Red Sox Notes: Justin Masterson’s Work Out Of Bullpen A Silver Lining

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July 19, 2015

The Boston Red Sox are going with an interesting tactic — not scoring runs — to open the second half.

The Red Sox were blanked for the second consecutive game Saturday. Garrett Richards tossed a complete-game, two-hit shutout as the Los Angeles Angels rolled to a 3-0 win at Angel Stadium of Anaheim.

One definitely needs to give credit where it?s due. C.J. Wilson was excellent while shutting down the Red Sox for eight innings in Friday?s series opener. And Richards was even better Saturday while guiding the Angels to their second straight win over the Sox. But Boston?s bats need to wake up before it?s too late.

Scoring runs is a prerequisite to winning baseball games, after all.

Let?s run down some notes from Saturday.

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— Rick Porcello, a sinkerballer whose bread and butter is supposed to be inducing ground balls, has surrendered 18 home runs in 18 starts this season. History suggests he won?t surrender any more — he?s given up exactly 18 homers in four of his six seasons before this year — but common sense says he?ll blow past the career-high 23 homers he served up in his rookie campaign in 2009.

Phil Hughes of the Minnesota Twins (22), CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees (19) and Anibal Sanchez of the Detroit Tigers (19) are the only three pitchers in the American League who?ve allowed more home runs than Porcello this season.

— While Porcello allowed just three runs (two earned), there was no rhythm to his outing whatsoever. He needed 102 pitches to record 15 outs in large because he fell into eight three-ball counts.

It looked several times like Porcello and catcher Ryan Hanigan weren?t on the same page, which is surprising given how well they worked together in the right-hander?s last start before the All-Star break.

“A lot of deep counts, a lot of pitches thrown and a slower pace than we’ve seen from him,? Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Porcello’s performance.

— Justin Masterson was the lone bright spot. He struck out four over three shutout innings in relief.

Masterson allowed just two baserunners — a hit batter and a single — and even generated seven swing and misses. His slider was sharp and he sat mostly around 90-91 mph with his fastball.

?Better stuff, more consistent late action to his two-pitch mix,? Farrell said. ?He?s thrown twice out of the bullpen now, and (Saturday) was better stuff all the way around. More velocity, more late action.?

The Red Sox could use some help in their bullpen. Perhaps Masterson will make an impact if the Sox pick their spots against right-handers.

— Steven Wright will start Monday?s series finale, according to Farrell. The knuckleballer owns a 3.91 ERA in four starts for Boston this season.

Joe Kelly wasn?t an option because he started Friday night at Triple-A Pawtucket. Kelly has been pitching well for the PawSox, so it wouldn?t be surprising to see him return to Boston soon, though it?s unclear in what capacity. A transition to the bullpen hasn?t been ruled out. Nor should it be.

— The Red Sox open a three-game series against the Houston Astros on Tuesday night. They?ll fly into Houston the day of the game rather than head for the Lone Star State following Monday?s finale against the Angels.

?The trade-off is you get into the next city at 6 a.m., and you start to weigh, is it best to sleep then? You?re not going to sleep much on a plane in a pressurized cabin,? Farrell told reporters before Saturday’s game. ?There?s a number of effects on the body.?

— Henry Owens earned his first win since May 5 as the PawSox defeated the Durham Bulls 5-1. The left-hander struck out nine and was charged with only one run over six innings.

— Catcher Christian Vazquez told MassLive.com he expects to throw Thursday for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery in early April.

Thumbnail photo via Ed Szczepanski/USA TODAY Sports Images

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