Red Sox Lineup: Going up Against Nationals Ace Max Scherzer on Jackie Robinson Day

After deciding to postpone Thursday’s game against the Blue Jays in protest of the Jacob Blake shooting in Wisconsin, the Red Sox will open up a 10-game homestand and three-game weekend series against the Nationals on Friday.

Left-hander Martin Perez will be making his seventh start of the season for Boston, and he’ll be opposed by vaunted right-hander Max Scherzer for Washington.

Perez is coming off his best outing of the year in which he held the Orioles to one run on five hits, one walk, and six strikeouts over seven strong innings of work last Saturday.

More significantly, the Venezuelan southpaw topped out at 95 mph with his four-seam fastball. He credits that increase in velocity to a revamped weight-lifting routine.

In two lifetime starts against the defending World Series champion Nationals, Perez owns a career 6.30 ERA and .841 OPS against over 10 total innings pitched.

Scherzer, meanwhile, has not been at his best so far this season even though the Nationals are 4-2 in his six starts.

Through his first six outings of 2020, the three-time Cy Young Award winner has posted a 4.31 ERA and 3.76 FIP over 31 1/3 frames of work.

Despite those somewhat surprising numbers, Scherzer does have a strong track record at Fenway Park, as the 36-year-old hurler owns a lifetime 3.13 ERA and .711 OPS against in five prior outings and 31 2/3 innings pitched in Boston.

Here is how the Red Sox will be lining up behind Perez and against Scherzer to begin things on Jackie Robinson Day:

Among the nine hitters that make up this lineup we have grown accustomed to seeing, J.D. Martinez and Kevin Pillar have taken Scherzer deep twice before in their careers, while Mitch Moreland has one career homer off the Nats ace.

Also worth noting here is the fact that Alex Verdugo has two hits in three career at-bats while facing off against Scherzer, which is somewhat prevalent considering the 24-year-old is leading off for Boston in this one.

First pitch Friday, which again is Jackie Robinson Day, between the previous two World Series champions is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox going for win No. 11 in game No. 32.

Red Sox Held Emotional Team Meeting Before Postponing Game Against Blue Jays on Thursday To Protest Jacob Blake Shooting

In following Jackie Bradley Jr.’s lead to not play their game against the Blue Jays on Thursday, the Red Sox collectively made a statement of utmost significance. That being, ‘Things need to change in the United States.’

Despite how many positive qualities this country has, it has its fair share of negative ones as well. That much has been on full display in the days following the August 23 shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Blake, a 29-year-old Black male, was shot by police in the back seven times, which according to his father has left him paralyzed from the waist down.

That incident has spurred outrage throughout several professional sports leagues in the United States and has resulted in NBA and NHL playoff games and WNBA, MLS, and Major League Baseball regular season games being postponed as a sign of protest from players.

In the Red Sox’ case, as previously mentioned, Bradley Jr. made the choice to not play on Thursday. As the lone Black player on Boston’s active roster, Bradley Jr., as well as first base coach Tom Goodwin, was fine if the rest of the team played. That did not happen, however, as the contest was eventually called off.

Prior to making that important decision as a group, Red Sox players and staff held a meeting at around 4 p.m. eastern time in the visitor’s clubhouse at Sahlen Field to talk things over. Among the topics that were discussed, Bradley Jr., Goodwin, and assistant athletic trainer Brandon Henry went into detail about what they have had to endure as Black men in the U.S.

“It was emotional,” a choked up Ron Roenicke said of the meeting during a Zoom call with reporters. “I’m listening to Jackie, I got tears in my eyes. I’m listening to Goody, I got tears in my eyes. This is really an important time in our country… These guys have a platform to be able to discuss some things that are serious issues in our country that we need to straighten out.

“We know how important baseball is…but we know the issues in life are more important,” the Sox manager added. “Listening to Goody and Jackie talk, it makes a big difference in our lives and it should make a difference in everybody’s lives. If you’re a kid and you turn on the TV tonight and you don’t see that we’re playing and you ask your parents ‘Why aren’t the Red Sox playing?’ I hope the parents have a serious discussion with their kids and tell them what’s going on. Explain what’s going on, because we need to discuss these things more and we need to listen more. That’s the only way that we’re going to change.”

Red Sox Decide Against Playing Blue Jays on Thursday in Wake of Jacob Blake Shooting

The Red Sox have decided not to play their game against the Blue Jays in Buffalo on Thursday night, according to The Boston Globe’s Julian McWilliams.

This news comes in the wake of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, getting shot in the back seven times and being left paralyzed from the waist down by police officers in Kenosha, Wisconsin this past Sunday.

That incident has led to a chain of boycotts among professional sports teams in the United States that began when the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks refused to take the floor in their playoff game against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday.

The Bucks’ actions resulted in all other NBA playoff games, as well as three Major League Baseball games, being postponed. Had the Red Sox played the Blue Jays at a later time on Wednesday, a fourth game might have been pushed back, too.

Instead, the Sox did play the Jays at Sahlen Field in Buffalo in the middle game of what was a three-game series that will now be made up at a later date.

Per FlightAware, the Red Sox will be departing from Buffalo early Friday morning to head back to Boston, where they will open up a three-game weekend series against the defending World Series champion Washington Nationals later that day.

Red Sox Muster Just Three Hits, Go Down Quietly in 9-1 Loss To Blue Jays in Buffalo

On a rain-soaked Wednesday night in Buffalo, the Red Sox kicked off the second half of the 2020 season by falling to the Blue Jays by a final score of 9-1 to fall to 10-21 on the year.

Colten Brewer made his third start and 10th overall appearance of the season for Boston in this one, as he was filling on for the cramped up Nathan Eovaldi.

Coming off a fine outing in his last time out against the Orioles, the right-hander struggled this time around, surrendering four runs, all of which were earned, on five hits and two walks to go along with four strikeouts on the night.

The first pair of those Toronto tallies scored off Brewer came on a pair of solo home runs from Randal Grichuk and Rowdy Tellez in the bottom halves of the first and second.

The other two came in the fourth, when after yielding a leadoff double to Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Brewer served up another homer, this one good for two runs, to Tellez off a hanging 1-1, 76 mph curveball towards the inner half of the plate.

Tellez’ second blast of the night, which was his ninth in 20 career game against the Red Sox, put the Jays up 4-0.

Brewer’s evening came to a close shortly thereafter, as he recorded the first two outs of the frame before walking old friend Santiago Espinal on five pitches and getting the hook from Sox manager Ron Roenicke.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 80 (49 strikes), the 27-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball 41% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing four swings-and-misses with the pitch while topping out at 95.6 mph with it.

Hit with his second losing decision of the year later on while raising his ERA to 4.57, Brewer’s next start, if he does get one that is, would likely come against the Braves back in Boston sometime next week.

In relief of Brewer, Ryan Weber got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen and came into a four-run game with a runner on first and one out to get in the bottom of the fourth.

The 29-year-old got that out pretty easily, and he was also lights out in the fifth and sixth innings before running into a significant amount of trouble in the seventh.

There, Weber allowed the first three hitters he faced to reach base, resulting in another Blue Jays run crossing the plate to make it a 5-1 contest.

A lineout off the bat of Travis Shaw would mark the end of Weber’s outing, and in came Austin Brice who immediately walked Teosar Hernandez on six pitches to fill the bases for Guerrero Jr.

The Toronto phenom took full advantage of the opportunity that had been laid out before him, as he took a 3-0, 94 mph sinker from Brice and ripped a bases-clearing, three-run double down the left field line. Just like that, the Jays were up 8-1.

A Tellez RBI single moments later brought in Guerrero Jr. from second and put the Sox in an eight-run hole.

All in all, Boston pitching gave up five runs in the seventh inning. Three of those runs were charged to Weber, the other two to Brice.

Left-hander Josh Osich did manage to toss a scoreless ninth to keep the eight-run deficit intact, but by then the damage had already been done.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against rookie right-hander Julian Merryweather for the Blue Jays, who was making just his second career major-league start on Wednesday.

To put it simply, Merryweather impressed by keeping the Boston bats off the scoreboard over the first two innings while throwing strikes 64% of the time.

It wasn’t until the top of the fourth when the Sox offense finally got it going. There, with Shun Yamaguchi on the hill for Toronto, Mitch Moreland stayed hot by crushing his eighth big fly off the season deep to the opposite field off a two-out, first pitch 84 mph changeup on the outer half of the plate.

As it would later turn out, though, Moreland’s solo blast would prove to be the only offense the Red Sox could muster over nine frustrating innings on Wednesday.

In fact, Moreland’s homer was one of just three hits for the Sox all night, as 9-1 would go on to be your final score in this one.

Some notes and observations from this defeat:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Alex Verdugo’s 14-game hitting streak has come to an end following the 24-year-old’s 0-for-4 night at the plate.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this three-game set against the Blue Jays on Thursday night.

Right-hander Chris Mazza will get the start for Boston, while veteran left-hander Hyun Jin Ryu will do the same for Toronto.

Mazza, who will be making his second start of the year for the Sox, will need to be added to the active roster prior to first pitch, which is scheduled for 6:37 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI.

Red Sox’ Kevin Pillar Pulling for Former Teammate Mike Yastrzemski To Win National League MVP With Giants

For much of the 2019 season, Kevin Pillar and Mike Yastrzemski shared the same outfield for the Giants.

Together, the pair shared the team lead for home runs with 21 apiece while Yastrzemski led San Francisco in slugging percentage (.518) and Pillar finished second right behind him in that category (.448).

In short, the two outfielders put together really solid seasons at the plate last year and they were able to forge a friendship out of it.

Just recently, Pillar reached out to Yastrzemski, who turned 30 on Sunday, to not only wish him a happy birthday via text, but to support the Andover native’s MVP case as well.

In case you have not been paying too much attention to the National League West this year, Yastrzemski entered Wednesday with a robust .293/.410/.612 slash line to go along with seven home runs and 23 RBI through the first 31 games of what is his first full big-league season.

With those numbers in mind combined with the fact that the 2020 campaign has already reached its halfway point, Yastrzemski looks like a legitimate NL MVP candidate, and as previously mentioned, Pillar let his former teammate know that the other day.

“I’ve talked to him as recently as two days ago. It was his birthday, I wished him a happy birthday,” Pillar said Wednesday in regards to his conversation with Yastrzemski. “We talked a little bit back and forth and I told him to go win the MVP and he answered very simply with ‘I’m going for it.’ And that’s the mindset he has and he believes in himself. He knows he’s a really good baseball player and he’s going out there showing the world everyday that he has the confidence and swagger to back it up. He truly believes he can be an MVP this season and I wish him nothing the best.”

In their brief time as teammates, Pillar may have seen a little bit of himself in Yastrzemski considering both were late-round draft picks out of college and both were traded away by their original organizations right around the same time last spring.

“He’s a perfect example of a guy that persevered through so much in the minor-leagues and maybe a lack of respect from some organizations or from numbers,” Pillar continued. “Whatever the reason was he wasn’t getting an opportunity in the big-leagues, he finally got it. It’s a perfect example of someone given an opportunity and running with it.”

Because he only made his major-league debut with San Francisco last year, Yastrzemski will not reach free agency until after the 2015 season, at which point the Vanderbilt product would already be 35 years old. That being said, Pillar is hopeful Yastrzemski can get paid soon.

“Hopefully, the Giants see what everyone else is seeing and hopefully, I know he’s a little bit older and younger in service time, hopefully he gets the opportunity to go out there and make some money for his family because he definitely deserves it. He’s shown he’s one of the best players in baseball right now and I couldn’t be happier for him.”

The grandson of Red Sox legend and Baseball Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski, Mike Yaz homered at Fenway Park in his first trip to Boston as a major-leaguer last September.

Red Sox Lineup: Michael Chavis Batting Ninth, Starting at Second Base in Second of Three Against Blue Jays in Buffalo

For the first time since last June, Michael Chavis is batting out of the nine-hole for the Red Sox in Wednesday’s game against the Blue Jays in Buffalo.

The 25-year-old will be starting at second base as he enters the week on a bit of a cold streak. Since going 2-for-2 off the bench on August 13, he is 2-for-his-last-20 at the plate with two RBI, one walk, and 12 strikeouts.

Per FanGraphs, Chavis has struck out nearly 43% of the time this season, which is the highest rate in the American League among hitters with at least 60 plate appearances thus far.

Most recently, the Georgia native fanned thrice against the Orioles on Sunday, which came five days after he fanned five times in five trips to the plate against the Phillies last Tuesday.

“You have one of those games where everything goes wrong and you can’t let it wipe out all the hard work and the point you got to recently,” Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke said in regards to Chavis last week. “Because I think he has been swinging the bat a lot better… You’ve got to be able to forget some things. It’s a very humbling game.”

In those three games (two starts) out of the nine-hole last season, Chavis accrued nine plate appearances in that spot and showed signs of success, slashing .375/.444/.625 with two doubles, one walk, and two runs scored.

Here is how the rest of the Red Sox will be lining up behind right-hander Colten Brewer and against Blue Jays rookie right-hander Julian Merryweather, who Toronto got from Cleveland in exchange for Josh Donaldson back in 2018, to begin things on Wednesday night:

First pitch is scheduled for 6:37 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox going for their second straight win in Buffalo.

Red Sox Release R.J. Alvarez, Outright Stephen Gonsalves and Mike Shawaryn in Slew of Roster Moves

Before taking on the Blue Jays on Wednesday, the Red Sox made a series of roster moves, releasing right-hander R.J. Alvarez, outrighting left-hander Stephen Gonsalves to the alternate training site in Pawtucket, and outrighting right-hander Mike Shawaryn and removing him from the 60-man player pool.

There is a lot to digest there, so let’s start with Alvarez.

The 29-year-old initially signed a minor-league contract with the Red Sox last December and was eventually added to the club’s player pool as a non-roster invitee last month. Because of that, Alvarez was assigned to the Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket, where he was limited to just working live batting practice sessions or simulated games and was likely viewed as emergency depth out of the bullpen prior to his release.

As for Gonsalves, the 26-year-old cleared waivers after getting designated for assignment last Wednesday.

A former fourth-round draft pick of the Twins in 2013, Gonsalves was claimed off waivers by Boston from the Mets on July 25 and was subsequently added to the player pool that same day.

Although he is no longer on the Sox’ 40-man roster, the San Diego native is still part of Boston’s player pool, so he will remain in Pawtucket and continue to get work in at McCoy Stadium.

Finally, we arrive at the only homegrown player here in Shawaryn.

The New Jersey native, who turns 26 next month, was drafted by Boston in the fifth round of the 2016 amateur draft out of the University of Maryland and made his major-league debut with the Sox last June.

In 14 appearances out of the bullpen in 2019, Shawaryn posted a 9.74 ERA and .987 OPS against over 20 1/3 innings of work.

Coming off that rather disappointing rookie campaign, the righty was added to the Red Sox’ player pool in June and assigned to the alternate training site in July prior to getting designated in August. That move was made by Boston in order to make on the 40-man roster for infielder Christian Arryou, who has since been DFA’d and outrighted as well.

Unlike Arroyo and Gonsalves, though, Shawaryn’s 2020 season, if you want to call it that, has essentially come to a close as he has been removed from the Sox’ player pool altogether and will presumably head back home.

With these transactions made, the Red Sox’ player pool is at full capacity at 60, but they do have one open 40-man roster spot.

Six-Run Sixth Inning Propels Red Sox To 9-7 Victory Over Blue Jays in Buffalo

For the first time since 1917, the Red Sox played a game in Buffalo, NY on Tuesday and were able to halt a mini two-game losing streak with a 9-7 victory over the Blue Jays to improve to 10-20 on the year.

Kyle Hart made his third start of the season for Boston since being recalled on August 13, and unlike his last time out against the Phillies, he took a step back in this one.

That being the case because over just 3 1/3 innings pitched, the rookie left-hander was charged with six runs, all of which were earned, on eight hits and three walks to go along with three strikeouts on the night.

The first four of those Toronto tallies came right away in the bottom half of the first, when after filling the bases with three of the first four hitters he faced, Hart yielded a two-run double to Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

Moments later, Danny Jansen followed suit by ripping a two-run single off the Sox starter to left field, but wound up getting gunned down at second base by Christian Vazquez to end the inning.

After dancing his way around some danger in the second and third, Hart ran into more trouble in the bottom half of the fourth, a frame he would not be able to finish.

There, Hart put runners on first and second with a one-out single and walk, which in turn marked the end of his outing and made way for Phillips Valdez to enter.

Making his 12th appearance of the year, Valdez inherited those two runners and allowed both of them to score on a two-run base knock off the bat of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., thus closing the book on Hart’s evening. Fortunately, the 28-year-old was able to escape the fourth without giving anything else up while also working a scoreless bottom of the fifth.

From there, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez stranded a total of three base runners over two scoreless innings in the sixth and seventh, while Ryan Brasier tossed a 1-2-3 eighth and Matt Barnes served up a solo shot to Teoscar Hernandez in the ninth but held on to notch the save and the 9-7 win for his side.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a fairly familiar foe in Blue Jays right-hander Chase Anderson, someone they could only push across one run against back on August 8.

This time around, the Boston bats got to Anderson starting in their half of the second when Xander Bogaerts led off with a hard-hit double up the middle and Mitch Moreland drove him in on an RBI single to center field.

Fast forward to the fourth, and the Bogaerts-Moreland combination struck once more as the former led the inning off with a single this time and the latter followed with a run-scoring double off of Anderson.

A passed ball later in the inning allowed Moreland to move up 90 feet to third base, and Jackie Bradley Jr. took full advantage of that mistake committed by the Blue Jays by plating the first baseman on an infield single.

Toronto did manage to tack on two runs of their own in the fourth to re-take the three-run lead they previously had, but that did not stop the Sox offense from erupting in the sixth.

It started with a leadoff walk drawn by Moreland, which would result in the Jays making a pitching change that saw Wilmer Font take over for Anderson.

Christian Vazquez greeted the new reliever by lacing a sharply-hit double over Teoscar Hernandez’s head in deep center field to advance Moreland up to third.

With one out and two runners in scoring position, Bradley Jr. followed Vazquez’s lead and drove in Moreland on an RBI single.

As the lineup was about to flip back over, Jose Peraza took a 95 mph fastball from Font off his wrist and the bases were full for leadoff man Alex Verdugo.

Having already extending his hitting streak to 14 games, Verdugo proceeded to rip a run-scoring single to right field to score Vazquez and keep the bases loaded for Rafael Devers.

Devers, up against new Blue Jays reliever A.J. Cole, did not waste too much time in clearing the bases, as the 23-year-old took a 3-2, 82 mph slider from the right-hander and absolutely tattooed a three-run triple down the right field line.

Per Statcast, Devers’ fifth career triple had an exit velocity of 110.2 mph off the bat. It also put the Red Sox up 8-6, and J.D. Martinez made it a 9-6 contest with a sacrifice fly.

By the time the final out of the top of the sixth was recorded, the Red Sox had plated six runs and sent 10 hitters to the plate.

As it would later turn out, that sixth inning would be all the Red Sox would need to top the Blue Jays on Tuesday, with 9-7 going on to be your final score.

Some notes and observations from this win:

It’s tough to see Kyle Hart getting another start the next time through the rotation given his numbers in the majors thus far, as The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham points out:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the middle game of this three-game set against the Blue Jays in Buffalo on Wednesday night.

Right-hander Colten Brewer will get the start for Boston in place of Nathan Eovaldi, who is dealing with a calf cramp, while the Blue Jays have yet to name a starter.

In his last time out against the Orioles last Friday, Brewer put together four scoreless innings of work in his second start and ninth overall appearance of the season.

With the PawSox last year, the 27-year-old actually made two appearances at Sahlen Field right and tossed 1 1/3 total total shutout innings of relief. He also pitched a perfect fifth inning against the Blue Jays back on August 7.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 6:37 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking to start the second half of the season on a positive note.

Former Red Sox Catcher Blake Swihart Released by Rangers

Former Red Sox catcher and top prospect Blake Swihart has been released by the Rangers, the club announced Tuesday.

Swihart, 28, originally signed a minor-league pact with Texas back in December after spending the first eight-plus years of his professional career with Boston.

Last April, the Red Sox designated Swihart, a former 2011 first-round draft pick, and dealt him to the Diamondbacks in exchange for outfield prospect Marcus Wilson.

The New Mexico native appeared in 30 games for Arizona from April 22 until May 31, going a measly 9-for-64 at the plate (.141) with three home runs and nine RBI before getting placed on the injured list with an oblique strain.

From there, Swihart was eventually activated from the IL on August 7, got into one game on August 11 against the Dodgers where he went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts off the bench, and was subsequently DFA’d a day later.

After clearing waivers and getting outrighted, the one-time University of Texas commit played 16 games and posted a .143/.234/.304 slash line for the DBacks’ Triple-A affiliate in Reno from the middle of August until the beginning of September. At that point, Swihart opted to become a free agent, leading to his joining the Rangers on a minor-league contract, as previously mentioned.

In his brief stint with Texas, Swihart had a decent spring training, going 5-for-16 at the plate with one home run and four RBI prior to the COVID-19-induced shutdown.

Assigned to the Rangers’ alternate training site last month, Swihart had been one of four non-roster backstops in Texas’ 60-man player pool.

Now a free agent for the second time in 11 months, Swihart will have the opportunity to sign wherever he so chooses depending on how much interest he garners on the open market.

Red Sox Right-Hander Nathan Eovaldi Scratched From Next Start Due To Calf Cramp

Nathan Eovaldi will not be making his seventh start of the season for the Red Sox on Wednesday as originally scheduled. Instead, the right-hander’s next outing has been pushed back to Saturday due to a right calf cramp.

With Eovaldi scratched, fellow righty Colten Brewer will start in his place, Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke announced Tuesday.

“Nate will not start tomorrow,” Roenicke said via Zoom. “We’re going to start Brewer in his place. The reason is Nate’s calf cramped up on him a couple days ago and it’s still there some. So, we’re going to back him up to Saturday. He’s going to throw a bullpen today, I think, and then go Saturday.”

Per Roenicke, Eovaldi first experienced this issue two to three days ago, when after going out to play long toss, the 30-year-old’s calf began to cramp.

“We didn’t think it was any big deal,” the Sox skipper added. “But, the next day he still felt it some, so we decided to try to push him back.”

Eovaldi is coming off an outing in which he held the Orioles to just one run on five hits, one walk, and six strikeouts over seven quality innings of work last Thursday.

The Red Sox are 4-2 in games started by Eovaldi this season and 5-18 in all others.

Had Eovaldi not been scratched from Wednesday’s contest against Toronto, Brewer would have likely been a top candidate to start for Boston on Thursday seeing how he tossed four scoreless frames against Baltimore in his second start of the year last Friday.

However, the 27-year-old will now be getting the ball on Wednesday, meaning the Sox have to identify someone else to start in what will be the finale of this three-game set against the Jays on Thursday.

“Right now, we know who we’re probably going to start in that game,” Roenicke said. “We’ll see what happens these two days and see if that changes.”

So far this season, the Red Sox have used 11 different pitchers to start a game. That number could increase to 12 depending on who Thursday’s starter will be.