On Sunday, Mike Napoli talked about the importance of treating the remainder of the schedule as meaningful, of respecting the game in a fashion that maintained the integrity of the team’s who s

Mike Napoli and Dustin Pedroia drove in five of the Sox' seven runs in the 11th innings. (Getty Images)

Mike Napoli and Dustin Pedroia drove in five of the Sox’ seven runs in the 11th innings. (Getty Images)

On Sunday, Mike Napoli talked about the importance of treating the remainder of the schedule as meaningful, of respecting the game in a fashion that maintained the integrity of the team’s who still have something to play for in 2014. The veteran said that the Red Sox were mindful of the teams that had fallen out of the race last year that nonetheless still fought for wins against contenders; the Sox, Napoli hoped, would do the same.

Through the first two games against the Blue Jays in Toronto, the Sox have done just that, delivering a potentially terminal pair of losses on the Jays, the latest an 11-7 victory in 11 innings on Tuesday. The Sox scored seven or more runs in an extra-inning frame for just the second time in at least the last 30 years, the previous such instance coming on August 16, 2005, then held on for dear life as reliever Heath Hembree struggled to secure the final three outs.

Still, secure them he did, as the Red Sox left the Blue Jays reeling, seven games out of the wild card race.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

– For the second straight game, Dustin Pedroia went deep, launching a two-run homer in the top of the first against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. It was the first time since last July 30-31 that he’s gone deep in consecutive games. He later delivered a bases-loaded, two-run single in the 11th to set in motion the Sox’ victory. His four runs batted in matched a season high.

– Napoli smoked a three-run homer (his 16th of the year) to blow the game open as part of a 2-for-5 game.

– Yoenis Cespedes had his third straight multi-hit game, going 3-for-6 with a trio of singles including a go-ahead RBI single in the top of the seventh. He also now has a five-game hitting streak that has included at least one run in in each contest, a run during which he’s 10-for-22 with a pair of walks. His stretch of five straight games with a hit and RBI is the longest by a Red Sox this year. Cespedes is 10-for-31 with a walk and 18 RBIs with runners in scoring position since joining the Sox.

– Will Middlebrooks continued his tremendous success against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. He drove a first-inning RBI double to center against Dickey, improving to 4-for-11 against him, with all four of the hits (two doubles, two homers) having been for extra bases — the most extra-base hits Middlebrooks has against any big league pitcher. However, Middlebrooks’ strong night was somewhat qualified by the fact that in the 11th, he struck out against infielder-turned-pitcher Steve Tolleson.

– Brock Holt singled against tough left-handed reliever Aaron Loup, thus improving to .311/.360/.430 against southpaws this year.

Allen Craig hit his first homer since joining the Sox, a two-run shot in the 11th.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

– For the first time in his 24 big league starts, right-hander Rubby De La Rosa did not strike out a batter. While he had plenty of velocity, he fooled no one over the course of his 4 2/3 innings in which he allowed three runs on seven hits and two walks.

While it would be natural to wonder whether De La Rosa has fatigued due to a career-high innings log, he had struck out eight in his last outing and indeed in two of his prior three. Moreover, it’s worth noting that the Blue Jays have been all over De La Rosa this year, having whiffed just twice in a total of 14 2/3 innings spanning three starts against Toronto.

There’s been some discussion throughout the year about whether De La Rosa has been tipping his pitches. If so, it would appear that Toronto has developed a very keen sense of when he’s throwing his fastball.

It’s also worth noting that De La Rosa, whose success this year had derived largely from his ability to elicit ground balls and work down in the strike zone, operated at the top of the zone throughout the night. He got just four groundouts, and in some respects, was fortunate to limit the damage to just three runs during his outing.

– Alex Wilson’s streak of nine straight scoreless innings came to an end when he allowed a game-tying solo homer in the bottom of the seventh. He also gave up a walk, the first free pass he’d given up since May 25. He’d made six subsequent appearances spanning 13 1/3 innings without walking anyone.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

There have been points this season when the Red Sox outfield depth has been nonexistent, to the point where it seemed as though anyone who could catch a fly ball in Pawtucket would have a shot to earn some playing time.



CHRIS VILLANI

BIO | ARCHIVE


David Ortiz is out against the Blue Jays for the second straight day due to his injured right foot. In his absence, Mike Napoli will serve as DH, while Allen Craig will play first base.

David Ortiz is out against the Blue Jays for the second straight day due to his injured right foot. In his absence, Mike Napoli will serve as DH, while Allen Craig will play first base.

RED SOX LINEUP

Brock Holt, SS

Dustin Pedroia, 2B

Yoenis Cespedes, LF

Mike Napoli, DH

Daniel Nava, RF

Allen Craig, 1B

Will Middlebrooks, 3B

Mookie Betts, CF

Christian Vazquez, C

Rubby De La Rosa, RHP

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier
Right-hander Matt Barnes continued his second-half dominance on Monday. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox.)

Right-hander Matt Barnes continued his second-half dominance on Monday. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox.)

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

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-2 WIN AT BUFFALO (BLUE JAYS)

(BOX)

Matt Barnes‘ second-half breakthrough continued, and has now reached the point where it can be called the best sustained stretch he’s had since at least the first eight starts of his pro career, and arguably since he made his pro debut in 2012. The 24-year-old allowed two runs on four hits (three singles and a triple) while walking two and punching out four in 7 1/3 innings. The outing marked the third straight, fourth out of five and fifth out of seven in which he’s pitched into the seventh inning or later, something he’d done only four times in his first 65 minor league starts.

Barnes is now 4-1 with a 1.76 ERA in his seven second-half starts, a span in which he has 7.0 strikeouts and 2.9 walks per nine innings. Whereas he looked like someone who might struggle to stay in the rotation in the first half based on the continuation of his 2013 struggles to work deep into games, averaging just under five innings an outing prior to the All-Star break, in the second half, he’s averaging 6 2/3 innings per start, showing an ability to deliver the sort of consistent innings that the Red Sox want to see from anyone whom they’d consider as a rotation candidate. After he closed out the first half with a 5.06 ERA, Barnes has lowered that mark to 3.80, and on Monday, he crossed the 120-inning plateau for the first time in his pro career.

Alex Hassan went 3-for-4 and drove in a pair of runs. In 63 games since the 26-year-old was returned to Pawtucket from his first big league callup, he’s now hitting .326/.412/.506 to improve to .283/.375/.426 for the year.

Blake Swihart, who has been playing roughly every other day over the last two weeks as a concession to the workload of his season, went 0-for-4 as his line in 14 Triple-A games dropped to .236/.263/.364. He’s been hitless in four of his last five games, going 2-for-18. Swihart has now played 106 games, three more than he played in the regular season with High-A Salem last year (though he did play five more playoff games in 2013, meaning he’s played two fewer than he did in 2013).

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 3-0 WIN VS. READING (PHILLIES)

(BOX)

– Portland has now won 10 straight.

– Right-hander Justin Haley tossed six shutout innings in which he allowed four hits, walked one and punched out five. In five starts since his promotion from High-A Salem, he has a 1.47 ERA with 24 strikeouts and 15 walks in 30 2/3 innings. Overall, in 24 minor league appearances, the 23-year-old is 9-6 with a 2.48 ERA, 7.2 strikeouts per nine and 2.8 walks per nine.

Carson Blair keeps raking in his transition to Double-A. He went 1-for-3 with a double and a walk, with the 24-yera-old improving to .295 with a .373 OBP, .591 slugging mark, eight extra-base hits, six walks and 14 strikeouts in 12 games. Overall this year between Salem and Portland, while nearly doubling his previous career games high of 44, the 24-year-old is hitting .266/.383/.489 with 11 homers and 38 extra-base hits in 79 games.

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 6-2 WIN VS. WILMINGTON (ROYALS)

(BOX)

– Right-hander Pat Light allowed one run on five hits (three singles, two doubles) while walking one and punching out six, his largest total since his promotion to Salem, in 6 1/3 innings. The outing marked the third time this year that the 23-year-old, a supplemental first-rounder in 2012, pitched into the seventh inning. He lowered his ERA in Salem to 5.17.

– Corner infielder Jantzen Witte went 3-for-4, extending his hitting streak to nine games during which he has four games in which he’s collected three or more hits. The 24-year-old is hitting an even .500 (19-for-38) during the run to improve to .296/.343/.465 in 57 games in Salem.

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: OFF DAY

SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS: 7-3 WIN AT CONNECTICUT (TIGERS)

(BOX)

– Outfielder Mike Meyers set a Lowell record with three triples in a game and eight triples in a season, as the 20-year-old — a 2012 12th-rounder — went 3-for-4 and scored a pair of runs. Meyers, who is hitting .223/.258/.342 for the season, has more triples (8) than doubles (6) in his 49 games this year with Lowell.

– Right-hander Chandler Shepherd continued his solid pro debut with a pair of shutout innings to earn the win. The 22-year-old 13th-rounder out of Kentucky has a 3.56 ERA with 31 strikeouts and just seven walks in 30 1/3 innings.

ROOKIE LEVEL GULF COAST LEAGUE RED SOX: 3-2 LOSS (COMPLETION OF SUSPENDED GAME), 6-5 LOSS AT GCL ORIOLES

(BOX GAME 1, BOX GAME 2)

Michael Chavis completed a suspended game with a 3-for-4 line and followed that up by going 3-for-4 with his first pro homer and a double. When the Sox drafted Chavis with their top pick this year, they did so with the view of him as one of the most advanced high school bats in the draft. Though Chavis, who turned 19 this month, struggled out of the gate in his adjustment to pro ball — a healthy experience in the eyes of some of the team’s evaluators, given that he’d known nothing but untrammeled success as an amateur — he’s lived up to his billing in August. Chavis is hitting .380 with a .429 OBP and .606 slugging mark on the strength of 11 extra-base hits in 20 games this month, boosting his line for the year to .268/.340/.425.

– Suddenly, Rafael Devers is hot again. The 17-year-old went 3-for-4 in the second game, giving him four multi-hit games in his last six contests — a run that followed a four-game hitless streak. In 40 GCL games, Devers is now hitting .318/.378/.493. Though he wasn’t promoted to the GCL until a couple of weeks into the season, he ranks fourth in the league with 33 RBIs, he’s tied for sixth in average and he’s fifth in slugging percentage, all underscoring the notion that he’s an incredibly advanced hitter given that he’s one of the youngest players in the league.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier
Rubby De La Rosa

Rubby De La Rosa

After snapping their eight-game losing streak with a 4-3 victory in 10 innings Monday night in Toronto, the Red Sox take on the Blue Jays in the middle game of their three-game set Tuesday night with Rubby De Le Rosa taking the mound opposite knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.

De La Rosa (4-5, 3.69) is coming off a solid outing against the Angels on Thursday in which he allowed two runs in 6 2/3 innings in a 2-0 loss.

“I thought he was really strong early on,” Farrell said after the game. “He settled in and was very good. I thought he pitched well enough to win on most nights.”

De La Rosa has started twice against the Jays this season, going 0-2 with an 8.10 ERA. When he faced the Jays on July 29 he gave up three runs in six innings in a 4-2 loss.

De La Rosa has especially had trouble with Juan Francisco, who is 4-for-5 with a home run, triple and double against the right-hander.

The Blue Jays, like the Red Sox, have had a rough August. Toronto is 6-15 this month and is in danger of falling to .500 for the first time since May 15. The Jays had won six in a row and 10-of-13 against the Red Sox this season — and almost stole Monday night’s game, tying the score in the ninth inning of Koji Uehara before Boston battled back in the extra inning.

Dickey (10-12, 4.08 ERA) is 3-0 against the Sox this year with a 2.79 ERA. Most recently, he allowed one run on three hits with a season-high 10 strikeouts in a 14-1 rout of the Sox on July 28.

Dickey picked up his first win in his last four starts in his most recent outing, last Wednesday’s 9-5 victory over the Brewers, despite giving up five runs in 5 2/3 innings.

Will Middlebrooks is the Sox’ top hitter against Dickey, going 3-for-8 with two home runs and three RBIs.

Red Sox vs. Dickey (RHP)

Dustin Pedroia (22 plate appearances): .143/.182/.325, 1 RBIs, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts

Kelly Johnson (20): .222/.300/.500, 1 double, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts

David Ortiz (20): .333/.400/.778, 2 doubles, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts

Mike Napoli (17): .313/.353/.438, 2 doubles, 3 RBIs, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts

Yoenis Cespedes (13): 231/.231/.692, 1 double, 1 triple, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 4 strikeouts

Daniel Nava (12): 273/.250/.364, 1 double, 1 RBI, 2 strikeouts

Will Middlebrooks (9): 375/.444/.1.250, 1 double, 2 HR, 3 RBIs, 1 strikeout

David Ross (9): 125/.222/.125, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Brock Holt (4): .250/.250/.250, 1 strikeout

Christian Vazquez (3): 333/.333/.333, 1 strikeout

Allen Craig grounded into a double play in his only at-bat against Dickey.

Blue Jays vs. De La Rosa (RHP)

Jose Bautista (7): .500/.714/.500, 2 walks

Jose Reyes (7): 286/.286/.286

Melky Cabrera (6): .200/.333/.400, 1 double, 1 RBI, 1 walk

Dioner Navarro (6): .400/.500/.400, 1 walk

Juan Francisco (5): .800/.800/2.000, 1 double, 1 triple, 1 HR, 2 RBIs

Munenori Kawasaki (5): .250/.250/.250, 1 strikeout

Danny Valencia (4): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout

Colby Rasmus (3): .667/.667/1.667, 1 HR, 1 RBI

Blog Author: 
WEEI

TORONTO — The initial response was predictable.

TORONTO — The initial response was predictable.

“Nothing has changed,” said Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino just before the team left on its current road trip.

Physically, not much would be expected to be altered since the right fielder last appeared near the Sox clubhouse. The doctors had told Victorino that it would be a month before twisting, bending and such would be allowed after the outfielder’s back surgery. It had only been a couple of weeks.

But there was indeed something that had changed in Victorino’s world.

For the second time in the last month, the Red Sox acquired an outfielder expected to start in 2015, signing Cuban center fielder Rusney Castillo. And as someone who fully expects to not have lost his starting job, that was of some interest to Victorino.

First there was the trades for Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig, leaving some to believe Victorino might be moving to center. But then came the Castillo commitment and now projected lineups are a bit more difficult to decipher.

“It’s not a bad problem to have. It gives you options. It makes guys expendable, if that’s something that you want to look at,” he said. “But again, I don’t know what the front office has in mind. I mean, obviously, you look at what’s starting to happen. With the signing of Castillo, I mean, obviously, with that contract – he’s going to play everyday. Cespedes is going to play everyday. Where are you going to factor in everybody else? Like I said, I still have every intention in my mind to be the right fielder everyday. I have no desire to be anything else. But, as I said, we all understand that this is a business, who knows what can happen, but like I said, my mindset is to get prepared for 2015 – to be the right fielder and play everyday here and we’ll go from there.”

Victorino will be heading into the final year of his three-year, $39 million deal in ’15. He had been coming off a stellar ’13 campaign, not only hitting .294 with an .801 OPS, 15 homers and 21 stolen bases (in 24 attempts), but supplied a fair amount of postseason heroics.

This season has been an uphill climb from the first days of spring training, battling back, hamstring and thumb issues throughout. The 33-year-old managed just 30 games before being shut down with the back surgery.

With the injuries (what he calls his “100,000-mile tune-up”) and outfield additions, some might feel Victorino is headed into a period of uncertainty.

That’s not how he looks at it.

“”I’ll do whatever, I don’t care. Like I said, if they feel like there’s somebody better in right, then go ahead and show me,” he said. “I’m not saying it in a cocky or bragging way. An injury took me away from that position. Like I said, I have every intention of coming back healthy and being the right fielder. I don’t know, as I said, what their plan is. Casillo is obviously a center fielder, they say, who can fly. He can play right, but I’m sure he can play a lot of other different positions. But you know, as I said, I’m just focused on going out there, getting healthy, more importantly, and wherever they slot me to play, I’ll be ready to go.”

He then added, “I don’t care what uniform I put on. Honestly, I have every intention to being the right fielder in Boston. That’s my mindset, I’m focused on that, but who knows what the front office has in mind. As I said, there’s so many guys, you’ve got Mookie [Betts], you’ve got Jackie [Bradley] in center field. You’ve got [Daniel] Nava, you’ve got Brock Holt, that showed that he can play everything. So all these things factor in. But, I’m just focused on more importantly for me, getting healthy – getting ready to go. Whatever happens, it happens. Like I said, my mindset is to be the everyday right fielder, and that’s what I’m focused on.”

And, by all accounts, the process of sliding back into the lineup as the Red Sox‘ every day right fielder is slated to begin with Victorino begin ready to hit the ground running at the outset of spring training.

“From here on out, whatever happens is all new to me,” said Victorino regarding any subsequent injuries. “So that’s what I’m focused on. If [an injury] happens next year, then it’s something that probably arrived that’s new. It’s not coming from something that every year, going, ‘OK, we’re going to do what it takes to get me out there and play a full season.’ Now, it’s like we got the surgery out of the way, hopefully this leads to a lot of the problems that we had and take a lot of the problems away and go from here.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

TORONTO —  His drop-off-the-table split-fingered fastball might be on hiatus, but Koji Uehara hasn’€™t lost his sense of humor.