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Rubby De La Rosa impressive in debut

De La Rosa fired 10 pitches from 96-98 miles per hour on Tuesday. He also threw a slider and two changeups.
De La Rosa fired 10 pitches from 96-98 miles per hour on Tuesday. He also threw a slider and two changeups.Bob Levey/Getty Images

HOUSTON — Before he was summoned from the bullpen to pitch the ninth inning Tuesday night, righthander Rubby De La Rosa had spent six days with the Red Sox this season without getting into a game.

He was called up briefly in June and didn’t pitch before being promoted again last week.

“I was kind of anxious,” the 24-year-old said. “I wanted to show these guys what I could do.”

De La Rosa certainly did that, retiring the side in order on 16 pitches, 12 of them strikes. He struck out the final two batters to preserve a 15-10 victory.

De La Rosa fired 10 pitches from 96-98 miles per hour. He also threw a slider and two changeups.

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“I thought he did a great job of channeling the adrenaline I’m sure was there,” manager John Farrell said before the Red Sox rallied for a 7-5 victory over the Astros Wednesday night. “You get that kind of power and the three pitches that he showed inside of an inning; it was very encouraging.”

De La Rosa was 3-3 with a 4.23 earned run average in 20 starts for Triple A Pawtucket. In his last five starts, De La Rosa allowed 20 earned runs over 8⅓ innings.

“I feel fine. I wasn’t pitching like I can pitch,” he said. “I’m glad they called me up. That helped me.”

The Red Sox seem willing to give De La Rosa a chance to help their bullpen in the pennant race.

“We saw him as a starter and being a depth starter throughout the course of the year,” Farrell said. “But as things emerged, the trade for [Jake] Peavy, now that we have the flexibility to put him in the bullpen, we’re certainly not going to get that kind of arm in a trade. He has the potential of really giving us a shot in the arm, no pun intended.”

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Farrell said there is no set plan on how De La Rosa might be used.

“Staying consistent with what we’ve done with other guys, as they pitch and as they gain confidence, that responsibility will grow,” he said. “But when you grade out the stuff, he can pitch in any role.”

De La Rosa appeared in 14 games for the Dodgers from 2011-12, four in relief.

“I’m used to it,” he said. “I can get ready in time and I think it’s good for me. I think my fastball is a little better, too.”

Carp gets the start

Mike Napoli was not in the opening lineup as Mike Carp played first base and batted fifth. Napoli, who took over for Carp in the seventh inning and was 0 for 1, is 0 for his last 15 and is hitting .202 with a .329 on-base percentage since the All-Star break.

Napoli was on the field early doing some extra work with the coaches. The focus was on keeping his bat in the strike zone and taking a shorter and quicker path to the ball.

“Today was a day to get him off his feet,” said Farrell. “He’s been grinding of late, and we felt like the extra work was needed, and a day off his feet.”

When asked if he would consider moving Napoli lower in the lineup, Farrell didn’t dismiss the idea.

“That’s something I need to talk about with Mike before we get into it any further,” he said.

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“Right now, he’s grinding, and as a result, I think the swing has gotten a little bit longer at times and that’s where you see him having to commit earlier to above-average velocity. Does that make him susceptible to a bigger strike zone? Possibly. These are the things that are being addressed daily.”

Napoli is hitting .250 with a .785 OPS and 64 RBIs and has struck out 147 times, the second most in baseball. Napoli also is hitting .211 with a .714 OPS with runners in scoring position.

Napoli came to the Red Sox a career .259 hitter with a .856 OPS. Farrell said his streakiness was not unexpected.

“Based on what he’s done to date, in many categories it’s either right on or not far off what was anticipated,” he said.

Thornton on DL

The Red Sox placed lefthander Matt Thornton on the 15-day disabled list with a muscle strain on the left side of his rib cage.

He was injured while throwing a pitch Sunday.

“Hopefully it’s a minor thing and I’ll be back in 15 days,” said Thornton, who has appeared in 10 games for the Sox since being acquired from the White Sox on July 12.

Thornton has been advised by teammates not to come back until he is fully healed because of the risk of aggravating the injury.

Thornton gave a vivid description of what happened.

“Felt a little cramp. Next pitch hurt a little bit and the third pitch took my breath away,” he said. “Had a pretty good idea on the third one I was hurt.”

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Farrell said Thornton would need “every bit of the two weeks” before he returns.

Righthanded reliever Pedro Beato was recalled from Pawtucket. The Sox could make another move once they arrive in Kansas City. Lefthander Franklin Morales threw an inning for Double A Portland and may be ready to come off the disabled list.

Morales, who is out with a pectoral strain, has appeared in four games on his rehabilitation assignment, throwing 5⅓ innings. He allowed a run on two hits with one strikeout Wednesday.

Travel plans

The Red Sox have an 8:05 p.m. ESPN game against the Yankees at Fenway Park Aug. 18 then a game at San Francisco the next day. Traditionally, the team would fly after the game. But the Sox are considering waiting until Monday morning in the hope of arriving in California better rested . . . David Ross, who is on the disabled list recovering from a concussion, will be in Pittsburgh Thursday to meet with Dr. Michael Collins, a specialist. If cleared, Ross would start a rehab assignment with Portland Friday. He is eligible to be activated Aug. 17 . . . Ryan Lavarnway celebrated his 26th birthday by not chasing any knuckleballs to the backstop . . . Houston’s battery of Jarred Cosart and Jason Castro have last names that are anagrams. According to the Value Over Replacement Grit blog, they are the second such pair in baseball history. Randy Nosek of the Tigers twice threw to Matt Nokes in 1985 . . . Starting Thursday morning, Triple A Pawtucket will begin selling tickets for any possible International League playoff games. Tickets will be on sale at McCoy Stadium, on pawsox.com, or by calling (401) 724-7300.

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Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.