Rubby De La Rosa made his fourth straight dominant start in Pawtucket on Tuesday. (AP)
A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Tuesday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 7-5 LOSS VS. BUFFALO (BLUE JAYS)
– Dominance remained routine for Rubby De La Rosa. The right-hander fired another six dazzling innings, allowing one run on just three hits (all singles) while punching out seven and walking one. His control wasn’t as precise as it had been — just 53 of his 89 pitches (60 percent) found the strike zone — but he still managed to overmatch Buffalo, which couldn’t make any decent contact against him. He recorded eight outs on the ground, with a pair of double plays in the mix, and through his first four starts of the year, his performance has been the most impressive of any pitcher in the Red Sox system this year.
De La Rosa has logged at least five innings in each of his starts and has yielded no more than one run in an outing. He has walked two or fewer in all four of his starts, and now has 21 strikeouts (8.3 per nine innings) and just four walks (1.6 per nine innings) in 22 1/3 innings. Opponents are hitting .151 against him, with left-handed hitters experiencing only slightly less misery (.194/.256/.250) than their right-handed compatriots (.108/.150/.135). He has yet to give up a homer. Indeed, he’s given up only three extra-base hits — all doubles. He’s now recorded 56 of his 68 outs this year (82.4 percent) by strikeout or groundball.
He hasn’t just been beating his opponents. He hasn’t given them a chance. He’s shown a tremendous three-pitch mix (fastball, change, slider) that he can use to throw strikes. His pace, sometimes lethargic last year in a fashion so extreme that it raised questions about his focus, has picked up considerably this year, a sign of his growing confidence.
And so, at 25, he has made the most compelling case imaginable that he deserves a shot to start in the big leagues. He only needs to wait for the opportunity to present itself.
– Shane Victorino, in the third and perhaps last game of his rehab assignment, went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, and he’s 1-for-11 with an infield single in Pawtucket. However, he got tested by a number of plays in right field on Tuesday.
“He was tested out there in right field, having to run at those balls at the gap, being tested on the fly ball towards the line,’ PawSox manager Kevin Boles told the Providence Journal. ‘To see him move and react ‘ there were a lot of positive signs out there.’
However, it appears Victorino likely will have to wait at least one more day before a call-up, at a time when the Red Sox might need a pitcher.
– Brandon Snyder, playing first base, went 2-for-4 with a pair of homers (his third and fourth of the year), marking the fourth multi-homer game of his pro career. Though he’s struggled to a .196 average and .283 OBP early, seven of his nine hits have been for extra bases, resulting in a .522 slugging mark.
– Left-hander Drake Britton fired a scoreless inning and didn’t allow a hit, but he continued his struggles with the strike zone. He walked a pair in his inning of work, and now has issued seven free passes (against eight strikeouts) in 10 1/3 innings.
– Right-hander Dalier Hinojosa was roughed up, allowing five runs (four earned) without recording an out. All five batters he faced reached base in a diverse array of ways: a single, double, triple, walk and error. He has a 6.48 ERA.
DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 5-3 WIN (11 INNINGS) AT BINGHAMTON (METS)
– Feats of Mookie: Transcendence. Mookie Betts went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles, a pair of walks, a pair of steals and a pair of runs. One of the singles wasn’t terribly well struck, but still…
Betts has now reached in all 15 games this year after finishing 2013 by reaching in 30 straight regular season games. He is hitting .452 with a .500 OBP, .694 slugging mark, seven steals (in eight attempts), 10 extra-base hits and as many walks (7) as strikeouts (7). He’s doing this all at the age of 21, in a league where the average position player is in his age 24 season.
– Right-hander Aaron Kurcz, who missed all of 2013 following Tommy John surgery, made an impressive return to the hill, firing a shutout inning in which he recorded all three outs by punchout. In his first outing since July 21, 2012, he allowed one hit, walked none and threw 15 of 19 pitches for strikes. In 2012, the now-23-year-old — acquired from the Cubs as part of the compensation arrangement involving the departure of former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein — had an eye-popping 12.9 strikeouts per nine innings before his injury. Sea Dogs radio broadcaster Mike Antonellis reported that Kurcz was at 94-96 mph.
– Catcher Matt Spring had struck out in each of his first four plate appearances before launching a game-winning two-run homer in the 11th inning in his fifth trip to the plate. It was his first homer of the year.
HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: OFF DAY
SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 4-2 LOSS VS. ASHEVILLE (ROCKIES)
– Center fielder Manuel Margot went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles, and he’s now reached base multiple times in each of his last four games, going 5-for-13 with the two doubles, three walks and four steals. The 19-year-old has boosted his season line to .273/.333/.491 in the process.
– Shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin, 20, added to his impressive April by going 1-for-3 with a double, walk and steal. He’s managing his at-bats well, having walked more times (11) than he’s struck out. He has considerable speed, but has lacked assertiveness on the bases despite having a green light, with Tuesday’s steal representing his third in as many attempts this year, but his first since he swiped a pair of bases on Opening Day. Lin is hitting .280/.397/.340.
– For the first time in 14 games this year, 18-year-old Wendell Rijo did not reach base, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. It was the second three-strikeout game of his 68-game pro career.