Drake Britton recorded a save for Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday. (AP)

Drake Britton recorded a save for Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday. (AP)

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

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 7-6 WIN AT ROCHESTER (TWINS)

(BOX)

– In his first start in Triple-A after being optioned to Pawtucket last week, right-hander Brandon Workman dominated early (three shutout innings in which he allowed a single, walked no one and punched out two) before hitting a bit of a wall in his fourth inning of work, in which he permitted a groundball single, a double and a walk before being lifted after 3 1/3 innings. All three of the runners whom he put on base scored, resulting in a line of three runs allowed in 3 1/3 innings. Still, overall, the outing represented an exercise in building arm strength with the late struggles not unexpected given that it had been more than three weeks since Workman had pitched into a fourth frame.

– Given that the Sox want to avoid shuttling Workman back and forth between the rotation and bullpen, the early-season dominance of left-hander Drake Britton is noteworthy, as the 24-year-old could emerge as the first line of bullpen depth from Triple-A. Britton recorded a two-inning save on Wedneday, allowing one hit and punching out four. He worked around a pair of ninth-inning walks by recording all three outs by strikeout in a one-run win. It was Britton’s second save of the year. While his control (five walks in 8 1/3 innings) has been spotty, he has a 1.08 ERA, with opponents hitting .226 against him so far.

– Outfielder Alex Hassan went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles. Since going 0-for-7 in the first two games of the season, the 26-year-old is hitting at a .351 clip (13-for-37) with a .442 OBP and six doubles in his last nine games.

– In a striking reversal from a year ago, Brock Holt remains among the hottest hitters in the International League. He went 3-for-5 with a double to improve his line (in 10 games) to .415/.489/.610 with five doubles and a homer among his 17 hits. Last April, in twice the number of games, he hit .149/.234/.149 with no extra-base hits among his 10 knocks.

Ryan Lavarnway, who has seen most of his playing time at first base thus far this year, continued his recovery from a slow (0-for-14 through four games) start, going 3-for-4 with a double. He’s 12-for-33 (.364) with three walks, two doubles and a homer in his last eight games.

– Not only did outfielder Bryce Brentz continue his walking ways, going 1-for-4 while accepting his eighth free pass of the month, but he also recorded an outfield assist on a play at the plate. He has two outfield assists so far this year.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: RAINED OUT VS. BINGHAMTON (METS)

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 4-0 LOSS, 2-1 LOSS AT CAROLINA (INDIANS)

(BOX GAME 1, BOX GAME 2)

– Outfielder Kevin Heller, 24, continued his dazzling run, going 2-for-5 with a double and triple in the doubleheader. Heller is hitting .433 (fifth in all of minor league baseball) with an OBP of .541 (third in the minors) through 10 games, one of the most impressive performances by a position playing Amherst alum in decades. (While Amherst has had a few pitchers in the big leagues such as John Cerutti and Rich Thompson, the last position player with ties to the Lord Jeffs to reach the big leagues was Howdy Groskloss, who played for the Pirates from 1930-32.)

– Catcher Carson Blair went 1-for-3 with a double and two strikeouts in the first game of the doubleheader, with the two-bagger coming against a left-hander and thus continuing a striking early-season pattern. Blair has the most dramatic splits of anyone in the Sox system in the early going, hitting .333/.522/.733 in 23 plate appearances against lefties and .000/.095/.000 (0-for-19 with two walks) against righties. Perhaps as shocking as the splits themselves is the fact that, while playing everyday, he’s still had more plate appearances against lefties than righties to date.

– Right-hander Luis Diaz continues to allow tons of baserunners while managing to limit the damage from them. He allowed five hits (a double, triple and three singles) and walked three in 3 2/3 innings, yet permitted just one run. Despite a 1.42 WHIP, the 22-year-old has a 0.75 ERA in three starts, but his pitch ineffiency and many baserunners have resulted in his averaging just four innings per start.

– Right-hander Simon Mercedes, in his first start of the year (he’d been working as a piggyback starter), turned in a solid effort, allowing two runs (one earned) in 4 1/3 innings while permitting five hits and two walks. He struck out four and got five outs via groundball. While Mercedes’ results in the early going have been mixed (a 5.59 ERA reflects two decent outings and one poor one), he has been getting groundballs in volume, with a 2.8 groundout-to-flyout rate overall and a 4.5 mark by right-handers against the 22-year-old.

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 8-7 LOSS VS. CHARLESTON (YANKEES)

(BOX)

– Right-hander Pat Light, after two dominant outings to open the year, got roughed up for the first time this season, permitting six runs (five earned) in 5 1/3 innings on six hits (two triples and the first homer he’s allowed this year), four walks and four strikeouts. He did elicit eight groundball eights, but the 2012 supplemental first-rounder was less consistent in working down in the strike zone than he’d been through two starts. He’d entered the game with 15 strikeouts and no walks in 12 innings.

– Center fielder Manuel Margot went 1-for-3 with a single, a walk and two steals, swiping both second and third. Since going 0-for-8 in the first two games of the year, the 19-year-old is hitting .297/.350/.568 with a double, three homers and four steals in his last 10 contests, with nearly as many walks (3) as strikeouts (4) during that stretch.

– Corner infielder Jantzen Witte went 2-for-5 with a pair of doubles, and now has a streak of four straight games with at least one double. In his last six games, the 24-year-old is hitting .455 (10-for-22) with a .630 OBP and .727 slugging mark.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

Red Sox COO Sam Kennedy checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning and said owner John Henry called manager John Farrell on Wednesday to offer his support during the team’s early season struggles.

Sam Kennedy

Sam Kennedy

Red Sox COO Sam Kennedy checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning and said owner John Henry called manager John Farrell on Wednesday to offer his support during the team’s early season struggles. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The Red Sox, bringing up the rear in the American League East, improved to 6-9 with Wednesday’s 6-4, 14-inning victory over the White Sox.

“I think repeating [as champions] is probably one of the hardest things to do in professional sports, and we are off to an awful start. While there have been some positives, it’s been really bad,” Kennedy said. “April, you really like to get off to a good start, so it’s been disappointing. People say, ‘Is there a hangover, is there a letdown?’ Whatever it is, you can really point to the basics. We’re not hitting. I think we’re hitting about a buck-fifty with runners in scoring position. We were 1-4 going into last night’s game in one-run games. That’s not going to last. [Dustin] Pedroia, [Will] Middlebrooks, now [Mike] Napoli, [Shane] Victorino missing time, Koji [Uehara]. It’s a lot of factors to point to. I think we need to have some perspective.

“I know for a fact that John Henry reached out to John Farrell and Ben Cherington yesterday just to say, ‘Hey, guys, it’s early, hang in there, things are going to be OK.’ Because you could tell how frustrated those guys are. And we all are. But we do have to have a little bit of perspective. This is our 13th year here together in Boston. Things will get better. Guys will start to hit. Again, the pitching’s been there. So, we all need a little bit of patience. And I know that’s hard for most of us.”

The other big Red Sox news over the last week relates to the negotiations for a new contract with left-hander Jon Lester. A recent report indicated the Red Sox made a lowball offer of about $70 million for four years.

“You have to remember, we’re starting from a place where the Red Sox, from John Henry on down to Jon Lester, want to make a deal. That’s the starting place. I think everybody feels good about that,” Kennedy said. “The problem with negotiations and details from baseball negotiations getting into the public domain when you have a leak like we did this past week related to this deal is one data point gets into the media, gets out there, gets dissected. I can tell you there are lots of other data points related to this negotiation that are not in the public spotlight, in the media. All I’ll say is that Ben Cherington, Jon Lester, Larry Lucchino, our ownership group will continue to work on this. And it’s clearly best when baseball discussions are kept private, and then baseball decisions are made public. That’s been our philosophy.

“Do we want to see Jon Lester in a Red Sox uniform for a long, long time? Absolutely, yes. As a fan, I hope that he is with us for a long, long time. We’ll see where things go over the coming weeks and months. But I’m hopeful that we do end up getting something done there.”

Wednesday’s game in Chicago lasted five hours, 17 minutes. Kennedy acknowledged that it’s been a concern of the team and the league that games are dragging.

“I can tell you from personal experience we’ve been working on a lot of issues related to the pace of play specifically within the walls of 4 Yawkey Way over the last six or seven months,” he said. “And the commissioner’s absolutely committed to it. But it’s going to take time. It’s not as simple as snapping your fingers. But we do need to address the pace of play. It is clear, it is a real-live problem that faces us.”

Added Kennedy: “Commissioner [Bud] Selig has actually been in touch with us specifically and we’ve been engaged in a project to make some recommendations and suggestions. We’ll see how that goes. But we recognize we have an issue and a problem, and it’s something that we care deeply about. Probably no bigger issue facing the sport that just that.”

Kennedy indicated that the biggest hurdle might be convincing the players to go along with any changes.

“It’s easy for those of us who never played the game at a really high level to make suggestions and think it would be easy to have people adopt them,” Kennedy said. “I think there is a certain rhythm of the game, a certain way that players play the game. But once you make it a rule and you sort of take it out of the hands of the players, and have the umpires have the ability to enforce the ideas that you’re suggesting, I think it just becomes part of how the game is played, and I think that is absolutely doable. We just have to commit as an industry to making that happen. You make get some pushback from the on-field personnel with some of these issues, but I think overall people know it will be better for the game in the long term.”

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar

The Red Sox will end their three-game road trip in Chicago on Thursday night when they send southpaw Jon Lester to the mound against White Sox lefty Chris Sale.

While the Red Sox are struggling, Lester is off to a good start. The 30-year-old has a 2.57 ERA and a 1.095 WHIP in three starts. In his first two starts, Lester gave up two earned runs in both games while the Red Sox offense mustered up one total run.

Lester’€™s only win came on April 11, a 4-2 victory over the Yankees. That day he went 6 2/3 innings, giving up two runs on six hits and a home run while walking two and striking out seven.

“I don’€™t feel like I threw the ball as well as the first two [games], but sometimes you need games like this to make you appreciate the ones where you glide through it,” Lester said after that game. “I’ll take a win any way I can. This was just a little bit of a grinder.”

Lester has appeared in and started 10 games against the White Sox, going 4-5. His first start against Chicago came in 2006, where he recorded a win after pitching six innings and giving up two runs.

Since then, his results have been mixed against the White Sox. In 2009, Lester had a 1.98 ERA and a 0.878 WHIP in two starts, striking out 14 batters in 13 2/3 innings. 2010 was a lot tougher for the lefty as he lasted only four innings, giving up eight runs and walking five in his only start against the team. His most recent game was in 2013, when he went six innings and gave up six runs (five earned) and picked up the loss.

Sale has been lights out for the White Sox, owning a perfect 3-0 record in his first three starts with a 2.66 ERA and a 0.934 WHIP. The 25-year-old has yet to give up a home run and has walked four and struck out 19. He only last five innings in his last start, a 9-6 victory over Cleveland on April 11, giving up three runs on six hits while striking out five and walking two.

The southpaw has made five appearances against the Red Sox, two in 2010 and three in 2011, all out of the bullpen. In those five appearances, Sale pitched a total of 5 2/3 innings, never giving up a run, walking three and striking out six batters. He recorded a win in 2010 and a save in 2011. Sale didn’t become a starter for the White Sox until 2012, meaning Thursday’€™s matchup will be his first start against the Red Sox.

Chris Sale

Chris Sale

Red Sox vs. Sale (LHP)

Jonny Gomes (6 plate appearances): .167 AVG/.167 OBP/.667 SLG, 1 home run, 1 RBI, 2 strikeouts

Mike Napoli (6): .167/.167/.167, 2 strikeouts

Ryan Roberts (5): .000/.400/.000, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

David Ortiz (4): .250/.250/.250, 1 strikeout

A.J. Pierzynski has a strikeout in three plate appearances vs. Sale.

Mike Carp has a strikeout in one plate appearance.

Jonathan Herrera has a walk in one plate appearance.

Daniel Nava has a strikeout in one plate appearance.

Grady Sizemore has a strikeout in one plate appearance.

Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley, Dustin Pedroia and David Ross have not faced Sale.

White Sox vs. Lester (LHP)

Paul Konerko (29 plate appearances): .400 AVG/.483 OBP/.880 SLG, 3 doubles, 3 home runs, 7 RBIs, 4 walks, 5 strikeouts

Alexei Ramirez (27): .240/.296/.320, 2 doubles, 3 RBIs, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts

Alejandro De Aza (12): .273/.333/.545, 3 doubles, 2 RBIs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Adam Dunn (12): .250/.500/.625, 1 home run, 3 RBIs, 4 walks, 2 strikeouts

Dayan Viciedo (11): .455/.455/.818, 1 double, 1 home run, 3 RBIs, 3 strikeouts

Tyler Flowers (6): .167/.167/.167, 1 strikeout

Jose Abreu, Jordan Danks, Adam Eaton, Leury Garcia, Conor Gillaspie, Adrian Nieto and Marcus Semien have not faced Lester.

Blog Author: 
Arjuna Ramgopal

Dustin Pedroia returned to the Red Sox lineup on Wednesday after missing two games. (AP)Dustin Pedroia was in the lineup Wednesday night in Chicago, playing through a sore left wrist that he thought was possibly broken before an MRI Sunday showed no ligament damage.



KIRK MINIHANE

BIO | ARCHIVE


Just win, baby.

Jackie Bradley Jr.'s 14th inning double propelled the Red Sox to victory. (AP)

Jackie Bradley Jr.’s 14th inning double propelled the Red Sox to victory. (AP)

Just win, baby.

The Red Sox could not have a concocted a much uglier formula for victory. After the first three batters of the game collected hits, the Red Sox went just 3-for-40 over the duration of the game (with the first two of those hits being of the infield variety). They blew a save in the 11th inning. They spoiled another rally by grounding into a double play.

Yet the White Sox kept handing Boston opportunities, issuing 15 free passes, and while it wasn’t pretty, the Sox managed a slow-motion rally that featured sacrifice flies in the eighth, ninth and 11th innings before Jackie Bradley Jr.‘s two-out, two-run double in the top of the 14th finally against White Sox position player Leury Garcia — making his first pro pitching appearance on the mound — propelled the Red Sox to a 6-4 victory.

The star of the victory was the Red Sox bullpen, which allowed one run over the final eight innings. The win permitted the Sox to avoid their first four-game losing streak since 2012.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

– The bullpen had an outstanding night. Craig Breslow struck out a pair in 1 1/3 scoreless innings, throwing 11 of 13 pitches for strikes and showing good action on his complete pitch mix. Junichi Tazawa retired both batters he faced. And Andrew Miller was dominant, throwing two innings and allowing just one hit while punching out three. That group had the Sox positioned to win before Edward Mujica uncharacteristically issued a leadoff walk in the 11th that burned him, coming around to score with two outs for a blown save. But Chris Capuano followed Mujica’s inning with 2 2/3 innings in which he permitted just one single while striking out three to earn the victory. Burke Badenhop came on to retire the last batter of the game for the save.

– For the first time in 2014, the Red Sox received an extra-base hit from their first batter of the game, as Dustin Pedroia led off the game with a double. The double to left was of course doubly significant for Pedroia, given that it punctuated the idea that he can play through his left wrist inflammation while still being able to impact the ball. It was Pedroia’s fourth double of the year. He later collected an infield single and walked twice, his first free passes of the 2014 season.

– The Red Sox finally scored a first-inning run, becoming the last team in the majors to do so, when Xander Bogaerts‘ single scored Pedroia. It was the first RBI of the year for the Sox’ shortstop, who reached base five times, adding a pair of walks and a pair of hit by pitches to his hit. Bogaerts is now hitting .264 with a .391 OBP. Adding to the firsts, Bogaerts swiped his first base of the season.

– Clay Buchholz kept the White Sox off balance for most of the night, until shortstop Alexei Ramirez homered against him in the sixth (the only extra-base hit permitted by the Sox starter in the entire game). Though Buchholz needed 31 pitches to navigate through the elongated first inning, he managed to deliver six innings in which he permitted three runs (two earned) on six hits while walking two and striking out six. It was his second straight outing of six innings and two earned runs allowed.

However, he appeared to tire down the stretch. His fastball — which had reached as high as 93 mph in the first four innings — lost steam in his fifth and sixth frames, with Ramirez going deep on an 88 mph offering.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

– The usual: The Sox were 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position, a circumstance in which they are now hitting .184 this year. Even as the White Sox tried gamely to give the game away, walking 15 batters (including six combined in the eighth and ninth innings), the absence of hits left the Sox once again scratching their heads about missed opportunities.

– The impact of injuries on the Red Sox defense was underscored with an unearned run in the first inning. Daniel Nava — pressed into duty at first with Mike Napoli recovering from a dislocated finger — could not corral a pickoff attempt at first, permitting a runner to enter into scoring position. Then, after Buchholz induced a two-out grounder that should have ended the inning, third baseman Ryan Roberts — playing the position typically occupied by Will Middlebrooks — bounced the throw, and Nava couldn’t catch or block it, permitting an unearned run to cross the plate. While the error on the run-scoring play was rightly charged to Roberts, Nava’s inability to handle a bounced throw represented the second costly instance of that shortcoming in as many days, with Mike Carp having been unable to handle a game-ending throw from Xander Bogaerts. Napoli, in all likelihood, would have been able to block the throws, if not pick them to record the outs.

– The fifth through ninth spots in the Red Sox lineup combined to go 1-for-26.

Edward Mujica, given a save opportunity in the 11th inning (on his final day as fill-in closer with Koji Uehara working his way back from shoulder stiffness), could not secure the victory. He issued a leadoff walk — a rarity for a pitcher with one of the best strikeout-to-walk rates in baseball history — that came back to haunt him when a weakly hit grounder up the middle with two outs found an avenue to plate the game-tying run.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier
We discuss the Red Sox early season woes with manager John Farrell, as well as his views and faith in MLB's new instant replay system, and the continuity in the Sox outfield.

[0:00:36] ... still missing a couple with the flu bug. I'm including whether defenseman Kevin Millar and -- are cow ski hopefully they'll be back tomorrow is good news the good news you know start to Friday as ...
[0:02:14] ... I wonder why. Alex talked a manager of the Boston Red Sox John Farrell has brought to you by our belly insurance. Town fair tire and Mohegan Sun John joins us on the AT&T hotline hey ...
[0:02:45] ... -- ready yet afternoon here aren't. I joked earlier I think that Tony La Russa wants to I'd date you or at least adopt you. He's going honor are raving about your conversation that you came out of the conversation saying. I stand by what I said in New York just give us a sense of out of what you're thinking about the replay system and the parts of the conversation with Tony La Russa that you can share with us. You know what our I think first and foremost I have always been I'm in favor ...
[0:04:31] ... get -- somebody monitoring certain that cropped up would -- you welcome Mike Napoli situation last night with a dislocated finger. -- he -- today but fiscal coach not fracture I had no ligament issues so ...






With left-hander John Danks on the mound for the White Sox, the Red Sox send out a lineup with Dustin Pedroia hitting leadoff.

With left-hander John Danks on the mound for the White Sox, the Red Sox send out a lineup with Dustin Pedroia hitting leadoff. It’s Pedroia’s first start since Saturday (due to a sore left wrist), with the second baseman having pinch-run for Mike Napoli Tuesday night.

With Napoli out of the lineup, Daniel Nava gets the start at first base. Moving up in the order is shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who will hit second. The Red Sox have yet to score a first inning run this season.

Here is the Red Sox’ lineup:

Dustin Pedroia 2B

Xander Bogaerts SS

David Ortiz DH

Jonny Gomes RF

Grady Sizemore LF

A.J. Pierzynski C

Daniel Nava 1B

Ryan Roberts 3B

Jackie Bradley Jr. CF

Clay Buchholz P

For all the matchups, click here

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford