'Immature' offensive approach hurts Red Sox

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'Immature' offensive approach hurts Red Sox

BOSTON -- The Red Sox had one more hit than the New York Yankees on Thursday night at Fenway Park, and their starting pitcher did his job. But Boston had nothing to show for it on a night in which the manager called it an "immature" offensive approach against Phil Hughes.
"Hughes pitched up in the strike zone, and we couldn't lay off of it," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine after the loss. "We made a lot of quick outs, swinging at some of those pitches. And, maybe a little immature in our approach at times."
Valentine spoke up and said that he wasn't calling his players immature, but most knew what he meant.
It's been a problem for them all season long. As one Red Sox player said earlier in the year, this team's biggest issue has been its preparedness.
And on Thursday night against Hughes and the Yankees, the Red Sox offense -- without Dustin Pedroia -- looked downright unprepared.
"They were swinging pretty early in the count, at pitches other than their pitch," said Valentine.
After the loss, Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia called the offense's aggressiveness "human nature." But Doubront kept it a scoreless game through three innings, and then kept it a 1-0 game until the seventh. So the Red Sox can't necessarily make the excuse that they had to "battle" from behind.
But that's what Saltalamacchia did.
"I think it's human nature to get aggressive and try to do more than you can, when you're down and you're trying to win," he said. "But, we're just trying to battle right now. We had a pitcher go out there tonight and threw a great game, and we just couldn't get any runs for him. On the other hand, their pitcher went out there and was just throwing strikes."
Strikes that the Red Sox offense -- on Thursday night -- couldn't hit. And that cost Doubront a win.

Wednesday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: Ramirez gets night off

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Wednesday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: Ramirez gets night off

Hanley Ramirez is getting a night off as the Red Sox look for their third straight win against the Rays tonight at Tropicana Field.

Travis Shaw will play first base, with Brock Holt at third.

Tonight's lineups:

RED SOX:
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Sandy Leon C
Brock Holt 3B
Travis Shaw 1B
Andrew Benintendi LF
---
Rick Porcello P

RAYS:
Logan Forsythe 2B
Kevin Kiermaier CF
Evan Longoria 3B
Brad Miller SH
Matt Duffy SS
Logan Morrison 1B
Steven Souza Jr. RF
Corey Dickerson LF
Bobby Wilson C
---
Matt Andriese P

McAdam: Buchholz is the relief the Red Sox need

McAdam: Buchholz is the relief the Red Sox need

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- This is the kind of season it has been for Clay Buchholz:

A little more than a month ago, he was merely taking up space on the Red Sox roster, having been summarily removed from the rotation after three months of poor outings.

He was in the bullpen, but the Sox were loathe to use him. Asked, memorably, why Buchholz hadn't been the choice to serve as a long reliever in a game in which the starter departed early, John Farrell candidly noted, in not so many words, that because the Sox still had a chance to win the game, Buchholz didn't make sense as an option.

Ouch.

But slowly, Buchholz became more effective in his new relief role. And when injuries struck the rotation, Buchholz got himself three cameo starts, during which he posted a 2.70 ERA in 16 2/3 innings, topped by Tuesday's beauty -- 6 1/3 innings, one run allowed, nine strikeouts recorded.

Just as Buchholz has straightened out, however, Red Sox starters are suddenly stacked up like jets waiting for clearance to land at Logan Airport. Steven Wright returns from a brief DL stint Friday, and Eduardo Rodriguez is not far behind.

When he pitched poorly, the Red Sox didn't have any other options.

When he pitched well, the Red Sox have plenty of other choices.

So, now what?

"As far as Clay goes,'' said John Farrell, "this will be, I'm sure, a conversation (had) within (the organization). But setting that aside, he's throwing the ball exceptionally well right now.''

That's indisputable.

But the question remains: In what capacity will he throw the ball in the near future?

There's been a suggestion to keep Buchholz in the rotation while moving Drew Pomeranz to the bullpen. That would give the Sox a dependable lefty in relief -- as opposed to, say, Fernando Abad -- while also serving the dual purpose of putting a governor on Pomeranz's climbing innings total.

Pomeranz, who has plenty of bullpen experience in the big leagues, has also thrown 140 1/3 innings this season, eclipsing his previous major league high by nearly 40.

But Pomeranz is 27, not 21. He's shown no signs of fatigue. To the contrary, he's 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his last four starts. The Sox shouldn't mess with his success.

Instead, Buchholz should become one of the team's high-leverage set-up weapons, available in the seventh or eighth inning.

True, Buchholz doesn't have the swing-and-miss capability you'd prefer to have in the eighth inning, where the fewer balls put in play, the better off you are. But he can get lefties and righties out, and, pitching out of the stretch full-time, he's greatly improved his command.

Buchholz would remain the best option for a spot start if one of the five Red Sox starters faltered or got hurt. But the bullpen remains the best choice for him.

Ironic, isn't it? When he pitched poorly, he remained in the rotation for several months. Now that he's pitching superbly, he can't earn a permanent spot.

It's been that kind of season.