It was an unusual lineup posted Sunday morning at Fenway Park with David Ortiz penciled in at first base.

It was an unusual lineup posted Sunday morning at Fenway Park with David Ortiz penciled in at first base.

With a struggling Mike Napoli, 1 for his last 17, he gets the day off with Ortiz playing first base at Fenway Park for the first time since July 16, 2005 and the first time in an non-interleague game since August 5, 2006. Hanley Ramirez will serve as the designated hitter.

“Today’s lineup I think gives us the best lineup we can put on the field,” manager John Farrell said. “Recognize it’s been quite some time since David has played first base in an American League game. Also gives us the ability to have [Alejandro] De Aza in left field. It’s about putting best lineup on the field today.”

Napoli is going through arguably the toughest stretch of his career, batting just .168 since June 1 with only eight extra-base hits in that time. He’s also walked 10 times, compared to 35 strikeouts over 113 plate appearances.

“He’s obviously in a stretch right now where he’s grinding through some things,” Farrell said. “You’ve seen him work counts, you’ve seen him go early in the count. The hard contact has been inconsistent. I think there’s been times where he’s looked for a certain pitch in the count and not got it and has resulted in a located pitch by a pitcher. He fully recognizes where he’s at and continues to work at getting this thing turned around. Felt like today was a day to give him a little bit of a breather with tomorrow being the off day and a couple of days to regroup.”

Ortiz playing first base doesn’t appear to be something which happen often. It was an opportune time with Monday being an off day, as well as another on Thursday.

“I don’t know how frequently we would see this going forward,” Farrell said.

In other news, Farrell announced Wade Miley and Rick Porcello will start Tuesday and Wednesday against the Marlins and Justin Masterson will pitch out of the bullpen for the remainder of the first half.

Porcello is 4-9 with a 6.08 ERA and hasn’t won a game since May 16. He’s coming off of his worst outing of the season, allowing seven runs in two innings against the Blue Jays last Wednesday. With the off days this week there was an option to keep him out until after the All-Star break, but that would give him almost three weeks in between starts and that was something the team didn’t want to do.

“Didn’t want him to go two and a half, three weeks without being in a game situation,” Farrell said.

“One it’s not Rick’s personality — he’s a strong competitor,” he added. “He fully recognizes the stretch that he’s in and what we’re trying to do to get back to being consistent with his two-seamer and curveball approach. Does not want to sit on the side and just — you can throw all the bullpens you want and his bullpens have been quality, but it’s the in-game execution where that’s got to continue to be put forth. To match him up with [Ryan Hanigan] on Wednesday is the approach being taken. Where doing everything that we can that is available to us to get him on the right track.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

For the first time since August 5, 2006, David Ortiz will start at first base in a non-interleague game.

For the first time since August 5, 2006, David Ortiz will start at first base in a non-interleague game.

With Mike Napoli‘s struggles at the plate, Ortiz will get the nod at first base in the series finale against the Astros, as the Red Sox will go up against right-hander Lance McCullers. Each team has won a game in the series thus far.

Hanley Ramirez will be the designated hitter with Alejandro De Aza starting in left field and Shane Victorino will be in right field for the second straight day.

Ryan Hanigan will catch Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez.

For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.

Here is the complete Red Sox lineup:

Mookie Betts, CF
Brock Holt, 2B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
David Ortiz, 1B
Hanley Ramirez, DH
Pablo Sandoval, 3B
Shane Victorino, RF
Alejandro De Aza, LF
Ryan Hanigan, C
Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Eduardo Rodriguez

Eduardo Rodriguez

Coming off of yet another impressive start by Clay Buchholz, the Red Sox will look to win their third consecutive series Sunday afternoon when they send Eduardo Rodriguez to the mound against Lance McCullers and the Astros.

After a set of lackluster starts in June, Rodriguez righted the ship in his latest start against the Blue Jays last Tuesday. In that outing he went six innings, giving up four hits and just one earned run to go along with four punchouts. Though he tossed 67 pitches in the previous start en route to a six-run implosion and a Red Sox loss vs. the Orioles on June 25, Rodriguez was on point at the Rogers Center, drawing a season-high 11 swinging strikes.

Suspecting that Rodriguez might have been tipping his pitches against the Orioles, his teammates came to the rescue, helping him rebound for his next start.

“The last time he pitched we all got on him because he was tipping his pitches really bad,” David Ortiz said following the Sox’€™ win over the Blue Jays. “We know he has that great stuff, but when you start tipping pitches hitters start eliminating pitches so it’€™s easier to hit. So in his case [Clay] Buchholz, myself, Panda [Pablo Sandoval], everybody was pretty much trying to him some ideas for his next outing. He executed really well, worked hard on it and he wasn’t tipping at all and that’€™s why he pitched the way he did tonight.”

Rodriguez has showcased dynamite raw stuff throughout his first month or so in the big leagues. He began his Red Sox career with two straight wins and 0.44 ERA through three starts. However, it did not take long for big league hitters to discover his tell, and once they did he spiraled into a horrendous three-start stretch in which opponents slashed .339/.382/.516 against him. Buchholz, no stranger to pitch-tipping himself, pinpointed Rodriguez’s issue and gave him some pointers on how to correct it.

“We watched video and showed him what was going on,” Buchholz said after the Blue Jays game. “He had no idea that he was doing anything wrong or anything different on any one pitch. These last four days that’€™s all he’€™s been talking about is working on it. He’€™s been the hotel room in front of a mirror he’€™s been working on it. He did a good job on it today.”

Rodriguez heads into his matchup with the Astros bearing a laudable 4-2 record and a 3.92 ERA through seven major league starts. Opposing him for the Cinderellas of MLB will be Lance McCullers, a fellow rookie.

Lance McCullers

Lance McCullers

McCullers, 21, is just one of a bevy of top-notch Astros prospects who has either already hit the big leagues or will within the next year or so. McCullers was drafted out of high school in Tampa, Florida, with the 41st overall pick of the 2012 amateur draft. As the son of former MLB pitcher Lance McCullers Sr., the right-hander seemingly has grown into expectations of big league success, and he has not disappointed thus far.

Going into Sunday’s game, McCullers sports a 4-2 record in nine starts with a 2.19 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP. He’s no fluke, either, as he also owns a 2.63 FIP and a 9.8 K/9 rate, a result of his plus curveball.

“It was pretty good tonight,’€ McCullers said of the pitch after his latest start, a 6-1 win over the Royals last Monday. “I made an adjustment after the third. When I was getting ahead I was kind of burying it, and they weren’t really taking it. I wanted to get it more in the zone, so I had a lot of two-out contact on the curveball because I wanted to keep the pitch count down.”

McCullers has been downright dominant in his previous two starts, hurling 13 innings while accumulating 12 strikeouts and just two earned runs. His ERA over this stretch is a stingy 1.38 and opponents have been baffled to the tune of a .178/.269/.289 slash line.

Though he has never faced the Red Sox, Boston hitters have smacked right-handed pitching well this season with a .263 team batting average and a league-best 0.49 BB/K ratio.

Astros vs. Rodriguez (LHP)

No Astros have faced Rodriguez.

Red Sox vs. McCullers (RHP)

No Red Sox have faced McCullers.

Blog Author: 
Justin Pallenik

A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Saturday:

A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Saturday:

Carlos Peguero

Carlos Peguero

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (38-46): L, 12-4, at Syracuse (Nationals)

— Left fielder Carlos Peguero homered in each of his first two at-bats, his fifth and six long balls on the season for Pawtucket, as the PawSox took a 4-3 lead in the third inning on Peguero’€™s three-run blast. Both shots were pulled over the right-center wall by the lefty Peguero, for whom 11 of his 21 hits in Triple-A this year have gone for extra bases. The 28-year-old Peguero was acquired by Boston from Texas on May 27 in exchange for cash, then designated for assignment on June 4 after just four games with the Red Sox to make way as Boston acquired Alejandro De Aza. Peguero has played in 103 major league games in his career with Seattle, Kansas City, Texas and Boston, hitting .194 with 13 homers.

— Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. went 2-for-4 to raise his Triple-A average to .324, while also scoring a run. Bradley was erased on a steal attempt in the first on a called third strike to Rusney Castillo, as batter’€™s interference was ruled on the throw to second. Bradley stopped running and was tagged out as he was looking toward the plate in confusion. Castillo took an 0-for-4 with four strikeouts on the evening.

— RHP Pat Light (Boston’€™s No. 26 prospect at MLB.com) struggled in the seventh as he allowed two singles and then walked three straight batters, his last one walking in a run in a 27-pitch outing. The final two walks were four-pitch walks, with several pitches dangerously up and in to the right-handed hitters. After blowing two saves in June, the 24-year-old Light had responded with back-to-back scoreless outings before the rare control problems Saturday. Combined this year between Double-A Portland and Pawtucket, Light had walked 15 batters in 38 innings heading into Saturday’€™s action.

Jantzen Witte

Jantzen Witte

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS (29-53): L, 5-2, at Binghamton (Mets)

— Third baseman Jantzen Witte went 2-for-4 with an RBI double, but he committed what turned out to be a costly error in the second. With two aboard and one out, a hard grounder to Witte possibly could have been a double-play ball, but Witte did not field it cleanly and the bases were loaded. Two batters later, Gavin Cecchini, the younger brother of Pawtucket’€™s Garin Cecchini, blasted a grand slam to give the B-Mets a 4-1 lead they would not relinquish.

— The four unearned runs were the only ones given up by starting RHP William Cuevas on the night, as he finished with a line of 5 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 SO (90 pitches, 54 strikes). Cuevas, a 24-year-old Venezuelan, took the loss to fall to 7-5, although he lowered his ERA from 3.75 to 3.51.

— Center fielder Manuel Margot (Boston’€™s No. 5 prospect at MLB.com) reached base twice and scored a run, going 1-for-3 to raise his average to .294. Margot, 20, has a hit in 11 of 13 games played with Portland since his promotion from Single-A Salem in June. Signed for $800,000 out of the Dominican Republic in the 2011 international signing period, Margot is 15-for-51 with four doubles, seven RBIs, six runs and four stolen bases so far with the Sea Dogs.

— Shortstop Marco Hernandez singled in the eighth inning and now has hit successfully in 14 of his last 15 games, eight of those games multi-hit affairs. The 22-year-old Dominican is hitting .312 on the season, fifth best in the Eastern League, over 60 games played this season. Hernandez came to Boston as the player to be named later in the Felix Doubront trade with the Cubs last July.

Kevin McAvoy

Kevin McAvoy

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX (41-39): L, 15-0, at Lynchburg (Indians)

— RHP Kevin McAvoy took the loss, dropping his record to 4-7, as Lynchburg scored three runs in the first and single runs in the third and fifth off McAvoy, with four of the five runs allowed earned. In 4 2/3 innings McAvoy allowed six hits, all singles, to go with four walks and five strikeouts. The 6-foot-4 McAvoy, drafted in the fourth-round in 2014, is 4-7 on the season with a 4.28 ERA in 15 starts.

— Lynchburg racked up 20 hits by the end of the game, tagging relievers German Tavares and Chandler Shepherd for six and four runs, respectively, and finishing 13-for-23 with runners in scoring position.

— It was an all-around ugly night for Salem, as the Sox managed just four hits, all singles, and committed three errors. Center fielder Forrest Allday was the only Salem player to reach base twice, going 1-for 2 with a single and a walk to extend his hitting streak to four games. Third baseman Jose Vinicio also had a hit, and over his last nine games is 12-for-31 (.387), raising his average from .268 to .290.

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE (43-37): L, 3-1, vs. Savannah (Mets)

— Second baseman Yoan Moncada (Boston’€™s No. 1 prospect at MLB.com) paced the Greenville offense as he reached based three times, going 2-for-3 with a walk and a looping opposite-field RBI single to left in the eighth. Moncada, 20, also stole a base, his 10th, and made a fine defensive play in the fourth as he dove to his left to come up with a grounder ticketed for right field. Over his last nine games Moncada has gone 11-for-34 (.324) with seven runs scored to raise his average 34 points to .234.

— Center fielder Bryan Hudson scored Greenville’€™s only run, as he led off the eighth inning by ripping a double down the left-field line and then ran home on Moncada’€™s single. The 20-year-old Hudson, drafted by Boston in Round 15 of the 2013 draft out of high school in Georgia, is 9-for-31 (.290) with three doubles through eight games played since his promotion from short-season Single-A Lowell.

— LHP Dedgar Jimenez started and pitched four scoreless innings, allowing three hits and striking out four, before being pulled with his pitch count at 78. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Venezuelan, inked for $175,000 in the 2013 international signing period, is coming off a strong June when he went 2-2 with a 2.73 ERA over five starts, with a 17-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 29 2/3 innings.

Andrew Benintendi

Andrew Benintendi

SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS (12-4): W, 6-5, at Tri-City (Astros)

— Center fielder Andrew Benintendi, Boston’€™s first-round draft choice this year, hit his first professional home run and went 2-for-4 in his second game in the Red Sox organization. The two-run homer came in the third inning and gave Lowell a 6-0 lead. The 20-year-old Benintendi, the seventh overall pick out of the University of Arkansas, is off to a 4-for-8 start at the plate and has hit in the three-hole of the Lowell lineup on consecutive days.

— Second baseman Hector Lorenzana also homered for Lowell, a three-run shot in the second inning that was Lorenzana’€™s first in the Red Sox organization. The 23-year-old Lorenzana was taken by Boston in Round 37 of the 2014 draft out of the University of Oklahoma and has played in 52 games in the organization over the last two seasons, getting time at Salem and Greenville in addition to Lowell and the Gulf Coast League.

— LHP Bobby Poyner, selected by Boston in Round 14 in this year’€™s draft, made his professional debut and picked up his first save with a scoreless ninth inning. Poyner allowed a leadoff single, but after a sacrifice bunt he recovered to strike out two batters to end the game. Poyner, 22, played four years of baseball at the University of Florida and struck out 134 batters in 174 innings while walking just 27.

Devon Fisher

Devon Fisher

ROOKIE GULF COAST LEAGUE RED SOX (10-2): L, 11-1, vs. GCL Twins

— Catcher Devon Fisher reached base three times and had one of only three total hits for the GCL Red Sox in the blowout loss. The 19-year-old Fisher, who was drafted in Round 20 in 2014 and signed for $200,000 away from a commitment from the University of Virginia, has reached safely in five of his six games played this season. Fisher is 5-for-18 (.278) with four walks and four RBIs in his six games.

— Outfielder Danny Mars made his 2015 debut, going 0-for-4 as the DH. Mars, Boston’€™s sixth-round draft pick last year, played 44 games in 2014 with short-season Single-A Lowell before getting promoted to Single-A Greenville for 10 contests last August. The 21-year-old Mars signed for $215,000 last year out of Chipola College in Florida.

— Right fielder Chris Madera made his professional debut, going 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. Madera, 22, was drafted by the Cubs in 2013 but did not sign and played two years for NAIA Faulkner University in Alabama before signing with Boston as an undrafted free agent. Madera hit .398 this season for Faulkner with nine home runs.

Check out the weekly WEEI.com Farm Report podcast hosted by Ken Laird and Ryan Hannable.

Blog Author: 
Ken Laird

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