CHICAGO — The Red Sox have received another piece of good news for 2016: they’re cautiously optimistic catcher Christian Vazquez will be ready for Opening Day.

Christian Vazquez

Christian Vazquez

CHICAGO — The Red Sox have received another piece of good news for 2016: they’re cautiously optimistic catcher Christian Vazquez will be ready for spring training.

Sidelined since undergoing Tommy John surgery in April, Vazquez is expected to get some at-bats in Instructional League as he takes the next step in his recover.

“Obviously he’s a very important piece to the puzzle moving forward,” said interim manager Torey Lovullo. “What we’re really concerned about right now is how he’s progressing. He’s going to take some at-bats in Instructional League, get into a little bit of a throwing program and then have some downtime that’s very typical of an offseason and than be ready for the year next year and that’s what we’re really excited about.”

While it’s possible that Vazquez will play winter ball, Lovullo said the plan would be for him just to hit. His repaired elbow isn’t yet ready to cut loose and throw.

As for the idea of Vazquez being ready for spring training, however, Lovullo embraced it.

“I think he will,” he said. “If there’s one guy we can bet on, it’s Christian. He’s really excited and eager to get things moving.”

In other pregame notes . . .

— Lovullo plans on Pablo Sandoval continuing to hit second behind Mookie Betts, hoping it will get him more fastballs in hitter’s counts. “I don’t really like to move guys around, and he’s getting comfortable there,” Lovullo said.

— Lovullo expects to stay away from closer Junichi Tazawa “for sure” after he threw 30 pitches and took the loss in Kansas City’s four-run ninth on Sunday.

— Second baseman Dustin Pedroia, sidelined since July 23 with a recurrence of a hamstring injury that had already kept him out for three weeks, is ramping up baseball activities, with Sept. 10 a soft target date for his return.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

CHICAGO — After missing some time due to an strained oblique muscle, Brock Holt returns to the Red Sox lineup in their series-opening game against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field Monday night.

CHICAGO — After missing some time due to an strained oblique muscle, Brock Holt returns to the Red Sox lineup in their series-opening game against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field Monday night. Holt hasn’t played since last Wednesday.

Brock Holt

Brock Holt

Also re-entering the starting lineup will be left fielder Hanley Ramirez, who joins Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo in the visitors’ outfield.

Here is the rest of the Red Sox batting order against Chicago starter Jeff Samardzija, with Joe Kelly on the mound for Boston:

Mookie Betts CF
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Travis Shaw 1B
Hanley Ramirez LF
Brock Holt 2B
Rusney Castillo RF
Ryan Hanigan C

For all the matchups, click here.

For a series preview, click here.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford
Jose Abreu (Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images)

Jose Abreu is having a strong second half at the plate, leading the rejuvenated White Sox offense. (Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images)

The Red Sox will continue their tour of the AL Central on Monday when they travel to Chicago to face off against the White Sox for three games.

Still inhabitants of the AL East cellar with a 56-68 record, the Red Sox have shown signs of life in the last two weeks. After scoring 45 runs in three games against the Mariners and winning a three-game series, the they repeated their performance against the Indians, taking two out of three against the Tribe, including a 6-4 win over reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber.

Strong pitching from Wade Miley and Henry Owens helped the Red Sox get off to a two-game advantage over the Royals during their four-game weekend set, and they tied a season-high by establishing a four-game winning streak. However, their good fortune eventually ran out when they dropped the third game of the series 6-3 and blew a two-run lead in the ninth Sunday to fall 8-6 and settle for a series split.

The key to the Red Sox‘ resurgence has been the timely hitting of the offense, which averaged 8.2 runs per game over the 10-game homestand. Multi-hit performances from the likes of youngsters Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, Travis Shaw and Rusney Castillo have revitalized a lineup that had grown much too content with relying on the inconsistent bats of Hanley Ramirez (.254 AVG) and Pablo Sandoval (.259).

“These younger players have finally gained a little traction,” interim manager Torey Lovullo said of his young hitters on Saturday. “They’re starting to get a good feel for what it takes to be a major league player. Some of the players who have been here all year, some of the guys that are joining us, there’s really continuity, there’s a really good vibe that these young players create. They like one another. They get along on and off the field. You’re seeing that play out right now. I think that’s why we’re being so successful on the field. I think these guys are having fun playing and playing with a lot of energy and they’re really coming into their own.”

While the hitting has received a lot of the credit for the Sox’ recent success, and rightfully so, the pitching staff deserves a nod as well. Miley and Joe Kelly combined to toss 26 1/3 innings during the homestand, giving up just five runs between them while whiffing 23 batters. Overall, Sox starters turned in quality starts in seven of their last 10 contests.

The White Sox are in a nearly identical situation as the Red Sox. With a 58-64 record and a potential last-place finish in their division on the horizon, they also are evaluating where their organization stands in the wake of a wildly unsuccessful offseason.

Nearly every acquisition the White Sox made this past winter has underwhelmed in 2015. Adam LaRoche, brought in to protect Jose Abreu in the lineup, has slashed an abysmal .210/.296/.345 and has struck out 44 more times than he’s hit safely. Melky Cabrera, a bargain-bin find due to his history with PEDs, has produced his worst full-season OPS since 2010 (.706). Jeff Samardzija, one of the key components to the Athletics’ 2014 playoff push, has given up the most hits (179) and earned runs (88) in the AL.

The White Sox have played near .500 baseball since the All-Star break, going 17-19. On their recent seven-game West Coast trip, they took three games, snagging just one out of four from the Angels but outlasting the Mariners for two wins. Victors in three of their last four, the White Sox recall fondly marching into Fenway Park with momentum at the end of July when they took three out of four from the Red Sox.

Again, similarly with the Red Sox, the Chicago offense has exploded of late. In their last four games, the White Sox have notched 31 runs, including an 11-run outburst against the Mariners last Friday. After that particular game, an 11-4 win, White Sox manager Robin Ventura refused to count his team out of the playoff picture.

“Crazier stuff has happened,” Ventura said. “Guys are still scrapping and getting after it and that’s what you want. You want believers in there and right now they’re believing they can go out and win games.”

Here are the pitching matchups for the series:

Monday: Joe Kelly (6-6, 5.37 ERA) vs. Jeff Samardzija (8-9, 4.64 ERA)
Tuesday: Wade Miley (10-9, 4.41 ERA) vs. Jose Quintana (7-10, 3.60 ERA)
Wednesday: Rick Porcello (5-11, 5.81 ERA) vs. Chris Sale (12-7, 3.34 ERA)

WHO’S HOT: RED SOX

— Shaw has come out of nowhere to become one of the most promising youngsters on the Red Sox roster. The lefty is slashing .410/.452/.795 in his last nine games and he owns a 1.029 OPS for the season.

— Castillo has been hot since getting recalled at the end of July. In his last 20 games, the Cuban outfielder is batting .342 with 13 RBIs and 17 runs scored. Against the Royals this past weekend, Castillo went 4-for-7 with a triple and three runs.

— Though he hasn’t made good on his Cy Young prediction in 2015, Kelly is starting to turn his season around. The right-hander has won his last four starts, posting a 3.22 ERA over that stretch.

Jose Abreu

Jose Abreu

WHO’S HOT: WHITE SOX

— Like his countryman Castillo, Abreu has been hitting well during the second half. Since the All-Star break, the hulking first baseman is slashing .281/.370/.533 with eight home runs and 10 doubles in 35 games.

— Chris Sale continues to prove time and time again his name belongs in the conversation for best pitcher in baseball. The sidearmer has whiffed 29 batters in his last two starts, while also generating 44 swings and misses. Opponents’ batting average against him over these past 14 innings of work? Just .104.

— Jose Quintana has proven himself a solid No. 2 pitcher this season. The Red Sox are all too familiar with the southpaw after he shut them down for two runs over 6 1/3 innings on July 29. It’s been more of the same lately for Quintana as he held the Angels to two runs over six innings in his most recent outing last Thursday.

WHO’S NOT: RED SOX

— Since the All-Star break, Hanley Ramirez has been played miserably. The 31-year-old has not hit a home run nor has he cracked the 20-hit mark during this stretch of 25 games. He has one hit in his last 17 at-bats dating back to his 0-for-5 against the Indians last Tuesday.

— Rick Porcello will make his return to the rotation Wednesday after spending nearly four weeks on the DL for a triceps strain. He was not encouraging in the weeks leading up to his DL stint as he had a 6.95 ERA in five previous starts.

— Normally one of the most reliable arms out of the bullpen for the Red Sox, right-hander Junichi Tazawa has struggled mightily of late. He’s blown leads in four of his last nine appearances, including Sunday’s meltdown against the Royals in which he allowed six hits and four runs in just an inning of work.

WHO’S NOT: WHITE SOX

Adam LaRoche has done more to hurt the White Sox than help them in 2015. He’s batted just .210 and whacked a lowly 11 long balls, and it’s only gotten worse lately. He’s slashed .151/.196/.302 during the month of August and has struck out (15) nearly twice as much as he’s hit (eight).

— Cabrera, normally a stable force in the lineup, has been struck with a cold spell. The left fielder has six hits in his last 40 at-bats and has one extra-base hit in his last 10 contests.

— Samardzija has not had a pleasant month. In three out of four starts this month, he’s allowed six or more earned runs, producing a ghastly 9.27 ERA and four White Sox losses.

Blog Author: 
Justin Pallenik

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

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

Pat Light

Pat Light

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (49-80): L, 4-2 in 10 innings, vs. Lehigh Valley (Phillies)

— RHP Pat Light walked three consecutive batters in the top of the 10th inning, on 3-0, 3-2 and then 3-1 pitches, leading to the go-ahead runs scoring on an ensuing two-bounce chopper to shortstop that Deven Marrero charged and fielded cleanly but bounced on the throw home, an error charged to Marrero (his 17th of the season) as the ball evaded catcher Humberto Quintero, allowing two runs to score.

Light (Boston’s No. 22 prospect at MLB.com) had not walked a batter in his two previous outings after walking 11 over a four-appearance span in early August.

“It’s been interesting because I’ve never had an issue with fastball in my career up to this point,” the 24-year-old told the Providence Journal. “I don’t have something to draw on from the past to help figure that out. I’ve just been missing a little, usually on my arm side. It’s been hit-or-miss. Sometimes I’ve been great with [the fastball] and sometimes not.”

The 6-foot-5 Light had allowed just two earned runs over his last 13 1/3 innings, although one of those was the go-ahead home run allowed in a Pawtucket extra-inning loss last Wednesday. Selected by Boston in the first round (37th overall) of the 2012 draft out of Monmouth University, Light has worked 29 2/3 innings with the PawSox over 22 outings, with 17 earned runs (5.16 ERA), 33 strikeouts and 26 walks.

— Marrero (Boston’s No. 10 prospect at MLB.com) had plated both Pawtucket runs earlier in the game with his sixth home run of the year, a deep drive over the billboards and out of the ballpark in left field on a 3-1 pitch in the third inning. Marrero, 24, is slashing .248/.308/.344 over 90 games this year in Triple-A and has had two stints in the majors where he appeared in just six games and hit 1-for-7 in his limited at-bats. Since his last stint in Boston, Marrero has batted leadoff in 12 consecutive games, the first such games of his Triple-A career, and has hit .308 (16-for-52) with hits in 11 of the 12 contests.

— RHP William Cuevas allowed a two-run homer in the top of the third inning but pitched his third quality start in his fourth Triple-A try, finishing with a no-decision final line of: 6 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 7 SO (108 pitches, 69 strikes). The 24-year-old Cuevas had walked the leadoff batter in the third prior to the long ball, and did so again to start the fourth but recovered to limit the damage as he retired the final eight batters he faced. Promoted to Pawtucket on Aug. 4, the 6-foot Cuevas was an Eastern League All-Star this year with Double-A Portland where he held opponents to a .233 average and allowed just four home runs.

— LHP Robby Scott pitched three scoreless innings of relief, retiring the first 10 batters he faced before allowing back-to-back singles in the ninth and stranding them with an infield pop out. Scott, 25, struck out three and walked none and has not allowed a run over his last nine innings pitched, with six hits allowed, seven whiffs and no walks over that span.

— RHP Jonathan Aro was recalled to Boston on Sunday for the third time this season, with RHP Matt Barnes optioned back to Pawtucket.

Aro, 24, had returned to Pawtucket on Aug. 1 and made six Triple-A appearances over that span, allowing five earned runs (including two home runs) in 12 2/3 innings with nine strikeouts and two walks. The last five outings from Aro have been multi-inning appearances, with his last on Wednesday a three-inning scoreless relief spot.

Aaron Wilkerson

Aaron Wilkerson

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS (47-80): W, 9-0, at Harrisburg (Nationals)

— RHP Aaron Wilkerson pitched seven shutout innings against a lineup that featured rehabbing major leaguers Denard Span and Dan Uggla, as Wilkerson picked up the victory with a final line of: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 SO (88 pitches, 59 strikes). It was the fourth overall Double-A start for the 26-year-old Wilkerson (2-1, 3.65 ERA) , and his second consecutive seven-inning outing, after allowing just one earned run last Tuesday. Wilkerson allowed single baserunners in the first, second, fifth and seventh innings, but two were erased on the bases and the other two stranded.

The 6-foot-3 Wilkerson leads all Red Sox minor leaguers in strikeouts this year with 123. He went 7-2 with a 2.96 ERA over 17 appearances (12 starts) this year with High-A Salem before his promotion to Portland on Aug. 5. Undrafted out of Cumberland University in 2011, Wilkerson was signed by Boston in the summer of 2014 after three years of playing independent league baseball.

— Second baseman Carlos Asuaje (Boston’s No. 24 prospect at MLB.com) extended his hitting streak to nine games with a 1-for-5 day including an RBI. Over his streak, the 23-year-old Asuaje is hitting .405 (15-for-37) with three homers, seven RBIs and a triple that put him in the Eastern League lead with seven three-baggers. In addition, Asuaje has committed just two errors in his last 52 games played.

— First baseman Sam Travis (Boston’s No. 12 prospect at MLB.com) hit two doubles in the same inning, part of an eight-run fourth as Portland sent 11 men to the plate and racked up eight hits in the frame. Travis, 21, leads all Red Sox minor leaguers in average and RBIs with .303 (135-for-446) and 68 marks split this year between High-A Salem and Portland. Selected by Boston in the second round of the 2014 draft out of Indiana University, Travis has reached base safely in 50 of his 53 games in Double-A.

— LHP Williams Jerez (Boston’s No. 25 prospect at MLB.com) finished the shutout, pitching two scoreless innings in relief of Wilkerson. The 6-foot-4 Jerez allowed just one hit and struck out three, with a wild pitch, and he now has two straight scoreless outings (four innings pitched)

Daniel McGrath

Daniel McGrath

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX (57-68): W, 5-1, at Wilmington (Royals)

— LHP Daniel McGrath pitched six shutout innings with eight strikeouts, picking up his first victory since April 26 with a final line of: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 SO (91 pitches, 65 strikes). The 21-year-old McGrath (2-6, 4.05 ERA) retired the first eight batters he faced before allowing a lone single in the third inning, then retired six more in order before another lone single in the fifth. It is the second straight quality start for McGrath, and the second straight without a walk, as McGrath now has made 15 starts for Salem with 73 1/3 innings pitched, striking out 62 and walking 34.

— RHP Brandon Show pitched three innings in relief of McGrath for his first professional save, giving up just one run on one hit after retiring the first seven batters he faced, allowing a ninth-inning triple with a run crossing on an ensuing ground out. Selected by Boston in the 38th round of the 2014 draft out of the University of San Diego, the 22-year-old Snow has a 2.89 ERA with Salem over 10 appearances, with 28 innings pitched, 12 strikeouts and seven walks.

— DH Kevin Heller went 1-for-2 with three RBIs and a run scored, hitting a two-run homer in the fourth and bringing home another run in the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly. It was the sixth homer of the year for the 25-year-old Heller, who is slashing .293/.413/.429 over 79 games this season in High-A. Heller now leads Salem with 44 RBIs on the year.

— Shortstop Mauricio Dubon (Boston’s No. 21 prospect at MLB.com) went 2-for-4 from the leadoff spot, raising his August slash line to .301/.378/.315 with five RBIs and eight runs scored over 18 games.

Luis Ramos

Luis Ramos

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE (64-62): W, 4-0, at Delmarva (Orioles)

— LHP Luis Ramos pitched six scoreless innings, picking up the victory with a final line of: 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO (61 pitches, 38 strikes). It was the fifth start with Greenville for Ramos (2-3, 6.20 ERA) , as the 20-year-old Panamanian made eight appearances with Short-Season Single-A Lowell to begin the year, going 1-1 with a 4.89 ERA over 38 2/3 innings.

— RHP Jamie Callahan pitched three scoreless innings of relief to complete the shutout and earn his third save, allowing just one hit while striking out three. Callahan, 21, is now 5-6 with a 5.26 ERA in 28 appearances this year, all with Greenville, with 74 strikeouts in 77 innings pitched to go with 31 walks.

— The Greenville offense had just five hits but plated four runs in the fifth inning, with a two-RBI single from right fielder Danny Mars capping the inning. Mars has hits in seven of his last eight games, with a season-long slash line of .298/.356/.355 over 30 games.

— Yoan Moncada (Boston’s No. 1 prospect at MLB.com) did not play for a third game in a row.

Austin Glorius

Austin Glorius

SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS (30-31): L, 4-0, vs. Staten Island (Yankees)

— Lowell dropped its sixth straight game, producing just four singles — two from left fielder Kyri Washington and one apiece from second baseman Chad De La Guerra and first baseman Tucker Tubbs.

— RHP Austin Glorius started and pitched four scoreless innings in his fourth outing of the year, allowing three hits and two walks while striking out three. The 22-year-old Glorius was signed by Boston as an undrafted free agent out of Division 2 Valdosta State University, and now is 1-1 with a 1.98 ERA over his first 13 2/3 innings as a professional.

— LHP Matt Kent took the loss (6-1, 1.71 ERA), his first as a professional, as he allowed four runs, two of them earned over five innings of relief. Selected by Boston in the 13th round of this year’s draft out of Texas A&M University, the 22-year-old Kent has thrown 42 innings with 31 strikeouts and nine walks.

ROOKIE GULF COAST LEAGUE RED SOX (38-16): Scheduled off day. Next action Monday vs. GCL Orioles

Blog Author: 
Ken Laird
Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly

For Monday’s series opener between the Red Sox and the White Sox in Chicago, Boston will send Joe Kelly to the mound to face Jeff Samardzija.

Kelly has turned a corner recently as he is in the midst of a four-game winning streak and owner of a 1.56 ERA in his last three starts. Over those 17 1/3 innings, the righty has kept batters slashing .250/.324/.422, giving up 16 hits and striking out 16 while walking seven. His latest start was a six-inning effort that yielded just one unearned run in an otherwise scoreless outing for him. Kelly threw 57 of his 100 total pitches for strikes and fanned three while walking as many. That start, a 6-4 win over the Indians on Wednesday, helped improve his season ERA to 5.37 and his record for the year to 6-6.

“Just trying to keep hitters off balance, not necessarily keep pounding fastballs away,” Kelly said after his appearance Wednesday. “I’ve been throwing some offspeed pitches for strikes, and that’s definitely helped, especially with guys on base.”

Kelly’s first and only start of his career against the White Sox came earlier this season on July 27, his second start back after returning to the rotation. Lasting just 3 1/3 innings, he allowed four earned runs on seven hits with no walks and a pair of strikeouts. Of those seven hits, two were doubles and two were triples, and the 27-year-old gave up three of his earned runs, though four total were scored, in the the top of the first inning. Because of the abbreviated start, Kelly has a 10.80 ERA vs. the White Sox but did not earn a decision as the Red Sox managed to tie the score and even take the lead after their starter exited. They still ended up losing, though, 10-8.

Jeff Samardzija

Jeff Samardzija

Samardzija saw the Red Sox at the end of July, and he has a slightly longer history of facing Monday’s opponent than Kelly. He won his outing back on July 28, hurling eight innings and conceding four earned runs on seven hits, and has culminated a 1-1 record over two starts and three total appearances against Boston. Beside this season’s win, Samardzija made a start vs. the Sox in 2012 and went an inning against them in 2011. In those total 14 1/3 innings, the right-hander has allowed 10 earned runs on 15 total hits with a 1.465 WHIP. With four doubles, two home runs and six walks in that time as well, he has kept the Red Sox to a .259/.328/.431 slash line.

This season as a whole has been a bit of a roller coaster for Samardzija, who has an 8-9 record with a 4.64 ERA. After beginning the year with a 4.78 ERA in April, he posted a 3.00 mark in May with three wins and no losses. Similarly, he had a 5.75 ERA in the month of June while subsequently recording a 2.37 average through July. So far in August, he has a 9.27 ERA and has lost every game since that last start against the Red Sox.

Even when he got the ball Wednesday evening against the Angels and allowed just one earned run in seven innings, he took the loss.

“What had been getting me in trouble [in previous starts] was giving up little hits and letting them get to me and then it snowballs,” Samardzija said Wednesday. “I wanted to go out there and stay in control of the game and continue to make good pitches. Regardless of the results, just keep doing that.”

Red Sox vs. Samardzija (RHP)

Hanley Ramirez (23 plate appearances): .435 AVG/.435 OBP/.522 SLG, 2 doubles, 3 RBIs, 7 strikeouts

Alejandro De Aza (19): .176/.263/.235, 1 double, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts

Ryan Hanigan (10): .200/.200/.200, 3 strikeouts

Pablo Sandoval (10): .400/.400/1.000, 2 home runs, 6 RBIs

David Ortiz (8): .500/.625/.833, 2 doubles, 2 walks

Xander Bogaerts (4): .250/.250/.250

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

Josh Rutledge (3): .667/.667/.667, 1 RBI

Mookie Betts (2): .000/.000/.000

Rusney Castillo (2): .500/.500/.500

Blake Swihart has one strikeout in three plate appearances vs. Samardzija.

White Sox vs. Kelly (RHP)

Melky Cabrera (8 plate appearances): .500 AVG/.500 OBP/.875 SLG, 3 doubles, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout

Geovany Soto (3): .333/.333/.333

Jose Abreu (2): 1.000/1.000/1.000, 1 RBI

Adam Eaton (2): .500/.500/1.500, 1 triple, 1 strikeout

Tyler Flowers (2): .000/.000/.000

Avisail Garcia (2): .500/.500/.500

Tyler Saladino (2): .500/.500/1.500, 1 triple, 1 RBI

Carlos Sanchez (2): .500/.500/.500

J.B. Shuck (2): .000/.000/.000, 1 RBI

Alexei Ramirez has one strikeout in two plate appearances against Kelly.

Blog Author: 
Judy Cohen
Junichi Tazawa

Junichi Tazawa

While the team and Junichi Tazawa may not be acknowledging it, it appears the Red Sox reliever is battling some fatigue.

Tazawa allowed four runs on six hits in the ninth inning blowing the save in the Red Sox‘ 8-6 loss to the Royals Sunday at Fenway Park. The right-hander has thrown 68 1/3 and 63 innings each of the last two seasons and already has thrown 53 this year.

Including Sunday, Tazawa has allowed nine runs in eight appearances in August. Going into the month he had allowed 14 runs over 46 appearances.

“I feel fine. Fatigue is not a factor,” Tazawa said through a translator.

Interim manager Torey Lovullo said he didn’t think fatigue has been a factor either.

“Not really,” Lovullo said. “I think when you look up there and see he’s throwing his fastball in the mid-90s, he’s locating his fastball, he’s able to throw secondary quality stuff, I don’t see much wear and tear on him at all. He wants to go out there and compete and he just didn’t get the job done today.”

Last year, Tazawa had an ERA of 2.61 in the first half of the season and 3.24 in the second half. It’s much of the same this year, as he posted a 2.58 ERA in the first half and his second half ERA currently stands at 6.97.

Another possible reason for the struggles is a change of role, as Tazawa is currently the Red Sox‘ closer with Koji Uehara out for the season.

“I think he’s bumped up a role and as I’ve been saying over the past couple days we’re going to be patient through the process with a lot of these guys in changing their roles and continue to give them the ball,” Lovullo said. “It’s a learning moment for Taz and I think as we keep moving forward he’s going to be better off from his moment. Of course we don’t want to lose any games. Our expectations were to go out there and take care of business and close things out in the ninth.”

Tazawa was given a shot at the closer’s role back in 2013 before Uehara took over and after struggling in a few appearances, he said he didn’t feel comfortable in the role. Two years later, he’s still trying to adjust now that he has the role, as there is no one else in the bullpen capable.

“It certainly is an adjustment,” Tazawa said. “I don’t want to risk or give up a loss for that adjustment, but certainly I will learn from this.”

As for the adjustment playing a role in Sunday’s performance, Tazawa said that wasn’t everything.

“Certainly there is a different type of nervousness involved, but for this particular instance maybe the weather, the slippery ball had more to do with it,” he said.

As the Red Sox play out the remainder of the season, it’s almost certain Tazawa will get more opportunities to close out games and he and the team hope Sunday will just be a learning experience to help the reliever get back to his normal self.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

In what was one of the most bizarre plays in a bizarre season, Jackie Bradley Jr. misplayed a ball to leadoff the ninth inning which landed on the warning track in left field and then he couldn’t handle it off the bounce, which had Omar Infante thinking inside-the-park home run.

Bradley Jr. picked up the ball and threw a one-hop strike to the plate to get Infante. The Royals challenged the play, but it stayed as called.

“€œIt was hit really well off of the bat,” Bradley Jr. said. “I was playing it like it was going to be off of the wall and got twisted around a little bit. I just wanted to make an accurate throw. The grass was wet. I wanted to give him a chance.”

The play even drew the praise of members of the Royals.

“I thought it was actually a really good send,” third baseman Mike Moustakas said. “It took a phenomenal throw by Jackie out there. He pulled it off. It was an unbelievable throw. A foot to left or a foot to the right, Omar is safe. I thought it was a good send. We ended up being able to cover that up and go out there and win a ball game.”

“You know he’s got a great arm but to do that, that’s something you don’t really see or expect,” he added. “He’s got a cannon. That was probably one of the best throws I’ve seen in a long time, if not ever. Right on the money, throw a guy out at the plate from left-center field.”

The Royals got the last laugh as they scored four ninth inning runs following the play to beat the Red Sox, 8-6.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable