Red Sox

Red Sox now seem open to starting David Price, but it's probably too late

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Red Sox now seem open to starting David Price, but it's probably too late

HOUSTON — Red Sox manager John Farrell on Friday cracked the door to the potential for a David Price start later in this series. The Sox have some reason to kick themselves for not having already gone down that road, because it may be the only bold maneuver that might have greatly impacted Game 2’s 8-2 loss to the Astros.

Price threw 38 pitches and 2 2/3 innings of one-hit ball out of the bullpen in Friday’s 8-2 loss, keeping a 4-1 deficit where it was. His time on the mound was the best chance the Sox had. The Sox could have started Price in Game 2 and then followed with Drew Pomeranz, rather than vice versa. Pomeranz pitched two-plus innings and allowed four runs.

The early holes the Sox have found themselves in are trying. 

"We got to hopefully try to score first," Xander Bogaerts said Friday. "I feel like these guys always score before us, and we’re kind of in a hole right away. And especially on the road, we start hitting first and we have a chance to score first and it just hasn’t happened."

Asked after Friday’s game if Price could start later in this DS, Farrell did not rule out the possibility, but said that won't happen in Game 3 on Sunday, when Doug Fister has the ball. 

“It wouldn't be on Sunday,” Farrell said. “I think that what we're seeing is 40 pitches is about the comfort zone which he's been built out at. He's throwing the ball very well. He comes in with his back against the wall in a key spot, gets two big outs to end the threat, he's throwing the ball very, very well. Cutter to both sides of the plate, has shown a feel for a changeup, full assortment of pitches that he typically has, he's done a very good job.”

The trouble is that every game the Sox have this series now is an elimination game, and staying away from Price in relief will be difficult. Farrell said he expects Price will be available in relief on Sunday.

“The way he's bounced back, I would anticipate he would be ready or available,” Farrell said. “But we’ll check and see how we get through tomorrow's workout and how he bounces back. But that would be my anticipation at this point.”

Likely, 38 pitches is asking too much for Price to repeat Sunday on just one day’s rest, which is why Price probably couldn’t start Sunday — but could nonetheless be available in relief. 

The logical point does exist though: if a guy can pitch in relief, why couldn't he start, even if it's brief?

The Sox put Price in the 'pen because they felt it would better benefit his health. They were aggressive with Eduardo Nunez, and took criticism for doing so, so it's hard to fault them when they're in turn conservative with health situations.

"If fatigue is the precursor to injury, at least you have the ability to control that more so in this role, just by virtue of not pitching him if there’s been frequent use vs. that 90 to 115 pitch range where, is that when things start to expose him or expose him to a greater risk," Farrell said five days ago. "Yeah, you can make the argument that if you control the frequency of use, maybe they are less susceptible to injury. The one thing that we’ve been very clear on, when we’ve warmed him up, we’ve gotten him in a game. So, I think that’s sometimes traditional … Bringing a guy out of the bullpen traditionally, sometimes a starter may not want that. But when it’s him, because of the conditions he’s come in under, they have to understand, once he warms up, he’s in the game. So, that’s where we are with David.”

None of that precludes a start of 40 pitches, or even fewer, however.

If Price could go unused in a Sox win on Sunday, perhaps a Game 4 or Game 5 start becomes viable, if just for two or three innings. And that could be perhaps the tone-setting difference that could give the Red Sox some tiny sliver of hope.

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Red Sox bullpen runs into trouble with Twins in 6-2 loss

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Red Sox bullpen runs into trouble with Twins in 6-2 loss

MINNEAPOLIS -- Eduardo Escobar, yet again, gave the Minnesota Twins the go-ahead hit.

Two of them, of course. He's become a doubles machine.

With a two-base hit that drove in two runs off Chris Sale in the sixth inning and another that launched a four-run eighth, Escobar led for the Twins to a 6-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night.

"I don't know if he can keep up that kind of torrid pace, but we're seeing a guy who is supremely confident," Twins manager Paul Molitor said.

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Robby Scott (0-1), just recalled from Triple-A, relieved Sale to start the eighth and walked the first two batters. Joe Kellyentered, and Escobar's one-out line drive bounced in front of Jackie Bradley Jr. and skipped past the center fielder as two runs scored. The official scorer later changed his ruling from a single to a double, giving Escobar a majors-leading 32 for the season. Robbie Grossman broke the game open with a two-run triple.

Escobar is on a season-long pace for 75 doubles, which would blow by Earl Webb's record of 67 doubles in 1931 for the Red Sox.

"Let me tell you: If they don't catch the ball I'm going to run to second base, 100 percent," Escobar said. "My mentality when I make contact with the ball is to run all the way to second base."

Escobar, who will be a free agent in the fall, has for the fourth straight season been slated for a utility role only to hit his way into regular duty after a setback in the infield. This year, injury and ineffectiveness for third baseman Miguel Sano paved Escobar's way into the everyday lineup.

"If he doesn't have a double a day, it's like a disappointment right now. He's unbelievable. He always finds a barrel," said teammate Trevor Hildenberger, who struck out American League RBI leader J.D. Martinez with runners at second and third to end the seventh after relieving Jose Berrios.

The Red Sox went 2 for 13 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base.

"Whenever you have a chance, you have to catch him," Boston manager Alex Cora said.

EVAN DRELLICH

MOUND MASTERY

The late surge masked a classic pitching duel between Sale and Berrios, the six-time All-Star against the budding ace. Sale retired the first 14 batters he faced before Ehire Adrianza's soft roller to Rafael Devers at third base went for an infield single.

With a two-out home run by Devers in the sixth off Berrios, the Red Sox were in control. All it took was a single by Ryan LaMarre and a hit by pitch for Joe Mauer, though, to start a rally in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Escobar drove a 1-1 slider near the dirt from Sale down the left-field line for a 2-1 lead. Escobar pumped his arms back and forth before clapping and pointing at his teammates in the dugout.

"You know this guy. Every pitch is nasty," said Escobar, once a minor league teammate of Sale's in the Chicago White Sox system. "I guess I made good contact."

Sale finished seven innings, the 12th time in 16 starts this season he has logged at least six. This was the 11th turn in which he's yielded two runs or fewer and his fifth double-digit strikeout performance. In his last three starts, he has allowed only 11 hits in 21 innings. Yet the Red Sox are only 8-8 with him on the mound.

"I'm not going to hang my head about it. I know these guys in here want to win. I know they're not doing anything different on my day," Sale said. "Maybe I'll bring popsicles or something for the boys."

REED RELIEF

Struggling Twins right-hander Addison Reed, who has appeared in only one of the previous six games, has been at least temporarily removed from his setup role. Zach Duke (3-2) took the eighth inning instead and, with two outs, surrendered Sandy Leon's tying single that drove in Devers.

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TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: 2B Dustin Pedroia, who has played in only three games this season because of inflammation in his left knee, has still not been cleared for baseball activities since returning to the DL three weeks ago. The lack of progress has been concerning, Cora acknowledged. "It was major surgery. We didn't know what to expect. So we are where we are now, hoping that, yeah, he'll be back. When? We don't know," Cora said.

Twins: RHP Ervin Santana, yet to appear this season because of a slow recovery from surgery on his middle finger, threw a 35-pitch bullpen session before the game. He'll face live hitters on Friday, another step forward after his setback last month.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: LHP David Price (8-4, 3.76 ERA) pitches Wednesday night. He is 6-0 in his last seven starts, with two runs or fewer allowed in all but one of those, when he gave up three runs. Price is 10-3 with a 2.52 ERA in his career against the Twins.

Twins: RHP Lance Lynn (4-5, 4.98 ERA) takes the mound in the middle game of the series. He's 3-1 with a 2.01 ERA over his last five turns, with a .195 batting average against him and 30 strikeouts in 31 1/3 innings.

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Padres' asking price from Red Sox for reliever is reportedly Devers

Padres' asking price from Red Sox for reliever is reportedly Devers

The Red Sox are interested in upgrading their bullpen by the July 31 trade deadline, but in seeking Padres lefty closer Brad Hand, Jon Morosi of MLB Network and FOX Sports reports that Rafael Devers would be San Diego's asking price.

Hand, 28, leads the National League with 28 saves, has a 2.25 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 36 innings pitched. Devers (.240, 12 HR, 36 RBI), the 21-year-old third baseman mentioned in trade rumors for the Orioles' Manny Machado, has heated up lately - he hit his third homer on the road trip Tuesday.

On Monday, Morosi reported that with Dustin Pedroia still out as he recovers from offseason knee surgery, Colorado Rockies second baseman D.J. LeMahieu "could be a trade match" for the Red Sox. 

With Pedroia still experiencing pain and swelling in his knee and shut down from baseball activity, the Sox could be in the market for infield help. LeMahieu, 28, has seven homers, 23 RBI and a slash line of .281/.327/.453. The right-handed hitter is batting .351 against lefties. 

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