Cook struggles with Red Sox while Matsuzaka rolls in Pawtucket

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Cook struggles with Red Sox while Matsuzaka rolls in Pawtucket

BOSTON Whats next for Aaron Cook?

The right-hander took the lost Tuesday, as the Red Sox fell to the Angels, 5-3, in first game of the three-game series at Fenway Park. Cook went five innings, giving up five runs (four earned) on a season-high 11 hits, including a two-run home run, and a walk, with a season-high four-strikeouts. His record fell to 3-7 while his ERA rose to 4.79.

His sinker appeared to be working early, as Cook induced four groundball outs in the first two innings. But the Angels soon got to Cook.

The Angels got a run in the third when Mike Trout hit a one-out single to center, taking second on right-hander Cooks errant pick-off attempt. With two outs, Trout scored on Albert Pujols single to center.

In the fourth, the Angels sent seven batters to the plate with five reaching base on consecutive hits, all singles. After Mike Trumbo struck out to open the inning, Howie Kendrick singled to right and Alberto Callaspo singled to left. Kendrick scored on Erick Aybars single to right, with Aybar thrown out trying to stretch a double. Chris Iannettas single to shortstop scored Callaspo. Trout singled before Hunter hit into a fielders choice.

The Angels added two runs in the fifth when Trumbos 30th home run of the season cleared the left field wall, scoring Kendrys Morales who had singled to center.

Cook threw 85 pitches, 55 for strikes.

Cookie had his groundball going again, Valentine said. We were hoping for one more there, instead it turned into a two-run homer. He had about, I dont know, counting the outs and the hits, probably 20 groundballs. Had his sinker working. It just wasnt placed well early in the game and the two-run homer kind of did him in.

I felt really good, said Cook. I felt like I was making pitches. They were just finding holes with those singles. Being a sinkerball pitcher, you kind of live off whether or not they hit the hole or hit it at your infielders. And they were able to string together a few of those in the holes. And then I left one pitch up on a 3-2 count to Trumbo and he hit it about as hard as you can hit a baseball.

They got a really tough lineup. The thing that I think we try to do is not worry about the whole lineup at one time, realizing that youre only going to face on person at a time and you got to attack that person, do everything you can to get them out and then worry about the next guy. Tonight I wish it would have turned out different but again I felt like I was making pitches and they were just finding some holes.

Cook was likely the closest pitcher on the Red Sox staff to Bob McClure, who was fired Monday. The two go back to their time together with the Rockies, who drafted Cook in the second round in 1997.

It was difficult, Cook said of McClures dismissal. Hes a guy that I have a reallong history with. Hes the one individual I probably give the most credit for helping me make it to the big leagues. So it was kind of tough but the organization made a decision. Were going to move on and come back and continue to work with new pitching coach Randy Niemann, who was promoted from assistant pitching coach. Nemo knows these pitchers just as well as Mac did. Its a new page.

Now, its up to Valentine and Niemann to determine Cooks role. The Red Sox are 4-7 in his starts this season. But in his last eight starts since July 4, Cook is just 1-6 with a 6.35 ERA.

Right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka, who has been on the disabled list since July 3 with a right trapezius strain, made his fifth rehab appearance Tuesday night for Triple-A Pawtucket. He went seven scoreless innings (plus two batters in the eighth), giving up just one hit and four walks with seven strikeouts. In his current rehab assignment, which began July 30 with Pawtucket, he is 1-1 with a 2.78 ERA. Overall, he is 1-4 with a 3.32 ERA in 13 rehab starts this season, after beginning the year on the DL recovering from Tommy John surgery. He has made five major league starts, going 0-3 with a 6.65 ERA.

Both Cook and Matsuzaka would be scheduled to pitch next on Sunday. Which of the right-handers will be starting at Fenway against the Royals remains to be seen.

Much too early to figure that one out, Valentine said. Well see, watch the film, see Dice tomorrow, see how he feels. and talk it over with everyone.

Cook said he is not concerned about that decision.

Nope, not one bit, he said. Its not my decision. Im just going to take the ball and throw when they tell me. Whatever happens happens.

Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox make 'outstanding comeback' vs. Rangers

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Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox make 'outstanding comeback' vs. Rangers

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 8-7 win over the Rangers:

QUOTES

* “(Matt) Bush has tremendous arm, but what we’ve seen . . . I don’t know that there’s anyone that throws a hard enough to get it by Mookie [Betts]. Just lightening bat speed . . . The dugout erupted when he caught it.” - Farrell said on Betts’ ninth inning homerun.

* “It was an outstanding comeback. Just a tremendous character win tonight by our guys. The work that our bullpen did tonight was just outstanding. ” - John Farrell said following the comeback win over Texas.

* “Koji comes back after a couple of rough outings and was vintage Koji here tonight.” - Farrell said on Uehara striking out the side in the ninth to earn the save

* “The homerun. Without that homerun, you don’t get to that wild pitch.” - Jackie Bradley said on what the Red Sox dugout was more excited about in the ninth.

* “Winning, to me that’s everything. I definitely want to go out there and throw the baseball better. I want to win myself. But at the end of the day I want the Red Sox to win.” - David Price said following the Red Sox win, despite his inability to keep the game close throughout the duration of his start.

NOTES

* David Ortiz extended his hitting streak to 10 games with his fourth inning single. He’s now 12 for his last 36 during his 10-game hitting streak.

* Sandy Leon’s ninth inning double was his 12th hit of the year. He’s now 12-for-22 (.545) to start his 2016 campaign. Four of his hits are doubles and he also has four RBI. 

* David Price’s 2.1-inning start is his shortest with Boston yet. The lefty gave up a season-worst 12 hits -- the most hits he’s given up since May 8th last season in a 6.1 inning start.

* Hanley Ramirez’s two-run homerun marks his third in the last ten games.

* The Red Sox improve to 22-3 when Jackie Bradley Jr. hits a homerun following his 13th homerun of the season.

STARS

1) Mookie Betts

Betts had over three hours between his two base hits, but his second proved the most important. He launched a 2-0 fastball into left center, tying the game in the ninth.

2) Jackie Bradley Jr.

Bradley laced a homerun into the right field second deck to put Boston in striking distance at 7-4. In addition to knocking in two runs, he scored in the ninth after he walked, starting the ninth inning comeback. 

3) Koji Uehara

Despite struggling of late, Uehara was called on to close and struck out the side to seal the win. He was the final piece of the 6.2 innings of relief from the bullpen that came in one of Boston’s biggest wins of the year.

Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter: @ngfriar

First impressions of the Red Sox’ 8-7 win over the Rangers

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First impressions of the Red Sox’ 8-7 win over the Rangers

First impressions of the Boston Red Sox’ 8-7 win over the Texas Rangers:

Boston’s offense is always in striking distance.

The Red Sox had an uphill battle from the get-go thanks to David Price’s tough outing.

But somehow they took advantage of Texas’ equally bad pitching—that just happened to be more spread out than Boston’s bad pitching.

If Jackie Bradley Jr. doesn’t earn a walk, or Sandy Leon doesn’t fight tooth and nail for a two-out double in the ninth, that Mookie Betts homerun can’t happen.

The Red Sox need another long outing from Steven Wright.

Obviously they’d prefer a strong performance -- but the knuckler may need to bite the bullet if he’s off Saturday night.

Boston’s bullpen has been used and abused of late, and needs some rest following the Chicago series and a 2.1 inning outing from Price.

Price continues to struggle against the Rangers in his career.

Even when he was able to walk out of the first with just the one run after a bases loaded double play, but couldn’t clamp down with two outs.

The biggest reason he struggled wasn’t his velocity—although it seemed down most of the night—but his location. He left a lot of pitches up in the zone and Texas is not the team you can do that with.

Although Price was bound to have a rough start, this start went worse than anyone could’ve anticipated. To say this was a bad start is putting it nicely.

Texas gave him a nice wake-up call. He still has room to grow.

Matt Barnes had a solid performance.

It wasn’t his best, but given the situation, he did well. First off, the Rangers are a very hot team and swing early in the count. Barnes left the ball up time after times, but only surrendered the one run.

Additionally, he entered the game far earlier than he’s used to -- in the midst of a blowout where his team was on the wrong end. That’s not an easy thing to walk into for a reliever, especially one who’s used to pitching late in tight ballgames.

He gave Boston a chance when the offense started to gain momentum.

Hanley Ramirez’s power continues to show.

Although he’s not hitting at the rate he did to start the year, Ramirez laced another homer against the Rangers Friday night.

This homerun may have been his most impressive, coming on a 1-2 slider away, driving it to straightaway center -- the deepest part of the ballpark.

Boston just saw what they look like when they almost blow games.

All season the talk around the league has been how explosive the Red Sox lineup is.

Well, the Rangers offense is right there with them. The league’s hottest team didn’t waist any time scoring, and had 15 hits before Boston pitching recorded an out in the fifth inning.

Although the Red Sox outslugged Texas late, they saw what a potent offense outside the AL East can do -- and how bad pitching can undo all of that.

Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter: @ngfriar