Red Sox injuries: Christian Arroyo (bone bruise), Kevin Plawecki (hamstring tightness) removed from Sunday’s series finale against Royals

The Red Sox received two potentially serious blows to their roster makeup in the process of falling to the Royals by a final score of 7-3 at Kauffmann Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

In the bottom of the fifth inning on a steamy day in Kansas City, Christian Arroyo needed to be removed from the game after colliding with center fielder Kiké Hernández while the two were going after a fly ball off the bat of Hunter Dozier that wound up going for a double.

In the process of trying to make an over-the-shoulder catch with his back towards the infield, the second baseman inadvertently bumped knees with Hernandez as he slid into the outfield grass.

As a result of the contact he made with Hernandez, Arroyo — who was in visible pain and seemingly could not put a ton of weight on his right knee — needed to be taken out and was replaced by Marwin Gonzalez at second base for the remainder of the contest.

Later diagnosed with a right shin bone bruise, X-rays on the 26-year-old’s knee did come back negative.

“Christian is sore,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith). “It’s right below the patellar. So he’ll be sore for a little bit. He had X-rays. Everything’s good. They moved his knee around. It seems like he’ll be OK. Obviously let’s see how it goes on the plane and when we get to Tampa.”

As noted by The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey, the Sox were planning on batting Arroyo leadoff for all three of their upcoming games against the Rays this week with left-handers on the mound for Tampa Bay, so this bone bruise certainly puts those plans in jeopardy.

Hernandez, meanwhile, was able to remain in the game after the fifth-inning collision, and he later described what happened on the play from his point of view.

“The collision happened after the ball dropped. I was coming in for the ball. He was still going back for the ball,” he said. “I wasn’t able to get out of the way because I was trying to keep up with the ball. We just happened to hit each other.”

Plawecki exits in fourth inning

Two innings before the collision that forced Arroyo out of this contest early, Hernandez was also somewhat involved in another Red Sox injury.

With one out and a runner at second base in the bottom half of the third, Hernandez fielded a line-drive single off the bat of Salvador Perez and attempted to gun down the runner — Whit Merrifield — at home.

Hernandez’s throw was errant, however, and it forced backup catcher Kevin Plawecki to leave his post and chase after the ball before it hit the backstop. He came up limping in the process of doing so.

Able to remain in the game for the remainder of the inning, Plawecki was ultimately pinch-hit for by Christian Vazquez in the top half of the fourth and was later ruled out with left hamstring tightness.

Based off what Cora told reporters (including The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham) during his postgame media availability, it seems as though the Sox are optimistic that Arroyo will avoid a stint on the injured list; though the same cannot be said for Plawecki.

“With Kevin, we’ll wait a little bit,” Cora said of the 30-year-old backstop. “He wanted to grind it out. We’ll know more [Monday]. I talked to [athletic trainer] Brandon [Henry] and he feels like with that one, we should wait to see where we’re at during the week.”

The Red Sox have Monday off as they prepare to open a three-game series against the Rays in St. Petersburg.

If Plawecki’s status is still uncertain after that, then it’s likely Boston would need to place him on the injured list and, in turn, call up another catcher.

Besides Vazquez and Plawecki, prospects Connor Wong and Ronaldo Hernandez are the only other catchers on the Sox’ 40-man roster and neither have any big-league experience.

Veterans with major-league experience such as Chris Herrmann and Jett Bandy, however, are currently playing for the Red Sox’ Triple-A affiliate in Worcester, so that would likely be the move.

That being said, neither Bandy nor Herrmann are currently on Boston’s 40-man roster, so a corresponding transaction would need to be made in order for one of the two to be added to the big-league roster.

(Picture of Alex Cora and Christian Arroyo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Wander Franco, baseball’s top prospect, to be called up by Rays ahead of this week’s series against Red Sox

The top prospect in baseball will most likely be making his major-league debut against the Red Sox this week.

That’s right, the Tampa Bay Rays will be calling up infield prospect Wander Franco ahead of Tuesday’s series opener against the Sox at Tropicana Field, according to the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin.

Franco, 20, is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 1 prospect in Major League Baseball and has been for the last two seasons.

Originally signing with the Rays out of the Dominican Republic for $3.85 million in the early stages of the 2017 international signing period, the switch-hitting infielder has since emerged as one of the game’s top young talents while being compared to the likes of the Indians’ Jose Ramirez and Blue Jays’ Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

This season alone, Franco has lit it up with Triple-A Durham, slashing .315/.367/.586 with 11 doubles, six triples, seven home runs, 35 RBI, 30 runs scored, 12 walks, 21 strikeouts, and five stolen bases over 39 games played (177 plate appearances).

Listed at 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds, Franco is a natural shortstop, but has also seen time at both second and third base with Durham this year and is likely to move around the infield when he joins the Rays as well.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, Franco “is an exceptionally advanced hitter for his age. The switch-hitter’s compact, level stroke and above-average bat speed from both sides of the plate grant him a controlled aggression most young hitters can’t match. His bat control allows him to make consistent hard contact while rarely striking out. He also has an innate ability to adjust his swing, leaving few holes for pitchers to attack. Franco stings the ball and has plus power potential, but his level swing leads to more line drives and ground balls than fly balls. He has shown in team competitions that he can put on a show in a home run derby. Franco’s body has already filled out. He is an average runner who will have to work to keep his speed with a thick, muscular lower half.

“Defensively, Franco’s soft hands, above-average arm and solid understanding of the game give him a shot to stay at shortstop, where he’s a potentially average defender. The Rays played him at second base and third base at the alternate site [last year] to help prepare for the possibility he could break into the majors at another spot. He has the tools to be an above-average or even plus defender at second or third.”

Assuming Franco, whose father and two older brothers played in the minors while two of his uncles — Erick and Willy Aybar — played in the majors, does make his big-league debut at the Trop this week, this will be the second time in four seasons the Rays have debuted one of their top prospects when going up against the Red Sox.

Back on May 22, 2018, shortstop Willy Adames, then Tampa Bay’s No. 2 overall prospect according to Baseball America, also made his major-league debut when the Sox were in town in St. Petersburg.

Adames, who is still just 25 years old, has since been dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers. That trade took place as recently as last month, with the Rays presumably making the move with the future of Franco in mind.

The Rays themselves have been on a bit of a tailspin of late, as they have dropped six straight to fall a half game back of the Red Sox for first place in the American League East.

Boston and Tampa Bay open up a three-game series in St. Pete on Tuesday night, and the likelihood of such a highly-touted prospect such as Franco making his long-awaited debut just adds more value to what should be a riveting week of baseball for both clubs.

(Picture of Wander Franco: Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Tanner Houck tosses 3 scoreless, no-hit innings in return to mound for Triple-A Worcester

Red Sox pitching prospect Tanner Houck took an important step in his road t0wards making a return to the big-leagues on Thursday night.

Fresh off being activated from the injured list after being shut down for more than a month due to flexor muscle soreness, Houck shined in his first start with Triple-A Worcester since May 4.

Matched up against the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs with Chris Sale among those in attendance at Polar Park, the right-hander tossed three scoreless, no-hit innings while walking just one and recording six strikeouts.

Sitting between 95-96 mph with his fastball, Houck punched out a pair in each of his three frames of work in the process of retiring nine of the 10 hitters he faced. Of the 45 pitches he threw, 26 went for strikes.

“In terms of today, I threw all my pitches,” Houck said following the WooSox’ 3-2 victory over the Iron Pigs. “Threw the four-seam, two-seam, slider. Only threw one splitter, but it’s just part of it. It’s about continuing to grow, and I feel 100%. So, excited to keep moving forward and doing what I can.”

For Houck, tossing three scoreless innings without a problem while facing live hitters in a competitive environment for the first time in well over a month is certainly an encouraging sign, both for him and the Red Sox.

“I was just excited to show up today and be able to get to play in a game,” Houck said when asked about potential next steps in regards to his throwing program. “Being away for as long as I did, definitely a little stir-crazy at the end there. I wanted to get back out there and play. Getting to see this team compete on a day-to-day basis and how great they’ve been just makes me want to get out there even more.”

Prior to getting shut down in early May, the 24-year-old hurler was viewed as one of, if not the top rotation depth option available to the Red Sox at the minor-league level if one of their regular starters had to miss a significant period of time.

In six appearances (five starts) with Boston since making his major-league debut last September, Houck has posted a 1.98 ERA and 2.92 FIP over 27 1/3 total innings of work. Two of those five starts came in April.

Assuming he is a full-go for his next start with the WooSox, one would have to think Houck will be able to increase his workload as he continues to build up his strength and work his way back towards garnering big-league consideration once again.

(Picture of Tanner Houck: Ashley Green/Telegram & Gazette)

Newly-acquired Yacksel Ríos earns win in Red Sox debut: ‘He’s a guy that from afar, he always intrigued me,’ Alex Cora says

Yacksel Rios’ Red Sox debut came just hours after the reliever arrived in Atlanta and was activated ahead of Wednesday night’s series finale against the Braves at Truist Park.

Acquired from the Mariners in exchange for cash considerations earlier in the week, it seemed as though the Sox were likely going to option Rios to Triple-A Worcester as opposed to keep him up in the majors.

That was not the case, though, as Boston instead optioned infielder Michael Chavis to the WooSox while keeping Rios on their 26-man roster.

Available out of the bullpen in his first game in a Red Sox uniform, the right-hander was called upon by manager Alex Cora in a rather crucial spot with two outs and runners at second and third in the sixth inning of a game his side was trailing, 7-6.

With two potential insurance runs in scoring position for Atlanta, Rios — donning the No. 75 — was tasked with getting out of the jam he inherited by going up against a formidable opponent in Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson.

Having faced Swanson four times prior to Wednesday, Rios, who was working with Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez for the first time, started out by peppering the outer half of the strike zone and initially falling behind in the count before getting a called strike to even things at 1-1.

His third pitch, a 97 mph heater, went for another called strike to get ahead in the count at 2-1. Two of the next three pitches were fouled off by Swanson, which put the right-handed hitter in a 2-2 count as the battle ensued.

On the seventh — and what would turn out to be the final — pitch of the at-bat, Rios delivered a low 88 mph slider that nearly wound up in the dirt and induced relatively weak contact off the bat of Swanson.

Rios was able to knock down Swanson’s 68 mph comebacker with ease and upon corralling the baseball, made the simple toss over to Bobby Dalbec at first base to record the putout and retire the side.

It was not much considering he threw all of seven pitches (five strikes) to end things in the sixth, but Rios’ effort would prove to be meaningful in the end, with the Red Sox coming back to defeat the Braves by a final score of 10-8 courtesy of a game-winning grand slam from Christian Arroyo in the top half of the seventh.

Because he was the last Boston pitcher on the mound before Arroyo came through in the clutch once more, Rios wound up picking up his his first win of the season in his Red Sox debut.

Of the seven pitches the 27-year-old threw on Wednesday night, four were four-seam fastballs and three were sliders. He sat around 95-96 mph with his four-seamer while topping out at 97.1 mph with it, and he also averaged 86.9 mph with his slider.

When speaking with reporters before Wednesday’s game, Red Sox manager Alex Cora acknowledged that Rios’ fastball was something that made him appealing to the Sox when he was designated for assignment by the Mariners earlier this month.

“He has a good fastball,” Cora said. “His fastball got better through the winter. He made some adjustments in spring training with the Rays. He went to Seattle. He gave up some runs and all that, but we believe that if we can use that fastball in certain spots, he should be OK. And the velocity is up, it just gives us another strong arm to our bullpen and that’s always good. So, we’ll see, we’ll see where it takes us.”

Rios, who turns 28 on June 27, was originally selected by the Phillies in the 12th round of the 2011 amateur draft out of high school. He made his major-league debut for Philadelphia in 2017 and has also spent time in the Pirates, Rays, and Mariners organizations.

After being let go by the Pirates over the winter and inking a minor-league pact with the Rays in February, Rios opened the 2021 season with Triple-A Durham, where he posted a 0.66 ERA and 2.31 FIP across 12 relief appearances spanning 13 2/3 innings pitched.

He was then dealt to the Mariners for cash on June 4, though his time in Seattle did not last long considering he gave up one run in each of his three outings with the club from June 5-10 and was later designated on June 11.

Like Cora, Rios hails from Caguas, Puerto Rico. And while the Sox manager might not know the righty all that well, he still has some familiarity with him dating back to the 2017 World Baseball Classic in which Cora served as Team Puerto Rico’s general manager.

“I know him, but I don’t know him that well,” said Cora. “But he’s a guy that from afar, he always intrigued me. We tried to actually add him to the roster in ’17 [for the World Baseball Classic], but he was trying to make a team with the Phillies at that time.

“But good kid, good fastball, good slider,” Cora added. “We’ll see where it takes us.”

Christian Arroyo comes through with game-winning grand slam as Red Sox finish off sweep of Braves with 10-8 victory

The month of Christian Arroyo continued for the Red Sox in Atlanta on Wednesday night.

With his side trailing 7-6 with two outs and the bases loaded in the top half of the seventh, Arroyo came off the bench and delivered in the clutch.

On a 1-2, 89 mph cutter at the bottom of the zone from Braves reliever A.J. Minter, Arroyo crushed his first career grand slam — and the Red Sox’ first grand slam of the season — 467 feet to left field.

Arroyo’s fourth homer of the year, all of which have come within the last 12 games, put Boston back up 10-7 and propelled them to a 10-8 victory to finish off a quick two-game sweep of Atlanta.

The Sox had initially gotten out to a 2-0 lead over the Braves on a two-run single off the bat of Hunter Renfroe right away in the first inning.

Garrett Richards, Wednesday’s starter for Boston, gave back one of those runs on an Abraham Almonte sacrifice fly in the second, but contributed to his own cause two innings later by following a Bobby Dalbec RBI single with a run-scoring knock of his own.

Matched up against his counterpart in Braves starter Ian Anderson, Richards laced a hard-hit double to right-center field for his first career hit that gave Dalbec more than enough time to score from first and make it a 4-1 contest.

Despite helping himself out, the veteran right-hander ran into some trouble in the latter half of the fourth when he issued a leadoff triple to Dansby Swanson. That would set the stage for the Braves to plate two more runs and cut the deficit back down to one at 4-3.

Xander Bogaerts coldly greeted Braves rookie reliever Kyle Muller in the fifth with an RBI double that drove in J.D. Martinez from first, and he, too, scored on a run-scoring base hit from Rafael Devers. 6-3 Boston.

Again given a sizable cushion to work with, Richards watched that three-run lead dissipate in an instant when he served up a game-tying, three-run home run to Swanson, which would simultaneously mark the end of his outing after failing to record an out in the fifth inning.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 84 (54 strikes), the 33-year-old did not throw a single curveball on Wednesday and instead operated with just his four-seam fastball and slider. While he did raise his ERA on the season to 4.36, Richards’ next start should come against the Rays back at Fenway Park next Wednesday.

Hirokazu Sawamura got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in relief of Richards, and he was able to preserve the 6-6 stalemate going into the sixth inning by retiring the first three hitters he faced.

The bottom of the sixth, however, was a different story for Sawamura, as he allowed the then-go-ahead run to score on a solo homer from Freeman, which put the Braves up 7-6.

Recently-acquired Yacksel Rios would have to come on for the Japanese hurler, and he wound up picking up his first winning decision with the Red Sox by getting Swanson to line out to limit any further damage.

From there, the Braves turned to veteran reliever Shane Greene, who yielded a leadoff double to Bogaerts, a walk to Devers, and a one-out walk to Christian Vazquez to fill the bases for the Sox’ Nos. 8 and 9 hitters.

Danny Santana was originally going to hit in that No. 9 spot, which led Atlanta to bring in left-hander A.J. Minter. Red Sox manager Alex Cora countered by swapping Santana for the right-handed hitting Arroyo, and that move paid dividends to say the least.

Arroyo’s slam gave Boston a 10-7 advantage going into the late stages. Brandon Workman and Darwinzon Hernandez combined to keep it that way by tossing a scoreless seventh inning, while Josh Taylor did the same in the eighth.

That paved the way for Adam Ottavino, not Matt Barnes, to come on for the save in the ninth.

Ottavino did allow one run to score to narrow the lead to two runs, but he benefitted from Ronald Acuna Jr. running into an out at third base on the very same play the run scored, and followed that by punching out Freeman on four pitches to preserve the 10-8 victory and notch his fourth save of the year.

With the victory, not only do the Red Sox extend their winning streak to three and improve to 42-27 on the season; they also move to a game back of the Rays for first place in the American League East.

Vazquez removed due to stomach issue

Catcher Christian Vazquez needed to be removed from Wednesday’s game in the seventh inning due to what the Red Sox called a stomach illness. He was replaced by Kevin Plawecki.

Next up: First off day in quite a while

The Red Sox will enjoy a much-deserved off day on Thursday after completing a run of 17 games in 17 days without a break. They went 10-7 in that stretch.

Following the off day, the Sox will open up a three-game weekend series against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on Friday night.

Right-hander Nick Pivetta is slated to get the ball for Boston in the opener, while fellow righty Jackson Kowar is lined up to do the same for Kansas City.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 8:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Christian Arroyo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Red Sox lose Ryan Weber on waivers to Brewers

Former Red Sox right-hander Ryan Weber has been claimed off waivers by the Brewers, the team announced earlier Wednesday afternoon.

Weber, 30, was designated for assignment by Boston on Monday, one day after getting lit up for 11 runs on 13 hits — four of which were home runs — two walks, and seven strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings of relief in Sunday’s 18-4 loss to the Blue Jays at Fenway Park, which was also his 2021 debut.

Designating Weber for assignment allowed the Red Sox to both recall infielder Michael Chavis from Triple-A Worcester to take his spot on the 26-man roster as well as acquire righty reliever Yacksel Rios from the Mariners to take his spot on the 40-man roster.

Chavis has since been optioned back down to the WooSox, while Rios will be activated by Boston ahead of Wednesday’s series finale against the Braves in Atlanta.

In parts of three seasons with the Red Sox (2019-2021), Weber posted a 5.54 ERA, a 5.27 FIP, and strikeout-to-walk ratio of 63:24 over 36 appearances (eight starts) spanning 89 1/3 total innings of work.

He was certainly far more effective as a reliever than as a starter during his tenure with Boston, Sunday’s outing notwithstanding.

While he does join the Brewers’ 40-man roster, Weber has been assigned to Milwaukee’s Triple-A affiliate in Nashville.

On that note, it should be added that the Red Sox now have full 26-man and 40-man rosters, as MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo pointed out here.

(Picture of Ryan Weber: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox activate Yacksel Ríos, option Michael Chavis to Triple-A Worcester

Before wrapping up a quick two-game series against the Braves in Atlanta on Wednesday, the Red Sox activated right-hander Yacksel Rios.

In order to make room for Rios on the 26-man roster, the Sox also optioned infielder/outfielder Michael Chavis to Triple-A Worcester, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

UPDATE: The Red Sox have made it official.

Rios, who turns 28 later this month, was acquired from the Mariners in exchange for cash considerations on Monday. Boston was able to add him to their 40-man roster since they had just designated fellow right-hander Ryan Weber for assignment.

In three relief appearances for Seattle — all of which came in June — Rios allowed a total of three earned runs on five hits, two walks, and one hit batsman to go along with two strikeouts over three total innings of work.

The Mariners designated the 27-year-old hurler for assignment on June 11, and it took all of three days for him to land with a new team.

Like Red Sox manager Alex Cora, Rios — a converted third baseman — hails from Caguas Puerto Rico. He was originally selected by the Phillies in the 12th round of the 2011 amateur draft out of Doctora Conchita Cuevas High School in Gurabo.

After making his major-league debut for the Phillies in 2017, Rios was claimed off waivers by the Pirates during the 2019 season and has also spent time with the Rays and Mariners organizations.

For his big-league career, Rios owns a lifetime 6.47 ERA and 5.54 FIP over 69 appearances and 72 1/3 total innings pitched between Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Seattle dating back to August 2017.

This year alone, as previously mentioned, Rios appeared in three games for the Mariners earlier this month. Before that, he put up a solid 0.66 ERA across 12 outings (13 2/3 innings pitched) with Triple-A Durham (Rays affiliate) to begin the 2021 minor-league campaign prior to getting dealt to the M’s for cash on June 4.

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, Rios operates with a five-pitch mix that consists of a sinker, a four-seam fastball, a slider, a split-finger fastball, and a rarely used curveball, per Baseball Savant.

Michael Chavis, meanwhile, will be optioned back down to Triple-A Worcester after not appearing in a game in his third stint of the season with Boston.

The 25-year-old was initially called up from the WooSox on Monday as part of a series of moves that saw Ryan Weber get designated for assignment, but wound up finding no playing time as an additional position player on the roster for the two games he was up.

As he returns to Worcester, Chavis carries with him a .263/.329/.408 slash line with two doubles, three home runs, 12 RBI, 14 runs scored, and one stolen base over 19 games (85 plate appearances) for the WooSox thus far.

(Picture of Yacksel Rios: Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Red Sox outright Brandon Brennan to Triple-A Worcester after reliever clears waivers

Just three days after designating him for assignment, the Red Sox have outrighted right-handed reliever Brandon Brennan to Triple-A Worcester, the team announced prior to Wednesday’s game against the Braves.

Brennan, who turns 30 next month, was initially called up from Worcester last Thursday so that Boston could add a fresh arm to its heavily-used bullpen.

In his lone appearance with the big-league club, Brennan tossed three scoreless innings of relief while allowing three hits and two walks to go along with one strikeout when working in relief of Nick Pivetta in Saturday’s 7-2 loss to the Blue Jays at Fenway Park.

Because he worked three innings on Saturday, the 6-foot-4 hurler essentially became unavailable for the remaining two games of that series with Toronto, which led the Sox to designate him for assignment in order to add fellow righty Ryan Weber to their 40-man roster on Sunday.

Weber, as you may recall, got lit up for 11 runs over 5 2/3 innings in his season debut, and he, too, was designated for assignment earlier this week so that Boston could add recently-acquired reliever Yacksel Rios to the 40-man.

While he does have minor-league options remaining, Brennan winds up clearing waivers and remaining within the Red Sox organization.

Boston originally claimed the California native off waivers from the Mariners in early May and subsequently optioned him to Triple-A Worcester.

In eight appearances out of the WooSox bullpen thus far, Brennan has posted a 2.16 ERA and 1.32 WHIP over 8 1/3 total innings pitched.

(Picture of Brandon Brennan: Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)

Alex Verdugo comes through with game-winning 3-run homer as Red Sox hold off Braves, 10-8

Alex Cora’s Red Sox certainly seem to have a flair for the dramatic, especially when it comes to playing games against the Braves at Truist Park in Atlanta.

Brandon Phillips provided the Sox with one of their standout moments in 2018 by crushing a game-winning homer in September of that season. On Tuesday, Alex Verdugo may have done the same for the 2021 Red Sox.

With two outs in the top of the eighth and runners at second and third in what was at the time a 7-7 contest, Verdugo came through in the clutch yet again.

On a 2-0, 86 mph changeup at the top of the zone from Braves reliever Chris Martin, Verdugo demolished a go-ahead, three-run home run 409 feet to left-center field.

While celebrating his ninth homer of the year by pounding chest and pointing to his teammates in the visitor’s dugout, Verdugo put the Sox up. 10-7 late.

The fact that the Red Sox reached such a crucial point on Tuesday was somewhat surprising when considering they had leads of 5-0 and 7-4 over Atlanta, but the late-game dramatics were necessary nonetheless.

Devers notches 500th career hit in first inning

Matched up against Braves rookie left-hander Tucker Davidson to begin things on Tuesday, Rafael Devers got the scoring started for the Sox by reaching a significant career milestone.

Coming into the day with 499 career hits under his belt, Devers certainly made No. 500 count when he took Davidson 435 feet deep to dead center field for a three-run home run that got his side on the board first.

Hunter Renfroe followed with a big fly of his own, and Devers tacked on another on an RBI single in the second to make it a 5-0 contest early.

Rodriguez’s struggles continue

Eduardo Rodriguez, making his 13th start of the season for Boston, was rewarded for tossing two scoreless innings to begin his outing by being given a five-run lead to work with going into the third.

Alas, over his next two frames of work, Rodriguez saw that five-run edge trimmed down to just one as he surrendered a total of four runs on an RBI single from Freddie Freeman in the third and a pair of run-scoring doubles from Abraham Almonte and Ronald Acuna Jr. in the fourth.

The left-hander was able to punch out Freeman to limit any further damage, but that would mark the end of his outing since he had already given up four runs on six hits, one walk, and eight strikeouts over four innings.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 80 (53 strikes), Rodriguez raised his ERA on the season to 6.21 while getting hit with the no-decision. The 28-year-old’s next start should come against the Rays in Tampa Bay next Tuesday.

Bogaerts joins in on the home run action

The Red Sox were able to add to their 5-4 lead in their half of the fifth inning, when Xander Bogaerts deposited a solo shot to left field and Hunter Renfroe later drove in Rafael Devers on a run-scoring single off Braves reliever Edgar Santana.

Costly errors lead to three Braves runs

Garrett Whitlock was the first reliever the Sox turned to on Tuesday, and he delivered by tossing a scoreless fifth inning in addition to picking up his first career big-league hit in the top of the sixth.

Called back out for the bottom half of that frame, Whitlock walked the first batter he faced in Abraham Almonte before falling victim to some sloppy defense behind him, though he was not alone in that respect.

An Enrique Hernandez fielding error and Hunter Renfroe throwing error led to one Braves run crossing the board. 7-5.

After getting the first out of the sixth, Whitlock was replaced by left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez, who subsequently saw Atlanta’s sixth run of the night come into score on a passed ball that eluded Christian Vazquez behind the plate.

That same passed ball allowed Guillermo Heredia to advance to third base, and he came into score on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Freddie Freeman, which knotted things back up at seven runs apiece.

Eighth-inning rally

Following a scoreless frame courtesy of Hirokazu Sawamura in the seventh, Christian Vazquez and Bobby Dalbec led off their half of the eighth with a pair of back-to-back singles off Chris Martin.

Both runners advanced into scoring position on a well-placed bunt from the pinch-hitting Marwin Gonzalez, which paved the way for Alex Verdugo to deliver the moment of the night: a go-ahead, game-winning three-run blast.

Ottavino and Barnes close it out

Adam Ottavino took over in the bottom half of the eighth, and he needed all of 14 pitches to toss yet an shutout inning.

Sox closer Matt Barnes, meanwhile, made things interesting by yielding a run, but he was ultimately able to hold the Braves off to preserve the 10-8 victory as well as his 15th save of the year.

With the win, the Red Sox improve to 41-27 on the season and move to two games back of the Tampa Bay Rays for first place in the American League East.

Next up: Richards vs. Anderson

The Red Sox will send right-hander Garrett Richards to the mound as they go for the quick two-game sweep over the Braves on Wednesday.

The Braves will send fellow righty Ian Anderson to the hill as they look to prevent that from happening.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 7:20 p.m. eastern time on NESN and ESPN.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Josh Taylor extends scoreless streak to 18 consecutive appearances in Monday’s win over Blue Jays; ‘He did an outstanding job,’ Alex Cora says

Slowly but surely, Red Sox reliever Josh Taylor has emerged as one of manager Alex Cora’s most trusted weapons out of the bullpen.

The latest instance of just how effective Taylor has been this season arose during the seventh inning of Monday night’s 2-1 victory over the Blue Jays at Fenway Park.

After getting 6 2/3 quality innings from Nathan Eovaldi, Cora turned to Taylor with one out to get in the top of the seventh and the potential tying run at third in the form of Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Working with a 1-0 lead to protect, the left-hander took advantage of a lefty-on-lefty matchup by getting Rowdy Tellez to fan on six pitches, punctuating the at-bat by making the Blue Jays first baseman look foolish on a 2-2, 88 mph slider at the bottom of the zone.

As he came back out for his next inning of work in the eighth, Taylor again did not waste much time, as he got Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to ground out to third base on the first pitch he saw before picking up two more swinging strikeouts against Cavan Biggio and Reese McGuire.

“J.T.’s been throwing the ball great,” Eovaldi said. “He comes in in that big situation right there. I got the double play ball, and he was able to leave Vlad over there at third base and he got Tellez. It was a huge situation right there to clean up that inning. And then he followed that up with another clean inning to bridge that gap to (Matt) Barnes.”

When all was said and done and the Red Sox walked off the Blue Jays, 2-1, Taylor only needed 15 pitches to get through 1 1/3 innings of relief in the process of picking up his eighth hold of the season.

“He’s been doing that for a long time,” Cora said of Taylor’s performance. “We felt that pocket belonged to him. He gets the lefty. … He had Tellez, and then we felt like he could get Gurriel in that spot. And with all the lefties coming up, it was a great spot for him.

“That’s the way we saw it before the game,” added Cora. “The way they constructed their lineup and their defensive alignment, so we felt that was a good pocket for him and he did an outstanding job.”

By retiring all four hitters he faced on Monday, Taylor extended his scoreless appearance streak to 18 consecutive games, which dates all the way back to April 30.

Over that dominating stretch, opponents are hitting a measly .149/.231/.170 off the 28-year-old hurler. He has struck out 18 batters and walked just four in his last 14 innings out of the bullpen.

Among 38 major-league left-handed relievers who have thrown at least 14 innings since April 30, Taylor ranks first in ERA (0.00), first in hits allowed (7), fifth in batting average against, sixth in on-base percentage against, third in slugging percentage against, fourth in weighted on-base average against (.193), seventh in strikeout percentage (34.6%), second in FIP (1.65), and seventh in xFIP (2.78), per FanGraphs.

The fact that Taylor has turned in solid performance after solid performance as of late is certainly encouraging considering how poorly of a start he got off to earlier this season.

Because of his recent run of success, the southpaw has lowered his ERA on the year from 9.72 — which is where it sat the morning of April 30 — all the way down to a respectable 3.63.

(Picture of Josh Taylor: Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)