Red Sox blow late lead in process of falling to Astros, 9-2, in Game 4 of ALCS

The Red Sox were just a few innings away from potentially jumping out to a commanding three-games-to-one-lead over the Astros in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series on Tuesday night … until they weren’t.

After holding on to a 2-1 lead for most of the night, Boston saw things unravel in the eighth inning of what would later go down as a 9-2 loss to Houston at Fenway Park, which means this best-of-seven ALCS is now tied at two games apiece.

Nick Pivetta, making his first start and third overall appearance of the postseason for the Sox, was solid in his championship series debut. The right-hander limited the Astros to just one run while scattering two hits and two walks to go along with three strikeouts over five impressive innings of work.

The lone run Pivetta surrendered to Houston came right away in the top half of the first, when he served up a two-out solo shot over the Green Monster to Alex Bregman that gave the Astros an early 1-0 lead.

Despite that miscue, the Red Sox lineup picked up their starter right away in the bottom half of the frame.

Matched up against Astros veteran right-hander Zack Greinke to begin things on Tuesday, Rafael Devers drew a five-pitch walk with two outs to set the stage for Xander Bogaerts.

After not collecting an RBI in Monday’s 12-3 thumping of Houston, Bogaerts unloaded on a 1-0, 84 mph slider from Greinke and deposited 413 feet into the Boston night and onto Lansdowne Street.

Bogaerts’ third homer of the postseason — a sizzling two-run blast that left his bat at 107.9 mph — allowed the Sox to snatch their first lead of the evening at 2-1.

Given that fresh one-run advantage to work with, Pivetta took full advantage by stringing together four scoreless frames. He had to escape a bit of a jam he created for himself in the second, but followed by sitting down nine of the final 10 batters he faced leading into the middle of the fifth.

Even after the Astros lineup flipped over for a third time in that fifth inning, Pivetta responded by getting the dangerous Jose Altuve to ground out to third base to retire the side and end his night on a positive note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of just of 65 (36 strikes), the 28-year-old hurler topped out at 96.5 mph with his four-seam fastball — a pitch he turned to 38 times to complement both his slider and knuckle curveball.

In relief of Pivetta, left-hander Josh Taylor got the first call from Red Sox manager Alex Cora out of the Boston bullpen, and he recorded the first two outs of the sixth before yielding a two-out single to Yordan Alvarez.

Adam Ottavino then came on for Taylor to finish the inning, and the veteran reliever did just that by emphatically punching out Carlos Correa on a 96 mph sinker on the outer half of the plate.

From there, Garrett Whitlock put up a zero in the seventh, but ran into some trouble an inning later.

To that point in the contest, the Boston bats had been held in check by Houston pitching. Despite knocking Greinke out after just 1 1/3 innings, the Sox were stymied by the Astros bullpen, though they certainly had their fair share of scoring opportunities.

In the bottom of the second, for instance, the Red Sox had runners at first and second with one out, but neither Enrique Hernandez or Devers were able to come through and instead went down quietly.

Two innings later, Chritian Arroyo ripped a one-out triple off Cristian Javier, but was stranded there after both Kyle Schwarber and Hernandez were retired by the Astros reliever.

With one out in the bottom of the fifth, Bogaerts laced a 106.9 mph double off Javier. He, too, was left there when Alex Verdugo and J.D. Martinez were sat down on a fly out and swinging strikeout, respectively.

Fast forward to the top half of the eighth, and the Astros promptly capitalized on the fact that the Red Sox had gone 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position while leaving eight runners on base as a team up until then.

That being the case because on the very first pitch he saw from Whitlock, Altuve led off the eighth by crushing a game-tying solo home run 400 feet off the National Car Rental sign hovering above the Green Monster.

Altuve’s late-game heroics knotted things up at two runs apiece, and it also paved the way for Nathan Eovaldi to attempt to keep it that way in the ninth.

Having just started Game 2 of this series on Saturday, Eovaldi immediately gave up a leadoff double to Correa that was just out of the reach of Hunter Renfroe in right field. He then struck out Kyle Tucker and intentionally walked Yuli Gurriel to face the pinch-hitting Aledmys Diaz.

Diaz, in turn, fanned on five pitches, bringing Eovaldi to within one out of escaping a sticky situation. Jason Castro, however, had different plans.

Moments after it appeared as though Eovaldi had punched out Castro on a 1-2, 80 mph curveball on the inner half of the plate that was instead called a ball by home plate umpire Laz Diaz, the Astros backstop responded by drilling a go-ahead, run-scoring single through the right side of the infield.

Castro plated Correa on his clutch hit to make it a 3-2 game in favor of Houston, but the Astros were not done there. Not with Altuve drawing a walk that prompted Cora to go get Eovaldi.

With two outs and the bases full of Astros, Michael Brantley greeted the newly-inserted Martin Perez by drilling a three-run, bases-clearing double to the gap in right-center field that increased his side’s advantage to four runs at 6-2.

Perez’s struggles did not end there, as the lefty surrendered three more runs on three more hits before the top of the ninth inning mercifully came to a close with the Astros up, 9-2.

In total, Eovaldi was charged for four runs — all of which were earned — on two hits, two walks, and two strikeouts in 2/3 of an inning. He is slated to start Game 6 of this series in Houston on Friday.

Perez, on the other hand, was charged with three runs (two earned) in a third of an inning.

The Sox somewhat threatened in their half of the ninth, but ultimately went down quietly against Astros closer Ryan Pressly to secure a heart-breaking 9-2 defeat in which they went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left 11 runners on base as a team.

With the loss, the Red Sox have given home-field advantage back to the Astros, as they ensure that they will be heading back to Houston later this week since this ALCS is now tied up at 2-2 and will at least be six games in length.

Next up: Sale vs. Valdez to start off Game 5

The Red Sox will turn to left-hander Chris Sale to start Game 5 at Fenway Park on Wednesday evening, while the Astros will roll with fellow southpaw Framber Valdez.

First pitch from Fenway Park on Wednesday is scheduled for 5:08 p.m. eastern time on FS1.

(Picture of Nathan Eovaldi: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Chris Sale likely to start Game 5 of ALCS for Red Sox, but left-hander will be available out of bullpen for Game 4 vs. Astros

The Red Sox will have Chris Sale available out of their bullpen for Game 4 of the American League Championship Series on Tuesday night, though the club is hoping they will be able to stay away from him.

When speaking with reporters (including The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier) at Fenway Park ahead of Game 4, Sox manager Alex Cora said that Sale is penciled in to start Game 5, but the veteran left-hander could pitch in relief of Nick Pivetta on Tuesday if the situation arises.

As noted by Speier, Cora and Co. would prefer to avoid using Sale out of the ‘pen in order to preserve him for what would be his third start of the postseason on Wednesday. If they were forced to use the lefty, though, Cora did indicate that the Red Sox would be able to make the necessary adjustments to their starting rotation.

Through his first two outings of these playoffs, Sale has allowed a total of six earned runs on nine hits, two walks, and one hit batsman to go along with four strikeouts over just 3 2/3 innings of work. That’s good for an ERA of 14.73 and FIP of 6.99.

The 32-year-old is coming off a start against the Astros in Game 1 of the ALCS in which he surrendered one run on five hits, one walk, one HBP and two strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings pitched at Minute Maid Park on October 15.

If Sale were to toss an inning of relief on Tuesday night, he would be working on three days rest and would subsequently not be available to start on Wednesday. Assuming he is not used, the seven-time All-Star would then be pitching on seven days rest come Wednesday night.

Per MLB.com’s Ian Browne, Cora likened this situation with Sale to what Boston went through with Pivetta on Monday. Pivetta, like Sale, had been available to work out of the bullpen in Game 3, but his services were not needed since the Sox bested the Astros in a 12-3 blowout win.

Following Monday’s victory, Cora officially named Pivetta as his Game 4 starter. The same sort of thing will likely happen on Tuesday night — with Sale getting tabbed to start Game 5 — so long as the southpaw does not make a relief appearance between now and then.

(Picture of Chris Sale: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Red Sox sticking with same lineup they used in Game 3 for Game 4 of ALCS vs. Astros

Why fix what isn’t broken?

After mashing their way to a 12-3 win over the Astros in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series on Monday, the Red Sox are running back the same exact starting lineup for Tuesday night’s Game 4 at Fenway Park.

With veteran right-hander Zack Greinke on the mound for Houston, Boston will have the opportunity to take a three-games-to-one lead in this best-of-seven series.

Kyle Schwarber, after belting a grand slam on Monday, will once again be leading off and starting at first base for the Sox on Tuesday. He will be followed by center fielder Enrique Hernandez, third baseman Rafael Devers, shortstop Xander Bogaerts, and left fielder Alex Verdugo.

Verdugo batting fifth means designated hitter J.D. Martinez has dropped down to the six-hole once more, while right fielder Hunter Renfroe, catcher Christian Vazquez, and second baseman Christian Arroyo round out the lineup.

Vazquez will be catching righty Nick Pivetta, who Red Sox manager Alex Cora named as his Game 4 starter following Monday’s blowout victory.

Pivetta will be making his first career postseason start come Tuesday night after only being used as a reliever on two separate occasions during the American League Division Series against the Rays.

In those two outings, the 28-year-old hurler turned in a pair of solid performances in Games 1 and 3, posting a 3.12 ERA and 4.67 FIP to go along with 11 strikeouts to three walks over 8 2/3 total innings of work.

Over the course of the regular season, Pivetta faced off against the Astros only once, and that came in Houston back on June 2. He allowed two runs on three hits, two walks, one hit batsman and nine strikeouts in six innings during that outing at Minute Maid Park.

Greinke, on the other hand, last started a game for the Astros on September 19, as he was used out of their bullpen just once and tossed a scoreless fourth inning in Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the White Sox on October 10.

Like Pivetta, Greinke made one start against his upcoming opponent during the regular season. On June 10 at Fenway Park, the soon-to-be 38-year-old surrendered four runs to the Red Sox on seven hits, one walk, and two strikeouts over three uninspiring innings.

With all that being said, first pitch from Fenway on Tuesday night is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. eastern time on FS1.

(Picture of Enrique Hernandez and Kyle Schwarber: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Nick Pivetta to start Game 4 of ALCS vs. Astros opposite Zack Greinke

Nick Pivetta will start Game 4 of the American League Championship Series for the Red Sox when they go up against the Astros at Fenway Park on Tuesday night.

Sox manager Alex Cora made the announcement following his side’s 12-3 thumping of the Astros in Game 3 of the ALCS on Monday, which gives them a two-games-to-one lead in this best-of-seven series.

Tuesday will mark Pivetta’s first career postseason start. He was available to be used out of the bullpen on Monday, but a nine-run blowout in favor of the Red Sox did not necessitate such a move.

The Canadian-born right-hander has undertaken a pivotal role within the Boston bullpen so far this October — even going back to the final game of the regular season against the Nationals in D.C. on Oct. 3.

Through two relief appearances in these playoffs, both of which came against the Rays in the American League Division Series, Pivetta has put up a 3.12 ERA and 4.67 FIP to go along with 11 strikeouts to three walks over 8 2/3 total innings of work.

While the Sox dropped Game 1 of the ALDS to the Rays at Tropicana Field, Pivetta was able to provide his club with 4 2/3 solid innings in relief of starter Eduardo Rodriguez, which allowed them to preserve the rest of their bullpen.

In Game 3 last Sunday, Pivetta’s name was called upon once again. This time around, the 28-year-old took over in the 10th inning of a 4-4 game and proceeded to hurl four scoreless frames of relief before Christian Vazquez walked it off in the bottom half of the 13th.

Pivetta earned his first-ever postseason win for his efforts last weekend, as he had just thrown 8 2/3 innings and 140 pitches (90 strikes) in two different cities within the span of 72 hours.

As he prepares for what will be his first start in a league championship series, Pivetta will be working on eight days rest come Tuesday night.

The 6-foot-5, 214 pounder last faced the Astros in Houston back on June 2 and held them to two runs on three hits, two walks, and nine strikeouts in six innings, though he was ultimately charged with the loss.

Opposing Pivetta in Game 4 will be Astros right-hander Zack Greinke, who will also be making his first start of the postseason after only making one appearance as a reliever in Game 3 of the ALDS against the White Sox.

With all that being said, first pitch from Fenway Park on Tuesday is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. eastern time on FS1. The Red Sox are just two wins away from advancing to the World Series.

(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Kyle Schwarber’s second-inning grand slam propels Red Sox to 12-3 victory over Astros in Game 3 of ALCS; Eduardo Rodriguez strikes out 7 over 6 solid innings

Have a happy birthday, Alex Cora.

The Red Sox celebrated their manager’s 46th birthday by taking a two-games-to-one lead over the Astros in the American League Championship Series on Monday night.

Boston crushed Houston by a final score of 12-3 in Game 3 of the ALCS at Fenway Park to kick off the week, meaning they are now just two wins away from heading to their first World Series since 2018.

A travel day on Sunday could not stymie a red-hot Sox lineup, as they once again knocked out an Astros starter early while matched up against right-hander Jose Urquidy.

After going down in order to Urquidy in their half of the first inning, Alex Verdugo proved to be the catalyst for an explosive second inning by drawing a hard-fought, 11-pitch walk with one out.

J.D. Martinez advanced Verdugo up to third and put a pair of runners at scoring position with a line-drive double to center field, then Hunter Renfroe drew another walk off Urquidy to fill the bases for Christian Vazquez.

Vazquez got his productive night at the plate started by slapping an RBI single to the opposite field that plated Verdugo and re-loaded the bases for Christian Arroyo, who nearly grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Instead, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve once again mishandled another groundball hit in his direction, which allowed Arroyo to reach base safely and Martinez to cross home plate uncontested.

With the bases still full of Red Sox, Kyle Schwarber put the finishing touches on his side’s second-inning outburst by first getting ahead in a 3-0 count against Urquidy. He then took the fourth pitch he saw, a 93 mph heater on the outer half of the plate, and deposited it 430 feet into the night and into the right field seats.

Schwarber’s grand slam, which left his bat at 114 mph, gave the Sox a commanding 6-0 lead. It also made history since it was the third grand slam Boston has hit in this series alone, matching their total from the 162-game regular season.

While Boston’s six-run surge in the second inning forced Astros manager Dusty Baker to turn to his bullpen earlier than expected yet again, the Red Sox offense did not stop there, as they got to Houston reliever Yimi Garcia in their half of the third as well.

There, with one out and Renfroe at third base after reaching on a walk, stealing second, and moving up to third on a throwing error, Vazquez took advantage of the Astros’ infield positioning by blooping a 67.1 mph single to shallow left field.

Vazquez’s second run-scoring base knock of the evening made it a 7-0 contest in favor of Boston, though their lead only grew when Arroyo promptly uncorked a two-run home run 399 feet over the Green Monster off a first-pitch slider to give his side a 9-0 advantage.

To that point in the night, Eduardo Rodriguez had held the Astros in check, though he did eventually run into some trouble in the middle innings.

Rodriguez, making his third start of the postseason for the Sox, came out firing, hovering around 94-96 mph with his four-seam fastball while striking out the side in the second in the process of retiring nine of the first 10 batters he faced.

The left-hander’s fortunes momentarily ran out in the top half of the fourth, however, and it began when he yielded a leadoff single to Michael Brantley.

A one-out single off the bat of Yordan Alvarez put runners at the corners for the dangerous Carlos Correa, who popped out to short to bring Rodriguez within one out of getting out of the jam.

Kyle Tucker prevented that from happening, though, as he took Rodriguez deep on a three-run blast hit 413 feet to right field that scored Brantley, Alvarez, and himself to cut the Astros’ deficit down to six runs at 9-3.

Despite that miscue, Rodriguez did manage to limit the damage. He got through the rest of the fourth unscathed before sitting down each of the final six hitters he faced in order. Correa was his final victim, as he got the star shortstop to ground out to second for the last out of the sixth.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 97 (65 pitches), the 28-year-old hurler wound up allowing three runs — all of which were earned — on five hits and zero walks to go along with seven strikeouts over six quality frames of work.

Moments after Rodriguez’s evening came to a close, Martinez provided some two-out insurance in the bottom of the sixth. Following a Rafael Devers leadoff walk, the veteran slugger greeted newly-inserted Astros reliever Phil Maton by clubbing another two-run shot 395 feet over the Monster.

Martinez’s third homer of the postseason, which had an exit velocity of 106 mph, put the Red Sox up over the Astros, 11-3. It subsequently set the stage for the Boston bullpen to take over for Rodriguez as well.

Hansel Robles, who got that first call from Cora out of the ‘pen, maneuvered his way around a leadoff walk to face the minimum of three batters with the help of a double play in a clean seventh inning.

From there, Martin Perez did the exact same thing by inducing another twin killing in the top of the eighth before Devers made it a 12-3 game by tattooing a 372-foot solo into the Monster seats off Ryne Stanek in the bottom half.

That sequence paved the way for Hirokazu Sawamura to be dispatched in the ninth, and he slammed the door on the Astros with the help of a sliding, game-ending catch from Renfroe to secure a 12-3 victory for the Sox.

With the win, the Red Sox find themselves up 2-1 in this best-of-seven ALCS with the Astros and inch ever closer to punching their ticket to the Fall Classic.

Next up: Pivetta likely for Game 4

The Red Sox have yet to officially name a starter for Game 4 on Tuesday, though it seems likely that responsibility will fall to right-hander Nick Pivetta, who was available out of the bullpen on Monday but was not used.

Likewise, the Astros also have not named a starter for Tuesday’s contest. Fellow righty Zack Greinke could wind up getting the start for Houston opposite Pivetta.

Regardless, first pitch from Fenway Park on Tuesday night is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. eastern time on FS1.

(Picture of Kyle Schwarber: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Christian Vázquez catching Eduardo Rodriguez for Red Sox in Game 3 of ALCS vs. Astros

The Red Sox will look to celebrate manager Alex Cora’s 46th birthday by taking a two-games-to-one-lead over the Astros in the American League Championship Series on Monday night.

After splitting the first two games of this best-of-seven series in Houston over the weekend, the Sox have momentarily taken homefield advantage away from the Astros as the next three games of this ALCS will be played at Fenway Park.

In celebrating his birthday on Monday, Cora is rolling out a nearly-identical starting lineup to the one he used in Saturday’s Game 2 victory.

With another right-hander in Jose Urquidy getting the start for Houston in Game 3, Kyle Schwarber will once again be leading off and starting at first base for Boston on Monday. He will be followed by the red-hot Enrique Hernandez in center field.

Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and Alex Verdugo make up the 3-4-5 portion of the Sox’ batting order, meaning J.D. Martinez will bat sixth ahead of Hunter Renfroe, Christian Vazquez, and Christian Arroyo.

Vazquez is the only one of these nine players who did not start on Saturday since it was Kevin Plawecki who caught Nathan Eovaldi. This time around, however, the 31-year-old backstop will be catching Game 3 starter Eduardo Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, who was named by Cora as Boston’s Game 3 starter on Sunday, has posted a 5.40 ERA and 1.97 FIP to go along with seven strikeouts to two walks through his first two starts (6 2/3 innings pitched) of the postseason.

The left-hander is a week removed from his last outing against the Rays in which he allowed two earned runs on three hits, zero walks, and six strikeouts over five-plus solid innings of work in Game 4 of the American League Division Series on October 11.

Earlier this season, Rodriguez faced off against the Astros twice within an 11-day span from May 31 to June 10 — with the first start coming in Houston and the second in Boston.

In those two outings, the Venezuelan southpaw surrendered a total of 12 runs — all of which were earned — on 13 hits, five walks, and nine strikeouts in 9 1/3 innings pitched. That’s good for an ERA of 11.57.

Urquidy, on the other hand, held the Red Sox to just one run on three hits, one walk, and nine punchouts over six innings of work in his lone start against them this year when he opposed Rodriguez at Minute Maid Park back in late May.

That being said, first pitch from Fenway Park on Monday is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. eastern time on FS1.

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

Red Sox’ Alex Cora praises Rafael Devers for willingness to learn second language: ‘We know what that means for his career. He knows what it means for his platform’

While Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers continues to show that he is one of baseball’s most electric stars under the bright lights of the postseason, he is also out to prove that he is capable of mastering a second language.

Devers, a native Spanish speaker out of the Dominican Republic, has been working on improving his English since last offseason and — per The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham — “was proud to show it off when he reported to spring training.

As noted by Abraham, the 24-year-old was more than happy to converse in English in informal settings, but requested that a translator be present whenever he was taking part in a formal interview.

This continued to be the case throughout the regular season, as Devers was flanked by interpreters such as Bryan Almonte or Rey Fuentes whenever he would speak with the media over Zoom or on the field with NESN’s Jahmai Webster.

On Thursday, however, something was different. While the Red Sox partook in a team workout at Minute Maid Park on the eve of Game 1 of the American League Championship Series against the Astros, Devers was approached by WCVB’s Duke Castiglione.

With no one else by his side, Devers spoke directly with Castiglione, and part of their interview was featured in SportsCenter 5’s 1-Minute Drill later that day.

“I try to be better everyday and we’ll see what happens in this series,” Devers said, in English, when asked about his right forearm injury.

Fast forward to Sunday afternoon, with a voluntary workout taking place at Fenway Park, and Red Sox manager Alex Cora was asked about Devers’ growing list of postseason accomplishments and what the future might hold for the first time All-Star.

Devers, who turns 25 next week, clubbed a second-inning grand slam as part of a 1-for-4 showing at the plate for Boston in which he also drew a walk in Saturday’s 9-5 series-evening win over the Astros in Houston.

That performance raised his slash line this postseason to a sturdy .310/.412/.621 over seven games and 34 plate appearances. His three home runs in the playoffs rank second on the Red Sox behind only the red-hot Enrique Hernandez, while his 10 RBI lead the club. And he’s doing this while experiencing discomfort in his right forearm, remember.

When speaking with reporters on Sunday, Cora made sure to give Devers plenty of props for what he has done on the field throughout the month of October, but he credited the young infielder for what he has been doing off the field as well.

“His baseball IQ is amazing. He is a great person,” Cora said. “I was talking to Marly [Rivera of ESPN] yesterday about his willingness to learn a second language because we know what that means for his career. He knows what it means for his platform. [Boston] is a city that has embraced a lot of Dominican players, a lot of Latin players. If you look at the Celtics with [Al] Horford, and you see David [Ortiz] and Pedro [Martinez], what they mean to the community and what they have done off the field because they learned that second language.

“And Raffy, if he keeps doing what he is doing, we’re going to be talking about him that way because he is very likable,” added Cora. “He is a good kid. He enjoys playing the game. He enjoys this atmosphere, and he is doing everything possible to get to that echelon.”

Outside of his quick conversation with WCVB last week, it does not appear as though Devers has done any interviews solely in English.

That could change relatively soon, as Devers made a deal with Abraham in the spring that he would give him his first English interview if the Red Sox made it to the World Series. They are now just three wins away from doing so.

(Picture of Rafael Devers: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox tab Eduardo Rodriguez to start Game 3 of ALCS vs. Astros; Nick Pivetta likely to start Game 4

Eduardo Rodriguez will start Game 3 of the American League Championship Series for the Red Sox as they go up against the Astros at Fenway Park on Monday night.

Sox manager Alex Cora made the announcement while speaking to reporters during an optional workout at Fenway Park on Sunday afternoon. He had previously declined to name a starter for Game 3 following Boston’s 9-5 win over Houston in Game 2 to even up the ALCS at one game apiece on Saturday.

Rodriguez, come Monday night, will be making his third start of the postseason and second straight at home. Through his first two outings, the left-hander has posted a 5.40 ERA, but a much more encouraging 1.97 FIP, to go along with seven strikeouts to just two walks over 6 2/3 total innings of work.

After struggling in his start against the Rays in the opening contest of the ALDS on October 7, Rodriguez bounced back in an encouraging way by limiting Tampa Bay to two runs on three hits, zero walks, and five strikeouts in five solid innings in the fourth and final game of the division series last Monday.

While the 28-year-old southpaw had been available out of the bullpen in Houston over the weekend, he ultimately was not used, thus allowing Cora to pencil him in as his Game 3 starter.

The last time the Red Sox faced off against the Astros in an ALCS three years ago, Rodriguez appeared in two games as a reliever and only faced a total of four batters, so there really is not much to go off there.

This time around, Rodriguez will be matched up against Houston right-hander Jose Urquidy to kick things off in Game 3 on Monday night. First pitch is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. eastern time on FS1.

As for who will start Game 4 for Boston on Tuesday, Cora indicated that responsibility will likely fall to Nick Pivetta. The right-hander will however be available to pitch in relief of Rodriguez out of the Sox bullpen on Monday if needed.

(Picture of Eduardo Rodriguez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers lead the way with pair of grand slams as Red Sox even ALCS with 9-5 win over Astros

After squandering multiple scoring opportunities in a Game 1 loss to kick off the American League Championship Series on Friday, the Red Sox bounced back in a tremendous way against the Astros in Game 2 on Saturday afternoon.

Boston mashed their way to a 9-5 win over Houston at Minute Maid Park, meaning this best-of-seven ALCS is now tied at one game each as it heads back to Fenway Park.

Matched up against Astros rookie right-hander Luis Garcia to begin things on Saturday, a hungry Sox lineup kicked off the scoring right away in their half of the first inning.

Kyle Schwarber led off with a double, Rafael Devers and Alex Verdugo each drew a walk to fill the bases with two outs, then — following a brief mound visit — J.D. Martinez unloaded the bases on a 1-0, 94 mph fastball from Garcia and crushed it 363 feet over the right field wall.

Martinez’s grand slam, which had an exit velocity of 106 mph, gave Boston an early 4-0 lead, but they were not done there.

That being the case because an inning later, the Red Sox threatened once more after Kevin Plawecki began the top half of the second by drawing a leadoff walk off Garcia.

To that point in the contest, Garcia had struggled with his command, with only 14 of his 33 pitches through one-plus innings going for strikes. As a result, he left the game with right knee discomfort and was replaced by Jake Odorizzi.

Odorizzi, a traditional starter, then went through his regular warmup routine on the field, which took quite a bit of time before he was ready to face Christian Arroyo with no outs and a runner on in the second.

Arroyo, coming off that long layoff, promptly ripped a single to right field before a one-out base hit of the bat of Enrique Hernandez filled the bases for Boston yet again.

Devers then followed in Martinez’s footsteps by clubbing the Sox’ second grand slam of the day, making them the first major-league team to ever hit two grand slams in a single postseason game.

While the long layoff caused by Garcia’s injury played into Boston’s favor on the offensive side of things, it also resulted in Nathan Eovaldi having to wait a while in between innings.

Eovaldi, making his third start of the postseason for the Sox, got his day started against his hometown team by retiring six of the first seven Astros batters he faced. From the time he recorded the final out of the second inning, though, he had to wait a grand total of 41 minutes before throwing his first pitch of the third.

The veteran right-hander had a sizable 8-0 cushion to work with at that point, and that lead only increased after he got through another 1-2-3 frame.

In the top of the fourth, with Odorizzi still on the mound for Houston, a sizzling Hernandez stayed hot at the plate by tattooing yet another home run — a 395-foot solo shot into the Crawford Boxes.

By doing so, Hernandez became the first Red Sox player to ever hit five homers in a five-game span during the postseason. He also gave his side a commanding 9-0 lead.

While Eovaldi had been able to keep the Astros at bay in his first three innings on Saturday, he ran into some two-out trouble in the bottom of the fourth after issuing his first walk of the afternoon to Yordan Alvarez before giving up a hard-hit single to Carlos Correa.

Kyle Tucker then plated Houston’s first run of the contest with an opposite field RBI double, while Yuli Gurriel tacked on two more on a two-run single down the right field line.

That sequence cut Boston’s advantage down to six runs at 9-3, but Eovaldi countered by getting out of the fourth before tossing a scoreless fifth inning that included a visit from a team trainer.

An inning later, Eovaldi got the first out of the sixth on an Alex Bregman groundout before giving up a one-out single to Alvarez — at which point his afternoon came to a close as he got the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora in favor of Adam Ottavino.

Ottavino proceeded to officially close the book on Eovaldi’s outing by stranding the lone runner he inherited while also maneuvering his way around a bit of a jam.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 81 (53 strikes), the 31-year-old hurler (Eovaldi) wound up allowing three runs — all of which were earned — on five hits and one walk to go along with three strikeouts on the afternoon.

Garrett Whitlock took over for Ottavino in a 9-3 game in the seventh, and he worked his way around a one-out walk of Jason Castro with some defensive help from Arroyo, who made a fine play while in the shift to get Michael Brantley at first base for the final out of the inning.

From there, Whitlock rolled on by sitting down the side in order in the eighth, thus paving the way for Darwinzon Hernandez in the ninth.

Hernandez, making his first appearance of the postseason, served up a pair of solo solo home runs to Gurriel and Castro, which trimmed Houston’s deficit down to four runs.

Ryan Brasier was forced to come on for the second straight day in relief of Hernandez. He was able to slam the door on the Astros in order to secure a series-evening 9-5 victory for the Sox.

With the win, the Red Sox even up this series at one game apiece while guaranteeing it will go at least five games. They have also taken homefield advantage away from the Astros for the time being.

Next up: Back to Boston for Games 3, 4, and 5

The Red Sox will board a flight to Boston and enjoy a well-deserved off day on Sunday before resuming the ALCS against the Astros at Fenway Park on Monday night.

Boston has yet to officially name a starter for Monday’s contest, while Houston will go with right-hander Jose Urquidy for Game 3.

First pitch from Fenway Park on Monday is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. eastern time on FS1.

(Picture of: J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers: Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Rafael Devers on right arm: ‘I’m feeling a lot better now’

Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers went 2-for-5 with a pair of singles and a run scored in Friday night’s 5-4 loss to the Astros in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.

Friday marked Devers’ — and the Sox’ — first in-game action since this past Monday after they eliminated the Rays from the postseason by taking the American League Division Series in a convincing four games.

During that series, it became apparent that Devers was dealing with some sort of arm or wrist injury that was later reported by The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier and Michael Silverman to be right forearm discomfort.

Throughout the ALDS, Devers would show signs of discomfort whenever he would swing and miss at the plate, particularly on a pitch that was high up in the strike zone.

Dismissed by Sox manager Alex Cora as the usual wear-and-tear from a 162-game regular season, Devers still produced despite the pain he was experiencing. The soon-to-be 25-year-old slugger went 6-for-18 (.333) with two home runs and six RBI in the ALDS.

In the fourth and final game of the series at Fenway Park, the first-time All-Star cranked a three-run home run off Rays left-hander Shane McClanahan that gave his side an early 3-0 lead in the third inning of an eventual 6-5 walk-off victory.

Following a much-needed period of rest, Devers picked up where he left off by putting together another multi-hit performance for the Sox on Friday, though it was ultimately not enough to lift them to a series-opening win over the Astros.

Over the course of his five trips to the plate in Game 1, Devers saw a total of 16 pitches. He swung and miss on just two occasions during his seventh-inning at bat against left-handed reliever Brooks Raley.

On his first whiff, which came on a first-pitch slider that was down and away, Devers promptly dropped his bat with his right hand after taking one step out of the batter’s box.

On his second whiff, which came on a 1-1 sinker that was down and in, Devers dropped to a knee before flexing and looking at his right arm, as he has been doing for the last few weeks.

As noted by Speier and Silverman earlier this month, Devers has been wearing a compression sleeve on his right arm since September 26 and has continued to do so throughout the postseason.

That being said, when speaking with reporters ahead of Game 2 of the ALCS on Saturday afternoon, Devers indicated that he and his right arm are in a better place now health-wise.

“I’m feeling a lot better now,” explained Devers. “Obviously, with the training staff, with everything that they were able to do to help me feel better out on the field, it feels a lot better than it did in the last round. So, I’m fortunate enough to be able to feel better than I did last time.”

Devers will be starting at third base and batting third for the Sox as they look to even up this best-of-seven series at one game apiece before heading back to Boston.

When asked if there is a sense of urgency within the Red Sox clubhouse since they are trailing in the series, Devers cited recent history as a reason why there is no reason to panic.

“It’s just one game. Obviously, we lost the first game against Tampa as well, and we lost our first game in the ALCS in 2018,” he said. “But we’re just going to go out there and compete. It’s a long series, and we know that we have what it takes in order to take a game here, and once we do and if we can, we’ll go back home and play games out there where we feel a lot more comfortable as well. We feel good about where we’re at right now.”

(Picture of Rafael Devers: Elsa/Getty Images)