McAdam: Red Sox afforded some long-overdue rest

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McAdam: Red Sox afforded some long-overdue rest

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
For the past few days, the approaching off-day on the schedule was, predictably, a hot topic of conversation in the Red Sox clubhouse.

Some players planned golf outings, others visits with family in the area. But for manager Terry Francona and pitching coach Curt Young, what was so enticing about the off-day was the promise of rest for the club's pitching staff.

The break Thursday comes after a stretch of 20 straight game days, the maximum allowed by the collective bargaining agreement and, coupled with another off-day Monday, offers a chance to regroup.

Of late, the staff has been stretched at both ends. Andrew Miller, recently transferred to the bullpen, was unable to pitch past the sixth inning in any of his eight starts. Newcomer Erik Bedard, meanwhile, came to the Sox fresh off the disabled list, meaning he was on a pitch count in each of first two starts.

With 40 percent of the rotation either unable or not cleared to pitch deep into games, the burden has fallen on the bullpen.

Wednesday night, Francona did not have his two best relievers at his disposal. Closer Jonathan Papelbon had pitched in the three previous three games while set-up man Daniel Bard had worked three of the previous four.

Instead, Francona had Alfredo Aceves take over when Jon Lester tired in the eighth. Aceves faced five hitters and four of them reached.

For Aceves, it was his second straight rough outing; he failed to protect a one-run lead in the series opener Monday and though the Red Sox came back to win that night, Aceves cost Tim Wakefield the lead.

Another of the bullpen's pleasant surprises, Matt Albers, has endured another patch of rough appearances, suggesting fatigue. After going the entire month of July without allowing a run -- earned or otherwise -- Albers has been scored upon in three of his four outings in August.

Of late, Miller has given the team another stretched-out option in the bullpen, but his inability to consistently command the strike zone makes him a risky proposition with games on the line.

Things should soon improve. Two off-days in the span of five days will provide an extra day -- or two, in some cases -- of rest for starters just now hitting the late-summer wall, while providing down time for the team's beleaguered relievers.

By the time the Sox finish this current stretch of 14 road games in the span of 17 games, Sept. 1 will be near with the prospect of an expanded roster to help lighten the workload.

In the short-term, the prospect of two off-days is both overdue and welcome.

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

Friday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays lineups: Porcello goes for win No. 23

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Friday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays lineups: Porcello goes for win No. 23

The A.L. East-champion Red Sox, still fighting for playoff position, field their usual lineup as they open David Ortiz's final regular-season series tonight (7:10) against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox (92-67) are two games behind the Texas Rangers (94-65) in the race for the best record in the A.L., with the Cleveland Indians (91-67) a half-game behind Boston.

Rick Porcello (22-4, 3.11 ERA), the likely Game 1 starter in the ALDS, will try to add to his Cy Young Award resume tonight. He’ll be opposed by right-hander Marco Estrada (9-9, 3.53).

The Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles (both 87-72) are tied for the A.L. wild-card lead with the Detroit Tigers (85-73) 1 1/2 games back.

It’s the final regular season series for Oritz, with ceremonies planned to honor the retiring Red Sox DH prior to each of the final three game this weekend. 

The lineups:

RED SOX

Dustin Pedroia 2B

Brock Holt 3B

Mookie Betts RF

David Ortiz DH

Hanely Ramirez 1B

Xander Bogaerts SS

Jackie Bradley CF

Sandy Leon C

Andrew Benintendi LF

Rick Porcello P

 

BLUE JAYS

Eziquiel Carrera LF

Josh Donaldson 3B

Edwin Encarnacion DH

Jose Bautista RF

Russell Martin C

Troy Tulowitzki SS

Justin Smoak 1B

Kevin Pillar CF

Devon Travis 2B

Marco Estrada RHP