Boston Red Sox: Rubby De La Rosa

Signs point to De La Rosa getting call

July, 6, 2014
Jul 6
BOSTON -- While Red Sox manager John Farrell was noncommittal about whom he will use as a spot starter for Wednesday’s game against the Chicago White Sox, signs point to Rubby De La Rosa.

De La Rosa was pulled after one inning of his start with Pawtucket on Sunday night, effectively making it a side session and preserving him for a full day of work on Wednesday.

De La Rosa dazzled in his last two starts for Boston before being optioned back to Pawtucket on June 28, allowing just one earned run in a combined 14 innings to bring his ERA down to 2.51. In his most recent start, on July 1 against Durham, De La Rosa ran into some trouble, allowing five earned runs in 5 2/3 innings of work. In five starts this season with the big club, he is 2-2, striking out 30 batters in 32 innings.

Farrell wasn't tipping his hand before Sunday's game with the Orioles.

“Couple of candidates certainly, but nothing yet to announce,” Farrell said. “We’ve got to get through these next couple days to determine who that’s going to be.”

Farrell did disclose, however, that the starter will not come out of the bullpen, which would rule out Felix Doubront, who has made two appearances since being moved to the bullpen in late June.

Peavy keeps spot; De La Rosa demoted

June, 28, 2014
Jun 28
NEW YORK -- With only one win in 16 starts this season and an 0-4 record and a 5.87 ERA in five June starts, Jake Peavy's place in the Red Sox's starting rotation appeared to be hanging by a thread.

But then manager John Farrell announced on Friday that Peavy would be starting Monday at Fenway Park against the Chicago Cubs, and on Saturday, rookie right-hander Rubby De La Rosa, who had dazzled in his past two starts, was optioned back to Pawtucket.

[+] EnlargeJake Peavy
AP Photo/Elaine ThompsonJake Peavy is holding on to a spot in Boston's starting rotation -- for now.
Farrell had said De La Rosa pitched well enough (2.51 ERA in five starts, including back-to-back starts of seven innings in which he allowed a total of one run) to warrant staying here, and there is a school of thought that he should have displaced Peavy in the rotation.

Peavy doesn't belong to that school. He was defiant in his declaration that he can still be a productive member of the rotation.

"I know I can," he said. "Absolutely. There ain't any doubt in my mind that I'm going to help. I've got plenty of baseball left."

General manager Ben Cherington, who just promoted another rookie, infielder-outfielder Mookie Betts, was asked if it was hard to justify sending down De La Rosa, given how well he has pitched and the fact that wins have been hard to come by.

"It was hard, but I still think it was the right thing to do," Cherington said. "Just because it was hard doesn't mean it's not the right thing to do.

"We bought as much time as we could, in part because of how well he pitched. We wanted to make sure the rest of the guys were OK. We knew we had to get back to 13 position players sooner than later. He was the guy. He'll be back at some point, and pitch in this league for a long time."

De La Rosa, who hasn't pitched since last Saturday in Oakland, is scheduled to pitch Tuesday for Pawtucket.

"It wasn't an easy conversation," Farrell said of breaking the news to De La Rosa, "but to Rubby's credit, he looks at himself as a pitcher who needs to pitch, whether it was here or in Pawtucket. He did everything in his power to impact the decision, and the additional days in the major leagues are a reflection of [how we were] trying to find a fit for him. It was a difficult decision, but that means we have quality guys to choose from."


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Peavy has endured difficult stretches before and bounced back. He also noted that the past two Cy Young Award winners in the American League, Justin Verlander (2012) and David Price (2013), have had their issues this season, too.

Verlander was winless in five June starts, going 0-3 with a 6.82 ERA. Price has reeled off five straight starts with 10 strikeouts or more, but he also has yielded an AL-leading 17 home runs, one more than Peavy.

De La Rosa is scheduled to pitch Tuesday for Pawtucket. With the Red Sox having an off-day Thursday, he would be on track to take Peavy's next turn on Sunday, should the Sox elect to make a move then. It would require an injury to do so. Once a player is optioned back to the minors, he must remain there for a minimum of 10 days before he can be recalled, except in the case of an injury.

Nine of Peavy's 16 starts have been quality starts (6 innings or more, 3 earned runs or fewer), but only two of the past nine have fit that definition. Manager John Farrell pointed out, correctly, that a pitcher often has limited control over his won-loss record, and the Red Sox have given Peavy an average of 3.19 runs in run support, according to

Peavy has pitched much better at home (0-2, 3.91 ERA in 8 starts) than he has on the road (1-4, 6.00 ERA in 8 starts).

Asked if his track record had earned him the right to stay in the rotation, Peavy said:

"That ain't for me to decide. It is what it is. I don't know. What we're about is trying to win right now. They've got to do what's best to win right now. I don't know what anybody else is saying. We'll see. It's not for me to decide."

Asked if he still has Farrell's confidence, Peavy said: "I don't have a comment there. I would like to think so."
NEW YORK -- Jake Peavy is scheduled to take his regular turn on Monday night in Fenway Park against the Chicago Cubs, said manager John Farrell, who abandoned plans to restore left-hander Felix Doubront to the rotation and said the team is still trying to figure out what to do with rookie Rubby De La Rosa.

De La Rosa has not pitched since last Saturday, after back-to-back strong starts in which he held the Twins to one hit in seven scoreless innings and allowed the Athletics a run on four hits in seven innings in his last start. Farrell has given every indication that De La Rosa has pitched well enough to warrant staying here, but for now the Sox pitching is lined up as Peavy on Monday, Clay Buchholz on Tuesday and Brandon Workman on Wednesday.


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Peavy has outstanding career numbers against the Cubs, going 7-4 with a 2.76 ERA in 17 career starts. The Cubs roughed him up in his only start against them in 2013, when he was pitching for the White Sox and faced the Cubs in Wrigley Field, where he allowed six runs on eight hits in four innings.

Peavy has won just once in 16 starts this season, his overall record 1-6 with a 4.93 ERA. In June, he is 0-4 with a 5.87 ERA in five starts, and was routed for seven runs on eight hits, including two home runs, in five innings last Tuesday night in Seattle.

It appears the Sox have decided to give him at least one more start before taking the drastic step of removing the former Cy Young Award winner from the rotation, though De La Rosa is a tantalizing option. Peavy is being paid $14.5 million this season, which means the Sox likely would take a significant financial hit if they trade him, although there are no talks currently percolating, according to a club source. Another option would be to find a creative way to place Peavy on the disabled list, giving him time à la Clay Buchholz.

Peavy has a lot of mileage on his gifted right arm -- this season he went over 2,000 innings, his total now at 2,043 innings. But he has fought his way back from rough patches before, and with his fierce competitive nature, the Sox may be hesitant to quit on him too soon.

Barring an injury, the Sox may have no other option but to return De La Rosa to Pawtucket, probably while offering assurances that his demotion will be a short-lived one. Farrell has said the club wants to get back to its full complement of 13 position players, and hinted that move could come as soon as Saturday.

Doubront, meanwhile, has been told he will remain in the bullpen, Farrell said, the change in plans a result of the Sox designating veteran Chris Capuano for assignment. Doubront would maintain the Sox quota of three lefties in the pen, along with Andrew Miller and Craig Breslow.

"His initial reaction suggests that -- he does view himself as a starter," Farrell said. "But as it was explained to him, that's where our need currently is, in the bullpen for him, and as well as other guys in our rotation are ahead of him.

"There are ways to get back into the rotation. That's to pitch your way back into it."

Rubby's gem wasted as Crisp, A's walk off

June, 21, 2014
Jun 21

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Red Sox manager John Farrell is doing his best to keep faith in his struggling team.

After watching the Red Sox waste right-hander Rubby De La Rosa's gem and suffer a 2-1 loss in 10 innings Saturday afternoon to the Oakland A's -- Boston's third straight loss to baseball's winningest team -- Farrell somehow found a positive spin.

"I look at it like this," Farrell said. "We are very close to becoming a team that will go on a run for an extended period. We got a number of really strong things in place, and that is pitching, both in terms of our rotation, our bullpen. I think we're playing very good defense. We've had situations get away from us in terms of men in scoring position."

The Red Sox left eight runners on base and went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position Saturday, losing their American League-high 17th one-run game. As has happened so often this season, the Red Sox wasted a brilliant pitching performance.

De La Rosa allowed just one run on four hits while striking out seven and walking one. What's more, he pitched lights-out on the road for the first time in his young career. Going into the game, De La Rosa was 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA at Fenway Park and 0-2 with a 6.35 ERA on the road.

[+] EnlargeRubby De La Rosa
Jason O. Watson/Getty ImagesRubby De La Rosa gave up one run on four hits and a walk, striking out seven in seven innings.
"It's important," De La Rosa said of pitching well on the road. "It makes me more confident in my stuff."

What was working for De La Rosa?

"He had everything going," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "The biggest thing with Rubby is he throws it over the plate, and today he threw four pitches for strikes and kept them off balance. We saw how Rubby can be.

"For him to go out and pitch the way he did, he kept us in the game and gave us a chance. Unfortunately, we couldn't get a hit."

Well, at least not one with runners in scoring position. For the second straight game, former Red Sox center fielder Coco Crisp came through with the big hit for Oakland. He lined a walk-off single off Koji Uehara with one out in the 10th, driving in Alberto Callaspo with the winning run. Crisp singled home the go-ahead run in the eighth inning off Andrew Miller in the A's 4-3 win Friday night.

"We play a one-run game every night," Pierzynski said after the Sox fell to 11-17 in one-run games. "We're just kind of used to it now. We're hoping that eventually these will turn around and we'll find a way to win these instead of just coming up short."

Their luck appeared to change in the top of the eighth inning. With Dustin Pedroia on third and David Ortiz on first with one out, A's right-hander Luke Gregerson appeared to strike out Mike Napoli swinging on a 2-2 pitch. But home plate umpire Quinn Wolcott ruled that Napoli had foul tipped the ball and that it hit the ground. Replays showed that Vogt actually caught the ball cleanly, but the play was not reviewable under baseball's replay rules.

"Quinn heard sound and thought there was a foul ball," crew chief Gerry Davis told a pool reporter. "This type of play happens quite often actually. It's a difficult call for us. And in order to change it, we have to be positive."

Gregerson bounced his next pitch and the ball hit Vogt, and as the ball ricocheted toward the mound, Pedroia made a mad dash home and scored with a headfirst slide.

Pedroia said the fact that the Red Sox have been struggling to score influenced his decision to head home on the wild pitch.

"It's definitely a little gamble," Pedroia said. "It all depends on the situation. I think righties are hitting, like, .150 off [Gregerson]. Obviously, that was a tough at-bat, so you have to try to make something happen."

The Red Sox have scored just six runs in three games against Oakland after scoring five runs in a three-game sweep of Minnesota.

"You got to keep grinding," Pedroia said. "Obviously, we're trying too hard. Sometimes you got to keep saying, 'Let the game come to you.' You have at-bats in big situations, sometimes they make pitches on you, but sometimes they make pitches to hit and you're looking for their best location instead of just relaxing and putting a good at-bat together."

Farrell said he's heard no complaints from his starting pitchers over the lack of run support.

"That's part of the game," Farrell said. "We're going to go through stretches where starters are going to go out and give you a quality start and come away with nothing in terms of a win or a loss. That's completely out of their control. They continue to go about their work in between starts as consistent as any other time in the year. We have to continue to band together and find ways to collectively put together a complete game, and that's been a tough run here in this series coming off what I thought was a hard-fought series with Minnesota at home."

The Red Sox wasted good chances to score in the sixth inning and again in the 10th when Jackie Bradley Jr. grounded a one-out single off Dan Otero and moved to second on Brock Holt's third single of the game. But Otero retired Pedroia on a fly ball to Craig Gentry in right field, and David Ortiz struck out.

"We fought hard in this game," Farrell said. "We created some opportunities. Rubby pitched outstanding, and we've got to continue to grind away. The left-on-base is what it is, but we got to continue to believe in our guys and put forth the same approach and effort that we do."

Rapid Reaction: A's 2, Red Sox 1 (10th)

June, 21, 2014
Jun 21

OAKLAND, California -- Right-hander Rubby De La Rosa allowed just one run and four hits over seven innings, but the Red Sox wasted his gem and fell 2-1 to the Oakland Athletics in 10 innings on Saturday afternoon at the Coliseum.

The Red Sox lost their third straight game to Oakland, baseball's winningest team at 47-28, and will try to avoid a sweep Sunday in the series finale.

The Red Sox scored a combined 13 runs in seven games before facing Oakland on Saturday. Now, make that 14 runs in eight games.

A's center fielder Coco Crisp hit a walk-off single against Red Sox closer Koji Uehara with one out in the 10th and scored Alberto Callaspo from second. Callaspo had walked against Edward Mujica and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Crisp lined Uehara's first pitch to right for his seventh walk-off hit of hsi career and second this season.

Controversial call: The Red Sox caught what appeared to be a huge break in the eighth inning when they pulled even at 1-1. With two outs, Dustin Pedroia on third and David Ortiz on first, first baseman Mike Napoli faced a 2-2 count against right-handed reliever Luke Gregerson. Napoli appeared to strike out, but home plate umpire Quinn Wolcott ruled that he foul-tipped the ball and that it hit the dirt before catcher Stephen Vogt caught it. Video replay showed that the ball went directly into Vogt's glove, but the play was not reviewable under baseball's replay rules. Gregerson bounced his next pitch off of Vogt, and as the ball rolled toward the mound, Pedroia raced home to score on the wild pitch -- and scored easily. After Napoli flied out to right, an irate Bob Melvin continued arguing with Wolcott, and the Oakland manager was tossed.

Wasted opportunity: In the top of the 10th, Jackie Bradley Jr. grounded a one-out single to center off A's reliever Dan Otero and moved to second on Brock Holt's sharp single. But Otero retired Pedroia on a fly ball to right field, then struck out Ortiz.

Road warrior: Entering the game, De La Rosa was 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in two starts at Fenway Park and 0-2 with a 6.35 ERA on the road. On Saturday, he proved that his good stuff travels. He handcuffed the A's with his mid- to high-90s heat and nasty changeup. De La Rosa struck out seven, walked one and threw 100 pitches but got a no-decision.

Costly first hit: De La Rosa didn't allow a hit until the third inning, but it was big and costly. Leading off, A's right fielder Stephen Vogt launched a triple that hit near the top of the high fence in right-center. Vogt, who hit a 2-1 changeup, scored on Callaspo's sacrifice fly and gave the A's a 1-0 lead. That snapped De La Rosa's streak of 10 2/3 scoreless innings

No answer for Chavez: A's right-hander Jesse Chavez became the latest opposing pitcher to have his way with the slumping Red Sox. Chavez had a no-hitter through five innings and blanked the Red Sox for seven innings on four hits. Chavez came into the game with a 6-4 record and 2.93 ERA, but he looked like a Cy Young Award lock against Boston.

Missed opportunity: Right fielder Holt broke up Chavez's no-hit bid in the sixth, when he sliced a leadoff single to left field. Pedroia lined a single to right, which moved Holt to second and brought Ortiz to the plate. Ortiz grounded into a 3-6-1 double-play, and Napoli struck out looking at an 0-2 fastball on the outside corner.

Crime watch: Holt is making a habit of robbing Callaspo with diving catches in right field. He stole a likely extra base hit Friday night by racing far to his left in the sixth inning. On Saturday, Holt went to his right and made a diving catch in the second inning of Callaspo's liner. But Callaspo didn't come away empty; he was credited with a sacrifice fly and RBI for driving in Vogt.

GM: Glut of starters 'good problem to have'

June, 17, 2014
Jun 17
BOSTON -- The Red Sox still haven’t received word from Major League Baseball regarding starting pitcher Brandon Workman’s appeal of his six-game suspension handed out June 3. Farrell said that despite the lack of information, there has been no frustration with the situation.


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“We’ve communicated directly with Brandon to stay the course until deemed otherwise,” Farrell said. “We know his next scheduled start is Friday, we’ve got other options in place when we need to put those in motion. We’ll adjust when word comes down.”

The likely candidate to replace Workman if he is suspended is left-hander Felix Doubront (shoulder), who threw five hitless innings and struck out 10 in his third rehab start Sunday. Meanwhile, rehabbing right-hander Clay Buchholz (knee) is expected to make his second rehab start with Triple-A Pawtucket Thursday.

As the return of Buchholz and Doubront approaches, Workman (six innings, two runs allowed Sunday against Cleveland) and Rubby De La Rosa (seven shutout innings Monday) appear the logical candidates to be sent down despite their recent strong performances. Cherington described the situation as “a good problem to have.”

“We’ll see where we are when we get to that point. We’re waiting on a number of things,” Cherington said. “We just have to wait on a few things before we make any decisions. If we have tough decisions or tough conversations to have, I’ll take those tough conversations as opposed to the alternative of not having any tough decisions.”

De La Rosa shows his stuff against Twins

June, 17, 2014
Jun 17

BOSTON -- For Rubby De La Rosa, it’s never been about the stuff. What it has been about is the location and the sequencing of the stuff.

With a fastball that topped 100 miles per hour in his first start this season and a changeup in the range of the high 80s to low 90s, the 25-year-old Red Sox right-hander has the tools to be a frontline major league starter.

What De La Rosa showed during Monday night’s 1-0 shutout win over the Minnesota Twins was, at first, the makings of what had kept the Dominican Republic native from getting to Boston sooner. Through three innings, De La Rosa walked three and labored through the first nine outs, needing 50 pitches.

From there, De La Rosa showed restraint. After wiggling out of the third without allowing a run -- thanks to a perfect cut-off play by Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mike Napoli -- De La Rosa retired 13 straight to finish his night with seven scoreless innings of one-hit ball. He threw 106 pitches (a career high) and turned in the Red Sox's fifth straight quality start.

Although his fastball is, by its nature, overpowering, De La Rosa’s performance was calculated. De La Rosa, who was part of the package that came to Boston in the 2012 post-trade deadline blockbuster that purged the contracts and baggage of Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, used 13 ground-ball outs to stifle the Twins. He did so by throwing that fastball to contact.

[+] EnlargeRubby De La Rosa
Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY SportsRubby De La Rosa hasn't allowed a run in two career starts at Fenway (14 innings total).
“The awareness to what hitters did to him the last two starts, both in Baltimore and Detroit -- to go out and trust his fastball a little bit more, that set the tone,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “I think, more than anything, he should have gained some additional trust in the use of that pitch. It’s 93-98, he’s got plenty to go to.”

Then, and only when De La Rosa was ahead in the count, he could counter with the changeup, which he used to finish each of his three strikeouts.

“I throw one [the changeup] for the strikeout and one [the fastball] for contact,” De La Rosa said. “If I go 1-2, or 2-2, we’re not looking for contact.”

His outing set up a perfect bridge for the Red Sox relief corps. Working for a fourth straight day, Andrew Miller came on to start the eighth, striking out left-handed hitter Oswaldo Arcia.

Burke Badenhop nearly gave it away, but the right-hander extended his streak of scoreless innings to 15 2/3, giving Junichi Tazawa a night off while finishing the eighth. Although Badenhop loaded the bases with two outs, he reached back to get Brian Dozier swinging to end the threat.

Koji Uehara was perfect in the ninth for his 15th save of the season.

“A lot of emphasis isn’t given to tie ballgames just because you’re not in there with the lead all the time,” Badenhop said. “When you get in there with a tie game, [in the] 12th, 13th, 14th inning, whatever else ... I come on in the sixth -- those are games on the line just as much as if you’re up one, two or three.”

Twins starter Kevin Correia also was up to the task, allowing five hits in six innings. A.J. Pierzynski drove in Daniel Nava with a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning for the only run of the game.

But De La Rosa was just a little brighter. He hasn’t allowed a run in his two career starts at Fenway (14 innings total), becoming the first Red Sox pitcher since 1914 to start his tenure under such circumstances.

“Part of his learning curve is happening in front of our eyes,” Farrell said.

Even with that being said, it’s possible De La Rosa might not be long for Boston. With Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront working their way back on minor league rehabilitation stints, De La Rosa could be heading back to Triple-A Pawtucket before long.

“I’m not going to think about that now,” De La Rosa said.

His case to stick does come with some thought -- the attention to detail in Monday night’s win.

The throwing -- as it always has -- takes care of the rest.

“When a guy possesses that type of arm and that kind of repertoire,” Farrell said, “as long as he throws strikes, he’s going to have the ability to attack the best hitters in the game.”

Sox struggling to score as skid hits four

June, 6, 2014
Jun 6

DETROIT -- The inability to score runs continues to plague the Boston Red Sox.

They were held to seven hits in Friday night's 6-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park, Boston's fourth straight defeat.

The team has scored only 11 runs in those four games.

Maybe even more telling is that Boston, which has been one of the best teams in baseball at working the count and driving up opposition pitch counts for quite a few years now, managed only one walk for the game -- by Grady Sizemore with one out in the second.

That means that, aside from an error by Tigers shortstop Andrew Romine with one out in the sixth that allowed Dustin Pedroia to reach base, the Red Sox had only eight baserunners on Friday night.

"Obviously, we're scuffling," Boston manager John Farrell said. "We're having a rough go, as far as people getting on base and getting hits when they do."

Things looked promising for the Sox coming into the series.

Sure, they were about to face the same Tigers that swept Boston in Fenway Park less than a month ago. But Detroit hasn't been playing that way recently. Friday night's win broke the Tigers' five-game losing streak, and Detroit is still only 5-13 in its past 18.

On the mound for Detroit was lefty Drew Smyly, and the Red Sox came into the contest 13-8 against southpaws.

[+] EnlargeXander Bogaerts
Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY SportsXander Bogaerts narrowly missed a two-run homer in the first inning, settling for an RBI double.
And things certainly started out well.

Brock Holt led off with a line single up the middle and Xander Bogaerts followed by hammering a Smyly pitch to deep left-center. He thought he had a two-run homer.

"I hit it pretty good, I thought I had it," Bogaerts said.

But the ball hit the top of the fence and he had to settle for an RBI double as Holt scored easily. And the Red Sox seemed to be in good shape to add more with Pedroia, David Ortiz and Jonny Gomes the next three hitters.

But just as suddenly as Boston had taken a 1-0 lead, the offense vanished. Pedroia fouled out to first, Ortiz tapped a weak grounder to third and Smyly got Gomes looking.

Boston couldn't manage another hit off Smyly until Gomes' two-out double in the fourth. The hard smash, which ate up Nick Castellanos at third, could have easily been called an error. Jonathan Herrera had a double in the fifth, but the Red Sox didn't score again until the sixth. Smyly (3-4) allowed two runs (one earned) and five hits in six innings, walking one and striking out four.

"He was working inside and outside and changing speeds," Bogaerts said.

Boston managed its final run in the sixth.

Pedroia reached on Romine's error with one out and Ortiz followed with a single that sent Pedroia to third. Gomes then did what we are accustomed to seeing Red Sox hitters do in these situations. He battled back from a 1-2 count, got it to 3-2, fouled off several pitches and then hit a sacrifice fly to deep left-center to score Pedroia.

Boston could then manage only two singles off relievers Ian Krol, familiar foe Joba Chamberlain and struggling closer Joe Nathan.

Meanwhile, Red Sox starter Rubby De La Rosa (1-1) also got off to a good start but couldn't maintain it.

He retired the first six batters and then started leaving a few pitches up in the zone.

De La Rosa allowed single runs in the third and fourth innings and back-to-back home runs by Ian Kinsler and Torii Hunter with two out in the fifth. He left the game with two on and two out in the sixth, after throwing 96 pitches, 61 for strikes.

Burke Badenhop replaced him and got Rajai Davis on a groundout to end the inning.

De La Rosa's line: Four runs and nine hits in 5⅔ innings, two walks and five strikeouts.

"I made a couple of mistakes and I paid the price," said De La Rosa, who said he felt the same as he did when he pitched seven scoreless innings, struck out eight and didn't walk a batter in his first Red Sox start on May 31.

Farrell agreed.

"When he stayed down in the strike zone, he handled everybody in the lineup," the Boston manager said.

Detroit got two insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth off of Chris Capuano on Victor Martinez's home run and Austin Jackson's sacrifice fly.

The Red Sox, who had won seven in a row after losing 10 in a row, have now lost four straight, and the defending World Series champs are sitting at six games under .500.

"We've got to find a way to be consistent," Pedroia said. "You can't do that when you follow winning streaks with losing streaks. ... When you win seven or eight in a row, you feel like you're never going to lose again and when you lose 10 in a row you don't think you're ever going to win again."

De La Rosa impressive under pressure

June, 1, 2014
Jun 1
Rubby De La Rosa AP Photo/Michael DwyerDe La Rosa said that before Saturday's game, David Ortiz told him to ignore the events of Friday night and just "focus on pitching."

BOSTON -- Watching Friday night’s game from his hotel room, Red Sox starter Rubby De La Rosa saw the storyline for his start the next day take shape.

A benches-clearing skirmish? Three Red Sox hit by pitches while nobody on the Tampa Bay Rays was hit? Unprofessional, De La Rosa thought. Surely retaliation would have to come Saturday.

However, one of the 25-year-old’s teammates sought him out before Saturday’s game to make sure he didn’t feel responsible for enacting revenge.

“David [Ortiz] told me [to ignore] what happened last night,” De La Rosa said. “Focus on pitching and having fun outside.”

Most importantly, De La Rosa added, “It made me feel comfortable.”

Ortiz, the most vocal of all following the Red Sox and Rays' emotional affair Friday, notably declared that it would be war between the two teams after Rays ace David Price hit him with the first pitch he delivered to him that night.

But on Saturday night, in following Ortiz’s advice, De La Rosa ensured that the battle was one-sided.
De La Rosa fired seven scoreless innings in his first start as a Red Sox, allowing only four hits while striking out eight and giving up no walks as the Red Sox beat the Rays, 7-1. It was the first time ever that a pitcher recorded eight strikeouts while allowing no walks or runs in their first start at Fenway Park.

AJ I've heard whispers about how good this kid could be and I saw little glimpses of it in spring training. To actually see him do it on this stage and in this situation, especially after last night and all that went down, was impressive.

-- Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski
“That’s Rubby, when he’s on he’s one of the best pitchers we have,” outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. said. “The evidence tonight -- he pitched a very good game.”

De La Rosa himself said that he had everything working. His fastball sat in the high 90s throughout his outing, even reaching triple-digits on the Fenway scoreboard at one point during the third inning. He referred to his changeup as his best pitch on the night, recording six of his eight strikeouts with it. His slider was also effective, as he mixed it in often to keep the Rays hitters guessing.

“The biggest difference from a year ago to what we saw tonight was just an outstanding changeup,” manager John Farrell said. “A very good fastball, a lot of strikes, but the changeup was really the separator.”

Last year, De La Rosa struggled in his limited time in the majors, posting a 5.56 ERA out of the bullpen in 11 games for the Red Sox while often lacking command. On Saturday, De La Rosa looked strong, easily putting together the best start of his major league career.

“He threw three pitches for strikes at any time,” catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. “I’ve heard whispers about how good this kid could be and I saw little glimpses of it in spring training. To actually see him do it on this stage and in this situation, especially after last night and all that went down, was impressive.”

Farrell echoed Pierzynski while applauding the work he was able to do catching the young De La Rosa.

“I thought for the first time that A.J. caught him they worked very well together, Farrell said. “Given the environment, given what we went through last night, he was outstanding.”

Farrell admitted that the decision between De La Rosa and fellow Triple-A prospect Allen Webster leading up to Saturday was a difficult one to make. He said he relied primarily on advice from Pawtucket manager Kevin Boles and pitching coach Rich Sauveur in choosing De La Rosa.

The choice paid off for the Red Sox.

“Every pitch he threw and everything he was able to do, he looked like a big-league pitcher out there that’s been here for 10 years,” Pierzynski said.

What a difference a win streak makes

June, 1, 2014
Jun 1
BOSTON -- When asked about the difference a week or so has made for the Boston Red Sox, catcher A.J. Pierzynski approximated it to be “about six wins.”

After dragging themselves from the doldrums of a 10-game skid, the Red Sox have now amassed a six-game winning streak, following Saturday night’s 7-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. With it, they become the first Major League team since the 2004 Baltimore Orioles to have won six straight after a losing streak of 10-or-more games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The last time the Red Sox had a losing streak of more than 10 games, followed by a five-game winning streak, was in 1994 -- the same year Butch Hobson was fired as manager.

[+] EnlargeJackie Bradley Jr.
Jared Wickerham/Getty ImagesJackie Bradley Jr. was hit in the nose with the ball and slammed his face into the wall while trying to catch a Kevin Kiermaier blast in the eighth inning.

Through the whirlwind upswing, the Red Sox have intertwined a mix of anxiety and exhilaration -- chalking up back-to-back walk-off wins, including Friday night’s extra-inning victory over the Rays. Perhaps more importantly, the Red Sox didn’t allow emotions to get the best of them entering Saturday’s affair. After seeing their managerial depth chart challenged by the ejections of three coaches in Friday’s contentious duel with Rays ace David Price, things settled down.

Granted, Saturday's game was still a black-and-blue affair. There were two hit-by-pitches -- Mike Carp again was plunked (albeit on an errant 72 mile-per-hour curveball) and Tampa catcher Ali Solis took one off the nose (after a Rubby De La Rosa wild pitch in the dirt). Jackie Bradley Jr. bore the biggest lick of the night, taking a ball to the nose after crashing head-first into the left-center field wall trying to corral a Kevin Kiermaier blast -- which went for an inside-the-park home run.

But, like Bradley Jr., the Red Sox emerged no worse for the wear.

“I asked them how close I was to [the ball],” Bradley Jr. said of his close encounter with the Green Monster. “That was the first thing I thought of.”

Entering Saturday’s action, the biggest question surrounding first pitch was the specter of retaliation and whether the umpiring crew would fire the opening salvo, warning the teams before a pitch was even thrown.

The war of words continued before the game, as Price criticized David Ortiz’s edict of “war” against the Rays -- comparing it to when NFL tight end Kellen Winslow infamously proclaimed he was a solider while at the University of Miami in 2003. Also, Farrell again voiced his belief that Price should have been ejected during Friday night’s game.

Despite that hot air, it was business as usual at the ballpark. No warnings were needed by the umpires, and everyone behaved.

“We met with the umpiring crew before the game, just with the chance to talk about a couple of things and that was it,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said.

[+] EnlargeRubby De La Rosa
AP Photo/Michael DwyerIn his first Major League start since 2011, Rubby De La Rosa was in command throughout, striking out eight and walking none in seven shut-out innings.
The Red Sox moved on and continued to stockpile the W’s, as De La Rosa turned in an impressive performance, taking the turn of Clay Buchholz (now on the disabled list). In his first Major League start since 2011, De La Rosa was in command throughout, striking out eight and walking none in seven shut-out innings.

Brock Holt and Bradley hit their first home runs of the season (Holt’s first career) and even the bottom of the order produced. Jonathan Herrera was 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI while making a spot start in place of Dustin Pedroia at second base.

“I don’t think we ever lost sight of the team we could be,” said Holt, who’s reached base safely in 10 of the last 12 games. “I know nobody obviously wants to lose 10 in a row. To come out, I think that David Ortiz home run in Atlanta put a little jolt in us and kind of told us we can come back and win this game. And when he did that, kept rolling from there.”

Pierzynski insists it’s still the same ballclub, however.

“I wouldn’t say there’s a magic potion or a formula,” he said. “Nothing’s changed. Guys have been going about it the same way, the difference has been winning games. We’ve been pitching better and getting hits when we need them.”

De La Rosa called up; Nava sent down

May, 31, 2014
May 31
BOSTON -- As right-hander Rubby De La Rosa was called up from Triple-A Pawtucket to make Saturday night’s start in Boston, the Red Sox optioned outfielder Daniel Nava back to Pawtucket to make room on the 25-man roster.

Red Sox manager John Farrell said the decision to send Nava back down after he appeared in five games for Boston was largely predicated on the state of the team’s bullpen.
“Given the workload of the bullpen of late, we wanted to keep Alex Wilson with his multi-inning capability in the event that the need arises,” Farrelll said, “so that we’re not overtaxing that group.”

Farrell also said that the Sox wanted to keep Milton, Mass., native Alex Hassan on the roster, after the outfielder was called up from Pawtucket on Friday, to provide a needed right-handed bat.

De La Rosa, 25, has pitched in 25 career Major League games, making 10 starts -- all with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He has a 4-7 combined record and 4.21 ERA.

Nava has hit at a .130 clip in 22 games for the Red Sox this season. While with the PawSox, he hit .253 with three home runs and 14 RBIs.
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Jonathan Herrera, the odds-on favorite to win the job from the time the Red Sox acquired him in a trade from Colorado for left-hander Franklin Morales, appears set to open the season as the team's utility infielder.

Herrera beat out holdover Brock Holt, his superiority at shortstop the primary factor, according to manager John Farrell. Holt was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket.

“While Brock has made strides on the left side of the infield, particularly from the start of last year, we felt with the acquisition of Jonathan there was more middle-of-the-field experience and that's the choice made," Farrell said.

Herrera, a native of Maracaibo, Venezuela, has spent parts of the previous five seasons with the Rockies, appearing in 375 games. He has split most of his time between second (181) and short (114), with 43 appearances at third base. Because of his lesser familiarity with the position, the Sox have played him primarily at third this spring; he started there Thursday night and made his best play in the sixth, charging a ground ball by Francisco Cervelli and throwing him out while on the run.

The Sox made two other roster moves Thursday, optioning pitcher Rubby De La Rosa to Pawtucket and reassigning Brandon Snyder to minor-league camp. De La Rosa, who posted a 7.36 ERA in four relief appearances, giving up 13 hits and walking 3 in 7 1/3 innings, will start in Pawtucket, Farrell said. De
La Rosa, who came with pitcher Allen Webster from L.A. in the Adrian Gonzalez/Carl Crawford/Josh Beckett deal, is further along than he was last spring, when he was still coming back from Tommy John surgery.

"The biggest difference is there are no restrictions, as was last year when in the month of April it was no more than three innings, 50 pitches," Farrell said. "Those restrictions are taken off him.

"The last couple of times out, there's been a couple of adjustments made: one to his delivery, where we take him from a full delivery to one where he keeps his hands in front of his chest. We also started to add a little bit more of a curveball to the mix to give him a little bit more of an off-speed pitch [to complement his fastball and changeup]. We feel those two adjustments will help him not only command his fastball better but give him some off-speed to attack a given hitter with.

"With Rubby, it's not a matter of stuff but better location."

Takeaways from the Fort: College sweep

February, 27, 2014
Feb 27
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Takeaways from the Fort after the Boston Red Sox beat Northeastern and Boston College by the identical scores of 5-2:

[+] EnlargeGrady Sizemore
Michael Ivins/Boston Red Sox/Getty ImagesGrady Sizemore was 0-for-2 Thursday in his first game action with the Red Sox.
Grady Sizemore looked comfortable on a baseball field. It has been two years since he was able to say that. Sizemore played left field and went 0-for-2 in his two at-bats, flying out and lining out. He is scheduled to play again Saturday.

"He's working hard," David Ortiz said. "Looked good. Trying to stay healthy. We'll see how it goes."

When someone asked a follow-up question about Sizemore, asking Ortiz what he sees, he replied: "Looks all sexy and good-looking. What do you want me to tell you?

"He's a great player, man, but he's just been dealing with injuries. Sad, man, that he's dealing with injuries. It's hard to want to continue playing when things go that way, but he looked good to me."

• A dozen pitchers got in work for the Sox, six in each game. Brandon Workman started the first game, Rubby De La Rosa the second. Each pitched two scoreless innings, allowing a hit and striking out two.

"I thought for the most part we threw strikes, stayed in control of the count for the better part of the guys who walked to the mound,"Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "And it was good to see guys in game situations, to see their instincts."

• Nonroster outfielder Corey Brown was hit in the back of the left hand while swinging at a pitch in the third inning of Game 2 and was taken out for precautionary reasons, but checked out OK afterward, Farrell said. No fracture of any kind, he said.

• Catcher Christian Vazquez hit the day's only home run, a long ball over the top of the left-field wall, in the second game.

• Three players had two hits apiece for the Sox on Thursday: third baseman Garin Cecchini, first baseman Travis Shaw, and catcher Ryan Lavarnway. Shaw and Lavarnway each had a double.

[+] EnlargeOrtiz
AP Photo/Steven SenneDavid Ortiz smiles after getting fooled by a pitch from Northeastern's James Mulry.
• The Sox remain undefeated against their college visitors, 12-0 against Northeastern and 24-0 over BC. The Huskies actually took a 2-1 lead into the sixth, but the Sox scored four runs in the bottom of the inning, helped by a double error and a triple by Scott Cousins, the former Marlin.

• The only extra-base hits by the college kids were doubles by Northeastern freshman Jimmy Hand in the first game and Boston College senior first baseman John Hennessy in the nightcap. Hand is from Georgia, Hennessy from Andover, Mass. Another Andover kid, Huskies freshman Dustin Hunt, pitched two scoreless innings in the first game, while West Roxbury (and Boston Latin School) pitcher James Mulry had a moment to savor for Northeastern when he retired Dustin Pedroia on a called third strike and struck out David Ortiz, the next batter, with a breaking ball on which Ortiz was fooled badly, sending him back to the dugout laughing.

"He threw me a nasty breaking ball," Ortiz said. "He can party tonight."

Something for the kid to talk about years from now? "Why that long?" he said. "He can have a drink tonight, say, 'I struck out Papi.'"

De La Rosa keeps up work with Pedro

January, 11, 2014
Jan 11
BOSTON -- If last year’s spring training proved anything for the Red Sox, it’s that pitcher Rubby De La Rosa can bring it.

Following Tommy John surgery in 2011 that limited him to one major league appearance with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012 before returning to the minors and being traded to Boston, De La Rosa wowed spectators last spring, easily hitting triple digits with his fastball and featuring a changeup taught to him by Red Sox legend Pedro Martinez.

[+] EnlargeRubby De La Rosa
J. Meric/Getty ImagesRubby De La Rosa, who wasn't fully healthy in 2013, says he's finally feeling 100 percent and "can't wait for the season to start."
However, De La Rosa still wasn’t fully healthy in 2013. The Red Sox optioned him to Triple-A Pawtucket, where his pitch count as a starter remained limited up until being called up to Boston as a reliever and posting little success in 11 appearances (0-2, 5.56 ERA).

Now, five weeks away from this year’s spring training, De La Rosa is fully healthy and ready to once again catch everybody’s attention.

“I finally feel 100 percent good, mentally [and] physically,” De La Rosa said. “I’m excited, can’t wait for the season to start.”

In Boston for the Jimmy Fund’s annual New Stars for Young Stars event, De La Rosa spoke of his expectations for next season, one that could stand as a make-or-break year for the 24-year-old former top prospect.

“Last year, I didn’t have that feeling like I can throw the ball at 100 percent,” De La Rosa said. “Now I can do it, now I feel comfortable.”

Perhaps the comfort stems from another year working with his mentor Martinez. The two have worked together in the Dominican Republic, where De La Rosa has been pitching for the Tigres del Licey of the Dominican Winter League.

Although he hasn’t been told if the organization plans to use him as a starter or reliever this year, De La Rosa said he will be excited to contribute either way.

“Whatever the team wants, if they need me in the bullpen or if they need me as a starter I’m fine with that,” De La Rosa said. “I’d like to be a starter [but] I’ll go to the bullpen happy.”

Sox will keep minding their own business

September, 13, 2013

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- It’s one of those quirky things that happens to teams every September.

The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Red Sox Thursday night to salvage the final game of their three-game set with a 4-3 win. And as soon as the game was over, they became Sox fans, rooting for Boston to do their dirty work for them against the New York Yankees this weekend at Fenway Park.

Tampa Bay’s prolonged free fall -- they were a major league worst 4-13 since Aug. 25 and had lost five straight before Thursday night’s win -- has left the Rays feeling some heat from the Yankees, who come into Boston just a game out of a wild-card spot after taking three of four from the Baltimore Orioles.

How do you kill off the Yankees -- on life support after three excruciating losses to the Red Sox last weekend in the Bronx -- the team no longer able to depend on a late-September lift from captain Derek Jeter, who is through playing hardball this season?

"You’re never going to kill them off," said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who hit his 12th home run and threw out his third straight baserunner attempting to steal, each with a strong, accurate throw. “They’re such a veteran team. They’re going to battle. That’s a good coaching staff, and the guys that have filled in are good veteran guys that have been there before. They’ve got a lot of guys who can pull their clubhouse together.

"The Yankees were rooting for us this series, and now the Rays are. Weird, isn’t it?"

For Jonny Gomes, disposing of the Yankees once and for all is not on his to-do list, which he purposely keeps very short.

"We’re in a situation where we don’t look outside this clubhouse," Gomes said. “We don’t scoreboard-watch, we don’t worry about who’s pitching. We beat everyone already, you know. We’ve beat teams’ aces. We’ve scored a lot. We’ve won close games.

“That’s what happens in here. We’ve set ourselves up where if we play our game, we win [the division title]."

There’s no need, Gomes said, to admonish this bunch about paying attention to the task at hand.

"We’ve played our butts off all the way up to this point," he said. "We control our own destiny. I don’t think we need to tell anyone to focus on our game and not what [other teams] do. It’s pretty easy."

[+] EnlargeWill Middlebrooks
Kim Klement/USA TODAY SportsPinch hitting in the ninth, Will Middlebrooks hit the ball on the nose, but it was right at Rays third baseman Evan Longoria.
The Rays would have found themselves in a virtual tie for the second wild-card spot had they lost to the Red Sox, who had won seven of their past eight and put the go-ahead runs on base in the ninth on a one-out infield hit by Stephen Drew and a four-pitch walk to pinch hitter Mike Carp, whose 10th-inning grand slam the night before shocked the Rays.

Sox manager John Farrell then called upon Will Middlebrooks, who was pinch hitting for the first time all season. The young third baseman, who had been given the night off so that Xander Bogaerts could get a start, started thinking by the sixth inning he might hit.

"I was ready," he said. "I didn’t hear anything until the eighth. I saw [Fernando] Rodney warming up, and I told a couple of guys I want him if the situation comes up. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the run in."

Middlebrooks crushed a pitch from Rodney but lined it right into the glove of third baseman Evan Longoria for the second out of the inning. "Tough one to swallow," he said. Rodney then got to go into his flaming-arrow act when he retired Dustin Pedroia on a pop fly to end it.

Middlebrooks, too, did not have the Bronx on the brain.

"We’re not worried about anybody but ourselves, man," he said. “If we lose, we beat ourselves. We’re a good team. We’re not worried about the Yankees. We’re not looking at the standings. Just come to play baseball, and win every day."

The Rays broke a 3-3 tie in the eighth against Rubby De La Rosa when Longoria doubled and scored on a two-out, fly-ball double by Wil Myers that fell just inside the right-field foul line. Farrell had committed to giving a breather to his usual suspects in the pen and turned to Drake Britton and De La Rosa as setup men, with Franklin Morales held in reserve to close. Britton pitched a scoreless seventh and got the first out in the eighth.

De La Rosa gave up a ground-rule double to Longoria on an 0-2 slider -- Saltalamacchia was chiding himself afterward, saying he shouldn’t have asked De La Rosa to try to duplicate the excellent slider he’d thrown on the previous pitch, at least not right away -- and Myers’ fly ball kicked up chalk.

"When you get to this point," Rays manager Joe Maddon said, “there are always these little moments that occur, and it is about inches, whether it goes your way or not. Finally, we got a break tonight."

The Rays had taken a 3-1 lead against Sox starter Jake Peavy in the first four innings. Longoria tripled in the second and scored on a single by Myers. David DeJesus walked -- one of five issued by Peavy in six innings -- and scored on James Loney’s two-out double. And Desmond Jennings hit a two-out home run in the fourth.

The Sox, whose first run came on the home run by Saltalamacchia -- who broke an 0-for-21 slump -- tied the score in the sixth when David Ortiz hit his 27th homer to open the inning. Saltalamacchia walked, stole second, then scored on Drew’s double.

But there would be no adding to their total of 22 last-at-bat wins. Not on this night. Instead, they make a trip home for nine games against the Yankees, Orioles and Blue Jays and a chance to clinch the division on their own terms, on their own turf. The magic number remains at eight. The Bombers become the first order of business.

“I don’t know that we wrote them off," Farrell said of the Yankees. “[Alfonso] Soriano has come to that team. [Alex] Rodriguez has come back. Their offense is a strong one. We saw them for four games. No lead was seemingly safe. They’ve done an awesome job to be in the position they’re in given the number of games missed by their regular players.

“You respect the way they go about their work. Their pitching has been constant, and they’ve scored a lot of runs of late. And this weekend is going to be, as we’ve looked at every series over the course of the season, challenging in and of itself.

“I think there will be excitement around the three games we play. Every time we play them is a spectacle, and we’re going to see Mariano [Rivera] for the last time, hopefully. Looking forward to a really good series.’’