Allen Webster threw a strike to begin the second inning, and then pitched eight straight balls. Two walks and another Webster unraveling appeared to be taking place. But he re-grouped. Were it not for an error, he would have escaped the inning without a run.
Webster (3-1, 4.79) ended up going six innings: 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 K. "W'e're seeing some small gains here," Boston manager John Farrell told reporters at Fenway Park after the Red Sox 9-4 win over Houston.
Another pitcher who could use some small gains this season is Clay Buchholz (5-7, 5.99). He starts tonight.
A couple weeks ago, I suggested that Pawtucket reliever Matt Barnes might become a reliever. He could dominate in the bullpen with his lively fastball, and he did not seem to go long in his starts. Since then, Barnes (6-8, 4.12) has pitched 21 innings total in three starts, allowing a total of three earned runs.
His Thursday effort was his longest: 8 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 3 K.
Mookie Betts (.339) was 2-for-5 ... Travis Shaw (.274) was 2-for-4 and hit his 21st home run (11 for Portland and now 10 for Pawtucket) ... Alex Hassan (.277) hit his seventh home run.
The Portland Sea Dogs were swept in a doubleheader at home Thursday. Justin Haley (0-2, 0.98) lost a 1-0 decision in his third Double-A start, going 6 2/3 innings: 6 H, 1 R, 5 BB, 3 K.
Portland (75-50) leads the Binghamton Mets (73-50) by a game in the Eastern League East Division, but are even in the loss column ... The top two teams in the division reach the playoffs, so Portland should be safe there. The Sea Dogs' magic number is five.
The Sea Dogs host Richmond tonight at 7.
Salem swept its doubleheader. Reed Gragnai (.304) was 2-for-5 for the two games,