Jays belt Cook's two mistakes

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Jays belt Cook's two mistakes

BOSTON Aaron Cook entered Saturdays game having given up just two walks, and two home runs, with two strikeouts in his previous five starts, spanning 29 23 innings.

Hes not concerned about a lack of strikeouts, he has said. That means hes most likely pitching to contact and his sinker is doing its job. The lack of walks means hes pounding the strike zone. And the lack of home runs, well, thats speaks for itself.

Those numbers all changed Saturday against the Blue Jays, though, and the result also speaks for itself, as the Red Sox lost to Toronto, 7-3.

Cook went 6 13 innings, giving up five runs (three earned) on four hits, with a walk, a strikeout, and two home runs. He took the loss, falling to 2-3 with a 3.50 ERA. The quality start was little consolation.

Cook was pretty good, said manager Bobby Valentine. He had groundballs going. He kept them at bay for a while. And started off the seventh with a couple of comebackers. I think the walk might have, he might have lost a little concentration. I dont know, they only hit two balls hard against him. They both went over the fence. Thats a pretty good outing.

The two home runs accounted for the tying and go-ahead runs. With two outs in the sixth inning, Toronto tied the score on Edwin Encarnacions two-run home run after a walk to Colby Rasmus. The Jays pulled ahead in the seventh when J.P. Arencibia led off the inning with his 14th home run of the season.

In a span of three batters, Cook doubled the number of home runs hes allowed this season.

They were pitches that came back over the middle of the plate Cook said. If I had two pitches to take back the whole game, thosed be the only two. I felt like other than that, I was in a pretty good rhythm, putting the ball really where I wanted to and just those two bad pitches, they made me pay for them tonight.

A walk and a home run, you cant walk people before you give up a home run. Solo home runs really dont hurt you that bad. But that Rasmus at-bat I kind of just lost command a little bit and I was trying to get back into it with Encarnacion coming up next. I just left one that kind of looped back a little bit. He was starting to dive. So in retrospect if Id have probably thrown him a sinker in, probably get a different result. But you cant always look back and say, 'What if.' You just got to try to go with what you got. And that was the pitch that I was committed to. Just missed my location.

It was as simple as that.

I think thats just what it was, said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. He made two pitches over the middle of the plate. But other than that, I think he pitched well. The ball was moving a lot tonight. Kept the ball down, got a lot of groundballs, which is what you expect from him.

I think that you know what youre going to get from Aaron. Youre looking for a sinker. I think both those guys were looking for it and they just got the pitch over the plate. Thats all it was. I thought the one to Arencibia was a really good pitch. It was down. It was over the middle but it was down. Not too many guys can stay with that and hit it out. He did a great job.

Cook limited the Blue Jays to just two hits over the first five innings.

It was a combination of us coming to life and his sinker staying up a little, said Jays manager John Farrell. Cook was that good in the first five innings.

Cooks strikeout of Anthony Gose for the second out of the third inning snapped a steak of 19 innings without a strikeout. In that span he had an ERA of 1.29. In his last five starts since coming off the disabled list on June 24, he has an ERA of 2.16, with three or fewer earned runs in all five outings.

First impressions: Porcello settles in, helps Red Sox beat Rays, 9-4

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First impressions: Porcello settles in, helps Red Sox beat Rays, 9-4

First impressions from the Red Sox' 9-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays:

 

* Rick Porcello followed form.

Porcello has, throughout the season, struggled some in the early innings before making some adjustments and stabilizing as the game wears on.

So it was Monday night against the Rays.

Coming into the start, Porcello had compiled a 4.15 ERA in the first three innings with a 2.13 ERA in innings four through six.

Sure enough, Porcello allowed four straight hits and two runs in the third inning. After that, he looked like a different pitcher. He did yield a solo run in the fifth when he gave up a leadoff double and two groundouts.

But from the fourth through the seventh, he faced 13 hitters and retired 12 of them, including five by strikeout.

 

* Travis Shaw showed signs of digging out his funk at the plate.

Shaw was 0-for-6 to start the homestand, and since the beginning of August, had compiled an anemic .141/.236/.264 slash line with only four extra-base hits (two doubles, two doubles).

That resulted in Shaw losing playing time to Aaron Hill at third, and being dropped lower in the batting order.

But Monday, Shaw smacked a double to right -- the kind of extra-base power that he almost routinely flashed in the first half -- and later added two singles for a three-hit night.

It marked the first multi-hit game for him since July 26, better than a month ago.

 

* Lo and behold, the Red Sox can collect hits with the bases loaded.

The team's struggles in that department have been well-chronicled. Coming into the night, the Sox were hitting just .211 in such situations, ranking them 14th out of the 15 A.L. teams.

Time after time, the Sox have failed to come through with the bases full, sometimes even with no outs.

But that wasn't the case Monday. Twice, in fact, the Sox had innings with the bases loaded and both times, they scored.

In the second, Brock Holt's single to left scored Chris Young, though Sandy Leon was cut down at the plate when the Sox tried to get two runs out of it.

In the seventh, a sharp single to center by Sandy Leon scored two more.

 

After strong bullpen session, Koji Uehara could be back by Labor Day

After strong bullpen session, Koji Uehara could be back by Labor Day

BOSTON - For a bullpen that could use all the help it can get right now, there's the prospect that Koji Uehara could rejoin the Red Sox on Labor Day.

Uehara, who's been out since July 20 with a strained pectoral muscle, threw a bullpen Monday at Fenway that impressed John Farrell.

"He came out of today's work session in good fashion,'' said Farrell. "It was 25 pitches to hitters with good intensity to both his fastball and split. It's been impressive to see how he's handled the volume, and now, three times on the mound, the intensity to his bullpens and BP.''

Next up for Uehara will be a bullpen session Wednesday morning, followed by a live batting practice session Saturday in Oakland.

Since both Pawtucket's and Portland's seasons are over on Labor Day, Uehara won't have the option of going on a rehab assignment to face hitters before being activated.

But the Sox believe that he can build arm strength through these side sessions and BP sessions -- enough so that he could return to the active roster soon.

"We'll re-assess where is after Sunday,'' said Farrell, "and I wouldn't rule out activation [after that]. What we've done with Koji is just review how he feels after each session and we'll take it from there.''

Uehara, 41, is 2-3 with a 4.50 ERA, and while he's had a propensity for giving up homers (eight in just 36 innings), he had been throwing better before being injured.

And given the performance of the bullpen in general and the recent poor showings from Matt Barnes, the Sox would welcome Uehara back as soon as he's ready.

"The one thing that Koji has proven to us,'' noted Farrell, "is that, even with limited spring training work [in the past], he's been a very effective pitcher for us and obviously, he has a chance to make a very positive impact once he does return.''

Uehara's progress since late July has been a pleasant surprise for the Sox, who feared at the time of the injury that he might be done for the season.     

"To his credit,'' said Farrell, "he's worked his tail off and advanced fairly rapidly and he's withstanding the intensity that he's put into [the work]. A healthy Koji certainly adds to our bullpen.