Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz left Thursday’s 8-0 loss against the Blue Jays in the middle of his ninth-inning at-bat after experiencing what manager John Farrell described to reporters as spasms in his upper-middle back while checking his swing.

Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz left Thursday’s 8-0 loss against the Blue Jays in the middle of his ninth-inning at-bat after experiencing what manager John Farrell described to reporters as spasms in his upper-middle back while checking his swing. Ortiz, who hit four homers in the first three games of the series, appeared to suffer the injury while trying to hold up on a pitch from reliever Rob Rasmussen. After a brief conversation with a Sox team trainer and manager John Farrell, he left the game, with Jonny Gomes flying out to left field to end the contest. Farrell characterized Ortiz as day-to-day.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

Hours before the Red Sox took on the Blue Jays in the finale of a four-game set, Red Sox manager John Farrell took stock of the potential impact that the team’s forthcoming weekend series in Tampa Bay could have on the team’s approach to

Right-hander Rubby De La Rosa and the Red Sox were shelled by the Blue Jays on Thursday. (AP)

Right-hander Rubby De La Rosa and the Red Sox were shelled by the Blue Jays on Thursday. (AP)

Hours before the Red Sox took on the Blue Jays in the finale of a four-game set, Red Sox manager John Farrell took stock of the potential impact that the team’s forthcoming weekend series in Tampa Bay could have on the team’s approach to the July 31 trade deadline.

“I’m sure it’s going to have an impact on the type of trades that we make,” Farrell told reporters. “I will say this: I think there will be moves that will go on regardless of our record over the next seven days. All that will play out in due time.”

The Red Sox may have taken any mystery out of their status at the trade deadline on Thursday afternoon, however. A listless Red Sox team was crushed by the Blue Jays, 8-0, on a day when rookie right-hander Marcus Stroman no-hit the team through six innings before Shane Victorino dumped a single to center to open the seventh. The Sox didn’t hit, they made miscues in the field and they received one of their worst lines of the season from a starting pitcher.

After a 14-1 victory in the first game of the series, the Red Sox went on to drop three straight contests, undoing a significant amount of the impact of their run of eight wins in nine games, dropping back to eight games under .500 and alone in last place in the division, nine games behind the Orioles.

Entering the week — the start of a stretch of 13 straight games against AL East opponents — some Sox officials felt that five or six wins over the week of games in Toronto and Tampa Bay could position the team to be buyers looking for reinforcements prior to the trade deadline. Now, that goal has been eliminated, making ever clearer the need for the team to focus on 2015 and beyond.

It seems an extreme reaction to three games, but the Red Sox had entered the All-Star break having permitted themselves no margin for error through their poor first-half play. As such, the team’s outlook is now clearer. Assets who are part of the team through 2014 but not beyond likely offer their greatest value via trade. An honest self-assessment for the team would suggest a fairly clear need to view the postseason this year as an unrealistic aspiration.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

Rubby De La Rosa had perhaps the worst start of his career. He allowed a career-high seven runs (six earned), matched his career-worst yield for hits (nine, including two doubles, a triple and a homer) and matched the shortest outing of his career by lasting just four innings (all three batters who faced him in the fifth inning reached). He struck out just one batter — the fewest strikeouts he’s ever had in a start. De La Rosa worked almost exclusively with his fastball and changeup (he threw just a handful of sliders, with the Blue Jays content to lay off of all but one of them), and with De La Rosa’s changeup staying up and over the plate, he proved vulnerable to the sort of struggle that he hadn’t encountered this year. The 25-year-old’s ERA increased nearly a run, from 2.64 to 3.54.

Brock Holt matched a career-high with three strikeouts. He went 0-for-3 with a walk.

David Ortiz, who homered in the first three games of the series, went 0-for-3 with a strikeout. He ended up leaving the game during an at-bat in the ninth, escorted by a team trainer.

– For the first time in 10 games, Xander Bogaerts punched out multiple times.

– The Sox’ cause was hindered by some sloppy defense from a couple of players with Gold Glove talent at their positions. Christian Vazquez committed a run-scoring first-inning passed ball, while Jackie Bradley Jr. saw a long fly ball clang off his glove — for which he ranged a mile — clang off his glove for a triple. Though ruled a three-base hit, Bradley was in position to make the catch.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

Shane Victorino singled to open the seventh, breaking up the no-hitter. He also reached on a walk.

Stephen Drew negotiated a walk, giving him 10 walks in as many games. He has a .439 OBP during that run.

– Bradley achieved a milestone, taking part in his seventh double play of the year when he caught a fly ball and doubled Jose Reyes off first. His seven double plays are the most ever by an outfielder in his rookie season.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier
Will Middlebrooks hit his third homer of the month on Wednesday. (AP)

Will Middlebrooks hit his third homer of the month on Wednesday. (AP)

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

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 3-2 LEAD (SUSPENDED IN FOURTH INNING) AT LEHIGH VALLEY (PHILLIES)

(BOX)

– Before the game’s suspension, Will Middlebrooks went 1-for-2, slamming his third homer in 14 rehab games this month with the PawSox. He’s hitting .313/.358/.563 in July.

– First baseman Travis Shaw went 2-for-2 before the game was suspended. The 24-year-old has now reached base in all 19 games in which he’s played in July, hitting .324/.430/.544 during the stretch.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 4-2 LOSS VS. BINGHAMTON (METS)

(BOX)

Sean Coyle launched his 12th homer of the year, snapping a 12-game homerless drought, as part of a 1-for-3 game in which he also elicited a walk. July has represented the first month of struggle for Coyle this year, as the 22-year-old is hitting just .220/.279/.407 in 18 contests this month. But he’s shown recent signs of emerging from the funk, as he’s 6-for-15 with the homer and two walks in his last four games, bringing his line back up to .326/.401/.562.

– In his third rehab game with Portland, Ryan Lavarnway went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles while playing first base for eight innings. He is now 3-for-11 with a homer in three games with the Sea Dogs.

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 12-3 WIN AT LYNCHBURG (BRAVES)

(BOX)

– Right-hander Joe Gunkel had one of his best outings since moving up from Greenville to Salem, allowing one run on seven hits (including a solo homer and a triple) while walking one and punching out seven. Until Wednesday, Gunkel had seen his strikeouts dip (5.5 per nine innings through his first six starts in Salem, after punching out 10.9 per nine innings in Greenville), but the 22-year-old has continued to attack the strike zone (2.3 per nine innings) and, interestingly, despite a low three-quarters arm slot that would seemingly give righties fits, he’s been dominant against lefties (.161 average in Salem).

– Catcher Jordan Weems went 4-for-5, achieving a new career-high in hits and continuing what has been the best offensive stretch of his career. The 2011 third-rounder is hitting .355/.420/.435 in 18 games since his promotion to Salem. In three years in Greenville, he’d never had an average above .204 or an OBP of better than .308.

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 9-2 WIN AT LAKEWOOD (PHILLIES)

(BOX)

– Second baseman Wendell Rijo continued his most impressive power surge as a professional, going 2-for-5 with a double and triple. In his last three games, he’s 5-for-12 with two doubles, a triple and two homers while driving in six, boosting his season line to .267/.351/.434 with 31 extra-base hits in 79 games. In July, Rijo has a .291/.355/.618 line with 10 extra-base hits (his most in any single month of his two-year pro career) in 15 games, impressive numbers in their own right, but a standout line by an 18-year-old playing almost exclusively against older opponents.

– Left-hander Daniel McGrath tossed six innings in which he allowed three hits (a double and triple), walked four and punched out six. The 20-year-old has gotten better and more consistent over the course of the season. He’s pitched at least five innings in each of his last seven starts, allowing no more than three runs in any outing, posting a 2.93 ERA with 7.9 strikeouts and 4.0 walks per nine in that span. Opponents have hit just .214 against him during the run — in line with the .208 average to which the Australian has held southpaws on the year.

Manuel Margot, playing in his first game since July 15, went 1-for-5. The 19-year-old is hitting .264/.329/.415.

SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS: 8-6 LOSS VS. VERMONT (ATHLETICS)

(BOX)

– Promising 18-year-old prospect Nick Longhi underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn UCL on his thumb on Thursday morning as a result of an injury incurred on a slide on Monday. Longhi was hitting .330/.388/.440 with 11 extra-base hits, 11 walks and 22 strikeouts in 30 games with Lowell before suffering his injury. It remains to be seen whether his recovery will permit him to take part in fall instruction league.

– Shortstop Mauricio Dubon went deep for the third time of the season and the second time in three games (though the prior one on Monday was of the inside-the-park variety). In his last eight games, the 20-year-old is hitting .367/.387/.567.

– With Longhi sidelined, Joseph Monge was promoted from the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League. The 19-year-old native of Puerto Rico has had one of the more intriguing performances among Red Sox GCL position players, hitting .274/.400/.468 with seven extra-base hits in 17 games. Monge, a 2013 17th-rounder, went 1-for-4 in his debut in Lowell.

ROOKIE LEVEL GULF COAST LEAGUE RED SOX: 8-3 LOSS, 6-5 LOSS (10 INNINGS) VS. GCL RAYS

(BOX GAME 1, BOX GAME 2)

Bryce Brentz, out since May 15 due to a hamstring injury, went 1-for-2 with a double in his first game activity in more than two months. He served as DH.

– First-rounder Michael Chavis went 0-for-2 with a walk and two strikeouts. The 18-year-old is just 2-for-36 (.056) with four walks and 15 strikeouts in 40 plate appearances to date, and he’s 0-for-19 in his last six games.

– Shortstop Javier Guerra went 3-for-7 with a triple in the double-header. He now has 10 extra-base hits in 25 games this year, one more than he had in 60 games in the Dominican Summer League last year, with his slugging mark improving from .290 last year to .462 this season for the 18-year-old.

Luis Alexander Basabe, a 17-year-old amidst a tremendous year in the DSL, was promoted to the GCL, going 0-for-3 with a sac fly in his debut in the States. The switch-hitter owned a .284/.408/.480 line in the DSL with 18 extra-base hits, 30 walks, 36 strikeouts and 13 steals (in 15 attempts) over 40 games. The Venezuela native, who was signed with his twin brother Luis Alejandro Basabe (a second baseman), hit .225/.385/.321 in 60 games in his DSL debut in 2013 as a 16-year-old.

Jake Cosart, a third-round selection of the Sox, made his pro debut, tossing a scoreless inning in which he worked around a pair of walks.

DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE RED SOX: 8-2 WIN VS. DSL REDS

(BOX)

Yoan Aybar left the game prior to the top of the fourth inning, after he’d been hit by a pitch in the bottom of the third. The 17-year-old is hitting .299/.357/.465.

– Catcher Roldani Baldwin went 2-for-4 with a walk, as the 18-year-old improved to .315/.400/.479 in July.

– Right-hander Daniel Gonzalez improved to 8-0 by tossing five innings in which he allowed two runs (both unearned) on five hits while walking one and punching out five. In 10 starts, he has a 2.76 ERA with 35 strikeouts in 49 innings and just 12 walks. The 18-year-old hasn’t walked more than two batters in any outing.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

The Red Sox finish their four-game series against the Blue Jays in Toronto on Thursday afternoon when they send Rubby De La Rosa to the mound against Marcus Stroman.

Rubby De La Rosa

Rubby De La Rosa

De La Rosa (3-2, 2.64 ERA) has been nearly unbeatable at Fenway Park this season. He’s given up one run or fewer in three of his four home starts, all of which have been Red Sox wins. That includes his most recent outing against Kansas City on Saturday. De La Rosa allowed just one run, five hits and four walks over seven innings in a 2-1 win over the Royals.

“He’s been outstanding at home,” manager John Farrell said after the game. “Even in the couple of situations where we gave an extra base runner, he shut it down and pitched with a lot of poise tonight.”

Unfortunately for the Red Sox, those results haven’t translated away from Fenway. The Sox have lost all three of De La Rosa’s road starts. He’s allowed nine runs in 18 1/3 innings on the road, where he will pitch on Thursday.

De La Rosa has just two-thirds of an inning of experience against the Blue Jays, which came in two short relief appearances last season in which he faced just one hitter. The only current Blue Jay the right-hander has faced is Jose Bautista, with one plate appearance.

After starting his major league career in the bullpen, Stroman (5-2, 3.58 ERA) has come on strong as a starter for Toronto this season. The righty has a 2.50 ERA in nine starts since joining the rotation May 31.

Stroman’s most recent start was one of his strongest. He tossed seven shutout innings Saturday against the Rangers, giving up four hits and no walks and striking out five in a 4-1 Blue Jays win. Stroman got himself into trouble just once in the game, facing a two-on, none-out situation in the fourth inning. He quickly got out of that jam with three straight outs.

“I feel like I know what I need to do [in that situation],” Stroman said after the game. “You have to raise your intensity. You can’t be as relaxed. I’m able to make a big pitch in a crucial count, and that was one of those moments.”

Stroman has been plagued by high pitch counts in some cases this season. He allowed just two runs against the Yankees on June 17, but was pulled after throwing 98 pitches in 3 2/3 innings.

Stroman has never faced the Red Sox or a member of their current lineup in his brief career.

Red Sox vs. Stroman (RHP)

No Red Sox players have faced Stroman.

Blue Jays vs. De La Rosa (RHP)

Jose Bautista is hitless in one career plate appearance.

Blog Author: 
Nick Canelas

Red Sox president Larry Lucchino joined Dennis & Callahan Friday to discuss John Lackey‘€™s future in Boston and the team’€™s strategy as the trade deadline nears.

Red Sox president Larry Lucchino joined Dennis & Callahan Friday to discuss John Lackey‘€™s future in Boston and the team’€™s strategy as the trade deadline nears. To listen to the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

With just one week until the July 31 trade deadline, Lucchino said that the team’€™s performance over the next seven games — all against AL East opponents — will play a huge factor in determining whether to buy or sell.

“I don’€™t think it’€™s a binary process, I don’€™t think you’€™re either one or the other, you may see some moves that take place and some other moves that do not take place,” Lucchino said, continuing: “We’ve never been in this position in our 13 years. We have never been in a position where we haven’€™t been anything but aggressive buyers because we’ve always, even in the catastrophic years of 2011-12, we were well over .500 at this stage of the season, so this is relatively new to us. … I do think that we will be active. … We’€™re always active.”

Lackey has one more year remaining on his contract, which will pay him the league-minimum sum of $500,000 in 2015 — a far cry from the $15.25 million the righty is earning this year. Lucchino said that the team will negotiate with Lackey after the season in an attempt to keep him with the team beyond next season.

“I think that there will be some contract negotiations with him probably at the end of the year as well and we’€™ll see what his frame of mind is with respect to longer-term contracts. … We will explore how we can keep John Lackey as a member of the Boston Red Sox.”

The Red Sox front office could lose a vital cog in its machine in the coming days, as assistant general manager Mike Hazen is one of the finalists for the Padres vacant general manager position. The Padres have had a history of plucking officials from the Red Sox organization, as former Boston COO Mike Dee is now the CEO of the Padres, while the last two San Diego general managers –€“ Jed Hoyer and Josh Byrnes –€“ were Sox executives first.

“Mike is an extremely talented, versatile, valuable member of our front office,” Lucchino said. “He is a right hand to Ben Cherington. He has a great future in baseball. He ultimately will be a general manager someday, of that I have no doubt. I just hope it’€™s not right now. I know that’€™s a little selfish of us to say, but I hope Mike stays with us. I will say that he’€™s in the final four in San Diego and they have been known to take some of our front office people in the past, but we want to keep Mike Hazen if it’€™s at all possible.”

To read Lucchino’s comments on the stalled Jon Lester contract negotiations, click here. For more Red Sox news, go to the team page at weei.com/redsox.

Blog Author: 
Conor Ryan

TORONTO — According to an industry source, despite the statements by Red Sox officials (principal owner John Henry to the Boston Herald, CEO/president Larry Lucchino to WEEI) that the team has agreed with pitcher Jon Les

Larry Lucchino discussed the latest on the contract talks with Jon Lester.