Jarren Duran leads the way with 3 RBIs as Red Sox hold on for 3-2 win over Astros

On a day filled with distractions — and trades — the Red Sox pulled off a come-from-behind victory over the Astros at Minute Maid Park on Monday night.

Boston defeated Houston by a final score 3-2 to improve to 52-52 on the season and win back-to-back games for the first time since July 9-10.

Nathan Eovaldi, in what could be his final start with the Red Sox ahead of Tuesday’s trade deadline, put together a gritty performance at his hometown ballpark. The veteran right-hander allowed two runs — both of which were unearned — on four hits and two walks to go along with six strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings of work.

Both of those runs came in the bottom of the third inning. With the Red Sox already in possession of a 1-0 lead, Jose Altuve led off by reaching first base on a Christian Arroyo fielding error. Yuli Gurriel then grounded into what had the makings to be a 6-4-3 double play, but Xander Bogaerts misplayed the ball, allowing both runners to reach base safely. Yordan Alvarez proceeded to plate Altuve on a game-tying sacrifice fly while Aledmys Diaz drove in Gurriel on an RBI double.

Eovaldi managed to strand Diaz at second base in the process of retiring the next 11 batters he faced. With one out in the seventh, Martin Maldonado lifted a 241-foot flyball to right field that Franchy Cordero could not come up with.

That is how Eovaldi’s night came to a close. The 32-year-old hurler finished with a final pitch count of 97 (60 strikes), though he only averaged 94.1 mph with his four-seam fastball. His ERA on the season now sits at 3.81.

Offensively, Jarren Duran accounted for all three of Boston’s runs on Monday. Matched up against Astros righty Luis Garcia, Duran laced a ground-rule RBI double to drive in Bobby Dalbec from second with two outs in the third inning.

Fast forward to the fifth, the Dalbec-Duran combination struck again. With Garcia still on the mound for Houston, Dalbec drew a leadoff walk and Duran once more came up to the plate with two outs.

On a first-pitch, 84 mph cutter from Garcia, Duran crushed a 379-foot two-run shot to right field. Duran’s second home run of the season left his bat at 98.1 mph. It also gave the Red Sox their first lead of the night at 3-2.

In relief of Eovaldi, John Schreiber received the first call out of the Boston bullpen from manager Alex Cora. With one runner on and two outs to get in the seventh, Schreiber got Altuve to ground into an inning-ending, 5-4-3 double play. He then allowed two of the first three Astros he faced to reach in the eighth before retiring Kyle Tucker and punching out Jeremy Pena on six pitches.

That paved the way for Tanner Houck in the ninth. Houck made relative quick work of the Astros to record his seventh save of the season and his first since June 25.

Next up: Crawford vs. Javier

The Red Sox will go for a rare series win over the Astros on Tuesday night. Kutter Crawford will get the start for Boston while fellow right-hander Cristian Javier will do the same for Houston.

First pitch from Minute Maid Park is scheduled for 8:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Jarren Duran: Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Red Sox acquire Tommy Pham from Reds

The Red Sox have acquired outfielder Tommy Pham from the Reds in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations, the team announced Monday night.

According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, the player to be named later going from Boston to Cincinnati is not expected to be a prominent prospect.

Pham, 34, signed a one-year, $6 million contract with the Reds back in March. That deal included a $6 million mutual option and a $1.5 million buyout, so it is worth $7.5 million in guaranteed money.

In 91 games with Cincinnati this season, the right-handed hitter batted .238/.320/.374 (92 wRC+) with 11 doubles, one triple, 11 home runs, 39 RBIs, 57 runs scored, seven stolen bases, 42 walks, and 100 strikeouts over 387 plate appearances.

Defensively, Pham has seen all his playing time this year come in left field, registering seven outfield assists and three defensive runs saved across 716 innings at the position. He also has past experience in center and in right field.

A former 16th-round draft pick of the Cardinals, Pham broke in with St. Louis in 2014 before putting his name on the map three years later, when he finished 11th in National League MVP voting.

The following July, the Cardinals traded Pham to the Rays. The Las Vegas native spent the next season-and-a-half in Tampa Bay, where he had the chance to get acquainted with Chaim Bloom.

Since being traded from the Rays to Padres in December 2019, shortly after Bloom left for Boston, things have not gone all that well for Pham. Dating back to the start of the 2022 season, he owns a .701 OPS over his last 277 games between San Diego and Cincinnati.

In late May, Pham made headlines when he slapped Giants outfielder Joc Pederson across the face during batting practice at Great American Ballpark because of a dispute centered around fantasy football. He was handed down a three-game suspension as a result.

(Picture of Tommy Pham: Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

Red Sox trade Christian Vázquez to Astros for prospects Enmanuel Valdez, Wilyer Abreu

The Red Sox have traded catcher Christian Vazquez to the Astros for minor-leaguers Enmanuel Valdez and Wilyer Abreu, the club announced Monday night.

Vazquez, who was with the Red Sox in Houston ahead of their series against the Astros, was informed of the trade while taking batting practice at Minute Maid Park on Monday afternoon. So he only had to walk across the field to join his new team.

Originally selected by Boston in the ninth round of the 2008 amateur draft, Vazquez had been the longest-tenured player in the organization. The native Puerto Rican was in the final year of his contract after having his $7 million club option picked up back in November.

Given that Vazquez was slated to become a free-agent for the first time in his career this winter, the Red Sox elected to deal the 31-year-old backstop to the Astros for a pair of prospects.

Coming into play on Monday, Vazquez was batting a stout .282/.327/.432 with 20 doubles, eight home runs, 42 RBIs, 33 runs scored, one stolen base, 18 walks, and 51 strikeouts over 84 games (318 plate appearances) this season. Among American League catchers who have made at least 100 trips to the plate, the right-handed hitter ranks third in batting average, fourth in on-base percentage, seventh in slugging percentage, and eighth in wRC+ (111), per FanGraphs.

From behind the plate, Vazquez has thrown out 16 of a possible 53 base stealers while putting up five defensive runs saved over 643 1/3 innings. He has also seen some playing time at first and second base.

As for who the Red Sox are getting back in exchange for Vazquez, Valdez was regarded by Baseball America as the Astros’ No. 12 prospect while Abreu was regarded as their No. 21 prospect.

Valdez, 23, originally signed with Houston as an international free-agent coming out of the Dominican Republic in July 2015. The left-handed hitter has slashed .327/.410/.606 with with 21 homers, 77 RBIs, 66 runs scored, and five stolen bases over 82 games (378 plate appearances) between Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Sugar Land. He has played first base, second base, left field, and right field this year.

Abreu, also 23, signed with Houston as an international free-agent coming out of Venezuela in July 2017. The left-handed hitter has spent the entirety of the 2022 campaign with Corpus Christi, batting .249/.399/.459 with 15 home runs, 54 RBIs, 81 runs scored, and 23 stolen bases across 89 games spanning 411 trips to the plate. He has seen playing time at all three outfield positions.

In the wake of trading Vazquez to Houston, the Red Sox have recalled catching prospect Ronaldo Hernandez from Triple-A Worcester. Hernandez will serve as Boston’s No. 2 catcher behind Kevin Plawecki before the newly-acquired Reese McGuire joins the team.

(Picture of Christian Vazquez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox acquire Reese McGuire from White Sox in exchange for Jake Diekman

The Red Sox have acquired catcher Reese McGuire and a player to be named later or cash considerations from the White Sox in exchange for left-hander Jake Diekman, the club announced Monday evening.

On the eve of the trade deadline, the Sox have parted ways with one of their highest-paid relievers in order to bolster their catching depth in the wake of reportedly trading Christian Vazquez to the Astros.

Diekman, 35, was just four-plus months into his Red Sox tenure after signing a two-year, $8 million deal with Boston that also included a $4 million team option for 2024 back in March.

In 44 relief appearances for the Sox, Diekman posted a 4.23 ERA and 4.97 FIP with 50 strikeouts to an unsettling 30 walks over 38 1/3 innings of work. The native Nebraskan proved effective when he had command of the strike zone, but that often was not the case.

According to MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, the White Sox will pay the remainder of Diekman’s salary through 2023. So the Red Sox will be off the hook for $4 million in terms of average annual value next season.

McGuire, meanwhile, is a former first-round draft pick of the Pirates who broke in with the Blue Jays in 2018 and spent the first four seasons of his major-league career in Toronto. He was dealt to the White Sox in exchange for fellow backstop Zack Collins back in April.

On the south side of Chicago, the left-handed hitting 27-year-old batted .225/.261/.285 with nine doubles, 10 RBIs, 12 runs scored, six walks, and 33 strikeouts over 53 games (166 plate appearances). He also threw out 11 of a possible 36 base stealers while splitting time behind the plate with Yasmani Grandal and Seby Zavala.

A Seattle-area native, McGuire is earning $722,400 this season and is slated to become eligible for arbitration for the first time next year. He is therefore under club control through the end of the 2025 campaign.

(Picture of Reese McGuire: Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

Red Sox infield prospect Brainer Bonaci earns Carolina League Player of the Week honors

Red Sox infield prospect Brainer Bonaci has been named the Carolina League Player of the Week for the week of July 25-31, Minor League Baseball announced on Monday.

In Low-A Salem’s last series against the Fredericksburg Nationals at Virginia Credit Union Stadium, Bonaci went 8-for-18 (.444) with two doubles, one triple, two home runs, 11 RBIs, two runs scored, three walks, and four strikeouts over five games. Seven of those 11 runs driven in came in a career day at the plate last Tuesday.

On the 2022 season as a whole, the switch-hitter is batting a solid .265/.395/.378 with 17 doubles, five triples, those two homers, 36 RBIs, 59 runs scored, 18 stolen bases, 64 walks, and 68 strikeouts across 80 games (365 plate appearances) with the Salem Sox.

Among qualified Carolina League hitters, Bonaci ranks fourth in walk rate (17.5%), 15th in strikeout rate (18.6%), eighth in swinging strike rate (8.2%), 22nd in batting average, fifth in on-base percentage, 22nd in OPS (.772), 18th in speed score (7.6), ninth in line-drive rate (25.3%), and 17th in wRC+ (124), per FanGraphs.

Defensively, Bonaci has seen playing time at four different positions so far this season. The 5-foot-10, 165-pounder has logged 425 1/3 innings at second base, 134 innings at shortstop, 34 innings at third base, and even one inning in right field back on April 17.

Bonaci, who celebrated his 20th birthday last month, originally signed with the Red Sox for $290,000 as an international free-agent coming out of Venezuela in July 2018. The Catia La Mar native is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 19 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

Given that he has stepped it up with Salem as of late (1.029 OPS in July), one has to wonder if Bonaci could be working his way towards a promotion to High-A Greenville sooner rather than later. Bonaci can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career this winter, so the Red Sox may want to see him go up against a stiffer level of competition before determining if he is worthy of a 40-man roster spot come late November.

(Picture of Brainer Bonaci: Gary Streiffer/Flickr)

Red Sox lose Phillips Valdez on waivers to Mariners

The Red Sox lost reliever Phillips Valdez on waivers to the Mariners over the weekend. Seattle claimed Valdez on Friday and promptly optioned him to its Triple-A affiliate in Tacoma, Wash.

Boston had designated Valdez for assignment three days prior in order to create space for Josh Winckowski, who did not count against the club’s 40-man roster while he was out on the COVID-19 related injured list.

Valdez, 30, was originally claimed by the Red Sox off waivers from the Mariners in February 2020. The right-hander made Boston’s Opening Day roster that summer and impressed during the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign by posting a 3.26 ERA with 30 strikeouts to 16 walks over a career-high 24 relief appearances (30 1/3 innings pitched).

After producing a 5.85 ERA in 2021, Valdez had spent much of the 2022 campaign with the Red Sox being shuttled between Boston and Triple-A Worcester. With the big-league club, the Dominican-born hurler pitched to a 4.41 ERA (3.92 FIP) with 13 punchouts to seven walks across 13 outings spanning 16 1/3 innings of work. With the WooSox, he yielded a 3.06 ERA to go along with 19 strikeouts to 14 walks over 17 2/3 innings of relief.

Equipped with a changeup, sinker, and slider, Valdez has but one option year remaining, meaning the Mariners could stash him away at Triple-A for the rest of the season if they so choose.

That being said, Valdez made his Rainiers debut on Sunday, pitching a scoreless eighth inning in an 8-3 win over the El Paso Chihuahuas. He was followed by another former Red Sox reliever in Fernando Abad, who worked a shutout ninth inning to preserve the victory.

(Picture of Phillips Valdez: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox bring back José Peraza on minor-league deal

The Red Sox brought back infielder Jose Peraza on a minor-league contract over the weekend. The 28-year-old was assigned to Triple-A Worcester’s roster on Friday and appeared in two games during its series in Buffalo, going 4-for-7 with a double and two runs scored.

Peraza originally signed a one-year deal with the Red Sox in December 2019 after spending the first five years of his major-league career with the Dodgers and Reds. The native Venezuelan was Boston’s Opening Day second baseman in 2020, but batted just .225/.275/.342 with one home run, eight RBIs, 13 runs scored, and one stolen base across 34 games (120 plate appearances) before being optioned to the alternate training site in early September.

Following the conclusion of the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign, Peraza became a free-agent once again before latching on with the Mets. The right-handed hitter appeared in 64 games for New York last year, slashing .204/.266/.380 with six homers, 20 RBIs, 21 runs scored, and one stolen base over 154 trips to the plate.

Last November, Peraza inked a minors pact with the Yankees. Though he did not make the team out of spring training, he remained with the organization and reported to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre earlier this spring. As a member of the RailRiders, Peraza batted .239/.293/.368 with five home runs, 29 RBIs, 20 runs scored, and three stolen bases in 63 games (229 plate appearances). He became a free-agent on July 15 by exercising one of the opt-outs in his contract.

It did not take Peraza too long to land back on his feet and re-join an organization he is surely familiar with. The Red Sox had a need for a versatile veteran such as Peraza given how many players the club has had to call up from Worcester in recent weeks to fill in for injured players.

That being said, Peraza has major-league experience at every infield position besides first base as well as all three outfield positions. He should provide the WooSox with seasoned depth across the diamond, particularly up the middle of the infield.

(Picture of Jose Peraza: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Xander Bogaerts delivers with go-ahead 3-run home run as Red Sox hold on for 4-2 win over Guardians to salvage series split

The Red Sox salvaged a series split with the Guardians at Fenway Park on Thursday night. Boston defeated Cleveland by a final score of 4-2 to improve to an even 50-50 on the season.

Kutter Crawford, making his sixth start of the season for the Sox, was solid yet again. The rookie right-hander allowed just one earned run on three hits and zero walks to go along with two strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings of work.

The lone run Crawford gave up came in the top half of the fourth. With one out in the inning, Jose Ramirez belted a 413-foot solo shot down the right field line that managed to stay to the left of Pesky’s Pole and in fair territory. The play was reviewed, but the call was upheld and the Guardians had themselves a 1-0 lead.

Besides that one blip, though, Crawford rebounded by retiring seven of the final nine batters he faced. He was pulled with two outs in the fifth inning as the left-handed hitting Josh Naylor was due to hit next for Cleveland.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 69 (49 strikes), Crawford induced a total of eight swings-and-misses while topping out at 95.7 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 23 times. Although the 26-year-old did not factor into Thursday’s decision, he did lower his ERA on the season to 4.15.

In relief of Crawford, Jake Diekman received the first call out of the Boston bullpen from manager Alex Cora. The veteran left-hander did what he was called upon to do by getting Naylor to ground out to end the inning.

To that point in the contest, the Red Sox lineup had been completely held in check by Guardians starter Triston McKenzie, who did not give up his first hit until the fourth and took a shutout bid into the sixth.

After Jarren Duran switched places with Jeter Downs while recording the first out of the inning, Alex Verdugo moved the speedster up to second base with a line-drive single. Xander Bogaerts followed by taking a hanging 0-2 slider from McKenzie and crushing it 412 feet over the Green Monster for a go-ahead three-run blast.

Bogaerts’ eighth home run of the season left his bat at 105 mph. It also gave the Red Sox their first lead of the night at 3-1. Bobby Dalbec provided some insurance in the seventh by plating Franchy Cordero on a 103 mph RBI single to left field.

Following a scoreless seventh inning from Diekman in which he struck out two of the three Guardians he faced, Garrett Whitlock came on with the hopes of recording a six-out save.

Whitlock, working on two days of rest, yielded one run on one hit and one walk in the eighth. As the rain began to fall harder in the ninth, the righty maneuvered his way around a Naylor double to slam the door on the Guardians and pick up his third save of the year.

Next up: Bring on the Brewers

Exactly 100 games into the 2022 season, the Red Sox are a .500 team. They will next welcome the Milwaukee Brewers into town for a three-game weekend series at Fenway Park. The Brewers last visited Fenway in April 2014.

In Friday’s series opener, it will be rookie right-hander Brayan Bello getting the ball for Boston and fellow righty Brandon Woodruff doing the same for Milwaukee.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Trevor Story still dealing with discomfort in right hand

Red Sox second baseman Trevor Story is still dealing with some discomfort stemming from the right hand contusion he suffered earlier this month, manager Alex Cora said Thursday.

Story, who took an 89 mph sinker from Rays starter Corey Kluber off his right hand on an awkward swing at Tropicana Field on July 12, has been on the 10-day injured list for the last two weeks.

While X-rays on Story’s hand came back negative, it took until this past Sunday for the 29-year-old to start swinging a bat again. He took more swings on Wednesday, but did not do so before Thursday’s game against the Guardians at Fenway Park.

“He’s doing OK. He swung the bat yesterday. Today, nothing,” Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith). “So we’ll see how it goes over the weekend. Hopefully, he keeps trending in the right direction and we go from there.”

Given that he swings from the right side of the plate, Story has had some issues when it comes to gripping and swinging the bat with his top (right) hand.

“Where it got him, it was in a tough spot,” said Cora. “The swinging part of it, the top hand, has kind of been hard for him to feel comfortable with it. (If) he doesn’t feel comfortable to go out there and compete with his swing where he’s at, then there’s nothing we can do.”

At the time he got injured, Story was batting .221/.289/.423 (93 wRC+) with 17 doubles, 15 home runs, 58 RBIs, 10 stolen bases, 49 runs scored, 28 walks, and 105 strikeouts through 81 games (342 plate appearances) this season. The two-time All-Star has also posted eight defensive runs saved, the most among American League second baseman.

That quality of defense, according to Cora, is something the Red Sox have missed dearly while Story has been sidelined.

“He had become the rock of the infield,” Cora said.

On Sunday, Cora did not give a definitive answer when asked if Story will require a rehab assignment. That could soon change the longer Story remains out.

(Picture of Trevor Story: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox relief prospect Ryan Fernandez has struck out 40 percent of the batters he has faced since earning promotion to Double-A Portland

Red Sox relief prospect Ryan Fernandez needed just 24 pitches — 19 of which were strikes — to toss two scoreless innings and wrap up a 9-4 win for the Portland Sea Dogs over the Hartford Yard Goats at Dunkin’ Donuts Park on Wednesday night.

Since earning a promotion from High-A Greenville to Double-A Portland on July 3, Fernandez has made eight relief appearances for the Sea Dogs. The right-hander has posted a 3.60 ERA and 3.43 FIP with 16 strikeouts to just two walks over 10 innings of work in those outings.

Prior to making the jump to Double-A, Fernandez began the 2022 season in Greenville and pitched to a 4.00 ERA (but more respectable 3.19 FIP) with 40 punchouts to nine walks across 25 appearances spanning 27 innings of relief for the Drive.

So, between the two levels to this point in the season, the 24-year-old has produced a 3.89 ERA and 3.25 FIP while recording 56 strikeouts and issuing 11 walks over 33 relief appearances (37 total innings). He has also converted 10 of a possible 13 save opportunities.

To put that all into perspective: Among the 57 pitchers in the Red Sox farm system who have thrown at least 30 innings coming into play on Thursday, Fernandez ranks second in strikeouts per nine innings (13.62), 12th in walks per nine innings (2.68), first in strikeout rate (35.9%), third in swinging strike rate (20.8%), 12th in walk rate (7.1%), 10th in groundball rate (52.3%), 13th in FIP, and third in xFIP (2.74), per FanGraphs.

The Red Sox originally selected Fernandez in the 23rd round of the 2018 amateur draft out of Hillsborough Community College in Plant City, Fla. The Tampa native signed with the club for $125,000 and made his professional debut in the Gulf Coast League.

Despite the amount of success he has enjoyed so far this season, Fernandez has not yet caught the attention of any industry publications to the point where is ranked as one of the top 30 or so prospects in Boston’s farm system.

Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, the 6-foot, 170-pound hurler throws from a three-quarters arm slot and operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a 96-98 mph fastball that tops out at 99 mph, a 90-92 mph cutter with a high spin rate, and an 87-89 mph slider.

Fernandez, who does not turn 25 until next June, can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this winter if he is left off the Red Sox’ 40-man roster in November. With that being said, it would not be too surprising if Boston has Fernandez pitch in the Arizona Fall League later this year so that it may further evaluate him.

Having Fernandez pitch in Arizona this fall would also give other clubs the opportunity to see the Florida-born righty in-person.

(Picture of Ryan Fernandez: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)