Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara

TORONTO — Koji Uehara is cruising.

With his third save in as many days, Tuesday, the Red Sox closer is 18 for 20 in save opportunities this season with a 2.89 ERA. In his last five outings, Uehara has allowed just one baserunner, averaging just 12.6 pitches per inning.

So, what keeps him up at night? Having to pitch early in the day.

“I think the games that I have pitched well are night games, not day games,” Uehara said through a translator when asked what has been key in his recent run. “I think that’€™s the only difference. I think my ERA shows I pitch better in night games.”

The logical follow-up: Why?

“Because I’m old,” he said. “Older guys need to sleep in.”

All joking aside, the difference in results has been of some concern for the 40 year old. He has allowed 10 runs on 13 hits over 8 2/3 innings during his 10 appearances in day games, compared to just three runs on nine hits over 19 1/3 frames at night.

“What I’€™m figuring could be in the sunlight can see better and that’€™s why I’€™m getting hit a little bit more in day games. That’€™s the only reasoning I can think of,” Uehara surmised. “Also the fact that my body is not awakened as night games.”

It’s an issue that isn’t lost on Uehara’s pitching coach, Carl Willis.

“That’s where the communication comes in, and the trust factor,” Willis noted. “It’s good to hear him say that because you don’t want that false positivity when you’re not 100 percent, or you are dragging that day. We need to know those things.

“It’s more difficult [when you’re older]. But I think in his case he does everything he can to combat that. He’s very routine oriented and understands what he needs to do. But there are times you can’t avoid it, either.”

The Red Sox and Uehara almost certainly won’t get a chance to see if the trend can be reversed during Wednesday’s day game considering he has worked three straight days.

But perhaps the reliever can find his payoff this weekend at Fenway, when the Red Sox play back-to-back day games.

“There are a couple of things that I’ve tried,” Uehara said.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

TORONTO — John Henry has been in town for some Major League Baseball-related meetings. Seemingly, there is no reason to sound the alarm in regards to linking his presence and the Red Sox‘ lot in life.

John Henry

John Henry

TORONTO — John Henry has been in town for some Major League Baseball-related meetings. Seemingly, there is no reason to sound the alarm in regards to linking his presence and the Red Sox‘ lot in life.

Tuesday before the Sox’ principal owner’s team beat the Blue Jays, 4-3, at Rogers Centre, he could be seen milling about during batting practice, sitting with Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, eating in the media dining room and then watching the game with Jays president Paul Beeston. (It’s interesting to note that Beeston’s son, David, works for the Red Sox as the Vice President for Corporate Strategy.)

And certainly the Red Sox have eased any edge to Henry’s trip to Canada by winning their first two games of the four-game series against the Blue Jays, closing within six games of first-place in the American League East.

But in between activities, Henry did offer a succinct explanation on why he has taken the approach to keeping the front office and coaching staff intact during the Red Sox’ recent downturn.

“Stability in an organization is a key element,” he told WEEI.com. “Some people thrive on instability, but most organizations, most people, really thrive when there’s stability.”

Asked if staying the course is any more difficult in the baseball world than in his other business interests, Henry responded, “No, it’s just that you have a lot more outside pressure. We don’t really respond to that. We respond to reason rather than pressure.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

TORONTO ‘€“ The education of Eduardo Rodriguez is in full force.

Eduardo Rodriguez felt like he made strides Tuesday night in not tipping his pitches. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Eduardo Rodriguez felt like he made strides Tuesday night in not tipping his pitches. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

TORONTO — The education of Eduardo Rodriguez is in full force.

Considering the results of his outing against the Blue Jays Tuesday night at Rogers Centre — in which the rookie pitcher allowed just one run over four hits over six innings in the Red Sox 4-3 win — some might have figured Rodriguez has figured out what plagued him in his previous start against the Orioles.

Not exactly.

The issue that plagued Rodriguez against the Orioles — tipping his pitches with runners on base — didn’t seem totally fixed. While he did correct the glove position when in the stretch, which was different in his delivery depending on if he was pitching from the wind-up or the stretch — his head-tilt still offered a tell.

After a few innings, it was somewhat evident when Rodriguez was throwing anything other than a fastball when he looked to the ground instead of keeping in an upright position.

It was better, but not perfect … A work in progress.

“Working on all those four days before today. I tried to work on not tipping pitches to the hitters,” Rodriguez said. “Working in my bullpen, every time I threw the ball, I worked at that, so that’s what I did better today.”

“The last time he pitched we all got on him because he was tipping his pitches really bad,” said Red Sox DH David Ortiz on the Red Sox Radio Network following the Sox’ win. “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 [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. … He was a different guy out there with the same stuff, which is what makes it tough to pitch off him.”

As Ortiz suggested, the process of identifying the issue started with two of Rodriguez’ rotation-mates, and evolved into a team-wide support system.

“It was one of those things where I think everybody at some point and time has had to deal with tipping, or think that you’re tipping and you’re getting hit around and wondering why,” explained Buchholz.

“In the midst of that one inning that Eduardo had the other day, it was me and Wade [Miley] sitting down in the batting cage watching TV and balls are getting hit hard. I think the one that set us off was the Chris Davis slider. It was a good slider away and he stayed on it and went the other way. You have to expect 96 or 97 and you’re staying back on a slider on a full count, left on left? It didn’t register. So we went in there and looked at it and found something that was not really blatantly obvious if you’re not looking for something, but as we sat down and started looking we found something that he was doing on every off-speed pitch and he wasn’t doing it on his fastball.

“At that time you couldn’t call timeout and tell him during the game because it all happened in one inning. So after the game I went up to him when he went on the bench and said, ‘After you cool down, come talk to me.’ He got in the clubhouse and told him, ‘Once you got in the stretch, they knew what you were throwing.’ It doesn’t matter how good your stuff is, if you tell big league hitters what you’re throwing there’s a good chance you’re going to get hit around.”

After the game against the Orioles (as was chronicled by WEEI.com’s Ryan Hannable at the time), Buchholz could be seen starting the process of fixing the issue. That carried over into the next few days.

“We made it a point to let him know it,” Buchholz said. “We watched video and showed him what was going on. 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. Especially a team like that, if you’re letting him know or giving them a hint what’s coming or what’s not coming, it’s not going to be a fun day at the park. He did a really good job with the adjustment.”

Buchholz understands that just because you’re aware that pitches are being tipped, doesn’t make it automatic that the problem is going to immediately be rectified.

It was a lesson he learned as a rookie when Red Sox infielder Alex Cora informed Buchholz that he was flaring his glove a certain way for certain pitches. Since then he has altered the presentation of the glove, although reverting back to an ineffective form is usually inevitable.

As the veteran righty explained, it’s just another thing to worry about for a rookie pitcher who already has his fill of big league concerns.

“The one thing was that we didn’t want him to think about it because the first couple of outings he threw really well. But we knew something was off and nobody could really put a finger on it,” Buchholz said.

“I told him before he went out for the first inning, ‘Don’t think about anything, just go out and throw.’ You can’t go out there and think about it because that’s not how this game works. You can’t be thinking about not being able to do this or that. You just have to just let it go whenever you’re out there. The times you think about is in between starts, the next day when you’re playing catch. In the bullpen do the same thing. And he did a really good job with it.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford
Joe Castiglione and Rob Bradford talk with David Ortiz after the Red Sox take game 2 of their four game series with Toronto. David talks about the good pitching they've gotten and the offense finding their way.

[0:02:14] ... lot of young pitchers come through here as a member of the Red Sox how is Rodriguez rate. This is the second time he's had a bad outing comes back with a really good one. Well ...
[0:03:24] ... go here there ago. All right thank congratulations thank astute are either Red Sox when it here for a three as they years moved vote. Averaging month Baltimore Toronto they now trailed by six in the American League east division race in the they are now was. Five behind the Toronto Blue Jays with the Yankees game can be just starting out and now. ...




Is it too soon to say the Red Sox may be building some momentum and turning a corner?

For just the third time all season (79 games) the Red Sox have won three games in a row as they held on to beat the Blue Jays, 4-3 Tuesday night in Toronto. It was also their ninth win in their last 14 games.

David Ortiz hit his 13th home run of the year in the Red Sox' win over the Blue Jays. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

David Ortiz hit his 13th home run of the year in the Red Sox‘ win over the Blue Jays. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Is it too soon to say the Red Sox may be building some momentum and turning a corner?

For just the third time all season (79 games) the Red Sox have won three games in a row as they held on to beat the Blue Jays, 4-3 Tuesday night in Toronto. It was also their ninth win in their last 14 games.

The Red Sox scored two runs in the first inning without even recording a hit against Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada. The right-hander walked four, including two with the bases loaded as the Sox grabbed a 2-0 lead before the Blue Jays even stepped to the plate.

Jackie Bradley Jr. and David Ortiz each hit solo home runs in the second and third innings respectively to force Estrada from the game after just 2 1/3 innings. Ortiz’s was absolutely crushed — 468 feet to right field for his 13th home run of the season.

Eduardo Rodriguez faced the Blue Jays just over two weeks ago and allowed nine runs in 4 2/3 innings, but Tuesday the left-hander got some revenge. The rookie went six innings allowing one run on four hits, while walking two and striking out four. He threw 97 pitches with a season-high nine swing and misses.

Rodriguez improved to 4-2 with a 3.92 ERA on the year.

Tommy Layne relieved Rodriguez for the seventh inning and allowed a two-run homer to Jose Reyes, which cut the Red Sox lead to one at 4-3, but the Red Sox bullpen was able to hold on. Koji Uehara earned his 18th save with a perfect ninth inning. It was his third appearance in the last three days.

The Red Sox have now took the first two games of the four-game series.

Here’s what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ win:

WHAT WENT RIGHT

— Bradley Jr. finished 1-for-3 in the win. His home run was his first major league homer since May 31, 2014, a stretch that spanned 248 at-bats.

— Ortiz’s home run just added to his records against the Blue Jays. He now has 38 home runs and 120 extra-base hits, the most ever by a player against the Jays.

— Alexi Ogando retired all four batters he faced in the seventh and eighth innings in between Layne and Uehara. He’s now gone 11 appearances and 11 2/3 innings without allowing a run.

WHAT WENT WRONG

— Layne’s home run allowed to Reyes was just the second he’s allowed this season, but it allowed the Jays to get within a run.

— The Red Sox finished with just three hits against Blue Jays relievers.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Rusney Castillo may be in Toronto, but that doesn’t mean Hanley Ramirez is going on the disabled list just yet.

Rusney Castillo may be in Toronto, but that doesn’t mean Hanley Ramirez is going on the disabled list just yet.

Red Sox manager John Farrell said before Tuesday night’s game against the Blue Jays that Ramirez continues to make progress from a sore left wrist in the batting cages, and the Red Sox are holding out hope the slugger will avoid the DL.

To protect themselves, they brought Castillo to Toronto for a day to be ready in case Ramirez couldn’t play.

“Rusney is here as part of a taxi squad, which we’€™re allowed for a day provided by MLB,” Farrell said. “In addition to that, Hanley has had a good day so far. He’€™ll take regular BP here today. He swung in the cage earlier so he’€™s making pretty solid progress over the last 24 hours.”

Castillo was recently sent to Pawtucket and needs to spend at least 10 days in the minors before he’s eligible to return to the big leagues, though the Red Sox would get an exemption in case of an injury to Ramirez.

Farrell said that the time off has helped Ramirez. He has yet to play on this road trip after getting hit by a Xander Bogaerts liner last week.

“Hands to a hitter are vitally important,” Farrell said. “The fact that he was able to get some peace of mind to the MRI results, followed up with some work already today, yeah, things are coming together as we hoped they were.”

In other news . . .

— Catcher Ryan Hanigan took a scheduled day off Tuesday from his rehab assignment and could rejoin the team as soon as Wednesday, Farrell said.

— Outfielder Shane Victorino needs at least a couple of more rehab appearances, Farrell said. When he does rejoin the team, he could potentially join a platoon with outfielder Alejandro De Aza, who is batting .390 over his last 11 games.

— One area of Rodriguez’s game to watch tonight will be whether he’s tipping pitches. Pitching coach Carl Willis believed that to be the case after he got bombed out of the stretch against the Orioles in his last start.

“It was a tale of two outings inside of one,” Farrell said. “When he got to the stretch position, I think there were some nuances that probably suggested he might be throwing one type of pitch or another. When you dominate the first 10 hitters as he did and then don’t record an out, it makes you start to look a little bit deeper. It’s not uncommon for pitchers to fall into certain habits that they give some information to the opposition.”

(Rob Bradford contributed to this report from Toronto)

Blog Author: 
John Tomase