Big Papi gets breather, enters as pinch-hitter
Farrell inserts Sizemore in leadoff spot; Middlebrooks to have MRI on calf
BOSTON -- Designated hitter David Ortiz was not in the Red Sox lineup for Saturday night's game against Brewers right-hander Wily Peralta, but it was a planned off-day, manager John Farrell said.
"Looking at the schedule, the late-night travel, [Friday's] situation, so we've got to -- with all of our players -- just rotate guys through," Farrell said.
Ortiz had been in the starting lineup for the club's first four games. He has been dealing with a tight right calf muscle since Spring Training. But, that is not the primary reason for the off-day, according to Farrell.
"I think he deals with a little bit of tightness from time to time, but as much as anything, this was more of a planned down day," Farrell said.
Through the first four games, Ortiz was batting .353 (6-for-17) with a home run and three RBIs. He went 1-for-4 with a strikeout in Friday's home opener -- a 6-2 loss to the Brewers. He entered Saturday night's 7-6 loss to the Brewers as a pinch-hitter in the ninth and grounded out.
In the original lineup, Mike Napoli was the designated hitter, batting fourth, with Mike Carp playing first base and batting fifth. However, Carp was scratched with lower back tightness, moving Daniel Nava from left field to first and giving Jonny Gomes the start in left. Nava hit third, with Gomes in the No. 6 slot. Just before the game, Will Middlebrooks was removed from the lineup. Jonathan Herrera got the start at third and batted eighth. Middlebrooks is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Sunday morning for a right calf strain.
Grady Sizemore led off for the Red Sox. It's a slot he's familiar with -- 3,319 of his 4,059 career plate appearances have been in the No. 1 spot. In his first three games with the Red Sox, though, he hit in the six-hole. Sizemore is a career .274 hitter, with a .366 on-base and .488 slugging percentage batting leadoff, but hasn't hit at the top of the lineup since Sept. 8, 2011, while with the Indians.
Sizemore entered Saturday hitting .300 (3-for-10) with a home run and two walks. In the loss to Milwaukee, he went 0-for-4 with a walk and scored a run.
"He's obviously gotten on base here with some regularity in a spot where he's been familiar with his entire career," Farrell said. "He'll just give us a little bit of a spark at the top of the lineup.
"Just the way he's responding to games played, the aggressiveness in which he's running the bases, the frequency he's getting on base, all the above puts him in the spot tonight."
Sizemore had been out of baseball since Sept. 22, 2011, because of injuries. The Sox have said they would monitor him this season. On Friday, Farrell suggested Sizemore would play Saturday and possibly get Sunday off. Farrell is not concerned about the possibility of an extra at-bat on Saturday.
"We'll continue to monitor how he comes out of each and every game, and see where the best spot is for he and for our lineup," Farrell said.
Middlebrooks to have MRI on calf; Carp able to play
BOSTON -- Shortly before Saturday night's game, the Red Sox announced that Mike Carp, who had been in the lineup playing first base, batting fifth, was scratched because of tightness in his lower back. A few minutes later, third baseman Will Middlebrooks was scratched with what was called a right calf cramp.
While Carp was ultimately able to play, entering the game in the 10th inning, Middlebrooks' injury may be more serious.
Middlebrooks is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Sunday morning for what manager John Farrell called a right calf strain.
Farrell said Carp's back tightened up during batting practice and Middlebrooks felt his injury during pregame sprints.
Bullpen sets team mark with 15 whiffs
BOSTON -- Despite Saturday's 7-6, 11-inning loss to the Brewers, the Red Sox bullpen put up some impressive numbers to keep the team in the game. After starter Clay Buchholz struggled through 4 1/3 innings, giving up six runs on 13 hits, six relievers combined to hold the Brewers scoreless until Burke Badenhop gave up a run in the 11th, getting charged with the loss.
Chris Capuano, Brandon Workman, Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, Badenhop, and Andrew Miller pitched a combined 6 2/3 innings, giving up one run on six hits and a walk with team-record 15 strikeouts from the bullpen.
"Our bullpen saved us tonight," said manager John Farrell. "The number of pitches they had to throw, stressful pitches, Tazawa, Capuano, [they] all did an outstanding job. We're in 11 innings, even though Burke had pitched two innings [Friday], he was the one guy with some sink and some action to put the ball on the ground. Another double the other way and that's the difference in the ballgame."
Including Buchholz's outing, it was the first time in team history five pitchers each recorded three or more strikeouts. Capuano struck out four of the eight batters he faced, while Workman, Uehara, and Tazawa each recorded three.
Uehara struck all three batters he faced in the ninth on 13 pitches (10 strikes). He extended his regular-season scoreless streak to eight games, spanning 8 2/3 innings, with four hits and 11 strikeouts, dating back to Sept. 17, 2013, against the Orioles.
The 18 total strikeouts were the most by Sox pitchers in a game since striking out 20 at Philadelphia on June 12, 2009, in 13 innings. It was the most in a home game since Roger Clemens struck out 20 Mariners on April 29, 1986.
But, Sox pitchers also combined to allow 19 hits, the most in a game since also giving up 19 on May 8, 2013, against the Twins.
Victorino remains away from team with flu
BOSTON -- Red Sox right fielder Shane Victorino, on the disabled list retroactive to March 30 with a right hamstring strain, continues to stay away from his teammates as he deals with flu-like symptoms.
Victorino took part in the pregame ceremony for Friday's home opener, when the Red Sox celebrated their 2013 World Series championship, but left Fenway Park after the ceremony.
Manager John Farrell said Victorino would likely report to the clubhouse Saturday night during the game to get treatment and leave before his teammates return to the clubhouse.
"He's still in that phase," Farrell said. "I don't have an update on how long his separation from the team will be. That'll be dependent upon how quickly he gets through the flu."
Whether Victorino's illness affects the progress and rehab on his hamstring remains to be seen.
"I can't tell you if it's going to prolong the DL time or when his date of return will be," Farrell said. "I don't think we had a specific date on the calendar that we expected him back regardless of the flu. So [we've] just got to progress through it."
• Left-handed reliever Craig Breslow, on the disabled list retroactive to March 21 with a left shoulder strain, made his second rehab appearance for Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday night.
He threw one scoreless inning, in the second of back-to-back appearances, giving up a hit with one strikeout. In two appearances spanning 1 2/3 scoreless innings, he's allowed one hit and two walks with one strikeout. Although, he was eligible to be activated Saturday, the Red Sox weren't ready to make the move.
"When his activation is yet to be determined," Farrell said. "The rehab plan was calling for two days down after back-to-back days, so we've got to get through these next two days first.
"[His stuff] continues to improve. He's getting closer. [Friday] was his fifth overall appearance [including Minor League Spring Training games]. So, we'll sit down and talk with Craig a little bit more specifically on what the next step is."
Asked whether it could be another Minor League game, Farrell replied: "All of it is a possibility."
• Buchholz made his first career appearance against the Brewers on Saturday night. In five previous appearances against National League teams, he was 4-0 with a 3.08 ERA. He last faced an NL team on June 19, 2012, earning the win over the Marlins.
• Including Friday's loss, this is the first time the Sox have lost their first two home games since 1997.
• Dustin Pedroia went 1-for-5 with a run scored and has hit safely in all five games.
• Xander Bogaerts went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, a double, and a walk, and has now reached base three or more times in three games this season. He has recorded a hit in four out of five games.
• The Sox, who did not spend one game at or below .500 last season, have been below .500 twice already this season.
Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.