Red Sox Waste Strong Start From Martín Pérez, See Three-Game Winning Streak Snapped in First Extra-Innings Loss of Season To Orioles

The Red Sox got their first taste of Major League Baseball’s new extra-innings rules for 2020 on Saturday and in doing so saw their winning streak snapped at three games following a 5-4 defeat at the hands of the Orioles in 10 innings.

Martin Perez made his sixth start of the year for Boston in this one, and he put together what was without a doubt his most impressive outing as a member of the Red Sox thus far.

Over seven quality innings of work, the left-hander yielded just one earned run while scattering five hits and one walk to go along with a season-best six strikeouts on the night.

That lone Baltimore tally came in the bottom of the second, when with one out and the bases empty, Perez served up a solo homer to Pat Valaika off a 1-1, 85 mph changeup on the outer half of the plate.

Other than that one blip though, Perez really got into a groove with the help of a few nifty plays from Alex Verdugo and Kevin Pillar.

From the middle of the third up until the conclusion of the sixth, the Venezuelan southpaw sat down 11 of 13 Orioles before running into a bit of trouble in the seventh.

There, Perez put runners at first and second with one out, and then runners at second and third with two outs, prior to retiring Ryan Mountcastle and Bryan Holaday in consecutive order to end his evening on a positive note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 94 (62 strikes), the 29-year-old hurler was more aggressive in his approach on Saturday, as he turned to his cut-fastball 46% of the time he was on the mound, inducing seven swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 94.8 mph with his four-seamer, a pitch he threw 16 times.

Unable to pick up the winning decision to no fault of his own while lowering his ERA on the season down to 3.45, Perez’s next start should come against the Nationals back at Fenway Park sometime next weekend.

In relief of Perez, fellow lefty Josh Taylor got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen for the bottom half of the eighth, and he allowed multiple runs in his second consecutive appearance after issuing a two-out walk to Hanser Alberto and getting taken deep to left field by Anthony Santander.

That rocket of a two-run home run saw Boston’s deficit get erased entirely, and Ryan Brasier had to come on to get his side out of the eighth with the 3-3 stalemate still intact thanks to the efforts of Christian Vazquez, who gunned down Andrew Velezquez at second base to end the inning.

From there, Brasier came back out for the ninth and danced his way around a two-out infield single and walk in an otherwise clean frame of work to send this one to extra innings.

In extras, Matt Barnes entered the 10th with his side up 5-4 and a runner, Rio Ruiz, already on second base, as the new rules for this season go.

Barnes, fresh off his first save in over a year on Friday, then yielded a perfectly placed sacrifice bunt off the bat of Cedric Mullins which Mitch Moreland fielded and unsuccessfully attempted to get Ruiz out at third.

With still no outs recorded and runners on the corners, Barnes proceeded to issue a wild pitch in the middle of his duel against Alberto, allowing Ruiz to score from third and knot things up at five runs apiece.

By reaching on an infield single to second, Alberto advanced Mullins 90 feet to third base, and an intentional walk of Santander filled the bases for Baltimore.

Because of that predicament, Boston brought in Jackie Bradley Jr. from center field and ran with a five-man infield from that point forward.

As cunning as that strategy may have been, it did not work out in the end, as Barnes got walked off on following a scorcher of a one-out, game-winning single from Pedro Severino.

Again, one night after picking up his first save of 2020, Barnes was charged with his second loss and second blown save of the year as the O’s took this one by a final score of 5-4.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a fairly familiar opponent in Orioles veteran right-hander Alex Cobb, who held the Sox to one run in his season debut back on July 25.

This time around, the Boston bats were again held in check by Cobb, but only up until the fifth inning.

There, Bradley Jr. kicked off the scoring for his side by crushing his first home run of the year 402 feet to dead center field off a one-out, 2-1, 92 mph heater at the top of the zone from Cobb.

Jose Peraza followed that solo blast with a hard-hit, ground-rule double to left-center field that nearly left the park itself, and the second baseman was quickly driven in from second when the red-hot Alex Verdugo picked up his second extra-base hit of the contest on an RBI two-bagger that split the gap in right-center field.

An inning later, the middle portion of the Sox lineup got to new Orioles reliever Shawn Armstrong, with Moreland and Vazquez reaching on a one-out walk and single, and Kevin Pillar plating Moreland from second on a softly-hit run-scoring infield single. Just like that, the Sox had themselves a two-run lead at 3-1.

Alas, that 3-1 edge would not prove to be enough in the end, as Baltimore tacked on two runs of their own in their half of the eighth, which resulted in Boston playing in their first extra-innings game this year.

In the 10th, with Verdugo already on second since he recorded the last out of the ninth, three straight one-out walks drawn by J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, and Moreland off of Cole Sulser allowed the Sox outfielder to score from third and make it a 4-3 game.

Despite having the bases loaded with two outs to work with in the 10th, the Red Sox could not make anything of that golden opportunity against right-hander Miguel Castro, and after the Orioles walked it off in their half of the frame, 5-4 would go on to be Saturday’s final score.

Some notes and observations from this loss:

The Red Sox went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position on Saturday. They left 10 runners on base as a team.

Alex Verdugo extended his season-best hitting streak to 13 consecutive games on Saturday. He also picked up his league-leading fifth outfield assist.

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Next up for the 9-19 Red Sox, it’s the finale of this four-game weekend series against the Orioles on Sunday afternoon.

Right-hander Zack Godley will get the start for Boston, while left-hander Wade LeBlanc will do the same for Baltimore.

Godley has yet to face the Orioles this season. LeBlanc, meanwhile, surrendered four runs to the Red Sox in his 2020 debut back on July 26.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking for the series win.

Red Sox Get Dominated by Gerrit Cole, Yankees as Losing Streak Grows to Five Straight Games

A change of venue could not turn things around for the Red Sox on Friday night, as they saw their losing streak grow to to five in an 8-3 series-opening defeat at the hands of the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

Colten Brewer made his first career start and his seventh overall appearance of the season for Boston to kick off the weekend, and his first taste of the opener role was not very favorable.

That being the case because over 2 2/3 innings of work, the right-hander surrendered two runs, both of which were earned, on four hits and three walks to go along with two strikeouts on the night.

Both of those New York tallies came in the bottom half of the third, when after escaping a bases loaded jam in the first and retiring three of the four hitters he faced in the second, Brewer served up a one-out, two-run double to Gleyber Torres off a 2-1 heater on the outer half of the plate to put his side in a 2-0 hole.

That damaging blow was followed by a Mike Tauchman pop out, and thus marked the end of Brewer’s rather stressful outing.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 73 (41 strikes), the 27-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball 51% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing two swings and misses and topping out at 95.2 mph with the pitch.

Eventually hit with his first loss of the season, it’s unclear at this point if Brewer will get another crack in the opener role anytime soon. In the meantime, I would expect him to make his next appearance as a reliever.

Speaking of relief pitchers, Austin Brice got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in relief of  Brewer, as the 28-year-old came on with one out to get in the bottom half of the third, got that out on a grounder, and also punched out the side in the fourth. A nice bounce-back effort from him after Tuesday’s rough showing.

From there, Ryan Brasier was responsible for the fifth, recorded the first two outs relatively easily, but then ran into a whole world of trouble following a single from Torres.

A few moments after giving up that base hit, the soon-to-be 33-year-old fell behind in the count against Tauchman at 3-2, which first baseman Mitch Moreland saw as a chance to play behind the base since Torres would be running with two outs.

Brasier, however, did not pick up on this, as he instead cocked back like he was ready to throw over to Moreland, but with no one covering the bag, a balk was called and Torres was awarded second base.

That bout of sloppiness, which was also bountiful on Thursday, came back to bite the Sox almost immediately when Tauchan proceeded to lift a run-scoring double to left to bring in Torres.

To make matters even worse, the ever-dangerous Gary Sanchez followed that up by absolutely demolishing a 1-2, 96 mph fastball on the outer half of the plate from Brasier and deposited it 457 feet into the left field bleachers.

Brasier did manage to get Clint Frazier to whiff to finally end the inning, but the damage had already been done as the Yankees went into the sixth with a 5-1 edge.

The recently-recalled Dylan Covey, celebrating his 29th birthday on Friday, was next up for Boston, and he tossed a scoreless bottom of the sixth before getting rocked for three runs on four hits in the seventh.

That late outburst increased New York’s run total to eight, and they tacked on two more against Brandon Workman in the ninth before Marcus Walden wrapped things up to hold the deficit at seven runs. Not like it mattered much in the end anyway.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Yankees ace right-hander Gerrit Cole, who was making his first start against Boston while donning the pinstripes. To put his outing in simple terms, the $324 million man came as advertised.

As a matter of fact, the only ounce of offense the Boston bats could produce off Cole was not until the fourth inning.

There, after the Yanks starter had faced the minimum nine batters through his first three innings of work, Red Sox leadoff man re-introduced himself to Cole in the fourth by crushing a 385-foot solo shot to deep right field.

Verdugo’s fourth homer of the season cut his side’s deficit in half at 2-1, and they nearly scored again an inning later, but as he is expected to do, Cole held the Red Sox in check. He finished his night with no walks and eight strikeouts over seven quality frames.

Fortunately, Cole was only able to go seven innings, and the Sox took advantage of that right away in their half of the eighth when Verdugo and Rafael Devers picked up an RBI each off Jonathan Holder to make it an 8-3 contest.

Alas, three runs is all the Red Sox would be limited to, as Adam Ottavino closed things out in the eighth and Ben Heller secured the 10-3 victory for New York and 10-3 loss for Boston in the ninth.

Some notes and observations from this defeat:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

The Red Sox’ No. 3-5 hitters, J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, and Mitch Moreland, went a combined 1-for-12 with eight strikeouts on Friday.

Friday’s game took 3 hours and 35 minutes. Going into the weekend, the Red Sox were third in baseball in average time per game (3 hours and 19 minutes).

Next up for the Red Sox, the second-third of the 2020 major-league season begins on Saturday night in the Bronx.

Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi will be getting the ball for Boston, while left-hander James Paxton will be doing the same for New York.

Eovaldi is coming off six quality innings of three-run ball to go along with 10 strikeouts in his last time out against the Blue Jays. The 30-year-old, who once played for the Yankees, owns a lifetime 3.54 ERA and .687 OPS against in 28 career outings (26 starts) at the Stadium.

Paxton, meanwhile, has allowed exactly three eanred runs in each of his first three starts this season. The 31-year-old made four starts against the Sox in 2019 and went 3-1 with a 3.28 ERA over 24 2/3 total innings pitched.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. eastern time on FOX and WEEI. Red Sox looking to snap out of this slump.

 

Red Sox Endure More Pitching Struggles Out of Bullpen in 8-2 Loss to Rays

It was a close game until it wasn’t. In other words, the Red Sox trailed the Rays by just one run going into the seventh inning of Tuesday’s contest, and wound up dropping their second straight to Tampa Bay by a final score of 8-2.

Martin Perez made his fourth start of the season for Boston in this one and his second straight against the Rays as he was coming off five strong, scoreless innings in his last time out on August 5 at Tropicana Field.

Working 5 2/3 innings at Fenway Park on Tuesday, the left-hander held the opposition to two runs while scattering three hits and two walks to go along with five strikeouts on the night.

The first of those two Tampa Bay tallies came right off the bat in the first, when on his sixth pitch, Perez served up a leadoff homer to Mike Brosseau on a 3-2, 91 mph fastball on the outer half of the plate.

That certainly was not a promising way to begin a ballgame, but Perez was able to settle down a bit. As a matter of fact, the only other time the Rays got to the Sox starter came in the third inning on a one-out RBI single from Yandy Diaz.

Other than those two slight mishaps, Perez looked relatively solid once more, as he retired 10 of the final 11 hitters he faced before a two-out walk to Jose Martinez in the top of the sixth marked the end of his evening.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 94 (57 strikes), the 29-year-old hurler turned to his vaunted changeup 34% of the time he was on the mound Tuesday, inducing seven swings-and-misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 93 mph with his four-seamer, a pitch he threw seven times.

Unfortunately hit with the tough luck loss to fall to 2-2 on the season, Perez did manage to lower his ERA to 3.38. He’ll look to bring that down even more in his next time out, which could come against the Yankees on Sunday Night Baseball.

In relief of Perez, Austin Brice got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen, inherited the man Perez had walked, and ended the top half of the sixth by getting Hunter Renfroe to ground out right back to him.

From there, well, let’s just say things got ugly, as Brice and the recently-recalled right-hander Robert Stock combined to surrender six runs on four hits and two walks in the seventh. Christian Vazquez was also charged with a passed ball in the process that saw the Sox’ deficit grow from one run to seven.

Stock came back out for the eighth, loaded the bases while recording the first two outs of the inning, and was replaced by another relative newcomer in Dylan Covey, who got out of the jam and also worked a scoreless ninth to hold the Rays at eight runs. Not like it mattered much in the end, but still another positive development there.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was first matched up against Andrew Kittredge, who had closed things out for the Rays on Monday, yet opened for them on Tuesday.

The right-hander only recorded one out in the first inning though, as he had to depart earlier than expected due to an apparent right arm injury.

After the dust had settled from all that and right-hander John Curtiss was dispatched by Tampa Bay, Michael Chavis opened up the scoring for his side in the second.

Celebrating his 25th birthday on Tuesday, the second baseman followed up a Christian Vazquez two-out double with a hard-hit RBI single to drive in the backstop and tie things up at one run apiece.

Despite all that early adversity, Curtiss and the rest of the Rays pitching staff held things down against a rather stagnant Red Sox offense.

The only other run Boston pushed across in this one came in the eighth inning on an Alex Verdugo RBI single, but even then, Andrew Benintendi cost his side an out by tripping and getting caught in between second and third base on the play. Very on brand for this season.

Verdugo’s fifth RBI of the year made it an 8-2 game in favor of Tampa Bay, which would go on to be Tuesday’s final score.

Some notes and observations from this loss:

In his second straight start at third base in place of Rafael Devers, Jonathan Arauz went 2-for-3 after going 3-for-4 on Monday.

Michael Chavis, meanwhile, may have made a mental error at second base in that troublesome seventh inning, but he did go 2-for-4 at the plate on Tuesday and is now 6-for-his-last-13.

Andrew Benintendi also had a multi-hit game to raise his batting average on the season to .103.

Martin Perez has allowed four earned runs over his last 19 1/3 innings pitched.

Next up for the Red Sox, it doesn’t get any easier with Blake Snell getting the start for the Rays on Wednesday night. The Red Sox will send out Zack Godley to oppose the 2018 American League Cy Young winner.

Snell has yet to face the Sox this season, but he does own a lifetime 3.75 ERA and .683 OPS against in four career starts and 24 total innings pitched at Fenway Park.

Godley, meanwhile, is coming off four scoreless frames in his second start with the Red Sox against the Blue Jays on August 8. The 30-year-old has only pitched against the Rays twice before in his career and has given up three total runs in those outings.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time.

Red Sox Announce Schedule Changes for August and September

The remainder of the Red Sox’ 2020 schedule got shaken up a little bit by Major League Baseball on Thursday in order to accommodate other clubs who have been affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the changes, first pitch against the Phillies at Fenway Park on August 19 has been moved up to 1:35 p.m. eastern time, while a double-header against the Phis will now be played at Citizens Bank Park on September 8. On top of that, in addition to now having off-days on September 9 and 14, the Sox will wrap up a three-game series against the Marlins in Miami on September 17 rather than September 16.

Originally, first pitch against the Phillies on August 19 was scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time, and a two-game series in Philadelphia was scheduled for September 8-9 while that series against the Marlins in Miami was slated to conclude on September 16.

As the tweet above points out, traditional double-headers this season will persist of two seven-inning games, something new for 2020.

If all goes according to plan, the Red Sox will hopefully still be able to get in a full 60 games this year. Of course, the threat of more teams other than the Marlins, Phillies, or Cardinals experiencing coronavirus outbreaks is still as prevalent as ever.

Red Sox Lineup: Jose Peraza Gets First Start of Season in Left Field in Series Finale Against Rays

After stranding the bases loaded in the ninth inning of a 5-1 loss to the Rays on Tuesday, the Red Sox will look to wrap up their first road-trip of the season with a bounce-back win in St. Petersburg on Wednesday.

Left-hander Martin Perez will be making his third start of the year for Boston as he is coming off his first victory in a Red Sox uniform in his last time out against the Mets.

In five career outings (four starts) at Tropicana Field, the 29-year-old Perez owns a lifetime 8.39 ERA and .927 OPS against the Rays over 24 2/3 total innings of work.

Here is how the rest of the Red Sox will be lining up behind Perez and against Rays’ starter Ryan Yarbrough on Wednesday night:

Among the nine hitters in Boston’s lineup, J.D. Martinez has by far seen Yarbrough the best, as the 33-year-old owns a lifetime .636/.667/1.182 slash line in 11 career at-bats against the Rays southpaw.

Also worth noting here, Jose Peraza will be making his first start in left field with the Red Sox, a position he played 33 times while a member of the Cincinnati Reds.

With Peraza manning left field in this one, Andrew Benintendi will start the night on the bench, while the left-handed bats of Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mitch Moreland will also sit with a left-hander on the mound for Tampa Bay.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox going for win No. 4 in game No. 12.

Blue Jays to Play Majority of 2020 Home Games at PNC Park, Meaning Red Sox Will Travel to Pittsburgh Instead of Toronto in Late August

UPDATE: It looks like this could be falling apart as I am typing this, so there’s that.

The Red Sox were originally supposed to visit PNC Park earlier this month to take on the Pittsburgh Pirates in a three-game, Independence Day weekend series.

Instead, because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Sox will be limited to just playing regional opponents this year, but they will still be making a trip to Pittsburgh after all.

That being the case because, as of Wednesday morning, it looks like the Toronto Blue Jays will be playing a majority of their 2020 home games in the Steel City, barring a few exceptions against the Nationals and Yankees.

This all comes as the Canadian government ruled over the weekend that the Blue Jays would not be permitted to play regular season games in Toronto due to the pandemic. From the Associated Press’ report:

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said Saturday the federal government had denied the Blue Jays’ request to play at Rogers Centre, confirming what an official familiar with the matter had told The Associated Press ahead of the announcement.

Ahead of this truncated, 60-game season, the Red Sox are scheduled to play the Jays 10 times in 2020. Three of those games were supposed to take place at Rogers Centre from August 25 through August 27, but it now looks like they will now take place at PNC Park, a venue the Sox last visited in 2014.

Red Sox Pushed Back Start Time of Night Games at Fenway Park to ‘Have Greater Prime-Time Window for NESN’

Note: This is more of a rant than anything. 

The Red Sox have moved the start of home night games this season from 7:10 p.m to 7:30 p.m. eastern time. The reason for that?

Well, according to The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham, the Red Sox pushed back the start time of their night games at Fenway Park by 20 minutes to “have a greater prime-time window for NESN.”

Even worse, as Abraham notes, the Sox “have three 7:30 p.m. [home] games on getaway days with a road game the next day.”

In addition to that, as previously mentioned in my last post, 23 of the 30 home games the Red Sox are supposed to play at Fenway Park this year will start at 7:30 p.m.

It’s only a twenty-minute difference from what we’re used to for night games, sure, but when you see clubs like the Los Angeles Angels and Tampa Bay Rays move up the start time of their weeknight home games to 6:40 p.m, the move by the Red Sox to push back the start time becomes even more questionable.

I mean, what is the point of doing this when you are not even going to have fans at the ballpark? What good is it to make fans wait even longer to watch the Red Sox on a weeknight when many will have to wake up early the following morning for work or school?

It’s definitely confusing, that’s for sure. Over The Monster’s Matt Collins aptly sums it all up in this tweet:

As for what’s next, maybe backlash from people on the internet can get the Red Sox to move up the start time of their night games at Fenway Park? Probably won’t happen, but a man can hope.

End rant.

UPDATE:

Red Sox’ 2020 Schedule Revealed

If Major League Baseball is to be played in 2020, the Red Sox will play 60 games in 65 days against American and National League East opponents beginning on July 24th.

The league released this year’s schedules for all 30 clubs on Monday evening via an MLB Network TV special. Here’s how the Red Sox’ season will go over the next two-plus months:

First off, the Sox will open the truncated season with a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park. In other words, Boston’s home opener will be on July 24th with first pitch at 7:30 PM eastern time.

From there, the homestand continues with a two-game interleague series against Rick Porcello and the Mets before the club embarks on a seven-game road trip that includes stops in both Queens and the Bronx as well as Tampa Bay.

The Sox’ first set of road games will be followed by a seven-game homestand against the Blue Jays and Rays before again facing off against the Yankees in a four-game set in New York.

Boston’s final trip to Yankee Stadium will be succeeded by a quick two-game series against the Phillies at Fenway and a lengthy trip to Baltimore and then Toronto for seven games against the O’s and Jays.

After getting back home to Boston from Toronto, the Sox will get to enjoy their longest homestand of the season, a 10-gamer in which the club will host the defending World Series champion Nationals, the Braves, and Blue Jays in three separate series.

As it turns out, that homestand comes immediately before the longest roadie of the 2020 campaign, a nine-game venture that features match-ups against the Phillies, Rays, and Marlins in that order. In other words, a trip to southeastern Pennsylvania will be followed by a week-long stay in Florida.

Upon arriving back to Boston from Miami, the Sox will wrap up the home portion of their schedule by welcoming the Yankees and Orioles into town for two separate three-game series. For the Yankees, it’s their lone trip to Fenway on the year.

Finally, the Red Sox will travel to Atlanta and finish their season series as well as the 2020 regular season as a whole against the Braves at Truist Park. That is, if all goes according to plan, of course.

60 games total, 40 of which will come against divisional opponents.

Based off the schedule above, it would appear that 23 of the 30 home games the Red will be playing in start at 7:30 PM eastern time. That doesn’t sound like the best of ideas in my opinion, but hey, the season might not even happen because of this whole global pandemic thing going on, right?