BOSTON -- Just before left-hander Andrew Miller broke his left foot last July, he went through a stretch in which he was downright dominant. He is starting to look like that guy again.
In two innings on Tuesday against the Reds, Miller retired all six batters he faced, striking out two.
For the season, he is 1-0 with a 1.84 ERA in 16 appearances.
"Over the last year-plus, he's been equally good against right-handers and you can make the argument he's been better against them," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "His breaking ball has tightened up. Most importantly, he's thrown a high percentage of strikes and that's been the case since probably outing No. 4 this year and to date."
While control was once a major issue for Miller, he has been pounding the zone of late.
"I think there was a time before the foot injury last year, he was on an equal run," Farrell said. "We have a little history, so we know it takes him that first three weeks of the season to kind of let things click or two weeks of the season before it clicks. He simplified his delivery. He's pitching with a lot of confidence. He can miss bats and he can get away with pitches in the middle of the plate because he's a mid- to upper-90s kind of guy. He's got a lot going for him."
Bogaerts gets night off; Herrera starts at short
BOSTON -- The Red Sox gave shortstop Xander Bogaerts a breather on Wednesday, going instead with left-handed hitter Jonathan Herrera.
It was just the third time in 34 games Bogaerts has been out of manager John Farrell's lineup, and the first since April 26 against Toronto.
"A day off and a chance to get another left-handed bat in the lineup," Farrell said. "[Mike] Leake has been very tough on right-handers. As you see, there are some other alignments in the lineup that kind of reflect that as well."
Though Bogaerts has generally been pretty effective offensively this season, particularly as an on-base threat, he went 0-for-5 on Tuesday as his batting average dropped to .268.
"I wouldn't say [Wednesday's day off] is a mental breather," Farrell said. "He expanded the strike zone I thought on one at-bat when we had the bases loaded. They were giving him a heavy dose of breaking balls. I think it's more situational with the opposition and the opposing pitcher in Leake tonight, and really getting Herrera back in. It's been eight or nine days since he's been in there."
Like a lot of Boston's hitters this season, Bogaerts has struggled with men in scoring position, going 4-for-32.
"There may be a tendency to expand the strike zone at times with him," Farrell said. "There's more expansion of the strike zone, particularly up with the fastball and off the plate away with the breaking ball. Where we've seen a selective, patient approach with nobody on base, there might be more of a tendency to swing the bat in those situations."
Farrell hoping Sox can regain running threat
BOSTON -- Obviously the Red Sox lost a ton of speed this offseason when Jacoby Ellsbury signed with the Yankees. However, manager John Farrell likes to have a team that can make things happen with the running game.
Thus far, the Red Sox have been unable to do that, stealing just 11 bases in 20 attempts entering Wednesday night's game against the Reds.
"I think a year ago, when we were at full strength, we posed a threat even before the game was played in terms of [the perception] that this is a team that will look to run at any opportunity," Farrell said. "And it was a high success rate. Maybe it put the opposition, I don't want to say on edge, but they knew that was part of the game that had to be contended with."
There are a combination of reasons why that dynamic has been absent so far this year.
"As [Shane Victorino] was slow coming out, and Jacoby not here, maybe there wasn't the personnel to take advantage of situations as clear or as readily," Farrell said. "I will say there were probably a couple of times that we forced the issue and it didn't pay off. We're always trying to strive for not a number of stolen bases, but the success rate. That's our guide."
The Red Sox have tried several leadoff hitters this season but seem to have settled on Dustin Pedroia, who stole a career-high 26 bases in 2011 while adding 20 in '12 and 17 last year.
"Again, we can't make a basestealer out of somebody who isn't, even though Pedey has had some success in the past," Farrell said.
Liverpool, Roma to kick it at Fenway on July 23
BOSTON -- While Fenway Park may be home to the Red Sox, it will showcase two of Europe's greatest soccer teams in Liverpool FC and AS Roma on July 23 at 7:30 p.m. ET in an exhibition match.
Tickets for the event go on sale May 16 at 10 a.m. ET and range in price from $30 to $120. They will be available at redsox.com/footballatfenway or by calling 877-REDSOX-9 (877-733-7699).
The two teams last squared off at Fenway on July 25, 2012. This time around, Fenway will be divided into neutral AS Roma and Liverpool FC supporter sections, with the Liverpool "Kop" -- a section in its home stadium normally occupied by die-hard fans -- recreated in the bleachers and right field.
Cherington on panel for Science of Baseball event
BOSTON -- For the baseball fanatics in the Boston area -- and there are many of them -- there is an event this summer in which some of the most sophisticated nuances of the game will be discussed.
The event, now in its fourth season, is called Sabermetrics, Scouting and the Science of Baseball.
The date is Aug. 16-17 and the venue is Boston University's Metcalf Science Center.
The event will feature a distinguished panel of speakers, including Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington and Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow. Tom Tippett, the director of information services for the Red Sox, will also speak, among many others. There also could be some members of the Red Sox on-field staff on the panel. Red Sox manager John Farrell has spoken at the event in the past.
Only a limited number of tickets are still available. All ticket proceeds will go directly to the Jimmy Fund. Tickets are $140, but there are discounts for full-time students.
For more information, visit: http://www.saberseminar.com.