Red Sox Blow 16th Save of Season, Fail to Sweep White Sox in Demoralizing 8-7 Loss

After coming from behind in a 6-3 win over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday, the Red Sox opened the official second half of the 2019 season by nearly completing the three-game sweep over the South Siders, but instead blew a one-run lead in the ninth inning on Wednesday and fell by a final score of 8-7 in their final contest before heading to London for the weekend.

Making his 17th start of the season for Boston, Chris Sale was not his usual self to begin things in the series finale, but he settled in towards the end.

Tossing six full innings in this one, the left-hander surrendered five runs, all earned, on six hits, two HBPs, and one walk to go along with exactly 10 strikeouts on the afternoon.

All five of those Chicago runs came within Sale’s first three frames of work, with the first four batters of the ballgame all reaching base safely while plating their side’s first two runs.

In the third, a leadoff home run off the bat of backstop James McCann, as well as a two-out RBI infield single from Ryan Cordell to score Jon Jay, who was hit by a pitch, from third made it a 5-2 game. The thing is, that fifth run never would have crossed the plate had Michael Chavis turned his attention towards home instead of focusing on the first base umpire after Cordell beat out that infield single. But, a rookie made a rookie mistake, and Jay took full advantage.

Following that whole sequence, Sale locked in and proceeded to retire the next 10 hitters he faced in order leading into the middle of the sixth inning, the point in which his outing came to a close on a much more positive note than it seemed destined to earlier.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 102 (71 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball more than 43% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing 10 swings and misses and topping out at 97.4 MPH with the pitch while Sandy Leon was behind the plate.

Hit with another no-decision, Sale’s streak of regular season starts without a win at Fenway Park now stands at 12, with the last one coming on July 11th, 2018 against the Texas Rangers. He’ll look for better overall results and to lower his 3.82 ERA in his next time out, which should come against the Toronto Blue Jays next weekend.

In relief of Sale, Marcus Walden came into the seventh with his side in a two-run hole, and he added on to that deficit by giving up one run on a Jose Abreu one-out RBI single in his lone inning of work.

Steven Wright, making his 2019 season debut after being activated from the restricted list on Tuesday, maneuvered around a one-out, runners on the corners in a two-run game situation by getting the pinch-hitting Yonder Alonso to ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.

And in the ninth, after the Red Sox had climbed their way back and taken a 7-6 lead in the bottom half of the previous inning, Matt Barnes gave it all away, blowing his sixth save and his team’s 16th by serving up a go-ahead, two-run homer to the slugging Abreu on a 2-2, 97 MPH fastball down the heart of the plate on the 10th pitch of the at-bat.

That put the White Sox up 8-7, which would go on to be Wednesday’s final score.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Chicago right-hander Reynaldo Lopez, who just so happened to be opposite Sale the last time these two clubs met up in May.

Trailing by three runs before they even had the chance to take their first at-bats, JD Martinez got the scoring started for Boston by pulling them back to within one run on his 17th big fly of the season, a 400-foot two-run shot in the first inning to plate both Rafael Devers and himself.

Fast forward to the third, and it was Devers getting himself involved yet again, this time leading the inning off with an opposite field double and coming in to score four batters later on a wild pitch from Lopez with Michael Chavis at the dish. 5-3.

In the seventh, Martinez struck once more with a two-out RBI double to right-center off left-handed reliever Aaron Bummer, this one driving in Devers all the way from first to pull Boston back to within two runs at 6-4.

Finally, in the eighth, with new reliever Evan Marshall in for Chicago, Eduardo Nunez reached base safely on a line-drive single up the middle.

Two batters later, after Brock Holt pinch-hit for Sandy Leon and advanced Nunez up to third on a tough, pop fly ground-rule double and was replaced by Brian Johnson, yes, Brian Johnson, as a pinch-runner, Mookie Betts made things interesting against White Sox closer Alex Colome with a single grounder to third.

Going on any sort of contact, Nunez hustled in from third and managed to evade the tag attempt from McCann to score his team’s fifth run and make it a one-run contest.

A soft grounder from Devers moved up both Betts and Johnson into scoring position at second and third for Xander Bogaerts with two outs in the frame.

On the fifth pitch he saw from Colome, the soon to be 2019 All-Star drilled a clutch single right back up the middle, giving Johnson and Betts plenty of time to come in and put the Red Sox up 7-6.

It seemed crucial at the time, but as already mentioned, the White Sox responded with two runs of their own in their half of the ninth, while the Boston bats went down quietly in theirs despite Jackie Bradley Jr. drawing a leadoff walk in what would turn out to be a crushing 8-7 defeat.

Some notes from this loss:

From’s Christopher Smith:

From The Eagle-Tribune’s Chris Mason:

The Red Sox went 3-for-10 with runners in scoring position Wednesday and left 10 men on base.

Rafael Devers’ last seven games: .538/.556/.846 with one home run, five doubles, and four runs driven in.

So, the Red Sox seem to be making blowing late leads a recurring theme. There was that loss against the Blue Jays this past Saturday, that 17-inning against the Twins on June 18th, and that loss against the Rangers on June 10th, to name a few.

The Red Sox also lead the American League with 16 blown saves on the year. That is far from ideal.

I’ve already written about how president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski needs to go out and acquire a closer, because clearly the current crop of Red Sox relievers are going to burn out pretty soon, if they have not already, a la Matt Barnes.

Wednesday was the last time the Red Sox will play a game at Fenway Park until after the All-Star break on July 12th.

Now, it’s on to London, where Boston will be hosting the New York Yankees in a historic two-game weekend set across the pond, which will mark the first time Major League Baseball has ever been played in Europe.

Right-hander Rick Porcello and left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will get the starting nods for the Red Sox, while New York has only announced one starter, right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, for Saturday’s contest.

Currently sitting nine games back of the Yankees for first in the American League East, this weekend presents a huge opportunity for the Red Sox to jump start the second half of their 2019 season.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 1:10 PM EDT on FOX. Red Sox looking to make some history in England.





Red Sox Reinstate Steven Wright, Option Josh Smith to Triple-A Pawtucket, and Transfer Nathan Eovaldi to 60-Day Injured List

Before taking on the Chicago White Sox in the second of a three-game series on Tuesday, the Red Sox reinstated right-hander Steven Wright from the restricted list. In order to make room for Wright on Boston’s 40-man roster, right-hander Nathan Eovaldi was transferred to the 60-day injured list. And in order to make room for Wright on the 25-man roster, right-hander Josh Smith was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket. The club made the transactions official earlier Tuesday.

Suspended the first 80 games of the 2019 season back in March after testing positive for human growth hormone, Wright would be ineligible for the postseason.

The knuckleballer was sent out on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on June 9th, where he allowed two earned runs on six hits and three walks to go along with four strikeouts over five appearances (one start) and 9 2/3 total innings pitched. That’s good for an ERA of 1.86 and batting average against of .176.

Although he would not be able to pitch in October, the addition of Wright should still provide a boost to a Red Sox bullpen that appears to need one at the moment.

In 16 outings as a reliever last season before being shelved with inflammation in his left knee, Wright posted a 1.52 ERA and .618 OPS against over 25 2/3 frames of work.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora has already come out and said Wright will be strictly used as a reliever, which makes sense given the knee issues he had last year.

On October 6th, the 34-year-old was placed on the injured list because of that left knee, and that kept him out of Boston’s World Series run. A month later, Wright underwent successful left knee surgery in New York, where he received an arthroscopy and debridement on the joint.

Now, coming off his second suspension in as many seasons, Wright will look to give his team a different kind of look out of the bullpen.

Smith, meanwhile, appeared in two contests against the Toronto Blue Jays over the weekend in his fourth stint with Boston, allowing one run over four innings of relief.

On the 2019 season as a whole, the 31-year-old hurler owns a 5.40 ERA and .289 batting average against through 10 outings, two of which have been starts. He also picked up his first big league save on June 13th in a 7-6 win over the Texas Rangers.

As for Eovaldi, the move to the 60-day injured list has no effect on when he will be back, since the 29-year-old has already missed more than 60 days after being shelved back in April and undergoing successful surgery on his right elbow that same week.

Rafael Devers Returns to Red Sox Lineup, Bats Cleanup Against White Sox in Series Opener

After exiting last Wednesday’s game against the Minnesota Twins in the fifth inning due to right hamstring tightness, Rafael Devers is back in the Red Sox’ lineup, batting out of the cleanup spot and manning third, for their series opener against the Chicago White Sox Monday.

The 22-year-old was able to come off the bench twice over this past weekend, delivering with a clutch, game-tying RBI single in the eighth inning of Friday’s 7-5 extra innings win, and also punching out in the ninth inning of Saturday’s 8-7 loss against the Toronto Blue Jays. He did not play at all on Sunday.

On the 2019 season as a whole, Devers is slashing .309/.361/.503 with 12 home runs and 48 RBI over 76 games and 325 plate appearances.

Per The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, Devers was out on the field with a trainer prior to when Boston’s lineup was announced, so it looks as though the young infielder got the okay and is good to go.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Here’s how the rest of the Red Sox will be lining up.

5 Relievers Red Sox Should Target Before July 31st Trade Deadline

I wrote on Sunday about how this Red Sox bullpen needs help from the outside. With the way things are trending, the three relievers Boston has frequently turned to so far this season will be burned out later in the year.

Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier have seen their share of struggles in June, Brandon Workman is averaging nearly seven walks per nine innings this season, and Heath Hembree has been missed during his time on the injured list.

It’s been well stated that president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski should look to upgrade his bullpen before the July 31st trading deadline, so here are five names I think he and the Red Sox should target.

LHP Will Smith, San Francisco Giants

                                                                                                                             Picture: NBC Sports Bay Area

As the featured image would indicate, Giants closer Will Smith first comes to mind for upgrading the Red Sox’ bullpen situation.

Set to turn 30 next month and become a free agent this winter, the left-hander has had a fantastic year in his second full season with San Francisco, posting a 2.01 ERA and 2.10 FIP over 32 appearances  and 31 1/3 innings while averaging more than 13 strikeouts per nine innings and holding opposing hitters to a .157 batting average against.

Given that Sox manager Alex Cora has decided to go without a traditional closer so far in 2019, Smith could provide the reigning World Series champs with what they have been missing in that traditional ninth inning man.

LHP Tony Watson, San Francisco Giants

Colorado Rockies v San Francisco Giants
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Another left-handed Giants reliever, Watson’s current contract runs through the end of the 2019 campaign and includes a player option for next year.

Now in his second season with San Francisco, the 34-year-old hurler hasn’t picked up a save in a game since he was with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2017, but he can still provide help and experience to a club that is in need of it.

Through 33 appearances and 30 2/3 frames of work in 2019, Watson owns an ERA of 2.64 and a slightly higher FIP of 3.87. He is averaging nearly seven strikeouts per nine and opponents are hitting .250 off of him.

Obviously, these numbers are not as elite as Smith’s, but I think it would be worth the Red Sox’ time and effort to look into acquiring Watson, especially if the former has a hefty asking price.

LHP Sean Doolittle, Washington Nationals

                                                                                                       Picture: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The third and final southpaw on this list, Doolittle has a team option attached to his deal that runs through the end of this season.

The 32-year-old has been a bright spot in what’s been another disappointing year for the Washington Nationals to this point, posting a 3.13 ERA and 2.87 FIP over 33 relief outings and 31 2/3 innings pitches.

A one time Oakland Athletic, Doolittle has converted 16 out of a possible 19 saves while averaging nearly 11 punchouts per nine and holding opposing hitters to a .254 batting average against.

With plenty of late-game experience in hand, Doolittle is another option that could alleviate some stress for the back end of the Boston ‘pen.

RHP Shane Greene, Detroit Tigers

                                                                                                            Picture: Duane Burleson/Getty Images

Now on to the American League arms, and we’ll start with Tigers closer Shane Greene.

Acquired from the New York Yankees in December of 2014 when Dombrowski was still at the helm in Detroit, Greene has evolved from a failed starter to one of the better relievers in the AL in his time with the Tigers.

The 30-year-old righty, who still has one year of arbitration left, owns a minuscule ERA of 0.93 to go along with a FIP of 3.56 through 29 games this season. He has converted 21 of a possible 22 saves while limiting the opposition to a .154 clip.

In his time running baseball operations with Boston, Dombrowski has built a reputation of going out and acquiring or signing players he has had a history with. David Price, J.D. Martinez, and Ian Kinsler all come to mind. So, why not do it again by bringing in Greene to be the new Red Sox’ closer? The asking price may be high given the years of control and what not, but this is an avenue that at least needs to be explored.

RHP Ken Giles, Toronto Blue Jays

Toronto Blue Jays v Baltimore Orioles
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Finally, someone the Red Sox just saw this past weekend in Blue Jays closer Ken Giles.

Like Greene, the 28-year-old right-hander still has another year of arbitration remaining before hitting free agency following the 2020 season.

Since being acquired by Toronto from the Houston Astros last July, Giles has been solid, especially this season with an ERA of 1.33 and FIP of 1.07 through 27 appearances and 27 innings of work.

In those 27 outings, Giles has averaged 15.7 punchouts per nine innings while holding opposing hitters to just a .202 batting average against. He has also converted 12 of a possible 13 save opportunities.

Giles missed a little more than a week of action earlier this month due to inflammation in his right elbow, so that may be something to monitor.

The trade deadline is just over a month away and the Red Sox currently sit eight games back of the New Yankees for first place in the American League East.

The Red Sox Bullpen Needs Some Help from the Outside

The Red Sox bullpen blew a 6-1 lead against the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday with the help of four straight walks from both Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier in the eighth inning.

Per FanGraphs, the Boston ‘pen has been the fifth best in the American League so far this season in terms of ERA (4.00) and fWAR (2.9), but they also lead the AL in blown saves with 15 on the year. All this without a set closer.

Matt Barnes entered June with a 2.08 ERA on the season. Since then, the right-hander has posted an ERA of 7.15 while appearing in 12 of the 22 games the Red Sox have played this month. He is on pace to make 71 relief appearances in 2019, nine more than he made all of last year.

Brandon Workman has become one of the more valuable members of Boston’s relief corps after not making last season’s Opening Day roster and being optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket three times. He appeared in a total of 43 games in 2018 and is only five outings away from reaching that mark this year.

In those 38 appearances, the right-hander has really limited the hits he has given up, but walks remain a legitimate issue, as he is averaging nearly seven per nine innings.

Ryan Brasier, meanwhile, was not even up with the big league club at this point in 2018. He may have played an important tole in Boston’s success then, but, in what is now his first full season in the majors, it’s clear to see that the 31-year-old has regressed, which had to have been expected.

From July 8th to the end of the 2018 campaign, Brasier appeared in 34 games for the Sox, posting a 1.60 ERA and .171 batting average against over 33 2/3 innings of work.

This year, the right-hander has already made 35 appearances out of the ‘pen, and has yielded 12 earned runs on 25 hits and 10 walks in 31 1/3 frames of relief.

The bottom line here is that, at this rate, the big three of Barnes, Brasier, and Workman will be worked into the ground with the way things are going.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora has been given no other choice in order to give his club the best chance to win. Contributions from guys like Heath Hembree, Marcus Walden, and now Josh Taylor have helped, but the Red Sox bullpen needs some legitimate support from the outside.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski needs to go out and acquire a veteran reliever with closing experience. If a move is not made in the coming weeks leading up to the trading deadline, then it may be too late to think about clinching a fourth straight American League East title.

I will post a list of a few relievers I would like to see the Red Sox pursue before July 31st very soon, so stay tuned for that.

Red Sox’ Rafael Devers Forced to Exit Wednesday’s Game Due to Tightness in Right Hamstring

Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers was forced to depart from Wednesday’s game against the Minnesota Twins in the top of the fifth inning due to tightness in his right hamstring, per club offiicials.

Devers, 22, came out in the fifth after appearing to strain something in his right knee while running out an infield single to advance JD Martinez to second base.

The young infielder remained at first and managed to move all the way up to third on a Xander Bogaerts double before being replaced by Eduardo Nunez.

Fortunately, just a few moments after heading into the Red Sox’ clubhouse, Devers was seen smiling in the dugout, so things don’t seem to be as dire as originally thought. He has been ruled day-to-day and I’m sure Sox manager Alex Cora will have another update following the conclusion of Wednesday night’s contest.


Red Sox Place Hector Velazquez on Injured List, Recall Josh Smith from Triple-A Pawtucket

Just two days after activating him, the Red Sox have once again placed right-hander Hector Velazquez on the 10-day injured list with a lower back strain. To take Velazquez’s spot on the 25-man roster, right-hander Josh Smith was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket. The club made the transaction official earlier Wednesday.

Velazquez, 30, was used in relief in Boston’s 4-3 17-inning loss to the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday, where over four innings, he allowed one run on a Max Kepler solo home run in the 13th to earn his first blown save of the year.

Multiple visits from the Red Sox training staff, as well as Velazquez reaching for and stretching his lower back, made it apparent that the Mexico native wasn’t fully healthy, and he was removed prior to the start of the bottom half of the 17th.

On the 2019 season as a whole, Velazquez owns an ERA of 5.59 and batting average against of .255 over 19 appearances (seven starts) and 38 2/3 innings pitched. I’m sure he will be re-eavulated in the next week or so.

Smith, meanwhile, rejoins the big league club two days after being optioned down to the PawSox on Monday.

Now in his fifth stint with Boston, the 31-year-old righty has posted a 6.28 ERA and .323 batting average over eight outings, which include a pair of starts. He also notched his first career save on June 13th in a 7-6 win over the Texas Rangers.

For the time being, the Red Sox are sticking with 13 pitchers and 12 position players on their 25-man roster.

Here’s how the Sox will be lining up in their series finale against the Twins on Wednesday night. First pitch is scheduled for 8:10 PM EDT on NESN.


Rick Porcello Dazzles with Seven Scoreless Innings as Red Sox Take Opener from Twins for Sixth Straight Win

After sweeping the lowly Baltimore Orioles over the weekend, the Red Sox kicked off the second leg of their two-city, six-game road trip on Monday by taking the first of three against the American League Central-leading Minnesota Twins in a tightly-contested 2-0 win, marking their sixth consecutive victory to improve to a season-best six games over .500 at 40-34.

Making his 15th start of the season for Boston was Rick Porcello, who entered Monday fresh off a quality outing in his last time out against the Texas Rangers as well as an impressive track record when working at Target Field.

Tossing seven full innings this time around, the right-hander held one of the top offensive clubs in the American League scoreless, scattering just four hits and one walk to go along with eight strikeouts on the night to tie a season-high.

It wasn’t quite clear that Porcello would wind up putting together the dominant performance he did in this one, with Nelson Cruz ripping a two-out double off of him in the first inning and all, but the New Jersey native did not waver, as he received some help from his defense and never faced more than four hitters in a single frame up until the bottom half of the seventh.

There, following a string of retiring 17 of the last 19 Twins he had faced, a one-out, line-drive double off the bat of CJ Cron that nearly snuck over the wall in right-center field put the tying run in scoring position for Minnesota.

A two-out walk of Miguel Sano two batters later also put the go-ahead run on base, but, fortunately for Boston, Porcello managed to escape the jam and thus preserve the shutout by getting Jason Castro to fly out to left, and that would be how his outing came to a close.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 94 (68 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball nearly 45% of the time he was on the mound Monday, inducing six swings and misses and topping out at 92.7 MPH with the pitch while Sandy Leon behind the plate.

Eventually earning his fifth winning decision while lowering his ERA on the season down to 4.31, Porcello will look to continue this recent run he has been on in his next time out, which should come against the Toronto Blue Jays this weekend.

In relief of Porcello, Colten Brewer came on in the eighth with a one-run lead to protect, allowed the first two men he faced to reach to put the go-ahead run on for Minnesota yet again.

With no outs and the AL’s top hitter Jorge Polanco (.332 BA) at the plate, the Twins decided to take the bat out of their shortstop’s hands, and instead opted for a sacrifice bunt to advance both Jonathan Schoop and Max Kepler into scoring position for Neslon Cruz.

Having only faced Cruz one time prior to Monday, Brewer got ahead in the count with two straight strikes before getting the Twins slugger to ground into a fielder’s choice that just so happened to catch Schoop in a rundown between third and home.

Devers, on the toss from Sandy Leon, was able to tag Schoop out to eliminate the threat, all while Kepler failed to advance to third himself.

Three pitches later, Brewer miraculously got out of the tight spot he put himself in by getting Eddie Roasario to ground into an inning-ending out at first.

And in the ninth, after his team had provided a little insurance in their half of the frame, Ryan Brasier, just activated from the bereavement list earlier Monday, shut the door on the Twins and notched his seventh save of the year by locking down the 2-0 win for Boston.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Twins ace right-hander Jose Berrios, and he proved to be just as, if not more dominant than Porcello in this one.

It was a good thing the Boston bats got to him right away with one out in the first on an RBI single off the bat of JD Martinez to plate Mookie Betts from third, because the Puerto Rico native was essentially unhittable the rest of the night.

Sitting down 19 in a row at one point and capping off his performance by fanning the final two hitters he faced, it wasn’t until Berrios departed and right-handed reliever Blake Parker entered to begin the ninth.

Down to their last out of the inning with JD Martinez at second following a one-out double off Parker, Xander Bogaerts came through in the clutch and gave his side some much-needed insurance, as he took an 0-2 fastball on the outer half of the plate and slapped an RBI two-bagger to the opposite field, allowing for Martinez to come in and score and put the Red Sox up 2-0.

That extra-base hit, the 300th of Bogaerts’ career, would be all the Sox would need to take the series opener from the Twins and win their sixth straight overall in the process of doing so.

Some notes from this win:

From’s Christopher Smith:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Xander Bogaerts, since this road trip began on June 14th: 5-for-11 with three doubles, six walks, and four RBI in four games.

I don’t want to say that the Red Sox passed their first test since there are still two games remaining in this series, but after all the negativity about being unable to beat quality teams, coming out and blanking arguably the best team in the American League at the moment at home is impressive nonetheless.

For the middle contest of this three-game set, it will be a starting pitching matchup featuring a pair of veteran arms, with left-hander David Price getting the ball for Boston and Michael Pineada doing the same for Minnesota.

Coming off his second-shortest start of the season in a six-run beatdown at the hands of the Rangers on June 13th, Price (4-2, 3.52 ERA), brings with him a lifetime 3.08 ERA over nine career starts and 61.1 total innings pitched at Target Field.

Pineda, meanwhile, missed all of the 2018 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery and has posted a 5.04 ERA through 13 starts in his second year with the Twins.

In 12 prior starts against Boston, the 30-year-old is 5-5 to go along with an ERA of 4.23 over 66 innings of work.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 8:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to extend their winning streak to seven.


Red Sox Activate Hector Velazquez from Injured List, Reinstate Ryan Brasier from Bereavement List

Before taking the Minnesota Twins in the first of a three-game series Monday, the Red Sox activated right-hander Hector Velazquez from the 10-day injured list and reinstated right-hander Ryan Brasier from the bereavement/family medical emergency list.

In a corresponding move, both right-handers Travis Lakins and Josh Smith were optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket to make room on the 25-man roster. The club made the transaction official earlier Monday.

Placed on the injured list back on May 30th due to a lower back strain, Velazquez has not appeared in a big league game for Boston since the 29th of last month, where he allowed four runs in two innings of relief against the Cleveland Indians.

In a brief one start rehab stint with Short-Season A Lowell this past Saturday, the 30-year-old fanned two and gave up one hit in a scoreless first inning for the Spinners.

On the 2019 season as a whole, Velazquez currently sports a 1-3 record to go along with an ERA of 5.97 and .260 batting average against over 16 appearances, seven of which have been starts. He should resume his role as a potential spot starter or long man out of Boston’s bullpen.

Brasier, meanwhile, has not appeared in a game for the Sox since June 10th after being placed on the bereavement list the following day.

Through 31 relief outings this season, the 31-year-old has surrendered 14 runs (12 earned) on 23 hits and eight walks over 28 2/3 total innings of work. That’s good for a 3.77 ERA and .217 batting average against. But, despite what those numbers say, it’s clear to see that Brasier has been far less effective than he was towards the later parts of the 2018 season.

With two spots needed to be made on Boston’s active roster for Brasier and Velazquez, Travis Lakins and Josh Smith were optioned back down to the PawSox five days after they were both recalled on June 12th.

In what was their third and fourth stints with the Red Sox this season respectively, Lakins, 24, appeared in three games and allowed one run on two hits in 2 1/3 frames of relief, while Smith, 31, picked up his first career major league save and finished two other games despite posting an ERA of exactly 6.00 over three total innings pitched.

This is the first time the Sox have had Brian Johnson and Hector Velazquez available at the same time since the beginning of April. Manager Alex Cora has gone as far to say those two were the team’s MVPs last year for the versatility they provided out of the bullpen and rotation when needed.

So, with those two back in the mix, things may be looking up for a Red Sox bullpen that has felt depleted at times in the past few weeks.

First pitch against the Twins is scheduled for 8:10 PM EDT on NESN.

Red Sox Activate Brian Johnson from Injured List, Option Sam Travis to Triple-A Pawtucket

Before kicking off a three-game weekend series against the Baltimore Orioles on Friday, the Red Sox returned left-hander Brian Johnson from his rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket and activated him from the 10-day injured list. In a corresponding move, first baseman/outfielder Sam Travis was optioned to Triple-A. The club made the transaction official earlier Friday.

Last appearing in a game with the Red Sox way back on April 5th, Johnson has been sidelined the past two-plus months due inflammation in his left elbow.

Now in his second full big league season, the 28-year-old owns a 12.71 ERA and .370 batting average against through four relief appearances in 2019.

While rehabbing with both Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket, Johnson allowed a total of 14 runs (11 earned) on 20 hits and eight walks over six outings (four starts) and 14.2 innings of work.

Those numbers may not look all that promising, but the Florida native did hold the Rochester Red Wings to one run on four hits and two walk to go along with six strikeouts in a four-inning start on June 9th.

With Johnson back in the mix, expect him to get the start against Baltimore on Sunday, as the Sox have yet to announce a starter for that contest.

Sam Travis, meanwhile, was up with Boston for nearly two weeks in his second stint with the big league club so far this season.

The 25-year-old utility man went 2-for-17 with one RBI and a few nice defensive plays this time around, and is currently slashing .167/.167/.167 through eight games played in 2019.

The Red Sox are currently rostering 13 pitchers and 12 position players.

First pitch against the O’s on Friday is scheduled for 7:05 PM EDT on NESN. Here’s how the Sox will be lining up.