J.D. Martinez Batting Cleanup, Starting in Right Field for Red Sox in Players’ Weekend Opener Against Padres

After walking off the Kansas City Royals on Thursday, the Red Sox open up an eight-game, three-city west coast trip on Friday night, beginning with the first of three against the 59-67 San Diego Padres at Petco Park.

So far this season, the Sox are an underwhelming 3-7 in interleague play, with two of those losses coming this past week at the hands of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Since these three games will be played at a National League ballpark, Boston loses the designated hitter, meaning J.D. Martinez will slide over to right field and bat out of the cleanup spot for the series opener against the Pads on Friday.

In 17 games as a right fielder so far this year, the recently turned 32-year-old slugger is slashing .319/.397/.638 with six home runs and 12 RBI over 78 plate appearances.

With that move to the outfield for Martinez, Mookie Betts slides over to center and Andrew Benintendi remains in left, while Jackie Bradley Jr. gets the night off.

As the above tweet indicates, Friday is also the opening night of Players’ Weekend 2019, a weekend where the Red Sox have yet to win a single game since its inception in 2017.

Yup, they were swept by the Baltimore Orioles at home in 2017, and swept on the road by the Tampa Bay Rays last year, which marked the only time they were swept over the course of a dominant 2018 campaign.

The Red Sox are 4-2 all-time against the Padres at Petco Park, winning series’ there in both 2007 and 2016.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 10:10 PM EDT on NESN. Eduardo Rodriguez going against Chris Paddack.

Also, here are some of the cleats different Red Sox will be sporting this weekend.

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Brock Holt Comes Through in Clutch with 10th Inning Walk-Off Single as Red Sox Top Royals in Game That Started and Was Suspended on August 7th

It took all of 12 minutes, but the Red Sox picked up where they left off two weeks ago and walked off the Kansas City Royals in a 5-4 extra-innings win on Thursday afternoon.

In a game that initially began on August 7th and went into extras knotted at four runs apiece, weather delayed and eventually suspended play at around 12:40 AM the next morning.

Left-hander Josh Taylor was on the mound for Boston at that time of the delay, down in a 2-1 count against Royals catcher Meibrys Viloria.

Fast forward to Thursday, and Taylor began things the same way, except against the pinch-hitting Nick Dini for Kansas City.

The 26-year-old got the first out of the 10th on a first-pitch lineout off the bat of Dini before punching out the next hitter he faced and getting the last, Bubba Starling, taking the place of current Atlanta Brave Billy Hamilton, on a grounder to short to retire the side.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 13 (seven strikes), Taylor topped out at 94.7 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw five times while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Eventually earning his first career winning decision this one, Taylor has proven to be quite the asset out of the Red Sox bullpen this season. In his last 15 appearances, he owns an ERA of 1.76 to go along with 20 strikeouts over 15 1/3 innings of work.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Royals left-handed reliever Richard Lovelady to kick off the bottom half of the 10th.

An Andrew Benintendi strikeout and Christian Vazquez first-pitch double, followed by a change that saw Chris Owings take over for Vazquez at second, brought the pinch-hitting Sam Travis to the plate, who was intentionally put on first with Brock Holt due to hit for Boston.

Holt made the Royals pay dearly for that decision though, as the Jimmy Fund captain took the third pitch he saw from Lovelady, a 1-1, 88 MPH slider on the outer half of the plate, and laced a game-winning RBI single down the left field line to drive in Owings and send everyone home happy with a 5-4 victory.

Some notes from this win:

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

It took more than two weeks, but the Red Sox were at last able to take the three-game set from the Royals to improve to 68-61 on the year.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s another three-city west coast road trip, beginning with a three-game series against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park on Friday.

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez is set to get the ball in the opener for Boston, while rookie right-hander Chris Paddack will do the same for San Diego.

Rodriguez was borderline brilliant in his last time out against the Baltimore Orioles, tossing 7 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball in a shutout win.

In his career in interleague play, the 26-year-old owns a lifetime 3.61 ERA and .257 batting average against over 13 starts and 77 1/3 innings pitched. He is also a lifetime 0-for-13 hitter with one seven strikeouts and one sacrifice bunt.

Paddack, meanwhile, has had an impressive rookie campaign overall, but has struggled a bit since the All-Star break, posting a 4.96 ERA and .223 batting average against over his last six starts and 32 2/3 innings of work.

Against American League clubs this season, the 23-year-old is 2-1 with a 2.60 ERA in three starts and 17 1/3 total innings pitched against the Seattle Mariners, New York Yankees, and Baltimore Orioles.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 10:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to snap a two-game losing streak, technically.

Red Sox Falter Late, Get Swept by Phillies in Frustrating 5-2 Loss

After seeing their five-game winning streak come to an end following a 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday, the Red Sox were unable to avoid the quick two-game sweep on Wednesday, as they fell to the Phils by a final score of 5-2, marking their second consecutive loss, to drop back down to 67-61 on the season.

Making his 26th start of the season for Boston and second of the interleague variety was Rick Porcello, who came into the week having allowed exactly one run in two of his last three outings going back to the beginning of August.

Tossing five full innings this time around, the right-hander yielded three runs, all of which were earned, on three hits and four walks to go along with three strikeouts on the night.

All three of those Philadelphia runs came across to score in the top half of the fifth, when after retiring 12 of the first 16 hitters he faced, Porcello served up a leadoff double to Cesar Hernandez to begin the inning.

With Adam Haseley at the plate, a wild pitch from Porcello on the fifth pitch of the at-bat allowed Hernandez to advance up to third, and a missed catch error on the part of Rafael Devers trying to receive a throw from Christian Vazquez allowed the runner to score his side’s first run.

Haseley wound up drawing an eight-pitch walk, which set up Bryce Harper two batters later with a runner at first.

On the fourth pitch he saw from the New Jersey native, Harper unloaded on a 1-2, 87 MPH slider down the heart of the plate and sent it 377 feet over the Green Monster for his second career Fenway Park home run and first career hit off of Porcello in 10 tries.

That go-ahead two-run blast put the Phillies up 3-2, and Porcello’s evening would quickly come to a close after he managed to get the final two outs of the fifth in order.

Finishing with a final pitch count of exactly 100 (65 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball 47% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing two swings and misses and topping out at 92.2 MPH with the pitch while Vazquez was behind the plate.

Ultimately falling to 11-10 while keeping his ERA on the season at 5.49, Porcello’s next start should come against the Colorado Rockies next week.

In relief of Porcello, Ryan Braiser got the first call out of the Boston bullpen for the top half of the sixth, and he worked his way around a leadoff single and two-out walk in a scoreless frame.

From there, Andrew Cashner allowed his first run in his fourth appearance with the Sox as a reliever on a two-out, RBI triple from Corey Dickerson in the seventh, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez walked one and punched out two in a scoreless eighth, and Brandon Workman allowed his side’s deficit to increase to three on a two-out, RBI single off the bat of Dickerson in the ninth.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Phillies left-hander Drew Smyly, someone who joined the Philadelphia pitching staff in July after spending time with both the Texas Rangers and, to a lesser extent, the Milwaukee Brewers this season.

Kicking off the scoring right away in the bottom of the first, back-to-back doubles from Mookie Betts and Rafael Devers got the Sox on the board before an out had even been recorded.

An inning later, a red-hot Jackie Bradley Jr. came through with two outs and the bases empty, as he took Smyly deep to right off a 2-2, 87 MPH cutter on the outer half of the plate for his 16th big fly of the season and fourth in his last seven games.

In the fourth, a leadoff double from Andrew Benintendi and infield single from Sam Travis put runners at first and second with no outs for the bottom half of the lineup.

Vazquez responded well enough by advancing both runners 90 feet on a successful sacrifice bunt and Marco Hernandez drew a walk on five pitches, bringing Bradley Jr. to the plate with one out and the bases full.

All Bradley Jr. could do in this trip to the plate against Smyly was fan on four pitches, which led to a Phillies pitching change with the Red Sox’ lineup turning over.

Facing off against right-hander Jared Hughes for the first time in his career, Betts got ahead in the count at 2-0, but was unable to deliver, as he grounded out to third to extinguish the threat.

Fast forward all the way to the eighth, with left-hander Jose Alvarez in for Philadelphia and runners at second and third for Boston following a two-out double from Vazquez, Sox manager Alex Cora decided to go to his bench with his team only trailing by two runs.

So, in came the right-handed hitting Chris Owings in the place of the left-handed hitting Hernandez.

Owings, in just his 13th plate appearance with the Red Sox, fouled off the first pitch he saw from Alvarez before taking the second for a called strike. A third-pitch ball didn’t change much, as Owings whiffed on a 1-2, 84 MPH changeup on the outer half of the plate for the final out of the inning.

And in the ninth, Bradley Jr., Betts, and Devers, went down quietly against Phillies closer Hector Neris to put the finishing touches on a 5-2 defeat.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox went 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position on Wednesday. They left nine men on base as a team.

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Jackie Bradley Jr.’s last seven games: .320/.333/.880 with four homers and six RBI.

With the Tampa Bay Rays topping the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday, the Red Sox now stand seven games off the pace for the second American League Wild Card spot.

What was once a five-game winning streak has now turned into a two-game skid. That’s pretty much been the story for the 2019 Boston Red Sox.

Next up for the Sox, they’ll pick up where things left off against the Kansas City Royals back on August 7th, as the two sides will resume things in the top half of the 10th inning of a 4-4 contest on Thursday afternoon.

Royals catcher Meibrys Viloria was at the plate ahead in a 2-1 count against left-hander Josh Taylor, who, according to Speier, does not need to “start” the resumed game.

“First pitch” Thursday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going a unique and unusual win.

Red Sox’ Seventh-Ranked Prospect Jay Groome Punches out Two in 2019 Gulf Coast League Debut

Red Sox left-handed pitching prospect Jay Groome tossed a scoreless first inning for the Gulf Coast League Red Sox on Wednesday in what was his first professional appearance in nearly two years.

Facing off against the Atlanta Braves’ GCL team in North Port, Fla. earlier Wednesday morning, the soon to be 21-year-old hurler needed only eight pitches, all of which were strikes, to punch out two and yield one hit in a nearly-perfect frame of work.

Selected by Boston with the 12th overall pick in the 2016 amateur draft out of Barnegat High School in New Jersey, Groome had been out since the 2017 campaign, where he injured his throwing elbow late into the year and eventually underwent successful Tommy John surgery in May of 2018.

Before all that went down, Groome posted a 2.70 ERA and .125 batting average against over his first three professional starts and 6 2/3 innings pitched between the GCL Red Sox and short-season Lowell Spinners in 2016.

In 2017, the New Jersey native showed some signs of struggle, pitching to the tune of a 5.69 ERA and .234 batting average against through 14 starts and 55 1/3 total innings of work between Lowell and Class-A Greenville before being sidelined.

Per his MiLB.com page, Groome is on a rehab assignment with the GCL Sox, and given how the minor league season wraps up in under two weeks, it’s hard to imagine the lefty pitching anywhere else this year.

Despite all the time he has missed, Groome is still ranked as the No. 7 prospect in the Red Sox’ farm system, according to MLB Pipeline.

 

 

Red Sox Go 0-For-7 with Runners in Scoring Position, Struggle Against Aaron Nola in 3-2 Loss to Phillies

After sweeping the Baltimore Orioles over the weekend and an off day on Monday, the Red Sox saw their five-game winning streak come to an end on Tuesday, as they opened up a two-game, interleague series against the Philadelphia Phillies with a 3-2 loss to fall back down to 67-60 on the season.

Making his sixth start of the season for Boston and 11th overall appearance was Brian Johnson, taking the spot of the now-shelved Chris Sale, who appears to be out for the remainder of 2019.

Working into fourth inning of this one, the left-hander yielded three runs, all of which were earned, on six hits and two walks to go along with four strikeouts on the night.

All three of those Philadelphia tallies were plated right away in the top half of the first, beginning with a one-out, two-run double off the bat of Jean Segura that drove in Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper from second and third.

Two batters later, Johnson was just one strike away from getting out of the first with just the two runs, as he had Scott Kingery in an 0-2 count on the first two pitches of the at-bat.

Instead of escaping though, the Florida native persisted with three straight balls before hanging a 74 MPH curveball over the heart of the plate, one in which Kingery roped down the left field line to drive in Segura and make it a 3-0 contest.

Another single from Cesar Hernandez put a runner in scoring position for Philadelphia once more, but Johnson did not falter this time around, as he got Adam Haseley to fly out to center to put an end to the first.

That flyout began a run for Johnson in which he retired eight of the last 11 Phillies he faced with the help of a successful inning-ending pickoff attempt on the part of Mitch Moreland to snuff out Kingery in the third.

In the fourth, with one out and Hasely at second following a wild pitch, Johnson managed to punch out Andrew Knapp on five pitches, and that would be how his evening came to a close as Sox manager Alex Cora turned to his bullpen with the Phillies lineup turning over.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 67 (42 strikes), the 28-year-old relied on his curveball more than 40% of the time he was on the mound Tuesday, inducing three swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 90 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 19 times while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Ultimately hit with his second losing decision while inflating his ERA on the year up to 6.58, Johnson’s next start should come against the Colorado Rockies next week.

In relief of Johnson, Marcus Walden entered with an inherited runner on second and one out to get in the top of the fourth, and he got that out by fanning J.T. Realmuto on three straight strikes after giving up an infield single to Hoskins.

Walden also worked a 1-2-3 fifth before making way for left-hander Josh Taylor in the sixth, who also tossed a perfect inning of relief.

From there, Ryan Brasier struck out one in a scoreless seventh, Darwinzon Hernandez did the same in the eighth, and Matt Barnes worked his way around two straight hitters reaching base with two outs in a shutout top of the ninth.

All in all, Red Sox relievers sat down 16 of the 19 Phillies they collectively faced from the fourth until the middle of the ninth to keep the deficit at one run. Too bad it went in vain.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Phillies ace right-hander Aaron Nola, whose only other appearance at Fenway Park before Tuesday was an eight-inning gem back on July 30th of last season.

Down by three runs before they even had the chance to take their first at-bats, Mitch Moreland got things started against Nola beginning in the third inning with a leadoff single.

A Brock Holt flyout brought Jackie Bradley Jr. to the plate with one out in the frame, and he came through by unloading on a first-pitch, 93 MPH heater on the inner half of the plate from Nola and depositing it 402 feet into the Red Sox bullpen.

Per Statcast, Bradley Jr.’s 15th home run of this season and third in his last six games had an exit velocity of 108.4 MPH, the hardest hit ball from either side all night.

That two-run blast cut Boston’s lead down to just one, and it certainly seemed as though they had Nola on the ropes on multiple occasions from there.

Like in the bottom of the fifth, when Christian Vazquez led off with a line-drive double. Moreland, Brock Holt, and Bradley Jr. all had their chances to drive the runner in, but neither of the three could deliver.

An inning later, Mookie Betts singled and stole second to lead off the sixth, setting up the Red Sox’ 2-3-4 hitters in a prime run-scoring spot. Again, none of Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, nor J.D. Martinez answered with what would have been a game-tying knock.

Fast forward to the eighth, with Nola out and left-hander Jose Alvarez in for Philadelphia, and Bradley Jr. again reached base on one-out single, turning the lineup over against new reliever Mike Morin.

Betts looked helpless as he fanned on three straight hittable strikes, and Devers didn’t fare much better with an inning-ending lineout to center.

And in the ninth, all frustration boiled over as Xander Bogaerts laced a leadoff double off of Phillies closer Hector Neris.

Things were looking promising for Boston yet again, but on the very next pitch thrown by Neris, Martinez lined a grounder to Segura at short, prompting Bogaerts to try and advance to third despite the play being right in front of him.

Segura took advantage of this, as he snubbed out his positional counterpoint with a quick toss over to Kingery at third.

Bogaerts was out by a decent amount, and just like that, the Sox were down to their final two outs with a runner at first instead of at second.

Chris Owings came on to run for Martinez at first, but that did not make much of a difference, as Benintendi lined out to Segura in the shift more towards second, and he was able to double up Owings at first to end the ballgame with 3-2 being Tuesday’s final score.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position on Tuesday. They left three men on base as a team.

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Jackie Bradley Jr.’s last seven games: .292/.333/.750 with three homers and six RBI.

With the Tampa Bay Rays falling to the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday, the Red Sox still remain six games off the pace for the second American League East.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the second and final game of this two-game series, with right-hander Rick Porcello getting the start for Boston and left-hander Drew Smyly doing the same for Philadelphia. The two were part of the same starting rotation for the Detroit Tigers from 2012 until 2014.

Since the calendar flipped to August, Porcello has been, for the most part, solid, posting a 3.71 ERA and .206 batting average against over his last three starts and 17 innings pitched.

In his career in interleague play, the 30-year-old owns a lifetime 4.29 ERA and .277 batting average against over 42 total outings (40 starts) and 241 1/3 innings of work. He will not get to bat this time out.

Smyly, meanwhile, has surrendered 17 runs (15 earned) on 26 hits in five starts and 28 2/3 innings pitched since joining the Phillies on July 21st.

When pitching at Fenway Park over the course of his career, the 30-year-old is 1-1 with a 2.87 ERA and .198 batting average against over five prior starts that amount to 31 1/3 innings of work.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to rebound and start a new winning streak.

 

 

 

 

Red Sox Recall Josh Smith from Triple-A Pawtucket, Option Travis Lakins in Corresponding Move

Before kicking off a two-game interleague series against the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday, the Red Sox announced that right-hander Josh Smith had been recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket.

In a corresponding move, right-hander Travis Lakins was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket. The club made the transaction official earlier Tuesday.

Smith will be making sixth stint with Boston this season and first since being optioned down to Pawtucket on August 4th.

In his most recent stretch with the PawSox, the 32-year-old allowed eight earned runs on 15 hits over two starts and nine innings pitched.

With the Sox this year, Smith has been used as both a starter and reliever, posting a 4.84 ERA and .283 batting average against through 11 appearances (two starts) and 22 1/3 total innings of work.

Per MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, the Red Sox’ Smith is up to provide some length out of the bullpen in the event that Tuesday’s starter Brian Johnson does not pitch deep into the game.

On the other side of this move, Travis Lakins was sent back down to Pawtucket eight days after being recalled for his fourth big league stint of 2019.

In those eight days with Boston, the 25-year-old yielded one unearned run in two relief appearances and four total innings pitched against the Baltimore Orioles this past weekend.

On the 2019 season as a whole, Lakins owns an ERA of 4.05 and batting average against of 2.45 through nine appearances and 13 1/3 innings with the Red Sox.

 

Red Sox’ Chris Sale Receives PRP Injection, Will Be Re-Evaluated in Six Weeks

After it was revealed that left-hander Chris Sale would not need Tommy John Surgery, the Red Sox announced that the 30-year-old received a platelet-rich plasma injection during his visit with Dr. James Andrews on Monday.

Dr. Andrews confirmed that Sale did indeed have inflammation in his throwing elbow prior to the injection, and recommended a shutdown period of six weeks before being re-evaluated once more.

Here’s the official statement from Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.

As you may have already figured out, six weeks from now is September 30th, meaning that Sale’s 2019 season is likely over. Dombrowski confirmed that himself, per MLB.com’s Ian Browne.

If that is indeed the case, the Florida native’s third year with Boston was rather underwhelming.

In 25 starts, Sale posted a 4.40 ERA and .221 batting average against over 147 1/3 innings pitched, presumably ending his run of seven straight seasons finishing in the top seven for American League Cy Young Award voting. The Red Sox went 10-15 in those games.

As mentioned earlier, Sale will be re-evaluated by Dr. Andrews in late September. For now, the Red Sox need to find someone to take their ace’s spot in the starting rotation.