Notes: Wheeler's recent struggles continue

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Notes: Wheeler's recent struggles continue

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
TORONTO -- Until very recently, Dan Wheeler had been one of the Red Sox' most dependable relievers.

Before Saturday, he had held opponents scoreless in 17 of 19 outings.

Then, things soured over the weekend. He gave up three runs to Texas in an inning and two-thirds Saturday, the most runs he'd allowed in an outing since May 2.

In the 11th inning Monday, Wheeler retired Edwin Encarnacion and Kelly Johnson for the first two outs, then left a pitch up to Brett Lawrie, who hammered the pitch to straightaway center for a walkoff homer.

Wheeler hadn't faced Lawrie, a rookie, before, but said that was no excuse.

"I don't think like that," he said. "I think like I just have to go out and make a pitch. That's really what it boils down to. I didn't do that and he hit it pretty good.

"It was supposed to be a fastball down and away, but it didn't quite get there."

Wheeler said it will be his responsibility to put the pitch behind him.

"You have to," he said. "It's the only thing you can do. It's part of it. No one likes to do it. No one likes to go out there and do that, but tomorrow, we've got to come in and try to win a game.

"It wasn't the first time, unfortunately. If you pitch long enough, you put yourself in situations like that. You work hard to not let it happen, but baseball's a funny game."

Even though the Pawtucket Red Sox are headed to the International League playoffs, the Red Sox called up three of their top players -- starting pitcher Kyle Wieland, catcher Ryan Lavarnway and utilityman Nate Spears -- to join the team on Monday.

Weiland and Lavarnway had both been with the Sox earlier this year. Spears has never played in the major leagues.

To make room for Spears on the 40-man roster, the Red Sox designated Drew Sutton for assignment.

Outfielder Conor Jackson, who ran into the bullpen wall Sunday and came out of the game an inning later, was out of Monday's starting lineup with what Terry Francona termed a "banged-up knee."

Josh Reddick, who was hit on the hand with a pitch Friday night and missed the next two games, returned to the lineup in right.

Clay Buchholz, who has been throwing off flat ground, has an off-day Monday and will resume long-tossing Tuesday from a longer distance.

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

McAdam: Red Sox relievers didn’t do the job vs. Toronto

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McAdam: Red Sox relievers didn’t do the job vs. Toronto

Sean McAdam joins SNC to discuss the Red Sox bullpen giving up a 4-run lead in the late innings of their loss to the Blue Jays.

Watch the video above.

Three things we learned from the Red Sox’ 10-9 loss to the Blue Jays

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Three things we learned from the Red Sox’ 10-9 loss to the Blue Jays

Three things we learned from the Boston Red Sox’ 10-9 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays…

1) Toronto’s offense can never be taken lightly.

Coming into the series, the Blue Jays had scored 197 runs, putting them in the middle of the pack among all Major League teams and averaging four runs per game. In the two games against Boston, they’ve scored 17 runs.

So an offense that had appeared to be dormant has been woken up thanks to some subpar Red Sox pitching.

It seems like these two teams are very similar and could be in opposite positions just as easily. The Blue Jays are only three behind in the win column (five in the loss), so Boston needs to win David Price’s Sunday start to widen the gap and cut their three-game skid.

2) Craig Kimbrel is only effective for so long.

Boston’s closer wasn’t giving excuses following Saturday’s game -- and this isn’t one either.

Saturday’s 39-pitch performance wasn’t just his season-high, but his career high in pitches.

This not only resulted in a drop in Kimbrel’s velocity, but it exposed flaws in the Red Sox’ pen. Kimbrel is truly a one-inning guy, so if Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara can’t get him the ball, he’s useless.

And it seems like Uehara won’t be used on back-to-back days frequently in the near future, so Boston won’t be able to use Tazawa in a seventh inning role with much consistency.

Somewhere along the way Dave Dombrowski will need to find another reliever for the back-end of the bullpen.

3) Offense can only take a team so far.

Both teams had big offensive days, in large part because pitchers from both sides made a lot of mistakes -- but they still took advantage of them.

Had the Red Sox been the home team in this contest, there’s no reason to believe they wouldn’t have won -- just based on the progression of the game and ignoring any statistical splits.

If the Red Sox are serious about making the postseason, they need pitching to pick up the slack once in a while. Because when they hit the road late in the year, games like will slip away when quality pitching is lacking.

Quotes, notes and stars: 'Unfortunate situation at a key moment'

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Quotes, notes and stars: 'Unfortunate situation at a key moment'

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 10-9 loss to the Blue Jays:
 
QUOTES
*“We’ve seen Hanley [Ramirez] catch that ball multiple times...An unfortunate situation at a key moment.” John Farrell said of the final play of the game.
 
*As soon as I let it go I thought he was out...I feel like that game kind of slipped away from us.” -Travis Shaw said of his throw in the final play of the game.
 
*“Everybody was so excited on the bench. We’d lost the lead and to have him come through in that situation . . . It was huge.” -Hanley Ramirez on David Ortiz’s go-ahead homerun in the ninth inning.
 
*“We’re a strike away on a number of occasions . . . you watch the attack plan all day long right-handers with curveballs were having success against [Justin] Smoak.” -Farrell said of the bullpen’s performance and Smoak’s ninth inning hit off Craig Kimbrel.
 
*“If he makes an accurate throw he’s out.” -Farrell on Christian Vazquez’s errant throw in the ninth inning.
 
*“In some key spots we gave an extra 90 feet when otherwise we have not of late.” -Farrell said about Boston’s inability to execute late in the game.

NOTES
*Xander Bogaerts has hit safely in his last 21 games, extending his streak with a home run to lead off the fourth inning. He’s hitting .402 with five home runs during the streak. Bogaerts logged his ninth three-hit game of 2016.
 
* Dustin Pedroia extended his hitting streak to five games with his first-inning double. Pedroia has also hit safely in his past 22 games against Toronto. He’s hitting .444 during the short streak.
 
*David Ortiz extended his own hitting streak to six games with a double in the fourth. He's hitting .520 over that span.
 
* Russell Martin logged his fifth multi-hit game of the season -- and first three-hit game -- smacking a double and a home run. Martin entered the game batting .179 with three extra-base hits.
 
 
STARS
1) Russell Martin

Not only did he score the winning run, but he also tied the score in the ninth and launched a home run earlier in the game.
 
2) Xander Bogaerts
Another threre-hit performance, extending his hitting streak to 21 games, Bogaerts keeps creating headaches for opposing pitchers.
 
3) Rick Porcello
On a day where pitchers from both side scuffled, Porcello’s 6 2/3-inning effort gave Boston more than enough of a chance to win.