Red Sox will look elsewhere, within for help

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Red Sox will look elsewhere, within for help

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
Tampa -- In less than three weeks, the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline will arrive, offering the Red Sox one more opportunity to upgrade their roster and fill needs.

For now, it's difficult to say definitively exactly what those need are. With Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz currently on the disabled list and Josh Beckett unableunwilling to pitch in Tuesday's All-Star Game, the starting rotation is, to put it charitably, problematic.

But most of the injuries to starters are minor in nature and it's likely both Beckett and Lester will resume their regular turns within the next week.

Moreover, the starting pitching is so threadbare that there's little in the way of front-line pitching available - even if the Sox were willing to make a bold move.

That leaves three areas for the Red Sox to address by month's end.
1) Right field

J.D. Drew has provided 10 extra-base hits in the first 90 games and the production at the position has been almost non-existent.

Some big names (Carlos Beltran, perhaps Michael Cuddyer) are available, but every indication is that the Red Sox are not thinking big at this position. Beltran will be owed 6 million at the deadline, and while ownership will be willing to increase payroll somewhat, that's a significant investment leap.

With the highest-scoring lineup in the game, there's no compelling need to land a big bat. Instead, it's far more likely that the Sox will be more inclined to add a complementary part, someone such as Jeff Baker of the Chicago Cubs.

Baker crushes left-handed pitching and is affordable.

The Sox don't need an everyday All-Star; they'd settle for a better version of Darnell McDonald.

2) Bullpen

The answers here might come from within.

If Bobby Jenks can stay healthy and give the club another experienced late-inning power arm, the Sox would be in better shape.

Similarly, if Franklin Morales can throw as well as he has in recent weeks, the urgency to find a lefty reliever would quickly lessen.

If, however, one or both pitchers stumble, the Sox would likely view their bullpen as inadequate for the demands of September and beyond.

Almost every contender seeks a bullpen upgrade at the deadline; the Sox would be no different.

3) Shortstop

Jed Lowrie (shoulder) hasn't swung a bat in weeks and likely won't return until August. Marco Scutaro has been fine as the starter, but he, too, has a history of breaking down.

If something were to happen to Scutaro in the coming weeks, the Sox would be caught with few options at a critical position. Drew Sutton is a useful role player, but would be exposed as an everyday infielder. Both Yamaico Navarro and Jose Iglesias lack the experience and polish to take over on a full-time basis.

Acquiring an experienced, tested middle infielder isn't just prudent - it's essential.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam.

Brian Johnson: 'Awesome feeling' after five-hitter vs. Mariners

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Brian Johnson: 'Awesome feeling' after five-hitter vs. Mariners

BOSTON - Brian Johnson had quite a turnaround in his second time on Fenway Park's mound.

Johnson pitched a five-hitter in his first big league appearance at Fenway, and the Boston Red Sox stretched their winning streak to a season-high six games with a 6-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.

The 26-year-old left-hander became the first Red Sox pitcher to throw a shutout in his first Fenway start since Pedro Martinez on April 11, 1998. In Johnson's first start in Fenway - his fourth as a professional - he sustained a season-ending facial fracture when he hit by a line drive while pitching for Class A Lowell in 2012.

"The last time I walked off the mound here was 2012 and I made two pitches," Johnson said. "Today I went nine innings. Today was pretty cool."

Johnson left Triple-A for a little over a month last season to get treatment for an anxiety issue.

"Obviously with some stuff that I've been gone through in my career, it's an awesome feeling" he said.

But despite the stellar outing, Johnson was optioned back to Triple-A after the game.

"That's the reality of the game," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "We had a chance to congratulate him and yet option him back to Pawtucket, with David Price coming here Monday."

Brought up from the minors for the start, Johnson (2-0) gave up five singles, struck out eight and walked none. His only previous big league starts were at Houston on July 21, 2015, and at Toronto on April 18 this year.

Johnson was helped by a semi-leaping catch by center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. at the wall in the sixth, Bradley's diving grab of Nelson Cruz's sinking liner in the ninth and Bradley's game-ending running catch of Kyle Seager's drive.

Xander Bogaerts' RBI single triggered a three-run first inning and Bradley hit a two-run homer in the sixth

Shut out for the second straight day, Seattle has lost seven of eight.

"Their guy threw the ball over the plate. He threw strikes," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "I won't take anything away from what he did, but we're not swinging the bat very well."

Rob Whalen (0-1) gave up five runs and seven hits over 5 1/3 innings in his Mariners' debut, his first big league start since Aug. 23 for Atlanta. He is Seattle's 12th starting pitcher, the most in the major leagues.

Andrew Benintendi and Sandy Leon also had RBI singles in the first, when the Red Sox had two batters hit by pitches, two walks and two runners thrown out on the bases - Dustin Pedroia at third for the first out and Hanley Ramirez at the plate for the last.

Johnson beats Mariners 6-0 for Red Sox' 6th straight win

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Johnson beats Mariners 6-0 for Red Sox' 6th straight win

BOSTON - Brian Johnson pitched a five-hitter in his first big league appearance at Fenway Park, and the Boston Red Sox stretched their winning streak to a season-high six games with a 6-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.

Brought up from Triple-A Pawtucket, Johnson (2-0) gave up five singles, struck out eight and walked none. The 26-year-old left-hander's only previous big league starts were at Houston on July 21, 2015, and at Toronto on April 18 this year.

Johnson became the first Red Sox pitcher to throw a shutout in his first Fenway start since Pedro Martinez on April 11, 1998. In Johnson's first start in Fenway - his fourth as a professional - he sustained a season-ending facial fracture when he hit by a line drive while pitching for Class A Lowell in 2012.

Johnson was helped by a semi-leaping catch by center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. at the wall in the sixth, Bradley's diving grab of Nelson Cruz's sinking liner in the ninth and Bradley's game-ending running catch of Kyle Seager's drive.

Xander Bogaerts' RBI single triggered a three-run first inning and Bradley hit a two-run homer in the sixth

Shut out for the second straight day, Seattle has lost seven of eight.

Rob Whalen (0-1) gave up five runs and seven hits over 5 1/3 innings in his Mariners' debut, his first big league start since Aug. 23 for Atlanta. He is Seattle's 12th starting pitcher, the most in the major leagues.

Andrew Benintendi and Sandy Leon also had RBI singles in the first, when the Red Sox had two batters hit by pitches, two walks and two runners thrown out on the bases - Dustin Pedroia at third for the first out and Hanley Ramirez at the plate for the last.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mariners: RHPs Hisashi Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez, both on the DL with right shoulder inflammation, threw bullpen sessions. Hernandez said he "felt really good."... LHP James Paxton (strained forearm) is set to come off the DL and pitch at home Wednesday.

Red Sox: Pedroia was back at second base after getting Friday off to rest his sore left knee and not play on a wet field. He was hit by a pitch on the right forearm his first time up and went 1 for 3. ... 3B Pablo Sandoval, on the DL with a sprained right knee, was expected to play nine innings Saturday night in a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket. Manager John Farrell didn't rule out that he could be activated next week.

UP NEXT

Mariners: RHP Christian Bergman (1-2, 6.30 ERA) gave up 10 runs and 14 hits over four innings in a 10-1 loss Tuesday at Washington.

Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (3-4, 4.35) has gone at least six innings in eight of nine starts.