Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello

The Red Sox will send AL Central veteran Rick Porcello to the hill Wednesday to face longtime AL East pro Phil Hughes and the Twins in the finale of the three-game series.

Porcello has faced adversity during his first year in a Red Sox uniform after coming over from the Tigers, posting a 4-3 record and a 5.07 ERA through nine starts. The right-hander has proven incapable of keeping the ball in the yard this season, allowing nine home runs in 55 innings of work. To put the number in perspective, Porcello allowed 18 dingers in his 204 2/3 innings pitched last season.

An $82.5 million signing meant to stabilize the rotation, Porcello has done anything but that over his last two starts. In 11 innings pitched, he has given up three home runs, nine earned runs and five free passes. Opponents have crushed 24 percent balls in play for line drives, leading to a .273/.360/.545 slash line.

In his most recent outing last Friday, Porcello lasted just 4 1/3 innings against the Angels before Red Sox manager John Farrell pulled the plug.

“I walked those two guys in the fifth, that hurt,” Porcello said after the 12-5 drubbing. “The fourth inning, whatever happened, happened. But those two walks and not being able to get out of that was the difference. I took full responsibility for the loss today. That was completely on me. I’ve got to do better.”

Porcello will look to get back on track vs. a Twins squad against whom he has succeeded against in the past. Porcello has logged an 8-7 record and a 3.91 ERA in 23 starts vs. the Twins.

Phil Hughes

Phil Hughes

Hughes, the former Yankee, has struggled for Minnesota in the early going, as he owns a 3-4 record with a 4.50 ERA on the young campaign. Just like his compatriot in the road dugout, Hughes has been prone to the long ball this season, allowing 10 home runs through nine starts.

Overcoming his issues with the big hit of late, Hughes has turned in two quality starts in a row. The California native hurled seven innings of two-run ball in each start, while throwing 77 percent of his pitches for strikes. In his latest outing, Friday against the White Sox, Hughes needed just 89 pitches to pitch through the seventh, displaying a supremely economical approach.

“€œI felt like tonight could have been seven or eight shutout for me if a few things happen differently in the fourth inning,”€ Hughes said after the Twins dropped a 3-2 decision.

Hughes has struggled in his career against the Red Sox, posting a 5-8 record and a 5.12 ERA in 24 games vs. Boston.

Red Sox vs. Hughes (RHP)

Dustin Pedroia (37 plate appearances): .314 AVG/.351 OBP/.657 SLG, 3 HR, 10 RBIs

David Ortiz (34): .345/.412/.655, 2 HR, 3 doubles

Daniel Nava (16): .188/.188/.188

Mike Napoli (15): .400/.400/.800, 2 HR, 6 RBIs

Xander Bogaerts (7): .333/.286/.333

Brock Holt (4): .500/.500/.750, 1 double

Hanley Ramirez (4): .500/.500/.500, 2 RBIs

No other Red Sox have faced Hughes.

Twins vs. Porcello (RHP)

Joe Mauer (50): .267/.340/.378, 5 doubles, 5 walks, 5 strikeouts

Kurt Suzuki (29): .217/.310/.304, 5 RBIs, 4 walks

Brian Dozier (26): .292/.346/.667, 3 HR, 8 RBIs, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts

Trevor Plouffe (25): .227/.292/.455, 2 doubles, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts

Torii Hunter (15): .429/.467/.786, 2 doubles, 1 HR, 6 RBIs, 4 strikeouts

Danny Santana (11): .273/.273/.455, 2 doubles, 3 strikeouts

Eduardo Escobar (10): .333/.333/.444, 1 double

Aaron Hicks (10): .125/.300/.125, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts

Eduardo Nunez (7): .286/.286/.286, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout

Chris Herrmann (5): .500/.500/.750, 1 double, 1 strikeout

Blog Author: 
Justin Pallenik

Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly

MINNEAPOLIS — A day after allowing seven runs over just 1 2/3 innings, Joe Kelly was still the focus of attention prior to the Red Sox‘ Tuesday night tilt with the Twins at Target Field.

Would he be moved to the bullpen? Would he get sent to Triple-A? Would he be staring blankly at a screen, breaking down video of his disastrous outing?

It was none of the above.

First thing, Red Sox manager John Farrell met with the starter, identifying some issues that have plagued Kelly through a season that has seen him give up five or more runs in five of his nine starts.

“We had a chance to sit down and review yesterday’s game with him, and the one thing we continue to try to point out to Joe is that he’s learning himself as a pitcher and what makes him most effective,” Farrell said. “Yesterday there were a number of balls that leaked back to the middle of the plate that he paid for.

“I still contend and strongly believe that his curveball is a major weapon that’€™s got to be used in his pitch mix. You look back at the Texas game: He made a very tangible adjustment after three innings of work when he went to his curveball more than his slider and slowed them down and had some quick and efficient innings. It’s part of the education process of who Joe is as a pitcher and what makes him most effective.”

And after the get-together, there were certainly no signs of anxiety emanating from the pitcher.

It’s a forward-thinkign mindset, he explained, he first embraced during those first few games of living life as a pitcher as a college closer.

“I’€™ve always been good at that,” Kelly said. “I was a closer. You blow a save and you still have to pitch the next day. There’€™s not reason to sit on anything.

“Right when the game ended I was over it. You can’€™t let that kind of stuff bother you for that long. You don’€™t want to be negative outside the field, either. You’€™ll just be bringing people down. That’€™s not a good way to live your life. I don’€™t want to go home and be angry at my dog and my wife. I don’€™t do that. You have a bad outing, once you’€™re off the field you just leave it.”

Kelly understands how bad it’s been. Staring at a 6.24 ERA is pretty cut and dried. He also believes his issues have been identified, as he succinctly explained when asked about the pitcher’s most recent outing.

What happened?

“It wasn’t good.”

Why?

“I was throwing balls out over the plate that were very hittable. Simple.
Location and pitch mixing.”

Where you happy with the pitches you chose to throw?

“I didn’€™t really have time to mix yesterday because guys were swinging from the get-go. It kind of put me in a bind.”

What can you do to go on a run of good starts?

“Just pitch better.”

Kelly clearly wants to worry about what is going to happen, not what already did. For that, he can thank those relief outings for University of California, Riverside.

“That was my first time pitching. At first I used to get really mad that I blew a save,” said Kelly, who didn’t pitch on a regular basis until college. “I would still be mad about it the next day and then I was like, ‘€˜Oh crap, I have to pitch.’€™ I just figured it out.

“I’€™ve always been able to do it. It’€™s just life. You have to be able to get past it, especially in this business. If not, it will make you angry at people you don’€™t need to take it out on. It’€™s not a good way to live your life.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

The Red Sox remain stuck in the mud.

While they make progress in getting out, they then seemingly fall right back in.

Clay Buchholz pitched well, but was a tough-luck loser Tuesday night against the Twins. (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Clay Buchholz pitched well, but was a tough-luck loser Tuesday night against the Twins. (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

The Red Sox remain stuck in the mud.

While they make progress in getting out, they then seemingly fall right back in.

After winning the final two games over the weekend against the Angels, the Red Sox have lost their first two games of a seven-game road trip, falling to the Twins 2-1 Tuesday night in Minneapolis. The was delayed at the start by 81 minutes due to rain.

Their latest defeat came at the hands of Twins right-hander Mike Pelfrey, who entered with a career ERA just under 4.50. Pelfrey limited the Red Sox to one run on five hits over seven innings. Between the third and seventh inning, he limited the Red Sox to only two hits.

The visitors had a chance to tie, or take the lead in the eighth inning with the bases loaded and two outs for Hanley Ramirez, but the left fielder flew out to right field to end the threat. Over the first 24 games in May, the Red Sox are averaging just 2.75 runs per game.

Mike Napoli drove in the Red Sox’ only run of the game, a single up the middle in the second inning.

Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz continued his season-long trend of starting slow, but settling in. After allowing two first inning runs, and not having his best overall stuff, Buchholz went 7 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on seven hits, while walking one and striking out four. Over his last four starts his ERA is 2.17, but the Red Sox are 1-3 in those games.

Buchholz continues to struggle in the first inning, as he allowed two runs once again. For the season he’s allowed 13 first inning runs in 10 starts. It hasn’t just been Buchholz, the Red Sox as a team struggle in the first inning, being outscored 35-14 in the opening frame.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Buchholz. The right-hander delivered his fourth straight quality start, but the offense couldn’t help him out as his record dropped to 2-6. He’s thrown three straight starts of at least seven innings. Vote on the Rock Solid Performer of the week and enter to win a VIP Boston Baseball Experience at weei.com/rocksolid.

Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ loss:

WHAT WENT WRONG

Dustin Pedroia had a tough night both in the field and at the plate. Batting leadoff for the fourth straight game, the second baseman went 1-for-4, including hitting into a double play. He also made his fourth error of the season in the field — this comes after having just two all of last year.

— Sliding up into the No. 4 spot in the order, Ramirez went 0-for-4, including flying out with the tying run on third base in the eighth inning. Since missing a few games with a shoulder injury in late April, he’s hitting just .206 and having trouble hitting for power from his pull side.

— Xander Bogaerts and Rusney Castillo combined to go 0-for-7 in the No. 7 and No. 8 spots. Bogaerts also tried to bunt with no one on and two outs in the seventh inning.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

David Ortiz snapped an 0-for-16 skid with a double in the second inning. The designated hitter finished the night 1-for-4, after being dropped to fifth in the order.

— Sandy Leon went 2-for-3. He came into the came with only two hits the entire month of May.

— Although Pablo Sandoval went 1-for-4 in the No. 3 spot, his only hit came left-on-left in the eighth inning against closer Glen Perkins. It’s the second straight day he’s got a hit against a lefty, both coming when hitting from the right side.

— Castillo made two web gem catches in right field.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

There aren’t too many big leaguers older than David Ortiz at this point, but the struggling Red Sox designated hitter figures he might as well take inspiration from one of them.

There aren’t too many big leaguers older than David Ortiz at this point, but the struggling Red Sox designated hitter figures he might as well take inspiration from one of them.

“If Bartolo Colon can get a hit,” Ortiz told reporters in Minnesota on Tuesday afternoon, “I probably can too.”

The portly Mets right-hander, who leads the National League in victories (7) at age 42, actually has two hits this season. That’s 32 fewer than Ortiz, but it doesn’t feel that way with the 39-year-old slugger off to one of the worst starts of his career.

Ortiz is hitting .221 with six homers and a .694 OPS. He’s also mired in a 2-for-23 slump, which prompted manager John Farrell to drop Ortiz to fifth in the order for Tuesday’s game against the Twins, hoping the shift from third and fourth will spark him.

“I’m swinging like [expletive] so once I figure things out, probably I’ll go back to third, right?” Ortiz said.

Ortiz guaranteed he’d find his way out.

“For you guys who always ask me, how much longer I can do it and I make it look easy ‘€“ it ain’t that easy,” Ortiz said. “Baseball players, we have to go through struggles to figure things out. Once again, it shows you guys that I’m not Superman. You know what I’m saying? It’s part of the game, man. I keep on working. I’m going to keep on working as long as I play baseball and I will find a way to get out of it once again.”

Ortiz said he appreciates the chance to step back and re-evaluate from lower in the order. Back in 2009, manager Terry Francona dropped Ortiz to seventh in the order, and he responded by going 4-for-6 with a pair of home runs.

“Actually, I feel like John is trying to give me some breathing room and walk into the groove that I used to be and try to get me out of the attention of everyone and just try to go back to where they need me to be,” he said. “It happened to me before. And it wasn’t nice that feeling, I was going down to seventh or eighth, something like that. But it doesn’t matter where they put me. I’m the one that has to come in and get things done and try to be consistent at what I do when I’m at my best. I have the confidence it’s going to happen at some point.”

Blog Author: 
John Tomase

MINNEAPOLIS — With righty Mike Pelfrey on the mound for the Twins, David Ortiz slides to fifth in the Red Sox batting order for Tuesday night’s game.

MINNEAPOLIS — With righty Mike Pelfrey on the mound for the Twins, David Ortiz slides to fifth in the Red Sox batting order for Tuesday night’s game.

The last time Ortiz hit fifth on a regular basis was 2011, when he filled the spot in 108 games. The Red Sox DH is currently in an 0-for-16 slump.

With Ortiz dropped down, Pablo Sandoval slides up into the No. 3 spot. Also in the lineup will be Rusney Castillo, who mans right field.

Here is the Red Sox lineup with Clay Buchholz on the mound for the visitors:

Dustin Pedroia 2B
Mookie Betts CF
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Hanley Ramirez LF
David Ortiz DH
Mike Napoli 1B
Xander Bogaerts SS
Rusney Castillo RF
Sandy Leon C

For all the matchups, click here.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli’s monster homestand has earned him American League Player of the Week for the week ending May 24.

Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli’s monster homestand has earned him American League Player of the Week for the week ending May 24.

Napoli batted .429 (9-for-21) with six runs scored, five home runs and 10 RBI over six games to claim his third career AL weekly honor, last winning with the Red Sox on September 8, 2013. Napoli led all major league hitters in home runs, slugging percentage (1.190) and total bases (25).

Among AL batters, he finished first in RBI, tied for first in on-base percentage (.500), tied for second in runs scored and fifth in batting average.

By homering in three straight games, he became the first player since David Ortiz did from July 21-23, 2014 at Toronto (also four homers in three games). No Red Sox player had homered in at least three consecutive home games since Ortiz accomplished the feat from June 10-20, 2012, and he is the first to do so in three consecutive days at home since Jason Bay from August 10-12, 2009.

For the season Napoli is now batting .211 with eight home runs. The first baseman raised his average 41 points during his impressive week.

For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable