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-Rangers lineups: Brentz starts in LF

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Friday's Red Sox-Rangers lineups: Brentz starts in LF

It won’t take long for Bryce Brentz to get used to the major leagues again. Called up Friday after Chris Young was placed on the disabled list with a hamstring injury, Brentz gets the start in left field as the Red Sox open a three-game series tonight against the Rangers in Arlington, Texas (8:05 p.m.). 

Brentz, 27, who was hitting .278 with three homers and 17 RBI at Pawtucket, will make his first major league appearance since 2014 and bat seventh against Texas left-hander Nick Martinez (1-1, 5.14 ERA).  David Price starts (8-4, 4.24) starts for Boston. 

The lineups:

RED SOX
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Bryce Brentz LF
Travis Shaw 3B
Christian Vazquez C

David Price LHP

RANGERS
Shin-Soo Choo RF
Ian Desmond CF
Adrian Beltre 3B
Ryan Rua LF
Prince Fielder DH
Elvis Andrus SS
Roughned Odor 2B
Jurickson Profar 1B
Bobby Wilson C

Nick Martinez LHP
 

Red Sox place Chris Young on DL, recall Bryce Brentz

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Red Sox place Chris Young on DL, recall Bryce Brentz

To no one's surprise, the Red Sox have placed outfielder Chris Young -- who collapsed Thursday on the basepaths after suffering a severe right hamstring strain and had to be helped off the field -- on the 15-day disabled list.

The team recalled outfielder Bryce Brentz from Pawtucket as a replacement. Brentz will be with the Sox tonight in Texas when they open a six-game road trip.

Young had taken over as the Sox' everyday left fielder after a concussion forced Brock Holt to the DL, and was hitting .277 with 6 home runs and 15 RBI in 130 at-bats. He had played so well that manager John Farrell talked of moving Holt back to his infield-outfield, super-utility role when he returns and giving Young a large portion of the playing time in left.

Now, however, he appears to be facing a lengthy absence and Holt, who's been on a rehab assignment with the PawSox, may once again take over as the primary left fielder.

Brentz, who last played for in the Red Sox in September 2014, played 12 games at Double-A Portland this year before being sent back to Pawtucket. He has a combined average of .261 with 4 home runs and 20 RBI in 184 at-bats. Brentz was the Red Sox' No. 1 draft choice in 2010.
 

McAdam: Sox' desperate measures pay off with much-needed win

McAdam: Sox' desperate measures pay off with much-needed win

BOSTON -- By the end, scattered throughout the batting order were names like Marrero and Leon and LaMarre.

If you looked at the lineup card, with the names crossed out and late-inning replacements penciled in, you could be forgiven for thinking that you had stumbled into an early March spring training game, a road game from which the regulars had been spared a long bus ride.

But it was nothing of the sort. John Farrell was playing for keeps.

It wasn't March at all. It was late June. But Farrell was managing like it was September.

He ran through all his position players, having emptied his bench out of necessity while putting a pretty good dent in his bullpen, too.

Craig Kimbrel was pushed for two innings for the first time this season. Travis Shaw, too sore to start at third base early in the afternoon, eventually found himself in left field for the first time since spring training.

The Red Sox were desperate for a win and, after they had outlasted the Chicago White Sox, 8-7 in 10 innings, weren't ashamed to admit it.

Well, maybe not "desperate,'' per se. But they acknowledged that the game carried with it an unusual sense of urgency.

"Yeah, very much so,'' said Farrell. "We're staring at (the possibility) of a four-game sweep at home and that's never a good thing. So you find a way to pull out all the stops. We all sensed that. We did some things that . . . you know what? You do what you can with what you have in the moment.''

And the Red Sox, at times, didn't have much. They lost outfielder Chris Young to a significant hamstring strain that will put their third left fielder on the DL in the last month. They got just 5 1/3 innings from starter Rick Porcello, requiring repeated calls to the bullpen.

But they played and managed with a heightened sense that, damn the calendar, this was one they could not afford to lose.

The White Sox had come here scuffling, too, but had gotten better by beating up the Red Sox for the first three. A sweep at the hands of the thoroughly mediocre White Sox would have been too much for Boston to take.

You seldom hear baseball players attach much significance to a single game, especially one weeks before the All-Star break. Usually, there's the usual cliches about it being a long season, with plenty of baseball to be played.

And it is, and there will be. But the Red Sox dropped their guard after the win and admitted that, yes, they needed this one in the worst way.

"For sure,'' agreed Xander Bogaerts, who sent a flare into shallow center that scored the winning run. "We all were (feeling desperate). We've been one base hit away. Chris Young's home run (a foot from being fair in the late innings Wednesday night) . . . The games had been so close (in the series) and everything seemed to be on their side. It was on our side today.''

One win -- no matter how hard-fought, or how dramatic -- won't turn around the Red Sox season.

There's still a black hole in left field that must be filled until Brock Holt can return. The bullpen has been exposed in recent weeks and re-inforcements must be found, either internally or externally.

And even after 14 runs scored in the last two games, the offense still has the disquieting habit of stranding runners at the worst possible time.

Those issues aren't going away because the Red Sox, for an afternoon, willed themselves to a victory.

There are no guarantees, in short. The Sox play their next six on the road, the first three of which are against the team (Texas) with the best record in the American League.

But none of that mattered Thursday, when the Red Sox seemed willing to do just about anything for a single win.