MINNEAPOLIS — Unfortunately for the Red Sox, it seemed like old times.

Joe Kelly turned in his worst start of the season Monday. (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Joe Kelly turned in his worst start of the season Monday. (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

MINNEAPOLIS — Unfortunately for the Red Sox, it seemed like old times.

After a run of solid starting pitching, and two straight wins, the Sox fell into some old habits with starter Joe Kelly lasting just 1 2/3 innings, giving up seven runs. It put John Farrell‘s team in a hole they couldn’t dig out from, losing its series opener against the Twins, 7-2, Monday afternoon at Target Field.

Kelly, whose ERA jumped to 6.24, has now given up five or more runs five times in his nine starts this season.

The Red Sox hurler allowed one run in the first before giving way to Matt Barnes after surrendering six in the second.

Meanwhile, Twins starter Ricky Nolasco was able to settle down against Red Sox hitters. The righty, who came into the game with a 6.00 ERA, surrendered just two runs while not walking a batter over 7 2/3 innings.

Nolasco retired 16 straight before Mookie Betts’ two-out double in the eighth inning, the last batter the starter faced.

The only Red Sox runs came in the third inning thanks to an RBI ground out from David Ortiz and RBI single by Hanley Ramirez. It was Ramirez’s first RBI since April 29.

The one positive for the Red Sox was the work of their bullpen after Kelly’s exit, with Barnes (3.1 IP, 5 H), Craig Breslow, Tommy Layne and Heath Hembree not allowing any further runs.

For a complete box score, click here.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

MINNEAPOLIS — With another major league pitcher getting suspended for the use of a foreign substance — Baltimore’s Brian Matusz, who is appealing his eight-game ban R

Brian Matusz, here being ejected from Saturday's game against the Marlins for having a foreign substance on his arm, is appealing is eight-game suspension. (Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

Brian Matusz, here being ejected from Saturday’s game against the Marlins for having a foreign substance on his arm, is appealing is eight-game suspension. (Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

MINNEAPOLIS — With another major league pitcher getting suspended for the use of a foreign substance — Baltimore’s Brian Matusz, who is appealing his eight-game ban Red Sox manager John Farrell suggested there should be another look at the rules of baseball.

Talking to the media prior to his team’s series opener against the Twins at Target Field on Monday, Farrell said MLB might want to look for a new substance that helps the pitcher with his grip on the baseball that is considered legal.

“I would like to see an approved substance that pitchers can use,” Farrell said. “Because when we take a manufactured baseball and rub it with dirt, it’s going to create a slippery feeling to it. The mud residue leaves a film on it that you don’t necessarily feel a good, consistent grip. Unless you go to a ball like the one used in Japan where it’s got a tacky feel to it. But I’d like to see something that’s approved that everyone can use. I think if you poll any hitter, the hitter wants to know that the ball’s got a grip. The ball’s not going to get away from [the pitcher].”

Matusz, who was ejected from Saturday’s game against the Marlins for having a substance on his right arm, is the second MLB pitcher in a week to be disciplined for using an illegal substance on the baseball. The BravesWill Smith also was suspended eight games for using what he said was a combination of rosin and sunscreen — also on his right arm.

“I think any time the game loses players for eight to 10 games, I think it makes us as an industry look within,” Farrell said. “If a number of pitchers are putting themselves at risk and the belief is a widespread number of pitchers are using it, why would we not look to improve the game? Nobody wants to see pitchers sidelined.”

The Red Sox were involved in a similar controversy two years ago, when Clay Buchholz was accused by the Blue Jays radio broadcast crew of using a rosin-sunscreen mix to get a better grip. He was never penalized, and a number of people came to his defense, saying he was simply trying to get a better grip rather than get the ball to move unnaturally.

“I don’t think a grip gives you an ability to make the ball do different things,” Farrell said Monday. “You’re looking for feel in the hand and overall command. And a grip. I think if you even ask a hitter, they’re going to say that a substance makes a ball do different things. It’s not like scuffing it. Now, as long as it’s a tacky substance. Not Vaseline, where you’ve got spitter action.”

Farrell, who early last season alerted umpires that Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda was using a foreign substance, leading to Pineda’s ejection and a 10-game suspension, said MLB should consider following the lead of Japanese baseball, which he said uses balls that are easier to grip.

“I don’t know what they use. But when you take a ball out of there … plus they don’t rub the ball up with dirt. They’re rubbed up with a little bit of sand, if anything so it doesn’t leave a film on it,” he said. “The leather itself has got a tackiness to it that it is a distinctly different feel in the hand of a pitcher.”

Added Farrell: “The Japanese ball is completely different and I think pitchers would prefer to use a ball  that … they’re looking for some tackiness or some added grip. And the Japanese ball clearly provides that.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Dustin Pedroia will bat leadoff for the third straight day as the Red Sox open a three-game series against the Twins in Minneapolis with an af

Dustin Pedroia will bat leadoff for the third straight day as the Red Sox open a three-game series against the Twins in Minneapolis with an afternoon tilt. Pedroia is 2-for-6 with a walk in the past two games, both Red Sox wins. Mookie Betts will bat second for the Sox.

Here is the lineup that will face Twins righty Ricky Nolasco, as Joe Kelly starts for the Sox.

Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Mookie Betts, CF
David Ortiz, DHHanley Ramirez, LF
Pablo Sandoval, 3B
Mike Napoli, 1B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
Daniel Nava, RF
Blake Swihart, C

For the detailed pitching matchups, click here.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford
Live Blog Red Sox vs. Twins
 

Blog Author: 
WEEI

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

Brian Johnson

Brian Johnson

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (24-21): L, 5-4, at Louisville (Reds)

–€” Left-hander Brian Johnson took the loss for the PawSox in a seven-inning effort. He walked none and struck out seven but gave up four runs on eight hits, including a solo home run to Chris Dominguez. A first-round draft pick in 2012, Johnson is 5-3 with a 2.92 ERA in nine starts with Pawtucket.

— Travis Shaw played left field for just the second time in his career and recorded two outfield assists, including one on a putout at home. Shaw went 2-for-4 at the plate with a double and two runs scored.

— Allen Craig went 2-for-4 with an RBI, recording his fifth multi-hit game for Pawtucket. Luke Montz went 1-for-4 with a two-run home run in the ninth inning.

— Mike Miller notched his first Triple-A hit with a single to center in the eighth inning. He came around to score on Craig’€™s double. Miller finished the day 2-for-3 with a walk and one run scored.

— Pawtucket was without utility infielder Jeff Bianchi, who was called up to Boston after the Red Sox placed Shane Victorino on the 15-day DL. Bianchi was hitting .302 in 17 games in Triple-A this season.

Luis Diaz

Luis Diaz

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS (18-26): L, 3-2, vs. Reading (Phillies)

— Luis Diaz entered Sunday’€™s game with a 17-game winless streak dating back to last July, and the struggles continued for the 23-year-old righty. Diaz took the loss, allowing three runs on five hits with two walks and three strikeouts. Diaz, who has not won a game since July 5, 2014, is 0-4 with a 6.20 ERA in nine starts this season.

— Shortstop Marco Hernandez accounted for three of Portland’€™s seven hits Sunday, going 3-for-4 with a double and one RBI. Jantzen Witte, who played third base, went 2-for-3 with two doubles, a walk, and RBI and a run scored. Through 40 games, Witte is hitting .331 with 30 RBIs. He is tied for second in the Eastern League in RBIs and has the fourth-highest batting average.

— Outfielder Aneury Tavarez, who had been performing well at High-A Salem, was assigned to the Sea Dogs before the game. He had one at bat as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning and flied out to left.

Tzu-Wei Lin

Tzu-Wei Lin

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX (22-22): W, 2-0, vs. Winston-Salem (White Sox)

— Shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin drove in both Salem runs Sunday afternoon. The 22-year-old lefty tripled to right in the first inning to plate center fielder Cole Sturgeon, who led off the frame with a single. Lin collected his second RBI in the third on a sacrifice fly, as Jose Vinicio tagged and scored after doubling to right and advancing on a sacrifice bunt by Sturgeon. Lin, who hails from Taiwan, is hitting .268 with 13 RBIs in 34 games with Salem.

–€” Trey Ball earned the win, allowing five hits and three walks with two strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings. The 6-foot-6 southpaw, drafted seventh overall by the Red Sox in 2013, is 3-4 with a 4.75 ERA in eight starts with Salem this season.

€– Right-hander Chandler Shepherd pitched 3 2/3 innings of relief to record his first career save. The 22-year-old allowed one hit and no walks and struck out one. The former University of Kentucky star has a 2.79 ERA in 9 2/3 innings of work in three appearances with Salem.

Jamie Callahan

Jamie Callahan

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE (25-18): L, 3-2, vs. Charleston (Yankees)

–€” After entering the game in the seventh inning with a 2-1 lead, right-hander Jamie Callahan pitched two scoreless innings before unraveling in the ninth, allowing two runs on three walks and an throwing error. Callahan took the blown save and the loss, falling to 0-4 on the season with a 6.91 ERA.

–€” Dedgar Jimenez started for the Drive, scattering five hits through six innings and allowing one run. The 19-year-old lefty struck out six and walked two in the no-decision. In five starts with Greenville this season, Jimenez is 3-1 with a 2.77 ERA.

— Rafael Devers continued his hot streak at the plate, going 1-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. The 18-year-old Devers is hitting .328 and has hit safely in his last six games.

Blog Author: 
Emily McCarthy
After starting the season 1-6, the Twins have had plenty of reasons to celebrate, going 24-12, including Sunday's 8-2 victory over the White Sox. (Jon Durr/Getty Images)

After starting the season 1-6, the Twins have had plenty of reasons to celebrate as they’ve gone 24-12, including Sunday’s 8-2 victory over the White Sox that had (from left) Shane Robinson, Eddie Rosario and Aaron Hicks floating on air. (Jon Durr/Getty Images)

After taking two out of three from the Angels over the weekend, the Red Sox leave the friendly confines to begin a three-game set with the Twins on Monday in Minneapolis.

The Red Sox are 5-5 over their last 10 games, and they sit at 21-23 on the season, good for third place in the cluttered AL East. They are 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Rays.

On the other hand, the surprise Twins are 25-18 and reside in second place in the AL Central, behind the Royals. They are 7-3 in their last 10 and 24-12 since their 1-6 start to the campaign.

The Twins are coming off of a five-game stretch in which they swept a two-game series from the Pirates and took two out of three from the division rival White Sox. Against Chicago, the Twins offense proved itself, beating last year’s AL Cy Young candidate Chris Sale for the second time this season Saturday, this time 4-3.

“We’ve got a lot of confidence in here,” Twins starting pitcher Kyle Gibson said after the series-clinching 8-1 win Sunday. “We have been saying that even after the 1-6 start that we like our team and we like the leaders in here. And we fight. It’s what we do.”

With a largely young and unproven lineup, first-year manager and Hall of Famer Paul Molitor has molded the Twins into a potent run-scoring machine. Though they do not hit many home runs, they are the fifth-highest-scoring team in baseball this year, logging 4.58 runs per game. Meanwhile, the Red Sox score just 4.00 runs per game, the 21st-best mark in the majors.

The Twins pitching is not magnificent, however it is good enough to succeed alongside a competent offense. The Twins own an unspectacular 4.05 team ERA. And though much has been made about their inability to get strikeouts as they fan just 5.8 batters per nine, they hold an advantage in a far more important category, runners stranded, where they rank fifth in the majors with 309.

On offense, the Twins are paced by 19-year veteran Torii Hunter, who leads the team with 26 RBIs and a .281 average. Though their starting rotation does not hold any household names, the Twins have a quality bunch, led by Gibson, who has a 2.72 ERA.

Here are the pitching matchups for the series:

Joe Kelly (1-3, 5.13 ERA) vs. Ricky Nolasco (4-1, 6.00 ERA)
Clay Buchholz (2-5, 4.58 ERA) vs. Mike Pelfrey (3-1, 3.00 ERA)
Rick Porcello (4-3, 5.07 ERA) vs. Phil Hughes (3-4, 4.50 ERA)

WHO’S HOT: RED SOX

— Though first baseman Mike Napoli has struggled this season, he had an amazing series against his former team this weekend. Against the Angels, Napoli went 5-for-9 with four home runs, eight RBIs and three walks. These numbers produced a slash line of .556/.667/2.000.

— Shortstop Xander Bogaerts has continued his solid hitting, as he has slashed .440/.462/.640 over his last seven games. This stretch has included two doubles and a home run.

— With a 5.13 ERA on the campaign, Joe Kelly has certainly faced his share of roadblocks. However, he has turned it on during his last two starts, logging 13 1/3 innings pitched with a 2.03 ERA while allowing just two extra-base hits.

Brian Dozier

Brian Dozier

WHO’S HOT: TWINS

— Second baseman Brian Dozier made himself the Twins’ team leader in home runs Sunday when he clobbered two during the team’s 8-1 win.

— Former first-round pick Mike Pelfrey is coming off of one of the best starts of his season. Facing the Pirates on the road last Wednesday, Pelfrey hurled six innings of one-run ball to go along with five punchouts in the Twins’ 4-3 victory.

— Though often overlooked as the stopper at the back end of a solid bullpen, Twins closer Glen Perkins has been stellar of late. With a 1.33 ERA for the season, Perkins has picked it up even more in his last eight appearances, notching 10 strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings while allowing one earned run.

WHO’S NOT: RED SOX

— Slumping throughout the season, designated hitter David Ortiz had a regrettable five-game stretch through Sunday. During this span, he slashed a meager .105/.227/.158 with five strikeouts.

— When the Red Sox signed Rick Porcello to his four-year, $82.5 million deal, they were hoping for more than his atrocious start against the Angels last Friday. On this day, Porcello waded through 4 1/3 innings, giving up seven earned runs on seven hits and three walks en route to a 12-5 drubbing at Fenway.

— Unfortunately for the Red Sox, both of their catchers have hit slumps at the same time. Top prospect Blake Swihart and Sandy Leon are a combined 4-for-20 over their last seven games with four strikeouts and no extra-base hits.

Danny Santana

Danny Santana

WHO’S NOT: TWINS

— Though commonly known as a free swinger, second baseman Danny Santana has taken his hacking to a new level over the last week. During this stretch, he is 1-for 16 with five strikeouts and no walks. On the season, Santana has walked just twice in 157 plate appearances.

— Like his teammate Santana, outfielder Aaron Hicks has been prone to the punchout lately. In his last four contests, Hicks has whiffed five times in 17 plate appearances. He has slashed .118/.118/.118 during this span.

— Left-handed reliever Aaron Thompson has not pitched his best this month. In 11 May appearances, Thompson has given up 12 hits and five earned runs.

Blog Author: 
Justin Pallenik
Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly

Coming off a series win at home against the Angels, the Red Sox start a weeklong road trip with a three-game set against the Twins on Monday. The Sox finally got a much-needed jolt from their offense in the final two games of the Angels series, and will look to continue the trend in Minnesota as they send Joe Kelly to the hill to go up against Ricky Nolasco.

Kelly enters his ninth start of the season with a 1-3 record and 5.13 ERA. The right-hander has had some tough-luck losses, and has pitched better, especially lately, than his record and ERA indicate. His FIP (a fielding-independent stat measured on the same scale as ERA) is a more reasonable 4.23.

Kelly, 26, has not recorded a win since his first outing of the season April 11, but his last two starts were good enough to merit victories had he gotten more help from his offense.

Kelly went seven strong innings in his last start and allowed just two runs on seven hits while striking out seven. However, he got just one run of support and took the 2-1 loss at the hands of the Rangers.

“After the third inning, he settled in. He used his curveball a little bit more,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said following Kelly’s outing Wednesday. “He started to elevate his fastball for some strikeouts. And on a night when he wasn’t completely healthy in terms of an illness he was dealing with, he threw the ball exceptionally well. He takes the one-hopper off the hand that really, after the initial sting went away, didn’t affect the way he threw the baseball. He got a couple of big strikeouts with men in scoring position. A well-pitched game.”

In his last two starts combined, Kelly has allowed just three runs in 13 1/3 innings and yet has ended up winless, recording a no-decision to go along with his loss to the Rangers.

Ricky Nolasco

Ricky Nolasco

Nolasco gets the call opposite Kelly, coming into Monday’s contest with an impressive 4-1 record to go along with a less-impressive 6.00 ERA. The 32-year-old right-hander has made only five starts this season as a result of an almost month-long stint on the disabled list.

Nolasco has won each of his four starts since returning from the DL on May 2. In his last appearance, Tuesday in Pittsburgh, Nolasco threw 5 2/3 innings, allowing four runs, three of them earned. He conceded 10 hits while striking out eight in an 8-5 Twins victory.

“I felt good getting back to that feeling where I can strike guys out when I want to,” Nolasco said following Tuesday’s win. “It’s nice getting all those runs with us having good at-bats. All I was trying to do was get us back to the dugout as quick as possible.”

In the four starts since his return, Nolasco has a more reasonable 4.29 ERA, while throwing 21 combined innings and giving up 10 earned runs.

Red Sox vs. Nolasco (RHP)

Shane Victorino (46 plate appearances): .163 AVG/.200 OBP/.256 SLG, 2 doubles, 1 triple, 1 RBI, 10 strikeouts

Pablo Sandoval (23): .476/.522/1.095, 3 home runs, 4 doubles, 7 RBIs

David Ortiz (13): .400/.462/1.300, 3 home runs, 5 RBIs

Dustin Pedroia (11): .182/.182/.182, 1 strikeout

Daniel Nava (6): .400/.500/.400

Mike Napoli is 0-for-3 with a strikeout against Nolasco.

Hanley Ramirez is 1-for-3 against Nolasco.

Xander Bogaerts is 1-for-2 with a triple against Nolasco.

Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo, Brock Holt, Sandy Leon and Blake Swihart have not faced Nolasco.

Twins vs. Kelly (RHP)

Shane Robinson is 0-for-1 against Kelly.

Kurt Suzuki is 0-for-1 in his career against Kelly.

No other Twins have faced Kelly.

Blog Author: 
Josh Slavin