Cook has to 'pitch a little bit smarter'

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Cook has to 'pitch a little bit smarter'

BOSTON -- In Aaron Cooks first five starts this season, spanning 29 23 innings, he gave up just two home runs, one in his first start and one in his fourth start.Since then, though, he has given up six home runs, two in each of his last three starts, spanning just 15 innings. Wednesday night against the Tigers, Cook gave up back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning on consecutive pitches, a mammoth two-run shot to Miguel Cabrera over the left field wall and a solo home run to Prince Fielder to straightaway center.Cook took the loss as the Sox fell to the Tigers, 7-5, at Fenway Park.Ive been missing location with my pitches, he said. Unfortunately, I think Im on one of those streaks that Ive never had in my career where Ive given up multiple home runs in three games in a row now. So just those situations I might need to bear down a little harder and make sure that Im definitely down in the zone because if Im still down in the zone, theyre hitting balls on the ground. I think the outcome of the games totally different.Cook seemed to be handling the Tigers with relative ease early in the game. Through the first three innings, he gave up just two hits a first-inning Miguel Cabrera single, and a third-inning Ramon Santiago single.But Cook began to struggle in the fourth. He hit Quintin Berry with a pitch to open the inning. With Cabrera at bat, Cook picked Berry off first and then got Cabrera to fly out to Ryan Kalish in right field. But Prince Fielder doubled off the wall in left, scoring on Brennan Boeschs single to center.Cook unraveled in the fifth. He gave up consecutive singles to Alex Aviles and Jhonny Peralta to open the inning. Each moved up on Santiagos sacrifice bunt. Avila scored on Austin Jacksons single to left with Peralta scoring on Berrys groundout. Jackson moved up to third when Cook unleashed a wild pitch, but that quickly became moot when Cook hung a curveball to Cabrera who launched a titanic shot over the Green Monster, scoring Jackson, for his 26th home run of the season. On Cooks next pitch Fielder homered into the first row of seats in the center field bleachers.That ended Cooks outing.Well, Cookie got some ground balls and they got some men on base and then two outs, two strikes he thought he could bounce a curveball and he didnt bounce it, manager Bobby Valentine said. And the big boy deposited it. Just looking for that groundball at someone, just didnt happen that inning.Cabrera is 5-for-10 (.500) with five RBI, a double, and a home run in his career against Cook, including going 2-for-3 in this game.The biggest problem was hanging a breaking ball to one of the best hitters in the game, Cook said. He had a long at-bat and I tried to do something a little different. Hung a curveball and thats what hes supposed to do with that type of pitch. Other than that, I can live with the groundballs getting through and scoring runs here and there. But when Im making bad pitches to the best hitters in the game and just leaving them up, they did exactly what theyre supposed to do with those pitches.He left a curve ball up with two strikes to Cabrera and then the first pitch (to Fielder) was a curveball, said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. We didnt expect the guy to swing first-pitch curve ball after a home run.Cook went 4 23 innings, giving up six runs on nine hits with two home runs, a wild pitch, and a hit batter. He took the loss, dropping his record to 2-5 while his ERA rose from 4.50 to 5.24.For the third time this season, Cook did not record a walk or a strikeout. Although Cook is a groundball pitcher and pitches to contact, not recording a strikeout isnt necessarily a good thing.Five of the nine hits he allowed including the home runs came with two outs. Six of the nine hits the first four hits he gave up, Jacksons single in the fifth, and Cabreras home run -- came with two strikes on the batter. Not having a put-away pitch can be a detriment.We all wish that he had a pitch that with two strikes would be a swing-and-miss pitch, especially some of those guys he had two strikes and they just kept fouling them off, Valentine said. So, yeah, thats what you live with with a contact pitcher. He works quick and doesnt walk people. A lot of times those groundballs find holes.In his last three starts, Cook is 0-3 with a 9.00 ERA. Valentine was not ready to make any declarations on Cooks future in the rotation.Were dealing with the Josh Beckett situation right now with the rotation, Valentine said, of Becketts ailing back.But he is concerned. In Cooks last three starts, his longest outing was six innings against the Blue Jays on June 21. He hasnt been able to get through five innings in his last two starts. He gave up six earned runs in each of his last two games.The home runs are a concern. Length of game, Valentine said. That was a real tight rope walk with the bullpen there. Guys did a good job.For his part, Cook said he has not lost confidence.No, confidence-wise that doesnt really shake me, he said. I know what Im doing out there. I know what happened and why it happened. I still feel strong and still feel healthy. Its just a matter of in those certain situations not making those bad pitches and just bearing down because like I said I feel like Ive only been making three or four bad pitches a game but theyve been resulting in four, five runs on the other side. So, I just really got to make sure to bear down and pitch a little bit smarter.

Rodriguez to start Tuesday, Buchholz to bullpen

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Rodriguez to start Tuesday, Buchholz to bullpen

As expected, Eduardo Rodriguez will start for the Red Sox on Tuesday in Baltimore and Clay Buchholz will go to the bullpen, manager John Farrell told reporters in Toronto.

The move became apparent after Buchholz (2-5, 6.35 ERA) struggled again Thursday night, allowing three two-run home runs in an 8-2 loss to the Rockies.

Rodriguez, who hurt his knee in spring training, has yet to pitch for the Red Sox this season. The left-hander, who was 10-6 with a 3.85 ERA as a rookie last season,  made three rehab starts at Triple-A Pawtucket. 

"The bottom line is the results, and there's been a strong precedent set with that," Farrell said of Buchholz in annoucning the move. 

Friday’s lineups: Red Sox vs. Blue Jays - Ortiz and Bautista out

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Friday’s lineups: Red Sox vs. Blue Jays - Ortiz and Bautista out

David Ortiz is out of the starting lineup and Jose Bautista sits for the Blue Jays as the Red Sox open a three-game series tonight in Toronto.

It’s a night off for Ortiz, while Bautista is serving his one-game suspension for his fight with the Texas Rangers' Roughned Odor earlier this month.

Hanley Ramirez moves to DH for the Red Sox, with Travis Shaw playing first base and Marco Hernandez filling in at third against Blue Jays right-hander Aaron Sanchez (4-1, 3.20 ERA). Joe Kelly (2-0, 5.28) makes his second start since coming off the disabled list for the Red Sox. He pitched 6 2/3 no-hit innings Saturday in his return, a 9-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians.

The lineups:

RED SOX
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
Travis Shaw 1B
Hanley Ramirez DH
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Marco Hernandez 3B
Christian Vazquez C
Blake Swihart LF

Joe Kelly RHP

BLUE JAYS
Ezequiel Carrera RF
Josh Donaldson 2B
Edwin Encaracion DH 
Michael Saunders LF
Troy Tulowitzki SS
Justin Smoak 1B
Russell Martin C
Devon Travis 2B
Kevin Pillar CF

Aaron Sanchez RHP 

McAdam: Sure, take Buchholz out of the rotation, then what?

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McAdam: Sure, take Buchholz out of the rotation, then what?

It's easy -- obvious, even -- that Clay Buchholz should be immediately replaced in the Red Sox rotation.
     
What's more, it's apparent who should replace him. Eduardo Rodriguez, though his velocity remains mysteriously subpar, is otherwise healthy and available.
     
Even with the acknowledgement that Rodriguez's fastball isn't as lively as the Red Sox would prefer it to be, he remains a logical option.
     
And there can be little debate over the move to extract Buchholz from the rotation. In 10 starts, he's compiled a 6.35 ERA, and while pitcher’s won-loss records are notoriously misleading, this stat isn't: the Red Sox are 3-7 with Buchholz starting and 26-11 with everyone else.
     
Buchholz's confidence is shattered. You can see it in his body language on the mound. You can sense it with the glacial-like pace in which he works
with runners on base. You can observe it in his postgame remarks, where he looks and sounds like someone with no idea how to reverse his slide.
     
Case closed.
     
But the next part of the equation is a little trickier: what do the Red Sox do with him now?
     
It's highly unlikely that the Sox will just release him. For one thing, there's more than $8 million coming to him for the remainder of the season and those decisions aren't made lightly.
     
For another, it's possible -- hard as it might be to imagine now -- that Buchholz could help the 2016 Red Sox before the season is through. And if you think that's a ridiculous notion, then you've forgotten other similar stretches in his career.
     
In 2014, when Buchholz had what was, until then, the worst season of his career, he still managed to put together a seven-start stretch at the end of the season that saw him go 4-3 with a 3.18 ERA.
     
Or the 13-game stretch inside the otherwise hideous 2012 (season ERA: 4.56) in which Buchholz was 6-2 with a 2.53 ERA.
     
Those two stretches are at the heart of the paradox that is Buchholz - even in the course of miserable seasons, he invariably finds a stretch where he figures some things out and pitches brilliantly for a time.
     
It's one reason the Red Sox have stuck with him for the first two months -- the knowledge that, at any time, something may click, sending Buchholz on one of his patented rolls.
     
After all, Buchholz is just 31, too young to be finished. And as both the pitcher himself and manager John Farrell said Thursday night, in the wake of another poor outing, health isn't an issue.
     
And that's the rub here.
     
If Buchholz hadn't been given a public clean bill of health, the Red Sox could have discovered a heretofore undetected "general soreness'' somewhere on Buchholz's body -- a balky shoulder here, or a tender elbow there.
     
That would have bought Buchholz and the Red Sox some time to place him on the DL, take a mental break from the mound and work on making some adjustment away from prying eyes.
     
Now, that would seem not to be an option -- unless Buchholz, ahem, stubbed a toe getting on or off the Red Sox charter flight to Toronto early Friday morning.
     
Finally, Buchholz is long out of options and has sufficient service time to refuse an assignment to the minor leagues.
     
So what's left? Not much, beyond a trip to the bullpen. And that's where things get complicated.
     
In a 10-year major league career, Buchholz has made exactly two (2) appearances in relief, the most recent of which took place in 2008.
Given that Buchholz has struggled mightily early in games -- until Thursday's start, when he completely flipped the script and retired the first nine hitters he faced, Buchholz had allowed a batting average of  .366 the first time through the order -- it's difficult to imagine him being successful in relief.
     
Sure, the Red Sox could designated him as their mop-up man in  relief, brought in when the team has fallen behind early or jumped out to a huge lead in the middle innings.
     
But such scenarios can't be counted upon to provide Buchholz with enough regular opportunities, and even  if they did present themselves, there's no guarantee that Buchholz would thrive under such circumstances.
     
So, the club appears at a dead end -- unwilling to release Buchholz because of meager starting depth options and the likelihood that he might be needed in a few weeks or months, and unable to find a spot for him to get straightened out.
     
It's the ultimate conundrum, which, when you think about it, is the perfect way to view Buchholz's career.