanley Ramirez, a 20-year-old from the Dominican Republic. Ramirez arrived as Boston’s top prospect, though he was traded after the 2005 season and went on to win Rookie of the Year honors and a batting title while with the Marlins.

In 2012, it was another shortstop, Xander Bogaerts, then 19, a rare prospect from Aruba. He also was a No. 1 Red Sox prospect. He arrived Aug. 9, and was starting in the World Series the next year. He now leads the American League in batting (.352).

Now, in 2016, we have the arrival of second baseman Yoan Moncada, another No. 1 Red Sox prospect and the third-best prospect in all the minors, according to Baseball America.

Moncada, 21, will be in a Sea Dogs uniform for the first time at 7 p.m. Tuesday when Portland begins a six-game homestand against Harrisburg.

So what is the big deal about Yoan Moncada? Glad you asked.

Q: Why is Moncada already well known?

A: The immediate answer is $63 million. That was the well-publicized amount the Red Sox paid to sign Moncada on March 12, 2015, when he was a 19-year-old free agent, recently arrived from Cuba. That sum included a $31.5 million bonus, which was $26 million more any previous signing bonus for an international free agent.

The other $31.5 million was paid in a fine to Major League Baseball because Boston had exceeded the MLB limit for international bonuses.

Q: OK, so he’s rich. Can he play?

A: Obviously, the Red Sox think so. They first noticed him playing in an international youth tournament in Mexico when he was 15. Moncada, now 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, is considered a five-tool player. He’s also a switch-hitter.

Q: What has Moncada done so far?

A: Moncada began playing in low Class A Greenville last year. After a slow start, he batted .310 in the second half of the season, with a .915 OPS (combined on base percentage and slugging average).

In Class A Salem this year, Moncada was batting .307/.923 in 61 games before his promotion after Sunday’s game.

Among all minor leaguers, he ranks first in stolen bases with 36 (in 44 attempts), second in runs (57), fourth in doubles (25), eighth in walks (45) and eighth in on-base percentage (.427). Moncada also has three triples and four home runs.

Q: What does he need to work on?

A: He can always improve his defense. The knock on Moncada was that he could make the sensational play, but sometimes struggled with the basics. He made 23 errors in 71 games in Greenville. This year, that number is down to 11 errors in 58 games.

Offensively, Moncada is raking left-handed (.315/.971), but his right-handed numbers were low but have improved to .286/.797.

Q: Will he stay at second base?

A: No. That’s the short, easy answer since Boston already has a major league second baseman, Dustin Pedroia, signed through 2021. Where will Moncada play – and when? – are the mysteries. In Portland, we may see Moncada play other positions. The guesses are third base and left field.

Q: Will Boston rush him to the big leagues?

A: No. Despite his massive signing bonus, Moncada is like other prospects coming up through the system and can spend years in the minors. The Red Sox don’t have to put him on their 40-man roster until after the 2018 season, although that is likely to happen sooner.

With so much invested, Boston will want control over Moncada’s services for as long as possible.

Moncada is in Portland because he was no longer being challenged adequately at the advanced Class A level. The same will go for Double-A. Once he shows he’s ready to move on, he will head to Triple-A Pawtucket.

Q: When can we expect Moncada in the majors?

A: Some have speculated by the end of this year. But, realistically, later in 2017 is a better bet, assuming he keeps progressing.

Q: Did the Red Sox gamble on Moncada?

A: Of course it’s a gamble, especially with Cuban players, who are not as thoroughly scouted. Boston signed Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract (including a $5.4 million signing bonus). Castillo, who turns 29 next month, has been a bust and was recently removed from the 40-man roster and sent to Pawtucket.

Q: What about the two pitchers promoted along with Moncada?

A: Starting pitcher Jalen Beeks, 22, was a 12th-round draft pick out of the University of Arkansas in 2014. A left-hander, Beeks was 4-4 in Salem, with a 3.07 ERA and 1.35 WHIP (walks/hits per innings).

Right-handed Ben Taylor, 23, was a seventh-round draft pick last year out of the University of South Alabama. He started in Greenville last year and for three starts in Salem this season, before moving to the bullpen as a long reliever. As a reliever, Taylor has a 1.69 ERA, 0.78 WHIP and 44 strikeouts/seven walks in 32 innings.

Q: Who else can Portland expect from Salem?

A: Shortstop Mauricio Dubon is playing for the Carolina League All-Stars. It’s feasible he could move to Portland from there. Dubon, 21, already has 124 games in Salem, including 62 this year (.306/.766).

Third baseman Rafael Devers, 19, is among Boston’s top positional prospects, along with Moncada and outfielder Andrew Benintendi. After a slow start, Devers is batting .339/.782 in June.

Left-handed pitcher Trey Ball, who turns 22 next week, was a first-round draft pick in 2013 (seventh overall). Ball pitched in Salem all last season (4.73 ERA) and is back with better numbers (2.60) in 10 starts.

Elsewhere in the minors …

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET is enjoying the production of two pitchers promoted from Portland. Since Aaron Wilkerson came up May 28, he is 3-1 with a 1.37 ERA, and 32 strikeouts and just five walks in 261/3 innings. Justin Haley made his Triple-A debut last week – eight innings, three hits, one run, seven strikeouts and one walk.

CLASS A GREENVILLE saw a hiccup from pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza last week when he allowed six earned runs in four innings. Espinoza, 18, is 4-5 with a 4.06 ERA, and 57 strikeouts and 21 walks in 572/3 innings.

Infielder Michael Chavis came off the disabled list June 7 (thumb) and went right back to hitting. Chavis, 20, is batting .326/.897 in 25 games.

SHORT-SEASON LOWELL began play last Saturday with right-handed prospect Michael Kopech on the mound for his 2016 debut. Kopech, 20, was another first-round pick in 2014 (the extra pick was compensation for Boston losing Jacoby Ellsbury to free agency). Kopech has had troubles – PED suspension last year, a broken hand during a fight in spring training – but he has crazy potential with a fastball in the high 90s and impressive secondary pitches. Kopech pitched 41/3 scoreless innings, allowing four hits and four walks, striking out four.

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Red Sox place Castillo on waivers http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/19/red-sox-place-castillo-on-waivers/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/19/red-sox-place-castillo-on-waivers/#comments Mon, 20 Jun 2016 00:58:55 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/19/red-sox-place-castillo-on-waivers/ BOSTON — Less than two years after arriving, outfielder Rusney Castillo appears all but finished in the Boston Red Sox organization.

Castillo, who signed a seven-year, $72.5 million contract in 2014, was placed on waivers by the Red Sox for the purposes of outrighting him off the 40-man roster, according to a report Sunday.

He was optioned Friday night back to Triple-A Pawtucket but hasn’t joined the team and won’t be eligible to do so unless he clears waivers.

The team declined comment on the move, as is typical with waiver-wire transactions.

In practical terms, what the Red Sox did with Castillo is the same as designating him for assignment and placing him immediately on waivers, as they did with pitcher Sean O’Sullivan earlier this season.

Any team claiming Castillo on waivers would assume responsibility for the approximately $38.5 million still owed him from the contract he signed with the Red Sox as a defector from Cuba late in the 2014 season.

That makes him a near-lock to clear waivers and be outrighted off Boston’s 40-man roster.

It’s been a swift fall for Castillo, who played 80 games in the major leagues last season and was Boston’s presumptive opening-day left fielder until the final week of spring training.

But the 28-year-old Castillo managed just one extra-base hit in 60 at-bats in spring training, costing him his job, and that lack of production carried over into a season at Triple-A Pawtucket that saw him slug just .320 in 147 at-bats.

He was replaced on the Red Sox bench Saturday by minor-league free agent Ryan LaMarre. Castillo played for the Sea Dogs in the 2014 playoffs.

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Price, Betts lift Red Sox http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/19/price-betts-lift-red-sox/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/19/price-betts-lift-red-sox/#comments Sun, 19 Jun 2016 20:57:30 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/19/price-betts-lift-red-sox/ BOSTON – David Price didn’t exactly have much run support.

It hardly mattered the way he shut down Seattle’s powerful lineup Sunday.

Price snapped a personal three-game losing streak with eight sharp innings, Mookie Betts hit a go-ahead homer and the Boston Red Sox beat the Mariners, 2-1.

“To go out there and be on that side of that type of game always feels good,” Price said. “I’m getting better, absolutely. There’s always room for improvement no matter how good you are. I’m still not satisfied.”

Price opened the season by winning four of his first five decisions, but his ERA was 6.75 before he straightened out some delivery problems. He’s lowered his ERA to 4.24 after a nice run.

“I think he’s just settled in to what’s been his normal delivery for a number of years,” Manager John Farrell said.

Betts also had two singles for Boston, which won its second straight after losing 4 of 5.

Franklin Gutierrez hit a solo homer for the Mariners. He sparked their series-opening victory with two homers and six RBI.

Price (8-4) gave up one run on eight hits, striking out seven with no walks. He fanned his last two batters before Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the ninth for his 16th save.

Price was rarely in trouble, but his teammates had difficulty scoring for him again. In his previous three starts, they totaled five runs.

Price got just enough support when Betts led off the seventh by hitting a fastball from Edwin Diaz (0-1) over the Green Monster.

“His last couple of starts we haven’t done too much offensively behind him,” Betts said. “I can’t say we did too much today.”

Mariners starter Taijuan Walker kept the majors’ top-scoring team off the scoreboard over five innings after leaving his previous start with a strained tendon in his right foot.

But he was lifted after throwing 88 pitches, and Boston made it 1-1 in the sixth against Vidal Nuno on Hanley Ramirez’s fielder’s- choice grounder. Walker said it started to bother him again in the first inning.

“Yeah, after the first at-bat. Didn’t really get any better,” he said. “It happened in the first inning and just kept getting worse.”

Manager Scott Servais said before the game that he didn’t think Walker would be 100 percent but hoped the adrenaline of starting would negate any lingering problem.

“He really gutted it out, the fourth, fifth inning. After the third inning his ankle was bothering him,” Servais said. “I would like to have kept riding him because he was getting them out, but the information I got and everybody thought it would be best to get him out at that point.”

Gutierrez led off the fourth with a line drive that snuck inside the right-field pole.

Ramirez’s bouncer scored Xander Bogaerts after he singled and advanced to third on David Ortiz’s single.

NOTES: Farrell said utility player Brock Holt (concussion) would be re-evaluated Sunday after having “three good days” of field work and “hopefully he’s turning that long and rounded corner to get on a rehab assignment.” … Servais said right-hander Felix Hernandez (strained right calf, DL since June 1) “will start throwing or playing catch Tuesday or Wednesday.

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Bogaerts, Bradley homer to lift Sox over Mariners http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/18/bogaerts-bradley-lifts-sox/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/18/bogaerts-bradley-lifts-sox/#comments Sat, 18 Jun 2016 23:12:43 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/18/bogaerts-bradley-lifts-sox/ BBOSTON — Rick Porcello wriggled out of a couple early jams, and Boston’s deep lineup took over from there.

Porcello pitched six solid innings, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. homered and the Red Sox beat the Seattle Mariners 6-2 on Saturday.

Porcello allowed singles to each of his first three batters, but limited the Mariners to just one run in the first on Nelson Cruz’s double-play grounder. He retired three straight with runners on second and third in the third.

“The first inning and the third inning – back up against the wall and tested,” Porcello said. “The double play ball to Cruz; I needed it and wanted it there.”

Porcello (8-2) improved to 6-0 at home this year. He allowed two runs and eight hits, struck out six and walked none.

Making his major league debut for Seattle, Adrian Sampson was off to a great start before Bradley’s two-out drive in the fourth reached the second row of seats above the Green Monster, trimming Seattle’s lead to 2-1.

The Red Sox then chased the right-hander while scoring three runs in the fifth.

“Overall when you get familiar with somebody you make adjustments,” Bradley said. “We were able to make adjustments.”

Sampson (0-1) allowed eight hits and walked one in 42/3 innings. He felt like Boston’s hitters learned his pitches quickly.

“Once I started throwing more strikes they kind of realized I (have) to throw it over the plate somewhere,” he said. “So they got a little more aggressive and my misses were just a little off.”

Seattle Manager Scott Servais said the third inning was key. With Leonys Martin on third and Seth Smith on second, Porcello struck out Robinson Cano and Cruz before Kyle Seager grounded out to second.

“You got to give credit to Porcello,” Servais said. “He had some pitches and he elevated some fastballs, got it by our guys in spots he needed to do it.”

Bogaerts, who entered the day leading the American League in batting, also had a single while raising his average to .352. Christian Vazquez and Mookie Betts each had two hits and an RBI for the Red Sox.

Adam Lind homered for the Mariners, and Smith went 3 for 3 with a double and two singles.

Boston had lost four of five and was just 5-9 in June.

In the fifth, Boston got three straight singles on five pitches, tying it on Betts’ single. Vazquez scored the go-ahead run on a double-play grounder before Bogaerts’ homer barely cleared the Monster.

Vazquez’s RBI double made it 5-2 in the sixth.

Lind homered to center field leading off the second.

NOTES

The Red Sox promoted infielder Deven Marrero and outfielder Ryan LaMarre from the minors. Outfielder Rusney Castillo and Friday’s starter and losing pitcher Roenis Elias were optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket.

Manager John Farrell said right-hander Clay Buchholz will return to the rotation and pitch Tuesday. Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez’s next start was pushed back to Wednesday, giving Rodriguez an extra bullpen session to work on his delivery and overcome what some believe is tipping his pitches.

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Red Sox can’t escape early deficit http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/17/red-sox-lose-to-seattle-mariners/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/17/red-sox-lose-to-seattle-mariners/#comments Sat, 18 Jun 2016 02:06:02 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=932549 BOSTON — Franklin Gutierrez is developing an affinity for Fenway Park.

Gutierrez homered in his first two at-bats and drove in a career-high six runs Friday night as the Seattle Mariners outslugged the Boston Red Sox, 8-4.

It was the third multi-homer game in Gutierrez’s career and first since he hit a pair in Boston last August.

“So I guess I see the ball pretty good here at Fenway Park,” said Gutierrez, who also doubled with the bases loaded as the Mariners scored the first seven runs of the game. “It’s a good day today. What can I say?”

Robinson Cano drove in Seattle’s other two runs, including his 19th homer with a leadoff shot in the seventh, as Seattle won its second straight since a four-game losing streak.

David Ortiz hit a two-run homer for Boston in the fourth. It was the 521st homer for Ortiz, tying him with Red Sox great Ted Williams, Willie McCovey and Frank Thomas for 19th on the career list.

Not easily humbled, Ortiz spoke reverently about the company he joined Friday night.

“It means a lot. Historically, you guys know how great Mr. Ted Williams was,” Ortiz said. “It’s wonderful, man. We’re talking about some of the greatest hitters in the game.”

Ortiz’s shot to center off Hisashi Iwakuma cut Seattle’s lead to 7-2 in the fourth. After Cano’s homer in the seventh, the Red Sox added two more runs in the bottom half of the inning but couldn’t overcome their early deficit.

Iwakuma (6-5) went seven innings, allowing four runs on nine hits. Iwakuma pitched deep enough to keep Seattle from stressing its bullpen too much on a day the Mariners lost another starter to the disabled list.

Wade Miley, scheduled to start Saturday, joined Felix Hernandez on the DL earlier Friday.

“It’s one of the better hitting teams in the league, so I tip my hat to Kuma,” Seattle Manager Scott Servais said.

“It was huge, especially with the spot starter coming tomorrow. We really needed that to kind of calm things down here a bit.”

Steve Cishek came in to end a threat by Boston in the ninth and picked up his 16th save.

The Mariners roughed up former teammate Roenis Elias (0-1) early in his first start for Boston, which acquired him in an offseason deal with Seattle. Elias threw 30 pitches in the first inning and was down 2-0 after just three of them.

Ketel Marte singled on the opening pitch, then Gutierrez hit a 1-0 change-up out to center for his sixth homer of the season.

Gutierrez led off the third with a shot to left that cleared the Green Monster and everything above it, then just missed a grand slam in the fourth with a three-run double to the base of the right-field wall that gave the Mariners a 6-0 lead.

NOTES: The Red Sox announced after the game that Elias and outfielder Rusney Castillo were returning to Triple-A Pawtucket and that Clay Buchholz, who had been banished to the bullpen, would return to the starting rotation and pitch Wednesday.

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Rodriguez struggles as Orioles shut down Sox 5-1 to win series http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/16/orioles-shut-down-sox-5-1-to-win-series/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/16/orioles-shut-down-sox-5-1-to-win-series/#comments Fri, 17 Jun 2016 02:19:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=930804 BOSTON — Eduardo Rodriguez is having trouble finding his way out of a recent slump.

The Boston Red Sox starter had his latest underwhelming outing and it cost them a chance to earn their first series win this season over an American League East rival they expect to see down the road.

Rodriguez lasted just 41/3 innings and gave up eight hits and five runs in his fourth start of the season as the Baltimore Orioles beat Boston 5-1 on Thursday night.

Over his last three starts Rodriguez (1-2) has pitched 142/3 innings, while giving up 18 hits, 14 runs and nine walks.

“Just missing spots a lot of times,” Rodriguez said of his effort Thursday. “Tried to go to the outside corner and just pitch right in the middle with a fastball and with the change-up. That’s what happened I think.”

Manager John Farrell said he thinks Rodriguez had the tools, but said small shortcomings against Baltimore’s lineup were costly.

“It comes down to just the consistent execution. There were a number of at-bats where he’d get ahead in counts and would misfire on the plate to give a guy a chance to put a ball in play,” Farrell said. “Then he’d get behind in a count, he found himself in some hitter counts that ended being squared up.”

Baltimore’s Tyler Wilson allowed three hits over eight innings, and Adam Jones added a home run and three RBI.

The Orioles scored three runs in the first four innings, then added two in fifth.

Wilson (3-5) was strong throughout, striking out six. Pitching on an extra day of rest, he held Boston to one hit through six innings.

“He was down today, those two or three inches are huge,” Orioles Manager Buck Showalter said.

Wilson had endured his own issues entering Thursday, allowing 10 runs over his previous 92/3 innings. That changed against Boston, thanks to some solid defense that took away hits and denied the Red Sox baserunners.

Meanwhile, the Orioles’ offense feasted on Rodriguez’s early struggles on the mound.

Walks got Rodriguez in trouble during each of his previous two starts, and he was again hurt by an early one Thursday.

After striking out three batters in the first two innings, Rodriguez walled No. 9 hitter Paul Janish to begin the third.

Jones then connected on a second-pitch fastball and sent a line drive, two-run homer over the Green Monster in left field.

Rodriguez started the fourth with another walk, and it later scored on an RBI double by Jones that made it 3-0.

He was pulled in the fifth after surrendering a one-out, RBI single to Chris Davis.

David Ortiz hit his 17th homer of the season in the ninth inning for Boston.

NOTES: OF Chris Young sat out Thursday with tightness in his right quadriceps. Young experienced the sensation while running from first to third base in the second inning during Wednesday’s win. Farrell said it isn’t anything major. “We feel like this is such a short term situation. This is probably a one-day thing,” he said.

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Ramirez’s homer helps Sox to 6-4 win http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/15/ramirezs-homer-helps-sox-to-6-4-win/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/15/ramirezs-homer-helps-sox-to-6-4-win/#comments Thu, 16 Jun 2016 02:33:27 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/15/ramirezs-homer-helps-sox-to-6-4-win/ BOSTON — Steven Wright was just hoping for a chance to stay in the big leagues. Now, the Boston knuckleballer is one of the hottest pitchers.

Wright was solid again, this time pitching into the eighth inning and helping the Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 6-4 on Wednesday night.

“There’s a lot of confidence by all of us when he takes the mound and he’s earned that,” Boston Manager John Farrell said. “We have trust in him because of his consistency.”

Wright (8-4) allowed three runs and six hits, struck out four, walked one and hit two batters. He entered with an AL-best ERA that rose slightly from 2.09 to 2.22 by holding an opponent to three or fewer runs for the 12th time in his 13 starts. Eleven times he’s allowed two or fewer.

Coming into spring training, it looked like his best shot was as a long reliever out of the bullpen because he was out of minor-league options. But an injury to left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez gave Wright his shot in the rotation.

“The fact that I’m in the big leagues is unbelievable,” the 31-year-old righty said. “I just try to go out there enjoy it and have fun.”

Hanley Ramirez hit his first homer in more than a month, and Xander Bogaerts and David Ortiz each had two singles and an RBI for the Red Sox, who rebounded from a 3-2 loss in the series opener on Tuesday for just their fourth win in 11 games.

Adam Jones hit a two-run homer for the Orioles, who ended a stretch of five straight multihomer games.

Kevin Gausman (0-4) gave up six runs and seven hits in three innings for Baltimore.

“I think just falling apart and not being able to throw my secondary pitches for strikes,” Gausman said when asked what went wrong.

Leading 1-0 in the third, the Red Sox batted around and scored five runs. Bogaerts and Ortiz opened the scoring with consecutive RBI singles.

Ramirez then hit first-pitch slider over the Green Monster completely out of Fenway Park for his first homer since May 10, ending a homerless drought of 110 at-bats.

“He had too good stuff to give up six runs,” Baltimore Manager Buck Showalter said.

Jones homered into the Monster seats with two outs in the seventh.

Wright was lifted after a one-out walk in the eighth. Matt Wieters and Jonathan Schoop had consecutive run-scoring hits off Junichi Tazawa.

Craig Kimbrel got the final three outs for his 15th save.

Travis Shaw’s RBI single in the second made it 1-0.

NOTES: RHP Joe Kelly, demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket earlier this month, is still only throwing on flat ground after he sustained a groin injury in a Triple-A start on June 7. … Ortiz drove in his 803rd run in Fenway, passing Hall of Famer Jim Rice for third most in the park.

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On baseball: Those darn Orioles continue to be pesky http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/14/on-baseball-those-darn-orioles-continue-to-be-pesky/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/14/on-baseball-those-darn-orioles-continue-to-be-pesky/#comments Wed, 15 Jun 2016 03:14:24 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/14/on-baseball-those-darn-orioles-continue-to-be-pesky/ BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox were home, where they win a lot.

They had their ace on the mound, backed by the most productive offense in the major leagues.

But Boston also had returned to the troublesome American League East and, worse, playing that team from Baltimore.

Darn Orioles.

Forget that David Price pitched one of his most effective games. He still gave up two home runs, which made all the difference in a 3-2 loss.

“I’m better than three runs,” Price said. “If you told me before the game I could have eight innings and three runs, I’m not going to take that.”

Give Price credit for not going the moral victory route even though he was very good. In his words, “that was the best stuff I’ve showcased so far … (but) I’ve got to get better.”

Forget that the Red Sox lead the majors in runs. They did little against Chris Tillman.

And please don’t mention statistics like “run differential” when it’s wins and losses Boston needs to worry about.

Boston leads the American League with a plus-84 run differential.

Baltimore, with a plus-28 run differential, leads the American League East with a 37-26 record. Boston is 36-27.

Yes, Boston can beat up on teams, especially the bad ones, but the Red Sox are 14-16 in the division, including 3-5 against the Orioles, a team that has bested Boston in the season series every year since 2011 (and don’t forget what team knocked the Red Sox out of the playoffs that year).

Lately the Orioles have not only been spoilers, but they are contenders. And they keep beating Boston.

Why is that?

“It’s just the way it’s worked out,” said Orioles third baseman (and Portland native) Ryan Flaherty. “Their team and ours are pretty similar.”

Maybe that is just Flaherty being his polite self. You didn’t expect trash talk, did you? These Orioles seem to enjoy taking it to the Sox.

Yes, it is true you cannot make too much of one game, and Price did allow only five hits, while striking out 11 and walking none over eight innings.

“Quality-pitched ballgame on both sides,” Red Sox Manager John Farrell said. “A mislocated pitch ends up being the difference.”

The pitch came in the eighth inning after Boston closed to 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh on Jackie Bradley Jr.’s home run.

Price had been ahead of hitters all game, often going 0-2 on them. Jonathan Schoop led off the eighth. Price began with a slider.

“I didn’t put it where I wanted to,” Price said of the pitch Schoop delivered over the Green Monster for a 3-1 lead.

“That one’s tough. It was an inning when I could put down a shutdown inning. I wasn’t able to do that.

“I want to get better. For the most part I did that. One pitch in this game can lose it for you.”

Tough loss. One game. Ninety-nine to go this season.

“My confidence isn’t shaken,” Price said. “I still have a lot of confidence in our offense. We’re going to score a lot of runs and we’re going to win a lot of games.”

But will they win enough, especially if they don’t take advantage when their ace is on the mound?

The problem this season has been pitching, so wasting a solid Price start is especially frustrating. Boston has overcome badly pitched games by outslugging teams. But in a pennant race – and the AL East is a tight one, with Toronto two games behind the Red Sox – pitching is crucial.

“It will be,” Farrell said, “in what is shaping up as a very offensive division … The ability to control the count and minimize multiple-run damage inside an inning will be key.”

So look at the glass being half-filled and see Price being the ace Boston is paying for.

But that glass is also half empty. The offense slowed at a time when the Red Sox are playing their nemesis.

Red Sox fans may hate the Yankees but lately it’s the Orioles doing the damage.

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Tillman helps Orioles hold off Red Sox http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/14/orioles-hold-off-red-sox/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/14/orioles-hold-off-red-sox/#comments Wed, 15 Jun 2016 02:13:24 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/14/orioles-hold-off-red-sox/ BOSTON — Manny Machado hit a two-run home run, Chris Tillman struck out seven and the Baltimore Orioles snapped a three-game losing streak with a 3-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night.

Jonathan Schoop added a solo homer in the eighth inning for the Orioles.

The teams entered the three-game series tied atop the American League East. Baltimore has won five of the eight meetings with Boston this season.

Tillman (9-1) went seven innings to get the victory. He kept the Red Sox lineup off balance with an assortment of fastballs, sliders and curves. His lone mistake was a home run in the seventh to Jackie Bradley, Jr.

Baltimore’s bullpen gave one run back in the eighth, but Zach Britton was able close things out to earn his 20th save in 20 tries.

David Price (7-4) took the loss, despite finishing with 11 strikeouts in eight innings and retiring 19 straight at one point.

This was the third time this season Price has allowed two home runs.

Baltimore jumped on Price in its first at-bat. After Joey Rickard got aboard with a single, Machado drove a first-pitch fastball over the fence in right field to put the Orioles up 2-0.

Price settled after that, retiring 19 straight with nine strikeouts until Mark Trumbo broke the Orioles’ drought with a single in the seventh.

As good as Price was early Tillman was even better, holding the Red Sox to three hits through six innings.

Boston’s hitters did manage to force some long pitch counts, though. Tillman’s previous high for pitches this season was 110. He threw 120 pitches Tuesday. His 111th pitch of the night – a slider just over the plate – was exposed just enough for Bradley to drive it over the center field fence to pull Boston within a run.

Schoop answered with a first-pitch homer over the Green Monster to lead off the eighth.

Baltimore went to its bullpen and Boston briefly got some life, trimming the lead to a run on an RBI single by Xander Bogaerts.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Red Sox: Manager John Farrell said OF/C Blake Swihart (sprained left ankle) has come out of a hard cast, but is in a boot that still has him immobilized. … C Ryan Hanigan (neck strain) has range of motion freely from the left side of the neck that has been restricting him. Farrell said Hanigan will soon begin light baseball activity, but that he hasn’t done enough to get a true read on it. It is to be determined whether he will return at the end of his current 15-day DL stint. … Brock Holt (mild concussion) continues to do baseball activities but is still experiencing some dizziness, general fogginess and headaches, Farrell said.

Orioles: Manager Buck Showalter said RHP Yovani Gallardo (right shoulder bicep tendinitis) had a good final rehab start with Triple-A Norfolk and is expected to pitch Saturday against Toronto. … RHP Darren O’Day (right hamstring strain) is progressing “little by little.” … C Caleb Joseph is in Double-A Bowie taking batting practice and throwing. He is scheduled for a doctor’s visit Wednesday, but won’t but fully cleared to catch until at least June 27 should everything go as scheduled, Showalter said. He can be used as a DH and hit until that point. … RHP Vance Worley (right groin strain) was placed on the 15-day DL on Tuesday, retroactive to June 13.

UP NEXT

Orioles: RHP Kevin Gausman (0-3, 3.45) makes his 11th start of the season and is still in search of his first win this season. Gausman has not won since beating Toronto on Sept. 30, 2015.

Red Sox: RHP Steven Wright (7-4, 2.09) tries to extend his career-best winning streak to five straight games. Wright hasn’t allowed an earned in his last 16 1/3 innings pitched.

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Tom Caron: It’s only June, but Red Sox-Orioles series looms as a big one http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/14/tom-caron-its-only-june-but-red-sox-orioles-series-looms-as-a-big-one/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/14/tom-caron-its-only-june-but-red-sox-orioles-series-looms-as-a-big-one/#comments Tue, 14 Jun 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=925451 The Baltimore Orioles roll into Fenway Park to begin a three-game series Tuesday night. We’re not halfway through the season yet, but this is a legitimate “statement” series featuring two teams who have gotten off to strong starts.

There’s no need for scoreboard watching this week. The winner of this series will go into the weekend in sole possession of first place in the American League East.

Besides staking a claim on first place, the Boston Red Sox have a little something to prove against Baltimore. The two teams have already played met seven times this season, with the Orioles winning four.

That continues a string of Orioles dominance in this divisional rivalry. Going back to Boston’s infamous collapse in September 2011, the Red Sox have gone 33-55 against Baltimore.

To paraphrase Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez, the Orioles have become Boston’s daddy.

It’s been five years since the Sox have won a season series with Baltimore. Even in the championship season of 2013, the Red Sox lost 11 of 19 games against Buck Showalter’s crew.

When Showalter took over as manager in Baltimore in 2010, he immediately set out to instill an “us against the world” philosophy at Camden Yards. He painted the Red Sox and Yankees as the big, bad bullies dominating the toughest division in baseball. He told the world that Boston and New York had budgets that no one else in the division could match, and challenged his team to step up as underdogs and not let the boys from up north steal their lunch money.

It worked. Since 2012 the Orioles have won more games than any other team in the division. Now it rings hollow for Showalter to continue to characterize the Red Sox bullies.

Instead, we’ve watched Chris Davis and Adam Jones and Manny Machado push around the Red Sox. We’ve watched former Sox pitching coach Dave Wallace piece together a bullpen that has quietly been as good as any in the division. We’ve seen Showalter push all the right buttons from his perch in the home dugout at Camden Yards.

The 2016 editions of these teams are evenly matched. Both have offenses that can bludgeon you to death and pitching staffs that can drive a manager crazy. Just two weeks ago they split a four-game series in Baltimore. The Sox scored 29 runs but couldn’t win the series. That’s because the Orioles also scored 29 runs – including 25 in the final two games. Boston pitchers gave up seven home runs in a 12-7 loss on June 2, matching the most homers ever allowed in a game by a Boston staff.

While the Sox split the series, they limped out of Baltimore wondering what happened. They demoted Joe Kelly to Triple-A, watched Clay Buchholz struggle out of the bullpen and moved to a four-man rotation for the ensuing two weeks.

That stretch is over. The Sox don’t have another scheduled day off until the end of the month. They will need to name a fifth starter this week (Buchholz is still in the pen while Roenis Elias has pitched well in Pawtucket). They need to figure out why Eduardo Rodriguez isn’t pitching like he did last year.

These are the type of problems facing first-place teams, and after back-to-back last-place finishes the Red Sox are happy to be in that position.

They’ll need to figure out a way to beat Baltimore if they want to stay there.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.

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Baseball notebook: Red Sox prospect suspended 25 games http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/13/baseball-notebook-red-sox-prospect-suspended-25-games/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/13/baseball-notebook-red-sox-prospect-suspended-25-games/#comments Tue, 14 Jun 2016 02:05:04 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/13/baseball-notebook-red-sox-prospect-suspended-25-games/ NEW YORK — Texas Rangers catcher Melvin Novoa was suspended for 56 games under baseball’s minor league drug program following a positive test for the banned performance-enhancing substance Clostebol.

In addition, Boston Red Sox catcher Jhon Nunez was suspended 25 games, the commissioner’s office said Monday. A 25-game suspension is the penalty for a first violation for use or possession of a syringe at a team facility, in team-provided housing or while traveling with a club.

Novoa, 19, is to start serving his penalty when the Arizona League season begins.

The 21-year-old Nunez hit .316 (6 for 19) with one RBI this year for Greenville of the Class A South Atlantic League and is on the roster of Lowell of the Class A New York-Penn League, which starts play this weekend.

There have been 57 suspensions this year under the minor league drug program.

TIGERS: Designated hitter Victor Martinez was out of Monday’s starting lineup against the Chicago White Sox because of irritation in his right knee.

Martinez had an MRI on Monday morning, and Manager Brad Ausmus says it showed “no major structural issues.” The 37-year-old Martinez says he isn’t concerned and joked he is just “getting old.”

Martinez is hitting .333 with nine homers and 35 RBI in 60 games.

Outfielder J.D. Martinez replaced Victor Martinez at DH in the opener of a three-game series against the White Sox.

Ausmus says Victor Martinez is available to hit and will be evaluated daily.

YANKEES: Ike Davis finalized a one-year contract, giving New York more options after putting four first basemen on the disabled list.

Davis gets paid at the rate of a $1.5 million salary while in the major leagues and at the rate of a $120,000 salary while in the minors, according to the deal reached Monday. With 112 days remaining in the regular season, his prorated major league salary is $918,033.

Davis hit .268 with four home runs and 25 RBI for Triple-A Round Rock, then was released Sunday.

The 29-year-old played for Oakland last season, hitting .229 with three home runs and 20 RBI. He had 32 homers for the New York Mets in 2012.

Chris Parmelee was the latest Yankees first baseman to go on the DL, joining Mark Teixeira, Dustin Ackley and Greg Bird. Rob Refsnyder has been starting at first after moving over from second base. Backup catcher Austin Romine also can play first.

New York designated right-hander Layne Somsen for assignment to open a spot for Davis on the 40-man roster and cleared a spot on the 25-man roster by optioning right-hander Chad Green to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after Sunday’s game.

METS: Manager Terry Collins has been cleared to leave a Milwaukee hospital and planned to return to New York and be back in the dugout for Tuesday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The 67-year-old Collins, the oldest manager in the major leagues, felt sick before Sunday’s game against the Brewers and was held overnight at Froedtert Hospital in nearby Wauwatosa.

New York said Monday that Collins was examined by Dr. Brian-Fred Fitzsimmons, that tests were negative, and that he had been cleared to fly home.

BRAVES: Left-hander Eric O’Flaherty was put on the 15-day disabled list because of a right knee strain.

He is 1-3 with a 6.52 ERA in 27 games.

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Red Sox Farm Report: After Jason Groome, Red Sox reel in college arms http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/13/red-sox-farm-report-after-groome-red-sox-reel-in-college-arms/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/13/red-sox-farm-report-after-groome-red-sox-reel-in-college-arms/#comments Tue, 14 Jun 2016 00:59:21 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/13/red-sox-farm-report-after-groome-red-sox-reel-in-college-arms/ When the Boston Red Sox drafted high school left-handed pitcher Jason Groome in the first round of baseball’s amateur draft on Thursday, the thinking is that Boston went for the best player instead of immediate help on the mound.

By the second day, Boston got players who can help sooner – not immediately but maybe by 2018.

On Day 2, Boston began by drafting four college players – three pitchers and a third baseman who can also pitch – in rounds 3 through 6.

Those rounds are no guarantee, for sure, but there can be some gems (think Mississippi State closer Jonathan Papelbon, picked in the fourth round in 2003).

Here are the four picks:

 Round 3: University of Florida closer Shaun Anderson, a big (6-foot-5, 230-pound) right-hander with a 95 mph fastball and three secondary pitches. He had a 1.02 ERA with a 0.84 WHIP (walks/hits per innings), striking out 56 and walking six in 43 innings. Anderson has the pitch assortment to start. Boston could make him a starter initially, like it did with Papelbon, and then see what it has.

 Round 4: University of Arizona third baseman Bobby Dalbec. He batted only .266, but with a .818 OPS. He shows power potential, having hit 14 home runs in the (wooden bat) Cape Cod League last summer. If he doesn’t pan out offensively, Dalbec could try pitching. He was 10-4 with a 2.92 in 26 appearances (five starts) and threw 82/3 shutout innings in the NCAA tournament.

 Round 5: University of Maryland pitcher Mike Shawaryn. His ERA rose to 3.18 this year from 1.71 his sophomore year. He reportedly has a fastball in the low 90s with a plus slider.

 Round 6: University of Oregon pitcher Steve Nogosek. He might go right to a relief role after recording 16 saves with a 1.11 ERA and 0.95 WHIP.

The prize of Boston’s draft, of course, is Groome. Scouting reports have him listed with better potential than other Red Sox lefties out of high school (Henry Owens and Trey Ball). Assuming he signs, Groome, and his dynamite fastball and curve, will be among Boston’s top pitching prospects – behind only Anderson Espinoza.

Second-round pick C.J. Chatham, a shortstop out of Florida Atlantic University, batted .357 with a .976 OPS. He was considered a safe, but not spectacular pick. But one college coach, who saw Chatham in the spring, said, “He is a big league shortstop. Very athletic. Great defense/range/arm. Very smooth swing and showed potential for power and average.”

After the early rounds, the most interesting pick for the Red Sox was their 20th-round selection, Holy Cross shortstop Nick Lovullo, son of Boston bench coach Torey Lovullo. Nick played for the Sanford Mainers in the summer of 2014.

And now for the prospects already earning a paycheck from the Red Sox:

IN TRIPLE-A Pawtucket, the Red Sox have some decisions to make on two pitchers. Left-handed starter Roenis Elias seems to have earned a shot as Boston’s fifth starter. He’s been pitching well lately, especially his last two starts (16 innings, one earned run, 15 strikeouts, two walks).

Right-hander reliever Anthony Varvaro has an opt-out clause in his contract if he’s not in the majors by June 15. In his last seven games (112/3 innings), Varvaro has given up five hits and no earned runs. Interestingly, Varvaro is tougher on left-handed hitters (.114 average) than right-handers (.226).

That’s something to consider when Boston’s lefty specialist, Tommy Layne, is rarely used (19 games) with left-handers hitting .276 against him.

IN DOUBLE-A Portland, the best hitter is not really a prospect. But Ryan Court, 28, snatched from the independent leagues, can play every infield position while batting .342/.887 in 35 games.

IN ADVANCED A Salem, Ball (3-3, 2.60) had two different starts last week, lasting only 2/3 of an inning (three runs) in one, and then pitching 51/3 shutout innings on Sunday. … Reliever Bobby Poyner, recently promoted from Greenville, recorded saves in his first two appearances before giving up four earned runs in two innings on Sunday.

Middle infielders Yoan Moncada and Mauricio Dubon experienced brief slumps, but they’re back. Moncada (.299/.885) has 13 hits in his last 10 games, and Dubon (.319/.799) has 14 hits in his last eight games.

IN CLASS A Greenville, Espinoza (4-4, 3.35) has not allowed a run in three of his last four starts, including Saturday (five innings, three hits, no walks, four strikeouts).

Meanwhile, reliever Anyelo Leclerc (1.88 ERA/0.91 WHIP) should be moving on. Leclerc, 24, was a minor league Rule V pick last December from the Rangers’ organization.

IN SHORT-SEASON Lowell, the Spinners will start their season Friday. According to Ryan Hannable of WEEI.com, prospect Michael Kopech will be the opening-day starter. Kopech is coming back from a broken hand. … Nogosek will apparently will be on the Lowell roster (he tweeted that he was flying to Lowell) … The Spinners manager is former Sea Dogs infielder Iggy Suarez.

 

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Twins top Red Sox in 10th http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/12/twins-top-red-sox-in-10th/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/12/twins-top-red-sox-in-10th/#comments Sun, 12 Jun 2016 22:17:15 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/12/twins-top-red-sox-in-10th/ MINNEAPOLIS — Boston Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes was thinking about one thing when he faced rookie Max Kepler in the 10th inning on Sunday – get a strikeout.

Not only was Barnes unable to do that, he couldn’t even keep the ball in the park.

Kepler’s first major league homer was a three-run shot that gave the Minnesota Twins a 7-4 victory.

Joe Mauer drew a leadoff walk in the 10th from Barnes (2-3) and was sacrificed to second by Trevor Plouffe. Brian Dozier singled off the glove of shortstop Xander Bogaerts, sending Mauer to third.

Boston brought in outfielder Mookie Betts and played with a five-man infield, but Kepler made that all moot when the rookie from Germany sent a long drive to center field to give Minnesota its fifth walk-off win of the season.

“In a situation like that, I’m 100 percent going for a strikeout,” Barnes said.

Barnes hadn’t allowed an extra-base hit in his last nine appearances and had a 2.31 ERA with a .181 opponents’ batting average in his last 18 games.

Red Sox Manager John Farrell went with Barnes, even though closer Craig Kimbrel was warm, to save Kimbrel for a potential save opportunity.

“The way our bullpen has been pitching, confidence in every guy that came to the mound,” Farrell said. “Unfortunately, that didn’t work out for us. We’re in an 0-2 situation with multiple chances to put Kepler away in that particular spot – didn’t work out.”

Boston starter Rick Porcello allowed four runs, one earned, and five hits in seven innings.

Bogaerts, who had four hits in each of the first two games of the three-game series, made two errors after entering the game with only two all season.

“Not the cleanest game by us by any means,” Farrell said. “I thought Rick was very strong today. He was efficient with his pitch count.”

Miscues on defense marked big innings for both teams. Boston’s three-run eighth was aided by two Minnesota throwing errors.

Bogaerts misplayed a tough hop in the second inning and then hesitated on a throw to first with two outs in the sixth, bouncing the throw. The Twins wound up scoring twice.

“The first one was a bit tough, kind of do-or-die,” Bogaerts said. “That was a bit tough, but the other one was kind of unacceptable. That was an easy out right there.”

BUNTING SHAW

Slumping third baseman Travis Shaw didn’t start against Twins left-hander Pat Dean. Right-handed hitter Josh Rutledge started as Farrell looked to give Shaw a break against lefties.

Shaw entered in the seventh as a pinch hitter and struck out. In the ninth, he was asked to bunt following Dustin Pedroia’s leadoff single. The bunt went straight to pitcher Fernando Abad, who turned to second and started a double play.

“I can understand it,” Shaw said about getting the bunt sign. “I don’t think I got a hit the whole road trip, so it’s a decent spot to do it. I’ve still got to execute.”

Shaw finished the road trip 1 for 18 and is hitting .170 in 22 games since May 18.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Farrell said Brock Holt has made “steady progress” in his recovery from a concussion and could return during the team’s 10-game homestand. Farrell said Holt is taking medication to control headaches.

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On Baseball: Trade may not be a solution for Red Sox pitching http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/12/on-baseball-trade-may-not-be-a-solution-for-red-sox-pitching/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/12/on-baseball-trade-may-not-be-a-solution-for-red-sox-pitching/#comments Sun, 12 Jun 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=922720 That the Boston Red Sox must improve their pitching is not in question.

It’s how.

Throughout New England, fans are playing their own version of “Let’s Make a Deal,” inventing scenarios where Boston unloads a boatload of prospects and young players to a team willing to trade a worthy pitcher.

But is there one worthy enough?

The Chicago White Sox just gave up a couple of decent prospects to San Diego for veteran right-hander James Shields, who is 2-8 this year with a 5.06 ERA. In his first start for Chicago, he lasted two innings, giving up seven earned runs.

There are no big names on the market like last winter, when free agents Johnny Cueto and David Price went to the highest bidders.

The struggling Oakland Athletics have a couple of good starters, but Rich Hill is on the disabled list (groin injury) and Sonny Gray just came off the DL. Gray is scuffling (3-6, 5.34), although his last start was encouraging (72/3 innings, two earned runs).

Gray, only 26 and under team control through 2019, would require a lot in return, if Oakland even considered a trade.

Likewise, the struggling Braves have a potential ace in right-hander Julio Teheran, 25 and under team control through 2020. He has a 2.85 ERA and averages 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings. A trade for Teheran would make sense, which makes you wonder why Atlanta would consider it.

Here’s another option for Boston: A veteran pitcher who was 68-47 with a 3.67 ERA the past eight seasons, and a two-time All-Star. He’s misfiring this year, at 3-6 and a 6.24 ERA, but has shown signs of his old self.

Clay Buchholz.

Think about it. If Buchholz were on another team, some Boston fans would want to trade for him, knowing he wouldn’t cost much and could regain his form.

The grass is always greener – and the pitcher is always better – when he’s on another team.

Here are some previous trades the Red Sox made for pitching to make a playoff run.

In 2003, Boston made two deals with different outcomes. It obtained starter Jeff Suppan from Pittsburgh for infielder Freddy Sanchez. Suppan went 3-4 for Boston with a 5.57 ERA and was left off the postseason roster. Sanchez went on to become a three-time National League All-Star, winning the batting title in 2006.

The Red Sox also got closer Scott Williamson from Cincinnati for pitching prospect Phil Dumatrait. Williamson wasn’t spectacular but had a 1.13 ERA in the playoffs, including three saves in the American League Championship Series (he might have had a fourth but that’s a story for another day). Dumatrait had one decent year in three-plus major league seasons.

In 2007, Boston obtained Rangers closer Eric Gagne for two young major leaguers (outfielder David Murphy and pitcher Kason Gabbard), and outfield prospect Engel Beltre. Gagne was a disaster (6.75 ERA). Murphy had a solid but unremarkable career (but there was no room for him in Boston). Gabbard was done by 2008 and Beltre played only 22 games in the majors.

In 2013, Boston sent elite-fielding shortstop Jose Iglesias to Detroit and obtained pitcher Jake Peavy in a three-team deal. While Peavy was well-known for his bulldog presence, his results are up for debate. He went 4-1 with a 4.04 ERA for Boston but the Red Sox were 5-5 in his starts. In the postseason he was 0-1. He lasted three innings in an ALCS start, a loss to Detroit. He lasted four innings in his one World Series start, a non-decision in a loss to St. Louis. Iglesias is still a superb fielder, although he is up and down with the bat (.238 average this year).

Conversely, Boston has taken advantage of contending teams looking for a pitcher.

The best example came in 1997 when the desperate Seattle Mariners obtained Boston closer Heathcliff Slocumb, a one-time All-Star who had a 5.79 ERA (and 1.97 WHIP) with the Red Sox. Slocumb was not much better for Seattle (4.13/1.45) and the Mariners gave up two prospects, pitcher Derek Lowe and catcher Jason Varitek, who seemed to work out well in Boston.

In 2014, when the Red Sox were out of the playoffs, they had a prime trading chip in left-hander Andrew Miller. They sent him to Baltimore for left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, a prospect who was struggling in Double-A. Miller did well (1.35 ERA), although the Orioles were swept by Kansas City in the ALCS. Rodriguez is now in Boston’s rotation.

Interestingly, Rodriguez may be one the answers to Boston’s current troubles. He has been so-so since coming off the disabled list.

Or an answer could be Buchholz, believe it or not.

There is still the possibility of a trade but – as we have documented – that is rarely the perfect solution.

Trading for a declining arm (Shields) makes little sense when Boston may have better answers internally.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: @ClearTheBases

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Bogaerts, Sox cruise by Twins http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/11/bogaerts-sox-cruise-by-twins/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/11/bogaerts-sox-cruise-by-twins/#comments Sat, 11 Jun 2016 22:10:48 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/11/bogaerts-sox-cruise-by-twins/ MINNEAPOLIS — In this Boston Red Sox lineup that’s packed with potent bats, Xander Bogaerts has fast become the best of an imposing bunch.

The 23-year-old shortstop from Aruba has been an awfully tough out at Minnesota this weekend.

Bogaerts tacked four more hits on his majors-most total, including a two-run homer to help the Red Sox break away late to beat the Twins 15-4 on Saturday.

“Bogey’s exciting to watch each and every day,” Manager John Farrell said after Bogaerts followed a 4 for 5, four-RBI night with a 4 for 5, four-run, three-RBI afternoon. He homered for the second straight day and raised his AL-best batting average to .358.

The highest-scoring team in the majors managed to post a season high in runs, with five apiece in the eighth and ninth against the league-worst Twins. Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a three-run homer in the first, Sandy Leon went 4 for 4 with two RBI and David Ortiz had three more hits against his former team. Mookie Betts and Chris Young drove in two runs each.

“I think we’re a pretty special offense,” Bradley said, adding: “When somebody doesn’t get the job done, we have a whole lot of faith in the next person.”

Kurt Suzuki hit a three-run homer in the fourth inning off Eduardo Rodriguez, but the Twins managed only one hit against five Red Sox relievers over 51/3 scoreless innings. Heath Hembree (3-0) was the first one, retiring Byung Ho Park on an infield popup to finish the fifth with two runners on base and the score 4-all.

Rodriguez tied his career high with four walks, in his shortest of three starts since returning from the disabled list.

Kyle Gibson (0-4) pitched for the first time since April 22, returning from the disabled list to quite the test with a team averaging nearly six runs per game.

Bogaerts used some heads-up hustle to score the go-ahead run in the sixth.

He led off the inning with a single, then beat a relay on a ground ball by Ortiz that second baseman Brian Dozier first bobbled. Ortiz was thrown out at first, but Bogaerts never stopped running and slid safely into third. He scored on a sacrifice fly.

“There’s nobody that can cover third base in that situation other than myself,” Gibson said. “It’s kind of a learn by failure, really.”

The play was made possible by the infield shift for Ortiz and the speed and sensibility of the young Bogaerts.

“I just knew no one was going to be there,” Bogaerts said. “If he makes the play, it’s a double play for sure. But once I saw him miss it, I was going.”

By the end of a sweltering game that crawled to completion in 3 hours, 45 minutes, the heads-up play hardly mattered.

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Bogaerts powers Red Sox to 8-1 win http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/10/bogaerts-powers-red-sox-to-8-1-win/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/10/bogaerts-powers-red-sox-to-8-1-win/#comments Sat, 11 Jun 2016 03:28:40 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/10/bogaerts-powers-red-sox-to-8-1-win/ MINNEAPOLIS — The Boston Red Sox are the highest-scoring team in the majors, and plenty of players in the lineup share the credit.

Xander Bogaerts happened to the hero Friday night.

Bogaerts matched a career high with four hits, including a three-run home run, and Steven Wright pitched into the eighth inning as the Red Sox topped the Minnesota Twins 8-1 on Friday night.

Boston had 16 hits with Bogaerts leading the way.

“That guy is out of his mind,” Boston slugger David Ortiz said of Bogaerts.

Bogaerts opened the scoring with his homer in the fifth inning off Twins starter Tyler Duffey, a shot that landed in the bullpens in left-center field for a 3-0 lead.

Bogaerts’ chance to homer was the result of Minnesota’s inability to turn a double play earlier in the inning. Mookie Betts hit a grounder to third baseman Trevor Plouffe, who threw to second base. But Minnesota’s Brian Dozier lost the handle on the ball and couldn’t make the throw to first for an inning-ending double play.

“That’s why you’ve got to execute. You’ve got to get your outs when you can,” said Bogaerts, who raised his average to .349.

Minnesota didn’t have much of an answer for Wright (7-4) and his knuckleball. The Twins’ best threat came when they loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth, but they couldn’t push across a run.

Wright had tossed complete games in his previous three road starts before Friday. He left in the eighth inning after allowing a one-out single to Joe Mauer.

“His last four games on the road have been everything we could’ve signed up for,” Red Sox Manager John Farrell said. “He’s the same guy when he walks in the clubhouse, regardless of where the clubhouse might be around the country.”

Wright surrendered one unearned run in 71/3 innings. In his last five starts, the right-hander is 3-0 with a 0.99 ERA in 361/3 innings.

“For me, I want to finish every game,” Wright said. “But I think the ultimate goal is just to go as deep as you can and when they take the ball, turn it over to the bullpen.”

Boston added three runs off Duffey (2-5) in the sixth inning and two off reliever Michael Tonkin in the ninth.

“They kept adding on,” Twins Manager Paul Molitor said. “It turned out to be pretty lopsided.”

Pedroia extended his hitting streak to 16 games, the longest active streak in the majors. He finished 3 for 5 with two doubles, a run scored and an RBI.

Duffey was knocked out after 51/3 innings and surrendered six runs and 10 hits. He has an ERA of 8.36 in his last five starts.

“If you miss, they have a lot of veteran guys, young guys, guys who’ve been swinging pretty hot bats all year,” Duffey said. “It’s a pretty tough lineup.”

Minnesota’s run came in the eighth inning. Eduardo Nunez reached on an error by first baseman Hanley Ramirez and scored on Robbie Grossman’s groundout.

Ortiz was honored before Friday’s game. He spent his first six seasons with the Twins before signing with the Red Sox in 2003. Before Friday, Ortiz ranked first all time in batting average (.435), on-base percentage (.487) and slugging (.899) among visiting players with at least 35 at-bats at Target Field. Ortiz went 2 for 5 with a double Friday.

NOTES: Farrell said OF Brock Holt (concussion) will go on a rehab assignment as soon as his symptoms have cleared. Holt has participated in baseball activities but still has “a slight trace” of concussion symptoms, Farrell said.

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Red Sox draft well-regarded pitcher in first round http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/09/red-sox-draft-well-regarded-pitcher-in-first-round/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/09/red-sox-draft-well-regarded-pitcher-in-first-round/#comments Fri, 10 Jun 2016 00:49:28 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/09/red-sox-draft-well-regarded-pitcher-in-first-round/ New Jersey high school left-handed pitcher Jason Groome was once considered the possible No. 1 pick in the major league draft.

But Groome fell to the Boston Red Sox, with the 12th overall pick, in the opening round of the draft Thursday night.

In the second round, Boston selected Florida Atlantic University shortstop C.J. Chatham.

Speculation on why Groome’s stock fell is varied, with possible extreme salary demands being one of them.

As the 12th overall pick, Groome would be slotted to receive about $3 million. His agent reportedly is asking for $4 million.

Groome had a scholarship offer from Vanderbilt but reportedly was leaning toward a junior college, which would allow him to re-enter the draft in 2017 if he doesn’t sign this year.

But in a conference call with New Jersey media Thursday, Groome said, “Money doesn’t really matter to me. I’m just happy to start the next chapter of my life and that’s professional baseball.”

Groome, 6-foot-6, 220 pounds, is said to have a mid-90s fastball with a superb curveball.

“He’s got really good stuff,” said Mike Rikard, the Red Sox director of amateur scouting. “He’s really advanced. He has a big fastball and a good curveball, and he can throw his change-up for strikes.

“He’s a big, durable guy. He has a nice easy delivery. And he’s a strike thrower.”

Concerning the ability to sign him, Rikard said, “We’re hopeful. We haven’t gotten into that a lot at this point.”

The Philadelphia Phillies had the first overall pick and selected high school outfielder Mickey Moniak from San Diego County, California. Moniak, 18, is considered a five-tool prospect. The Cincinnati Reds followed by taking University of Tennessee third baseman Nick Senzel, who batted .352/1.051 OPS.

The rest of the top 10 picks included high school pitcher Ian Anderson (Braves) at No. 3; high school pitcher Riley Pint (Rockies) fourth; University of Louisville outfielder Corey Ray (Brewers) fifth; University of Florida pitcher A.J. Puk (A’s) sixth; high school pitcher Braxton Garrett (Marlins) seventh; Stanford pitcher Cal Quantrill (Padres) eighth; high school pitcher Matt Manning (Tigers) ninth and University of Miami catcher Zack Collins (White Sox) 10th.

With the 11th pick, Seattle chose Mercer outfielder Kyle Lewis.

There was speculation that the Red Sox would go for Boston College pitcher Justin Dunn (he went to the Mets with the 19th pick), but Boston could not resist Groome’s potential.

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Giants edge Sox, Price on eighth-inning home run http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/09/giants-edge-sox-price-on-eighth-inning-home-run/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/09/giants-edge-sox-price-on-eighth-inning-home-run/#comments Thu, 09 Jun 2016 05:11:03 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/09/giants-edge-sox-price-on-eighth-inning-home-run/ SAN FRANCISCO — One moment, Mac Williamson hit the go-ahead homer for his first career long ball as tens of thousands cheered him. The next, he misjudged the wind in left field and lost a fly ball for a two-base error that could have cost San Francisco the game.

Only when the bullpen pulled it out could Williamson exhale.

He homered leading off the eighth inning and later got the ball back with a trade of a signed bat and ball, and the Giants held on to beat David Price and the Boston Red Sox 2-1 on Wednesday night to split the quick two-game series.

“The game’s humbling, and it couldn’t have happened any quicker than it did to me tonight,” said Williamson, who was anticipating a cut fastball inside after Price had already struck him out twice with it.

Brandon Belt also connected for the Giants, who finally got to Price (7-3). He struck out seven over eight innings, allowing three hits and two runs with two walks.

The Giants snapped a three-game losing streak.

“To be able to help the team win, not just get my first home run, but have it be a meaningful home run and help the team win, especially at this point in the season, is really special,” Williamson said.

Price and Madison Bumgarner faced off in a rare matchup between two of baseball’s top left-handers representing each league, to which Boston manager John Farrell said, “It was as billed.” Both pitchers surrendered only a home run before Williamson sent the first pitch deep into the bleachers in left field.

“He’s facing one of the elite pitchers in the game,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He got enough of it. He’s strong.”

Cory Gearrin (2-0) struck out two in a 1-2-3 eighth for the win. Santiago Casilla entered and Williamson immediately committed a two-base error when he dropped Hanley Ramirez’s leadoff fly in the ninth, the ball glancing off the outside edge of his glove. One out later, Javier Lopez relieved to face pinch-hitter David Ortiz, who walked.

Lopez struck out Travis Shaw then Hunter Strickland retired pinch-hitter Marco Hernandez on a groundout for his second career save and first since 2014.

Belt splashed an 0-1 pitch into McCovey Cove for the 69th by a Giants player and first since he did so in September 2014. This was his fifth splash homer, while home run king Barry Bonds hit 35 of them.

This marked the first career start at AT&T Park for Price, who received a $217 million, seven-year contract to join Boston during the offseason.

“It was one pitch. I’m not going to let it snowball,” he said. “… It’s a loss. You have to take the good with the bad.”

Chris Young homered in the fourth for Boston and Dustin Pedroia extended his majors-best hitting streak to 15 games with a leadoff single in the sixth.

After San Francisco’s five-game home winning streak was snapped in a 5-3, 10-inning loss Tuesday night, the Giants earned just their fifth victory in the last 14 meetings with Boston and only the third in 11 at AT&T Park.

The Giants have won each of the last nine starts by Bumgarner — who wasn’t happy with his six-inning outing — and the 2014 World Series MVP’s stretch of six straight winning decisions held since an April 20 loss to Arizona.

Williamson became the first Giants player to put his team ahead on a first career home run in the eighth inning or later since John Patterson in the ninth inning on Sept. 1, 1993, at Atlanta.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Red Sox: Brock Holt, sidelined since May 20 with a concussion, will meet the team in Minnesota and the next steps will be determined. He spent Wednesday being examined by the University of Pittsburgh’s renowned concussion experts. “He continues to show improvement but is he ready for rehab? The symptoms are there but they’re diminishing,” Farrell said.

 

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On baseball: One bad memory, but so many good ones for Bill Buckner http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/08/on-baseball-one-bad-memory-but-so-many-good-ones-for-bill-buckner/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/08/on-baseball-one-bad-memory-but-so-many-good-ones-for-bill-buckner/#comments Thu, 09 Jun 2016 00:50:15 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/08/on-baseball-one-bad-memory-but-so-many-good-ones-for-bill-buckner/ His re-introduction to a more civil New England came eight years ago. Now Bill Buckner can visit baseball parks – he’ll be at Hadlock Field on Thursday night – and arrive as an accomplished baseball player, not just the one-man definition of the 1986 World Series.

“Most of (the memories of 1986) were good,” Buckner said recently at Fenway Park. “Obviously one of them wasn’t.”

Of course, and obviously unfairly, Buckner is best known for one play, the error he made at first base that allowed the New York Mets to score the winning run in the 10th inning of Game 6 of the World Series.

Never mind that Buckner had nothing to do with the two previous runs New York scored in the inning to tie it. A clean play by Buckner only would have assured more extra innings, not a win.

And never mind that it wasn’t Buckner’s fault that Boston lost Game 7 after leading 3-0.

Boston had not won a World Series since 1918. Frustrated Red Sox fans and media needed a scapegoat and Buckner – with countless replays showing the ball roll between his legs – became the prime target.

Buckner was ridiculed and constantly reminded of his failure. After retiring in 1990, he stayed away from Fenway.

But then came 2008. World Series titles in 2004 and 2007 had mellowed Boston. Buckner’s career, which included 2,715 hits and parts of five seasons in Boston, was looked at in a new light. With the urging of former teammate Dwight Evans, Buckner agreed to throw out the first pitch in the home opener.

As he walked onto the field, he received a long and loud standing ovation. Buckner got emotional, his eyes tearing up. A healing had happened.

“That was a special day,” Buckner said. “I really appreciate what the Red Sox did. I thought it was good for me and good for the fans.”

Buckner, 66, returned to Fenway two weeks ago when the Red Sox marked the 30th anniversary of the 1986 American League champs.

And he will be in Portland on Thursday night, throwing out the first pitch before the Sea Dogs’ game and signing autographs.

“I played 22 years in the big leagues,” Buckner said. “If you’d have asked me if I’d be OK with playing 22 years, winning a batting title, playing in two World Series, getting 200 hits in both leagues – but you played in a World Series game and you made an error, would you be good with that?

“Damn right I’d be good with that … that’s the way baseball is.

“You’ve got a winner and you’ve got a loser. You want to win but you don’t always win. That’s the way life is. That’s the way I look at it.”

In 1986, Buckner batted .267 with 168 hits and 102 RBI. As the Red Sox pulled away from the AL East in September, Buckner batted .315 with eight home runs.

“If he didn’t have the year he did, we would have never even made the playoffs,” said former teammate Wade Boggs. “To single out one person … we all had a part of not winning the World Series.”

Buckner appreciated that. “My teammates … know what’s going on. That error did not lose the World Series,” he said.

Buckner had been in one other World Series, with the Los Angeles Dodgers, losing to Oakland in 1974.

He was traded to the Chicago Cubs in 1977. In 1984, Chicago traded Buckner to Boston for Dennis Eckersley and Mike Brumley.

The ’86 team looked special and then seemed destined when Boston staved off elimination in the fifth game of the AL Championship Series on a home run by Dave Henderson.

“Beating the Angels in that Game 5 was the most exciting game I’ve ever been in,” Buckner said. “Hendu hitting that home run was a highlight of my career.”

And the career almost included a World Series title. Boston was one out away in the 10th inning when the Mets staged their comeback, completed by Buckner’s error.

“My first thought was ‘I get to play in the seventh game of the World Series. How cool is that?’ We felt we were going to win. We got off to a 3-0 start (in Game 7), had Bruce Hurst pitching …

“We had a great year. We came close. It didn’t quite happen. In sports you have to give credit to the other team. We felt like we had a good shot to win. But that Mets team won 105 (actually 108) games. That’s just the way it goes.”

Buckner shrugged. Losing a World Series, let alone making one error, does not define a career.

As his interview time was almost over, a radio reporter approached Buckner with two rapid-fire questions:

“How many times do you think about that play? Do you still have nightmares about it?”

Buckner let out a soft chuckle.

“No, not at all,” he said. “We’re good. It’s all good now. We survived.”

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Bogaerts lifts Red Sox to extra-inning win over Giants http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/08/bogaerts-lifts-red-sox-to-extra-inning-win-over-giants/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/08/bogaerts-lifts-red-sox-to-extra-inning-win-over-giants/#comments Wed, 08 Jun 2016 05:36:25 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/08/bogaerts-lifts-red-sox-to-extra-inning-win-over-giants/ SAN FRANCISCO — Xander Bogaerts hit a go-ahead, two-run single in the top of the 10th inning, and the Boston Red Sox snapped the San Francisco Giants’ five-game home winning streak with a 5-3 victory Tuesday night.

The Red Sox loaded the bases against Santiago Casilla (1-1), who struck out two in a perfect ninth before running into trouble. Bogaerts also had a third-inning RBI single in Boston’s first visit to San Francisco in nearly three years.

Dustin Pedroia extended his majors-best hitting streak to 14 games with an eighth-inning single, while David Ortiz’s streak ended at 13 after his tying groundout as a pinch-hitter in the seventh. Pedroia also has hit in 11 straight road games.

Junichi Tazawa (1-1) pitched the ninth for the win and Craig Kimbrel closed it out for his 14th save.

Ortiz’s high chopper over the pitcher’s mound was controlled by shortstop Brandon Crawford, but Chris Young slid under the tag about 15 feet shy of second base as Crawford threw to first trying to double up Big Papi. Jackie Bradley Jr. scored from third.

Right-hander Albert Suarez pitched into the seventh in his second major league start, lifted for George Kontos after a one-out walk of Bradley, who stole second.

Young had an RBI double and has hit safely in each of his last 13 starts for Boston.

Two left-handed aces will face off Wednesday night in the conclusion of this quick two-game set: David Price against Madison Bumgarner.

“I don’t think I’ve faced an opposing pitcher who’s had home runs,” Price said of Bumgarner, who has two.

Boston starter Rick Porcello retired the first six batters in order Tuesday before Jarrett Parker’s leadoff homer run in the third.

San Francisco fell to 17-7 at home in interleague play since the start of the 2014 season.

BIG PAPI HONORED

The Giants honored retiring Red Sox star Ortiz in a pregame ceremony and presented him with a commemorative cable car bell. Hall of Famer Willie McCovey and two former Ortiz teammates, Jake Peavy and Javier Lopez, gave him the gift.

The 40-year-old Ortiz was relegated to pinch-hit duties for these two games in the NL ballpark as manager John Farrell looks to rest the hitter’s legs and feet as much as he has been on the basepaths.

“I don’t want to risk losing him,” Farrell said. “We’ve got to be mindful of the wear and tear he’s going through as a 40-year-old.”

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Tom Caron: Red Sox learn taking command of AL East won’t be easy http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/07/tom-caron-red-sox-learn-taking-command-of-al-east-wont-be-easy/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/07/tom-caron-red-sox-learn-taking-command-of-al-east-wont-be-easy/#comments Tue, 07 Jun 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/07/tom-caron-red-sox-learn-taking-command-of-al-east-wont-be-easy/ Not much has been settled in the American League East through the first third of the season.

A week ago, the Boston Red Sox seemed to be pulling away. They had built a three-game lead on the strength of the game’s best offense. Heading into Memorial Day weekend, they led the league in runs scored, batting average and were the first team in baseball history to have two players with hitting streaks of 20 games or longer before June 1.

Then came a little bump in the road. The Sox actually got back to playing teams within the division.

Boston has lost six of its last 10 games. Not coincidentally, all 10 were against AL East opponents. It was a stark reminder that this is a division full of teams that can bash the ball, a division with teams built to win.

The AL East might not be the best division in baseball, but there are no patsies. Just about every other division has at least one brutal team in it, a team you can bank on beating 10 or more times over the course of a season. In the AL Central, Minnesota is 16-40 and is already 151/2 games out of first. In the AL West, Oakland recently went on a run to get back within 10 games of first but began the week seven games under .500.

The National League? Atlanta, Cincinnati and San Diego are a combined 60-111.

In the AL East, the Tampa Bay Rays are in last place – and have hit more home runs than any other team in baseball. The New York Yankees are one good series away from .500 and have the best three-headed bullpen in the game.

The real competition is closer to the top of the division. Boston got a harsh reminder of that over the past two weeks.

The Red Sox lost four of six games to the Blue Jays, who have the lowest ERA in the American League. That’s a frightening proposition for a team that’s best known for its offense. Last season the Jays made it to the postseason for the first time in 22 years thanks to a lineup that bashed the ball all over Ontario. No team scored more runs than the Jays last season. Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and AL MVP Josh Donaldson combined for 120 home runs – the fourth trio with at least 39 homers apiece in MLB history.

The best of Toronto’s offense this season is yet to come.

The Baltimore Orioles have won more games since the start of 2012 than any other AL team. On Sunday, they rallied against the vaunted Yankees’ bullpen to win 3-1 and move percentage points ahead of the Sox in the standings. Their bullpen ERA is 2.76 – second only to defending champion Kansas City in the AL.

Mark Trumbo, the best free-agent signing in baseball, began the week tied for the major league lead with 18 home runs. Manny Machado is an MVP candidate. Free-swinging Chris Davis is always a home-run threat.

Since the epic Sox collapse of September 2011, Boston is 34-56 against the Orioles. And there are still 12 more games between the two teams this season, including three at Fenway next week.

The Sox know they need to improve the pitching staff and will be looking for help in the rotation and the bullpen. Every team in the division will be looking for help. It’s a seller’s market, and teams will have to overpay to get what they want.

The best deadline moves could dictate who wins the division this season. The Sox finish the year with 23 straight games against AL East opponents. As we were reminded in the past week, even a great offense like Boston’s can struggle against competition like that.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.

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Red Sox Farm Report: Immediate need or future star? http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/07/red-sox-farm-report-immediate-need-or-future-star/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/07/red-sox-farm-report-immediate-need-or-future-star/#comments Tue, 07 Jun 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/07/red-sox-farm-report-immediate-need-or-future-star/ Another losing record last year means another high draft pick for the Boston Red Sox when the three-day Major League Baseball draft begins Thursday.

Boston picks 12th overall. The year before, Boston had the seventh pick and chose college outfielder Andrew Benintendi. Considered one of the top prospects in the game, Benintendi has already reached Double-A Portland.

Might Boston pick someone who is even more major league ready?

Or perhaps a high school kid with upside that could become an All-Star?

The temptation is to grab the player that might zip to the major leagues. Baseball America got Red Sox fans excited by suggesting Boston will draft University of Louisville closer Zack Burdi, and slot his 100 mph fastball into its bullpen.

But the Red Sox say the cliche “best player available” still applies. But Boston’s amateur scouting director, Mike Rikard, admits that major league-readiness is a component to look at.

“That will certainly be something we at least discuss, as far as how close certain players are to the major leagues and how quickly they can help us,” Rikard said during a conference call with the media last week.

“Again, I know we’ve talked about this before, we try to get the best talent regardless of the state of our farm system or our major league club.

“We just try to assess the talent and try to simplify it from that perspective and take the best player.”

Some of the best players don’t figure to be around at No. 12. They include University of Florida left-hander A.J. Puk, high school pitcher Jason Groome (New Jersey), and high school outfielder Mickey Moniak (California).

But Rikard and staff have had to prepare for several scenarios. There are no clear-cut picks.

“This draft class is a little bit non-typical in that there’s still some relative uncertainty at the top of the draft,” Rikard said. “In most years, you kind of have a little bit better of a gauge of what some of the teams in front of us are likely going to do.

“At this point, there’s still some gray area … the draft can kind of turn in several different ways.”

With that said, here is a sample of eight players I think Boston might like. I lean toward college players who are less of a risk.

 Burdi. With a 100 mph fastball and a good slider, Burdi might help a major league team soon.

 Boston College right-hander Justin Dunn. Just as BC is a surprising contender in the NCAA playoffs, Dunn’s stock is rising with a mid-90s fastball and polished secondary pitches.

 University of Tennessee third baseman Nick Senzel. A good fielder and solid hitter who did well in the Cape Cod League last summer.

 Sanford right-hander Cal Quantrill. He has not pitched since early last season because of Tommy John surgery, but has thrown bullpen sessions for teams.

 University of Miami catcher Zack Collins. A solid hitter with power. His defense is a question mark and a move to first base is a possibility.

 High school outfielder Blake Rutherford of California. A projected five-tool player who bats left-handed, Rutherford has committed to UCLA.

 High school left-hander Braxton Garrett of Alabama. Garrett has a good curveball with a fastball that has touched 94 mph. He has committed to Vanderbilt.

 High school right-hander Forrest Whitley of Texas. At 6-foot-7, with a mid to high 90s fastball and good breaking balls, Whitley may be hard to resist. He has committed to Florida State.

While attention is focused on the first round, Rikard said Boston is poised to get more than one good player.

“It does seem to be a fairly deep draft,” he said. “We’re pretty excited about some of the possibilities a little bit deeper in the draft as well.”

Since I guessed with first-round picks, I’ll throw one name out for the second round – University of Florida right-hander Dane Dunning. Overshadowed in a touted Gators rotation, Dunning may be a steal.

And now a look at the prospects already in the Red Sox system:

 IN TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET, the Red Sox have found another contender for the fifth spot in their rotation. Roenis Elias, who started 49 major league games for the Mariners the past two seasons, is on a nice run with the PawSox. He has allowed two or fewer earned runs in three of his last four starts and, on Sunday he pitched a complete game (six hits, one earned run, two walks and eight strikeouts).

A longshot candidate for the rotation might be William Cuevas. Since his major league debut in a relief role in April, he has come back and made seven starts, with a 2.11 ERA.

 IN DOUBLE-A PORTLAND, outfielder Henry Ramos (.281/.740 OPS) got the call to Triple-A. Ramos may only be filling in while Rusney Castillo is subbing in the majors, but Ramos could make a case for himself with a hot start.

Right-handed starter Justin Haley (5-3, 2.22 ERA) is making a push for a promotion. He won again Monday (six innings, two hits, no runs).

 IN ADVANCED A SALEM, third baseman Rafael Devers may be making a move. He’s finally above .200 (.208 batting average/.601 on-base plus slugging) and is batting .333 in his last eight games.

As for the other big names, second baseman Yoan Moncada (.298/.894) and shortstop Mauricio Dubon (.302/.773) had cooled some, although Moncada enjoyed a 7- for-10 stretch over three games last week, and Dubon was 4 for 4 last Friday.

 IN CLASS A GREENVILLE, first baseman Josh Ockimey continued to mash, batting .298 with nine homers.

 IN EXTENDED SPRING TRAINING, players on the disabled list have been appearing in games, including major league reliever Brandon Workman, coming back from Tommy John surgery. Right-handed prospect Michael Kopech, who broke his hand in spring training, has made a few starts. He had a 2.63 ERA in 16 games with Greenville last year. And infielder Michael Chavis is rehabbing from a thumb injury. He started hot in 15 games with Greenville this year (.356/.992).

NOTES: Two minor league transactions caught local interest. The Marlins released pitcher Ryan Reid, 31, a Portland native. Reid, who reached the majors briefly in 2013 with the Pirates, did not pitch last year and was trying to come back in the Marlins’ advanced Class A team. He had a 1.04 ERA, but the Marlins still let him go … Former Sea Dogs and Red Sox reliever Daniel Bard has signed a minor league deal with the St. Louis Cardinals. It is Bard’s fourth organization since he was waived by Boston in 2013. Bard, who was cut by the Pirates last month, has not pitched in an official game since 2014.

 

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On Baseball: Despite mistakes, Rodriguez could be No. 2 for Red Sox http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/05/despite-mistakes-rodriguez-could-be-no-2-for-red-sox/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/05/despite-mistakes-rodriguez-could-be-no-2-for-red-sox/#comments Mon, 06 Jun 2016 01:41:15 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/05/despite-mistakes-rodriguez-could-be-no-2-for-red-sox/ BOSTON — Eduardo Rodriguez felt better. His fastball showed more life.

But the mantra of his postgame press conference Sunday afternoon revolved around three words.

“Just four pitches,” Rodriguez said, the grimace obvious.

Normally, a pitcher might be satisfied by allowing only four hits over 52/3 innings.

But Rodriguez knew better.

“All four hits for homers,” Rodriguez said, shaking his head. “I was bad four times.”

Rodriguez had his worst start since last Aug. 12. He finished last season with seven starts of three earned runs or less.

A future ace?

Or at least, after the signing of David Price, a solid No. 2?

It can still be that way, despite the five runs Rodriguez allowed Sunday. Remember that Rodriguez was making only his second start this season, after suffering a dislocated right kneecap in spring training.

“The knee feels good,” Rodriguez said.

Progress.

And Rodriguez, whose fastball was around 91 mph in his first start, when he allowed two runs in six innings, was hitting 92 to 94 mph on Sunday.

More progress.

“I thought Eddy had a good fastball,” Boston Manager John Farrell said. “Think there was a little more life to it. For the most part, he was down, better today in the strike zone … (except for) a couple of pitches that found their way to the middle.”

Rodriguez liked his fastball so much, he threw it 84 percent of the time, adding 13 change-ups and only three sliders among his 99 pitches.

“I tried to pound the two-seamer in the zone away,” Rodriguez said, the left-hander trying to stay out of the wheelhouse of Toronto’s power hitters.

“I was feeling good, starting to throw the ball where I want to. Sometimes you miss your spots. If you miss, something bad is going to happen, and it happened today.”

Rodriguez fell behind leadoff hitter Jose Bautista 2-1 and threw his first change-up. Bautista pounced for his 12th home run of the season.

In the third, a 92 mph fastball was grooved for No. 9 hitter Darwin Barney, who did not miss it. With two outs, Rodriguez was too careful with Josh Donaldson and walked him. Edwin Encarnacion worked a 3-1 count and swatted a change-up for a two-run homer.

Rodriguez got on a little bit of a roll from there, until Russell Martin clocked a full-count 94 mph fastball.

“That one was right down the middle,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez, 23, is going to make mistakes, but he does not appear the kind of pitcher who ignores them, like some other starters who have been removed from the rotation. He has made adjustments before, and he will likely make them again.

Remember, Rodriguez was 10-6 last year on a bad team, with an ERA of 3.85 despite some blowup starts when tip-pitching was a problem.

Want to complain about his 5.40 ERA after only two starts this year? Remember, David Price’s 5.73 ERA after two starts?

Price has talent and a track record, and there was trust that he would turn it around.

Rodriguez is lacking experience, although his ability is evident. He could be the No. 2 starter Boston would love to have for a pennant run and beyond.

Steven Wright is wonderful right now, maybe the temporary ace, but knuckleballs are fickle. He may or may not keep it up all year.

In the meantime, Boston can be confident with Price and, hopefully, Rodriguez.

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Red Sox lose to Jays, 5-4 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/05/red-sox-lose-to-jays-5-4/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/05/red-sox-lose-to-jays-5-4/#comments Sun, 05 Jun 2016 20:29:33 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/05/red-sox-lose-to-jays-5-4/ BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox went from almost being no-hit to almost winning the game.

Chris Young broke up Marco Estrada’s no-hit bid with a home run in the eighth inning. The Red Sox rallied for three more runs in the ninth but fell short in a 5-4 loss Sunday afternoon to the Toronto Blue Jays, before 35,823 at Fenway Park.

Both David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez doubled home runs in the ninth against reliever Roberto Osuna. Jackie Bradley Jr. singled home Ramirez, and Young followed with another single. But with runners on first and second with two outs, Osuna struck out pinch-hitter Marco Hernandez.

Boston had to battle back from a 5-0 deficit. All the runs scored on four home runs against Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez (1-1).

Boston did little against Estrada (4-2), a right-hander whose fastball does not top 89 mph. But the way he commands his fastball, along with his change-up, cutter and curveball, had the Red Sox misfiring all afternoon.

“He’s got a fastball/change-up combination that is out of the same, exact release point,” Red Sox Manager John Farrell said. “He has tremendous deception. He threw a number of four-seam fastballs at the top of the strike zone that we would pop up.”

Estrada walked the first two batters but worked his way out of trouble in the first inning. After a leadoff walk to Ramirez in the second, Estrada retired 19 straight batters.

“He’s a master at his craft. He’s not going to light you up with that change-up, but he’s a pitcher – a very good pitcher,” Toronto Manager John Gibbons said. “He’s been doing that for two years. It shouldn’t surprise anybody.”

In his first two at-bats, Young popped up to the first baseman in foul territory, then flied out to center field.

“He’s tough,” Young said. “If you wait him out, you’re behind in the count. If you’re overly aggressive, you’re swinging at his pitch.”

In the eighth, Young got a cut fastball he could hit and launched it over the wall in left-center.

Estrada allowed a leadoff double to Dustin Pedroia in the ninth and was lifted. He finished with five strikeouts, allowing three walks and two hits.

Boston made it interesting against Osuna with RBI hits by Ortiz, Ramirez and Bradley. Hernandez, hitting for Christian Vazquez, worked the count full, then fouled off a pitch before missing a high, 97 mph fastball.

“We continue to battle,” Farrell said. “I love the fact that our guys don’t ever quit.”

Rodriguez, making his second start, allowed only four hits over 52/3 innings – but they were all home runs over the left-field wall – solo shots by Jose Bautista, Darwin Barney and Russell Martin, and a two-run blast by Edwin Encarnacion.

The loss dropped Boston to 33-24. Toronto is 31-27.

NOTES: Catcher/left fielder Blake Swihart was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of a severely sprained ankle. Swihart will have his ankle immobilized for two weeks and then “we will re-evaluate to see what the next steps are,” Farrell said. Outfielder Rusney Castillo was brought back from Pawtucket to fill Swihart’s place. … Catcher Ryan Hanigan was also placed on the 15-day DL with a neck strain. Sandy Leon was summoned from Pawtucket to be the backup catcher. … In another roster move switching right-handed relievers, Heath Hembree was recalled from Pawtucket and Noe Ramirez was sent down. … While Leon figures to catch two of every five games, Castillo’s role is “reserve outfielder,” Farrell said ….

Pedroia and Ortiz both extended their hitting streaks to 13 games, the longest active streaks in the majors. … Pedroia tied Jerry Remy for the longest hitting streak against the Blue Jays (26 games). … The Red Sox have not been no-hit since April 22, 1993, by Seattle’s Chris Bosio.

Boston has Monday off and then plays two games in San Francisco before getting another day off. Ortiz is questionable to play first base because of a sore left foot. If he does play, Farrell said it would be Tuesday against right-hander Albert Suarez, and not Wednesday against lefty Madison Bumgarner.

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On Baseball: Resilient Red Sox hate to lose http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/04/on-baseball-resilient-red-sox-hate-to-lose/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/04/on-baseball-resilient-red-sox-hate-to-lose/#comments Sun, 05 Jun 2016 01:06:16 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/04/on-baseball-resilient-red-sox-hate-to-lose/ BOSTON — The month is early and we may still be talking about a “June swoon,” but if you look at the make-up of this Boston Red Sox roster, the odds are ever in their favor.

Another double-digit in the hits column, this time with 11.

I know what R-word you’re waiting to hear.

And, yes, the Red Sox are relentless.

But let’s add something to the vocabulary:

Resilient.

The Red Sox were in position Saturday to do something they have yet to do this season – lose four straight games. But the Red Sox snapped a three-game losing streak with their 6-4 win over Toronto and Marcus Stroman.

I know another team that never lost more than three straight: the 2013 World Series champion Red Sox.

That gang was filled with veterans.

This 2016 group? Not so much. But these kids have been groomed to despise losing.

“You don’t want that turning in the wrong direction,” said third baseman Travis Shaw, playing in his first full season in the majors.

“We’ve done a pretty good job of putting stops to those tiny skids and being able to turn the page. Today was another example of that.”

Shaw was an example of that. He came into Saturday, 0 for his last 10. In his previous 64 at-bats, he was batting .188.

Worse, in Shaw’s mind, he was playing poorly elsewhere, making an error and a base-running mistake in Friday night’s loss.

“It was pretty bad,” Shaw said. “I did nothing beneficial to help the team.

“There was a determination to make sure today was a rebound day. I don’t want to say my focus is not always high, but the focus level (Saturday) was probably the highest it’s ever been for me.”

Boston Manager John Farrell said Shaw’s been struggling as pitchers make adjustments on him, busting him inside with fastballs and getting him out with outside pitches.

On Saturday, the determined Shaw led off the second inning against Stroman.

“He tries to work you in and then steal some strikes with his breaking ball stuff,” Shaw said.

Stroman delivered a 1-1 outside change-up, and Shaw sent it to the Green Monster for a double. He eventually scored on Blake Swihart’s single.

In the fifth inning, Shaw came up with Xander Bogaerts on third with two outs. The Blue Jays had just closed to 4-3. The Red Sox could use a run. Shaw fell behind 0-1 and then swatted a back-door slider, also off the Monster, scoring Bogaerts.

“Each time they put a point on the board, we answered back,” Farrell said. “That continues to be a characteristic of this team.”

And they don’t lose a lot. Like the 2013 team.

“I’ll sign up for that right now,” Farrell said.

Farrell complimented starter Steven Wright and applauded his beleaguered bullpen’s shutdown performance.

But he also knows what has Boston winning consistently – while avoiding the big skids.

“It boils down to getting contributions up and down the lineup; instead of relying on the middle of the order, or the top of the order,” Farrell said. “We’re getting contributions throughout.

“When you can take the approach we are – that they don’t have to be the hero within a given inning. Play your part. Pass the baton as we get through the lineup. That’s allowed us to score as many runs as we have.”

Leadoff hitter Mookie Betts began the day 0 for 2. He came up in the fourth with Jackie Bradley Jr. on second. He took a called first strike on a curveball and then Stroman fired in an outside fastball. Betts slapped it into right field to score Bradley.

In the sixth, Betts got a fastball to pull and sent it to left field for a RBI double.

Dustin Pedroia batted second and went 1 for 3.

Bogaerts had his hitting streak stopped at 26 games Friday. He began Saturday with a strikeout. His next three at-bats: double, single, single. He scored two runs.

The ever-youthful one, David Ortiz, had a two-run single.

Hanley Ramirez went 0 for 4 and is struggling. But one guy scuffling in this lineup is not going to slow it down.

The Red Sox ended their losing streak and are 33-23.

Look back three years ago. Know what that Boston team was through 56 games? Right, 33-23.

This team is younger. But, like 2013, they feed off each other, and don’t like to lose.

Resilient.

 

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Red Sox snap losing streak with 6-4 win over Blue Jays http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/04/red-sox-snap-losing-streak/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/04/red-sox-snap-losing-streak/#comments Sat, 04 Jun 2016 23:32:13 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/04/red-sox-snap-losing-streak/ BOSTON — It was not vintage Steven Wright, but it was good enough to win.

Wright allowed three runs in five innings, all unearned due to passed balls, and the Boston Red Sox bullpen finally held up, in a 6-4 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park.

Matt Barnes, Junichi Tazawa and Craig Kimbrel combined for four innings of one-hit relief, with Kimbrel getting his 13th save.

David Ortiz singled in two runs, Mookie Betts knocked in two runs, and both Blake Swihart and Travis Shaw added RBI as the Red Sox (33-23) snapped a three-game losing streak.

Swihart’s RBI single in the second inning made it 1-0 and Boston never lost the lead.

Swihart, who was 1 for 1 with two walks and a run, left the game in the seventh inning after slamming into the wall along the left-field line, trying to catch a foul ball. He injured his left ankle and was undergoing further evaluation.

Wright (6-4) allowed only three hits but also issued five walks. He needed 111 pitches to complete five innings.

The Red Sox took a 1-0 lead in the second. Shaw broke out of an 0-for-10 slump with a wall-ball double. He advanced to third on a groundout and scored when Swihart grounded a single through a drawn-in infield.

In the third, Dustin Pedroia walked and Xander Bogaerts smoked a double off the center-field wall. Ortiz singled them both in.

After Toronto (30-27) scored once in the fourth, Boston answered with Betts’ line drive single to right, scoring Bradley for a 4-1 lead.

Catcher Ryan Hanigan had his usual trouble catching Wright’s knuckleballs, allowing three passed balls, the worst one coming in the fifth inning. With runners on second and third and two outs, Michael Saunders struck out on a knuckleball that got by Hanigan. Saunders beat Hanigan’s throw to first base – and both runners scored because Wright forgot to cover home.

Shaw’s wall-ball single scored Bogaerts in the fifth. Toronto got one off Barnes in the sixth (walk, wild pitch, stolen base, RBI groundout).

But Boston answered, with Swihart scoring from first on Betts’ double into the left-field corner. Swihart was initially called out, but Boston challenged and the call was overturned.

NOTES: Hanigan (strained neck) left the game after six innings … Swihart appeared to catch the foul ball on which he was injured, but Toronto challenge the play and the call was reversed to a foul ball. … Pedroia and Ortiz extended their hitting streaks to 12 games, the longest active streaks in the majors.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: ClearTheBases

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Red Sox lose; Bogaerts’ streak snapped http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/03/red-sox-lose-bogaerts-streak-snapped/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/03/red-sox-lose-bogaerts-streak-snapped/#comments Fri, 03 Jun 2016 14:44:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=910445 BOSTON — The Fenway Park crowd booed when Xander Bogaerts walked on four pitches in the eighth inning, figuring it would be his last chance to extend the longest active hitting streak in baseball.

The Red Sox shortstop came up an inning later with more than his streak on the line.

With two on and two out in the ninth, Bogaerts struck out to seal Toronto’s 5-2 victory Friday night and end his hitting streak at 26 games. Bogaerts, who finished 0 for 3 with two walks, worked a 3-0 count against Roberto Osuna before going down swinging to end it.

“It was a tough day to lose the streak. … But I battled and I enjoyed every bit of it,” Bogaerts said. “I’m pretty disappointed but obviously it was going to end someday.”

Five days after taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning against the Red Sox in Toronto – and then allowing the next five batters to reach base – R.A. Dickey threw five more innings of hitless ball, but this time the Blue Jays held on.

Dickey (3-6) didn’t give up a hit until David Ortiz opened the sixth with a double. He got the next three batters on a fly ball to center, a comebacker to the mound and a strikeout.

“I just didn’t want to give in tonight,” Dickey said. “It’s a really good (lineup). You can’t afford to give in. If you do, it can be a crooked number real quick.”

Dickey walked five, hit a batter and struck out four. He left after allowing Mookie Betts’ ground-rule double with two outs in the seventh, only the second Red Sox hit.

Boston tied its longest losing streak of the season with its third consecutive defeat. The Red Sox have lost six of their last nine games.

David Price (7-2), who helped pitch Toronto into the playoffs last season and then signed with Boston, allowed two earned runs on six hits, four walks and a hit batter, striking out five in seven innings. He stayed in the game after being hit by Jose Bautista’s line drive in the third.

“Scary,” said Price. “It didn’t hurt me; it didn’t affect me. It’s just more scary than anything else.”

Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run shot off Price in the first inning, and Devon Travis added a two-run homer off Koji Uehara in the eighth.

“That’s what happens whenever you’re behind in the count to hitters like that,” Price said. “It was a 2-0 fastball that wasn’t located. That’s what good hitters do: they put good swings on bad pitches.”

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Orioles outslug Red Sox, 12-7, to earn split in series http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/02/orioles-outslug-red-sox-12-7-to-earn-split-in-series/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/02/orioles-outslug-red-sox-12-7-to-earn-split-in-series/#comments Fri, 03 Jun 2016 02:26:08 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/02/orioles-outslug-red-sox-12-7-to-earn-split-in-series/ BALTIMORE — Mark Trumbo and Adam Jones each homered twice, Manny Machado delivered a tie-breaking drive in the seventh inning and the Baltimore Orioles hit a season-high seven long balls in a 12-7 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night.

Pedro Alvarez and Francisco Pena also connected for the Orioles, who earned a split of the four-game series between the top two teams in the AL East.

Boston’s Xander Bogaerts extended his career-high hitting streak to 26 games with a two-run double and David Ortiz hit his 16th homer to give the Red Sox a temporary 5-4 lead in the sixth.

One night after scoring a season-high 13 runs without benefit of a home run, the Orioles returned to their go-to style of offense: pure power.

Trumbo put the Orioles up 2-0 in the fourth inning, Jones added a two-run drive in the fifth and Trumbo evened the score at 5 in the sixth after the Red Sox roughed up Ubaldo Jimenez in the top half.

In the seventh, Robbie Ross (0-1) walked Ryan Flaherty and gave up a single to Pena before retiring the next two batters. Boston manager John Farrell then summoned Junichi Tazawa to face Machado, who drove the right-hander’s second pitch deep into the left-field seats.

The Orioles added four runs in the eighth. Alvarez hit a solo shot off Tazawa, Pena launched the first of his career off Noe Ramirez with a man on and Jones followed with his 200th home run with Baltimore for a 12-5 lead.

Mychal Givens (4-0) pitched two scoreless innings for the Orioles, who moved within a game of first-place Boston – exactly where they started the series.

Jimenez came into the game looking to solidify his tenuous hold on a spot in Baltimore’s starting rotation after allowing 15 runs in his previous three outings.

The right-hander retired the first eight batters and yielded only one hit through five innings before running into a whole lot of trouble in the sixth.

A single, a double and a walk loaded the bases for Bogaerts, who doubled off the center-field wall. Ortiz followed with a three-run shot into the right-field stands.

Boston didn’t score again until the ninth.

Red Sox starter Rick Porcello went six innings and gave up five runs and six hits, including a career-high tying three homers.

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Red Sox hit five homers, two more by Betts, but lose to Orioles 13-9 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/01/betts-ties-major-league-record-with-5-homers-in-two-games-for-red-sox/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/01/betts-ties-major-league-record-with-5-homers-in-two-games-for-red-sox/#comments Thu, 02 Jun 2016 01:31:15 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/01/betts-ties-major-league-record-with-5-homers-in-two-games-for-red-sox/ BALTIMORE — Orioles Manager Buck Showalter had already seen plenty of wacky things happen during a wild, back-and-forth slugfest.

Then, things got really weird.

A potential double-play grounder whisked through the legs of Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia, and Baltimore turned the miscue into the tie-breaking run in a 13-9 victory over the Red Sox on Wednesday night.

Matt Wieters had three RBI for the Orioles, who won for the third time in 10 games despite allowing five home runs – another two by Mookie Betts. Baltimore, by contrast, failed to go deep yet still reached a season high in runs.

Pedroia’s error came in the sixth inning with the score tied at 8. After Clay Buchholz (3-6) walked Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo, Wieters hit a grounder to second. The ball skidded under Pedroia’s glove, and Davis scored to give Baltimore the lead for good.

“That’s when you know it’s Twilight Zone night,” Showalter said. “Actually, when it happened I said, ‘We might have a shot.’ He’s one of the best second basemen you’ll ever see.”

Pedroia – a four-time Gold Glove winner – had two errors in 50 games this season.

“I missed it. We’re not robots,” Pedroia said. “It’s part of the game, man. You make errors sometimes. Just wish they are not in that situation, but it’s part of it.”

The Orioles added another run in that inning and pulled away with a three-run seventh.

Hyun Soo Kim and Pedro Alvarez each had three hits, and Davis drew four walks for Baltimore.

Xander Bogaerts extended his hitting streak to 25 games – second-longest in the majors this season – and Betts added two homers to go with the three he clocked on Tuesday night. After connecting in the first and second innings of this game, Boston’s leadoff hitter had five home runs in seven at-bats.

“I feel pretty good,” he said. “Managing my at-bats well. Just riding the wave.”

Chris Young also homered twice for the Red Sox, and David Ortiz had a solo shot to move into a tie with Jim Rice for third place on the team’s RBI list with 1,451.

After the game, Boston optioned starter Joe Kelly to Triple-A Pawtucket and recalled right-hander Noe Ramirez from the same minor league club. Kelly allowed seven runs in 21/3 innings and ended the night with an 8.46 ERA.

Brad Brach (5-0) pitched 12/3 innings of scoreless relief for Baltimore, which pulled within two games of first-place Boston in the AL East.

Zach Britton got four outs for his 15th save.

The first three innings featured 15 runs, 17 hits and two starting pitchers fortunate to emerge from the mess with a no-decision.

Baltimore offset Betts’ second leadoff homer in two games with a four-run first against Kelly, who quickly realized that earning his 11th straight win was not going to be easy.

Home runs by Young and Betts tied it in the top of the second. The Orioles went up 5-4 in the bottom half, and each team scored three runs in the third.

Baltimore starter Mike Wright yielded a career-high four home runs before being pulled with two outs in the third.

NOTES: Betts joins about two dozen players in major league history to hit five home runs in two consecutive games. The last player to accomplish the feat was Bryce Harper in a doubleheader on May 6, 2015. The only other Red Sox players to do so were Carl Yastrzemski on May 19-20, 1976, and Nomar Garciaparra on July 21 and 23, 2002. Betts also became the first Red Sox hitter to hit home runs to lead off consecutive games since Mike Aviles on May 19-20, 2012. … OF Brock Holt (concussion) took batting practice for the first time since his injury May 19 and also participated in fielding drills for a second day. He will need a minor league rehabilitation assignment before returning, Manager John Farrell said.

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Mookie Betts hits three home runs in win over Orioles http://www.pressherald.com/2016/05/31/betts-hits-three-home-runs-in-game-against-orioles/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/05/31/betts-hits-three-home-runs-in-game-against-orioles/#comments Wed, 01 Jun 2016 01:29:29 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/05/31/betts-hits-three-home-runs-in-game-against-orioles/ BALTIMORE — For one glorious night, Mookie Betts discarded his label as leadoff hitter and slipped into the role of slugger.

Betts hit a career-high three homers and drove in five runs, and the Boston Red Sox cruised past the Baltimore Orioles 6-2 on Tuesday night to open a three-game lead in the AL East.

Betts led off the game with a shot to center and added a three-run drive to left in the second inning. After lining out to second base in the fourth, Betts hit a bases-empty homer to right in the seventh.

It just doesn’t get any better than that, does it?

“This is probably the best night,” Betts said. “It’s the first time I’ve ever done that (at any level).”

Batting in the ninth inning with a chance to tie the major league record of four homers in a game, Betts grounded out to second against rookie Ashur Tolliver.

“A home run would have been nice,” he said, “but I was just trying to get another hit.”

Still, he’s the first Boston player to hit three homers in a game since Will Middlebrooks against Toronto on April 7, 2013. He is the fifth player in the majors to hit three homers in a game this season.

Betts’ 12 home runs rank second on the team behind David Ortiz, who has 14.

Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts stretched his career-best hitting streak to 24 games with a single in the seventh inning.

Asked if he was thinking about the streak, Bogaerts said, “Are you kidding me? You live for another day.”

It’s the second-longest in the majors this season behind teammate Jackie Bradley Jr., whose 29-game streak ended last week.

Bradley was placed on the paternity list Tuesday, but the Red Sox banged out 10 hits without him.

“Jackie leaves us today for the birth of his child,” manager John Farrell said. “If he has a boy, I think he ought to name him Mookie after tonight’s outing.”

Betts and Dustin Pedroia opened the game with back-to-back home runs on Kevin Gausman’s second and fifth pitches. In the second inning, Betts followed two walks with a liner that squeezed inside the left-field foul pole for a 5-0 lead.

Betts made it 6-2 in the seventh with a shot off Dylan Bundy.

Boston starter Eduardo Rodriguez (1-0) allowed two runs and six hits in his season debut. The left-hander was activated from the disabled list before the game after being sidelined since March with a right knee injury.

Gausman (0-2) finished strong after the rocky beginning but remains winless after eight starts. The right-hander struck out eight but gave up a career-high tying three home runs for the second straight outing.

“Kind of seemed like the third inning I kind of found it, and by then it was too late,” he said.

The Orioles were tied for first place with Boston on May 22, but now stand a season-high three games out after losing seven of nine — including the first two of this four-game series.

“They’re the best team in baseball right now, so you have to be on your game,” Gausman said. “If you’re not, it’s tough against this team, against this lineup, against their bullpen. Their starters are pitching well too right now, so it kind of seems like everything’s clicking for them right now.”

The tone for this one was established early, when Gausman became the first Baltimore pitcher to allow back-to-back homers to start a game since Rodrigo Lopez in June 2006.

ROSTER MOVES

Red Sox: OF Rusney Castillo was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket to replace Bradley on the roster.

Orioles: Backup C Caleb Joseph was placed on the 15-day DL with a testicular injury after being struck by a foul ball in Monday’s game. C Francisco Pena was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk to play behind Matt Wieters.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Red Sox: Highly touted prospect Sam Travis, a first baseman, has been lost for the season due to a torn left ACL. The injury, which will require reconstructive surgery, occurred in a minor league game Sunday. “By all accounts, it looks like spring training is the goal as far as time frame is concerned,” manager John Farrell said.

Orioles: RHP Yovani Gallardo (shoulder) will begin his rehabilitation assignment Thursday with Class A Frederick.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: RHP Joe Kelly (2-0, 6.30 ERA) seeks his 11th straight victory on Wednesday night in the third game of the series. The streak began last August and includes a win over Baltimore in April.

Orioles: Mike Wright (2-3, 5.05 ERA) gave up four runs in five innings against Boston in April but still picked up his first win of the season.

 

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Red Sox Farm Report: Red Sox rushing Rijo through the minors despite struggles http://www.pressherald.com/2016/05/31/red-sox-farm-report-red-sox-rushing-rijo-through-the-minors-despite-struggles/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/05/31/red-sox-farm-report-red-sox-rushing-rijo-through-the-minors-despite-struggles/#comments Tue, 31 May 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=902975 He has a career .251 batting average in the minor leagues, and he is only 20.

But the Boston Red Sox seem in a hurry with Wendell Rijo.

While he has yet to have a breakout season, the Red Sox keep promoting Rijo, a second baseman who is the youngest player in the Eastern League. He has played 38 of 40 games for the Portland Sea Dogs, despite batting only .174.

“We understand he’s young for the level,” said Red Sox director of player development Ben Crockett. “He’s certainly a work in progress, and has a lot of things to continue to improve upon. Right now, he’s grinding.”

We can deduce three reasons why Rijo is already in Double-A:

n One, Rijo does show potential. Despite his numbers, Baseball America ranks him the 15th-best prospect in the Red Sox organization (the highest-ranked Sea Dog until Andrew Benintendi showed up).

“It’s his tools, man,” Sea Dogs Manager Carlos Febles said. “He has a good swing. The ball jumps off his bat. Now, it’s about him being consistent at the plate.

“I see a guy who can hit 15 home runs. He could hit .280, .290; who knows? He’s coming along defensively.”

n Two, Rijo appears confident enough to handle failure and keep working. Last year, when he was the youngest player in the advanced Class A Carolina League, he was batting .239 for Salem on July 30. He batted .308 the rest of the way, upping his average to .260.

“I think the key is to stay confident,” Rijo said. “It doesn’t matter how you start, but how you finish, like in Salem.

“I like the challenge. It’s awesome to play against guys who have a lot of experience.”

n Three, Rijo really had nowhere to go but up. Even if Rijo expanded his infield play beyond second base (he played four games at shortstop in Salem), Salem’s infield is full of some of Boston’s best prospects – third baseman Rafael Devers, shortstop Mauricio Dubon and the No. 1 prospect, second baseman Yoan Moncada.

Rijo had to come to Portland or likely take a backup role.

Despite Febles’ projections of power, Rijo had six home runs in Salem, and only one this year.

But, again, he is young.

“We’re letting him adjust, giving him the opportunity,” Sea Dogs hitting coach Jon Nunnally said. “He’s got a quick bat. He puts the barrel on the ball and it jumps.

“Ignore the numbers because the numbers will take care of themselves when you start getting disciplined with what you’re trying to do.”

Rijo is hanging in there.

“I think I can do a good job,” he said. “Just trying to do the things I know I can do, and we’ll see what happens.”

IN TRIPLE-A Pawtucket, rising first base prospect Sam Travis tore the ACL in his left knee Sunday during a rundown. The Red Sox announced Travis will soon undergo surgery and be out for the season.

Pawtucket left-hander starter Roenis Elias, acquired from Seattle in the Wade Smiley-Carson Smith deal, had put together two solid starts, heading into Monday night’s game against Gwinnett – pitching into the eighth inning both games, allowing a total of three earned runs on eight hits and two walks and striking out 21. On Monday, Elias allowed four earned runs in the fourth inning and left after a scoreless fifth.

The PawSox bullpen has some intriguing arms that may help Boston later in the season. Pat Light (3.12 ERA/1.21 WHIP) already had his cup of coffee and he’s looked sharp in his last six appearances (one earned run/eight strikeouts). Another former Sea Dogs bullpen mate, lefty Robby Scott (3.13/1.11) continues his unique success against right-handed hitters (.213 average), but left-handers are hitting .275 against him. Anthony Varvara (2.95/1.03) has 24 strikeouts and seven walks in 211/3 innings.

IN DOUBLE-A Portland, catcher Jake Romanski remains the team’s leading hitter with a .317 average.

IN HIGH CLASS A Salem, the aforementioned trio of Moncada, Dubon and Devers has been struggling. Moncada went 0 for 4 Monday and is batting .154 over his last 10 games, dropping his average to .295. Dubon’s average is .305, even after hitting .206 his last 10 games. Devers slumped all April, came alive in early May, but is back down to .195.

IN CLASS A Greenville, the Drive won 1-0 Monday on some pitching gems and first baseman Josh Ockimey’s ninth home run. Ockimey, 20, was a fifth-round draft pick in 2014 out of high school. Ockimey, 6-foot-1, 215 pounds, is batting .297 with a 1.002 OPS.

Top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza (4-4, 3.43) gave up one hit and four walks over five innings, striking out four on Monday. Left-hander Bobby Poyner recorded his 11th save with two innings of work (one hit and three strikeouts).

Poyner, 23, was a 14th-round draft pick out of the University of Florida. His ERA is 0.38 and he has 31 strikeouts and no walks in 26 innings. Given his age and stats, Poyner should be in Salem.

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Bogaerts’ streak reaches 23 in Sox win http://www.pressherald.com/2016/05/30/bogaerts-streak-reaches-23-in-sox-win/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/05/30/bogaerts-streak-reaches-23-in-sox-win/#comments Mon, 30 May 2016 20:51:36 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/05/30/bogaerts-streak-reaches-23-in-sox-win/ BALTIMORE — Xander Bogaerts did the damage early, extending his hitting streak to 23 games and driving in two runs.

From there, Boston used the long ball to pull away from the Baltimore Orioles in a matchup between the top two teams in the AL East.

Jackie Bradley put the first-place Red Sox ahead for good with a sixth-inning homer, and David Ortiz and Marco Hernandez connected in the eighth to seal a 7-2 victory Monday.

Knuckleballer Steven Wright (5-4) pitched a four-hitter, striking out seven and walking five in his third complete game this season.

Mookie Betts scored twice, courtesy of Bogaerts, before Bradley connected off Tyler Wilson (2-4) leading off the sixth. Bradley’s 29-game hitting streak, which ended last week, is the only one this season longer than Bogaerts’ career-best run.

“I’m just trying to go up there and get hits, you know? If it happens, it happens,” Bogaerts said. “Just trying to be me, and not trying to be someone who I’m not.”

Ortiz led off the eighth with his 14th home run and Hernandez added a three-run shot to send many in the crowd of 43,926 up the exit ramps. Hernandez’s first major league homer came in his 10th game.

Wright, meanwhile, threw a 122-pitch masterpiece by mixing a fluttering knuckler with a vastly contrasting fastball.

“It was a challenge,” Baltimore’s Mark Trumbo said. “He had great stuff today. It never ended up where it started. You can’t really predict where to swing. You just hope that you get one that maybe doesn’t move quite as much.”

Ryan Flaherty doubled in a run and scored one for the Orioles, who have lost 6 of 8.

Wilson gave up three runs and eight hits over 62/3 innings in losing his third straight start.

Limited to an infield hit over the first four innings, Baltimore temporarily solved Wright’s knuckler in the fifth. Nolan Reimold tripled, Flaherty doubled, Caleb Joseph snapped an 0-for-19 skid with a single and Adam Jones delivered a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 2.

NOTES: Placed on the concussion list May 20, Red Sox utility man Brock Holt has ramped up his baseball-related activities. But there is no timetable for his return, Manager John Farrell said. .

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Red Sox score twice in 11th, beat Jays http://www.pressherald.com/2016/05/29/red-sox-score-twice-in-11th-beat-jays/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/05/29/red-sox-score-twice-in-11th-beat-jays/#comments Sun, 29 May 2016 21:48:08 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/05/29/red-sox-score-twice-in-11th-beat-jays/ TORONTO — A tough weekend for Clay Buchholz ended with a win and an appreciative handshake from Manager John Farrell.

Dustin Pedroia hit an RBI double in the 11th inning, and the Boston Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-3 on Sunday to avoid a three-game sweep.

Boston recorded its 13th comeback victory one day after losing 10-9 on an infield single in the ninth. The Red Sox lost 7-5 Friday.

“On the heels of two really tough days up here I thought we battled back, took the lead, gave it up and kept coming,” Farrell said. “I couldn’t be more proud with the energy and effort.”

Blake Swihart drew a one-out walk against Gavin Floyd (2-4) and moved to third when Floyd threw a wild ball four to the next batter, Mookie Betts.

Drew Storen came on to face Pedroia, who hit a ground-rule double to right-center. Pedroia went 2 for 6 with two RBI.

Xander Bogaerts followed with an RBI groundout. He went 1 for 6, extending his hitting streak to 22 games.

Removed from Boston’s rotation Friday after losing his previous two starts, Buchholz (3-5) worked one inning for the win in his first relief appearance since Aug. 17, 2008.

“He handled it very well,” Farrell said. “He had a good cutter, a good fastball.”

As Buchholz dressed in the clubhouse afterward, Farrell stopped by his locker for a congratulatory handshake.

“He understands how I’ve felt about the whole situation,” Buchholz said. “I don’t think anybody would be human as a baseball player if they didn’t take it as a slap in the face or as ‘You’ve got to get better.’ That’s sort of how I took it and he understood that.”

Eduardo Rodriguez will replace Buchholz in Boston’s rotation beginning with Tuesday’s game at Baltimore.

Koji Uehara finished for his first save as Boston became the first AL team to reach 30 wins.

Blue Jays Manager John Gibbons said Floyd is “worn down” after pitching three times in four days and suggested Toronto would make a move to reinforce its bullpen Monday.

Jose Bautista hit a two-run homer for Toronto, which had won a season-high four straight.

It was the 14th loss of the season for the Blue Jays’ bullpen, matching Atlanta and Cincinnati for most in the majors.

Toronto trailed 3-2 before Edwin Encarnacion tied it with a leadoff homer against Heath Hembree in the eighth, his 11th.

Making his first start in Toronto since helping the Blue Jays reach the American League championship series last October, David Price gave up two runs and five hits in 61/3 innings, leaving to a loud ovation from the crowd of 47,916.

Bautista opened the scoring with a drive off the left-field foul screen in the fifth, his 11th. It was Bautista’s sixth career homer off Price, the most by any opposing batter.

NOTES: Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz was scratched with a sore left foot. He was hit on the foot by a pitch in the fifth inning of Saturday’s 10-9 loss and struck out on the play. X-rays were negative and Ortiz is day to day.

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On Baseball: Red Sox hitters are making for a special season http://www.pressherald.com/2016/05/29/on-baseball-red-sox-hitters-are-making-for-a-special-season/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/05/29/on-baseball-red-sox-hitters-are-making-for-a-special-season/#comments Sun, 29 May 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=901073 Back in April, the Boston Red Sox clubhouse was filled with promising players, but to the skeptic, this was young, unproven talent.

Noe Ramirez did not sound skeptical when he looked around the clubhouse before Boston’s home opener seven weeks ago. A reliever who has since been up and down between the majors and minors, Ramirez has moved up with several players now entrenched at Fenway Park.

“This is a pretty special group,” said Ramirez, who pitched for the Portland Sea Dogs in 2013 and 2014. “It’s a good time for youth in the organization.”

Look at the outfield of Blake Swihart, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts. The left side of the infield features Xander Bogaerts and Travis Shaw. Christian Vazquez squats comfortably behind the plate.

Starting with Bradley coming to Portland in the second half of 2012, all these players are recent graduates of Boston’s minor league system.

“We won in the minors and we wanted to keep winning here,” Betts said.

Oh, if only it was that simple. Good junior varsity players don’t always mean varsity champions.

Yet this Red Sox lineup is playing superb defense while dominating American League offensive statistics. With the help of a couple of old Sea Dogs, Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez (both 2005), and a 40-year-old designated hitter who doesn’t realize he’s past his prime, the Red Sox are rolling.

Boston’s combined on-base percentage and slugging average (OPS) is .846, 80 points higher than any other team in the American League.

The way Boston continually mashes the ball has Manager John Farrell not only wearing out the word “relentless” but causes him to think in historical terms.

“You combine their performance and what they’re doing as a team, as a unit,” Farrell said, searching for words. “We may have a chance to look back in time … this is a pretty special group of players right now. The blend of veterans, young players is there.

“The core group of young players, you look at how skilled they are. This is a unique lineup right now.”

Bogaerts and Bradley are in the top four in the AL in batting. Six of the top 19 hitters in the league are Red Sox. Interestingly, that does not include Betts (batting .269), who may have as much potential as anyone.

When most of these performers get together to talk the old days, they speak of McCoy Stadium (Triple-A) in Pawtucket, or Hadlock Field.

“You hear many conversations of Portland and Pawtucket still to this day,” Farrell said. “What they have experienced as a group … the fact that they can rely on one another when they do scuffle. They’ve had some history to doing that prior to getting here.

“They are kind of all growing at the same rate, which is pretty cool.”

All have struggled to a certain extent. One only has to think of Shaw’s disastrous 2013 season in Portland (.221), Bogaerts’ first full season in the majors, in 2014 (.240) or Jackie Bradley’s scuffles for 2½ years before last summer.

Other promising young bats have hit the skids and haven’t recovered. Will Middlebrooks and Garin Cecchini come to mind (both are now competing in Triple-A with the Milwaukee Brewers).

These current Red Sox have struggled and adjusted.

“They have an understanding what their strengths are,” Farrell said.

“It’s shown in their all-field approach. For young hitters not to be one dimensional speaks to how advanced they are.”

That mature approach has Boston confident that this offense will not fade.

With Boston’s pitching unreliable at the moment, the bats and defense have propelled the Red Sox to one of their best starts through 49 games with a 29-20 record.

Since 2001, six other Boston teams have had at least 29 wins through their first 49 games. Three won the World Series (2004, ’07, ’13), two reached the AL Championship Series (2003 and 2008), and one had 93 wins but missed the playoffs (2002).

That ’02 team, with the likes of Tony Clark and Brian Daubach, Jose Offerman, Rey Sanchez and Carlos Baerga, got off to a quick start, with an .838 OPS in April. But they faded some, still managing a .789 OPS.

The revamped 2003 Red Sox, with newcomers Kevin Millar, Bill Mueller and Ortiz, blistered the ball for an .851 OPS. But the pitching staff had an ERA of 4.48 – featuring a rotation of All-Star Pedro Martinez (2.22) and everyone else with an ERA in the fours and fives.

That brings us to this year. Boston’s ERA is 4.26. That might be good enough for a playoff run (the 2004 Red Sox balanced an .832 OPS with a 4.18 ERA), but it is certainly not comfortable.

Boston’s pitching must get better. Red Sox hitters are creating a special 2016 season. It would be a shame to waste it.

 

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