Red Sox storm back with 5-run 8th inning to take series from Yankees in dramatic 5-4 victory

After figuratively getting their hearts ripped out in a 4-3 loss on Saturday, it appeared as though the Red Sox were well on their way to dropping their second straight to the Yankees at Fenway Park on Sunday.

Yankees starter Domingo German absolutely dominated the Sox lineup through the first seven innings of Sunday’s contest, as he failed to yield a single hit while only allowing a pair of base runners on a walk and passed ball on a strikeout.

In addition to not being able to get anything done offensively, Boston found themselves in a four-run hole through the first 7 1/2 innings in their series finale against New York.

Red Sox starter Martin Perez had pitched well enough opposite German, giving up three runs on six hits, two walks, and six strikeouts over six solid innings of work thanks to a pair of double plays.

In relief of Perez, however, Yacksel Rios came on in the seventh and struggled mightily with his control, as he walked two batters and plunked another to load the bases before Josh Taylor was deployed and got through the rest of the innins unscathed.

Brandon Workman, meanwhile, saw the Yankees’ three-run lead increase to four in the eighth by serving up a leadoff triple to Gary Sanchez that was followed by an RBI single off the bat of Gleyber Torres.

So, there the Red Sox were, trailing by four runs with just nine more outs to work with against an opposing pitcher they had yet to record a hit off of.

Somehow, someway, Boston’s fortunes changed in their half of the eighth, as Alex Verdugo led things off with a hard-hit double to right field that saw German’s no-hit bid end and his day subsequently come to a close.

Matched up against Yankees reliever Jonathan Loaisiga now, Hunter Renfroe put an end to New York’s attempt at a shutout, as he laced another line-drive double that brought in Verdugo from second to make it a 4-1 game.

Christian Vazquez kept the line moving, plating Renfroe on an RBI single to right field and moving into scoring position on another base hit courtesy of Franchy Cordero.

Following a brief mound visit as the Boston lineup flipped back over, Kiké Hernández got ahead in the count against Loaisiga at 2-0 and took full advantage of that by ripping a run-scoring double down the left field line that drove in Vazquez, cutting the deficit down to one run at 4-3.

With the Yankees opting to go with left-hander Zack Britton out of the bullpen in place of Loaisiga, Red Sox manager Alex Cora countered by pinch-hitting Kevin Plawecki for the left-handed hitting Jarren Duran.

Plawecki answered the call accordingly, scoring Cordero from third on a game-tying RBI groundout that also advanced Hernández up to third base, though he did not stay there long.

Yes, with a sacrifice fly hit just deep enough to right field, Xander Bogaerts was able to drive in a sliding Hernández from third to give his side their first lead of the afternoon at 5-4.

Given the fact that there was now a one-run lead to protect, Matt Barnes got the call for the ninth inning and promptly slammed the door on the Yankees to seal the comeback 5-4 victory for the Red Sox as well as his 21st save of the season.

With the win, their 32nd of the come-from-behind variety, the Red Sox secured a series victory and the season series with the Yankees to improve to 61-39 on the season. They also regained a one-game lead over the Rays for first place in the American League East.

Next up: Bring on the Blue Jays

The Red Sox will next welcome the Blue Jays into town for a four-game series that begins on Monday night.

Canadian-born right-hander Nick Pivetta is slated to get the ball for Boston in the opener, while Toronto has yet to name a starter.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and ESPN.

(Picture of Kiké Hernández and Rafael Devers: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Chris Sale punches out 9 over 3 2/3 innings in second rehab start for Double-A Portland; left-hander in line to start for Triple-A Worcester on July 31

Red Sox ace Chris Sale completed his third rehab start and his second for Double-A Portland at a sold-out Hadlock Field on Sunday afternoon.

Matched up against the Harrisburg Senators — the same team he faced on Tuesday — Sale yielded two earned runs on six hits, no walks, and one hit batsman to go along with nine strikeouts over 3 2/3 innings of work for the Sea Dogs.

The veteran left-hander was slated to pitch four or five frames depending on his pitch count, but a laborious third inning that required 28 pitches ultimately cut his day short.

After maneuvering his way around a two-out double in an otherwise clean first inning and striking out the side while stranding a runner in the second, Sale ran into a bit of trouble in the top half of the third.

There, he served up a leadoff home run to the Senators’ No. 9 hitter in Osvaldo Duarte before giving up a double and bunt single. Two straight punchouts brought the lefty to within one out of escaping the jam, but he plunked a batter to load the bases.

With two outs and the bases full in the third, Sale fanned Jackson Cluff on a swing-inducing slider to get out of the inning and then recorded the first two outs of the fourth before a two-out double marked the unofficial end of his outing.

In relief of Sale, Sea Dogs reliever Dominic LaBrutto allowed the lone runner he inherited to score on an RBI single, thus officially closing the book on Sale’s afternoon.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 64 (46 strikes), the 32-year-old hurler wound up retiring 11 of the 18 hitters he faced, as he hovered around 94-95 mph with his four-seam fastball and topped out at 96 mph with it while mixing in his slider and changeup as well.

For Sale, Sunday’s performance marked yet another milestone on his road back from Tommy John surgery, which he underwent nearly 16 months ago on March 30, 2020 — his 31st birthday.

In the time since undergoing that procedure to repair his UCL last spring, the 6-foot-6 southpaw has now made three rehab starts between the Florida Complex League Red Sox and Sea Dogs dating back to July 15. He has seen his pitch count rise from 39 to 49 to 64 in each of those outings.

Assuming he wakes up without issue Monday morning, Sale will be in line to make his next rehab start for Triple-A Worcester next Saturday, July 31, as the WooSox will be taking on the Buffalo Bisons at Polar Park.

There is a slight chance that could be Sale’s last minor-league start before he re-joins Boston’s major-league rotation, though Red Sox pitching coach Dave Bush recently told The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier that the club wants the seven-time All-Star to be at a point where he contribute five to six innings on 80 or so pitches every five days prior to him being activated off the injured list.

(Picture of Chris Sale: Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images)

Adam Ottavino blows save against former team as Red Sox waste Nathan Eovaldi’s gem, drop heartbreaker to Yankees, 4-3

The Red Sox appeared to be well on their way to a series-clinching victory over the Yankees at Fenway Park on Saturday evening, until the eighth inning happened.

Nathan Eovaldi had allowed just one earned run over 7 2/3 innings of work and handed things over to the bullpen with the Red Sox up 3-1 and needing just one more out to get through the top of the eighth.

Adam Ottavino came on in relief of Eovaldi, inheriting a situation in which New York had one runner on first base with the middle portion of their lineup due to hit.

The former Yankees reliever gave up a ground-rule double to Giancarlo Stanton that left the slugger’s bat at just 70.3 mph, but put runners at second and third for Rougned Odor, who cleared the bases on another two-base hit that knotted things up at three runs apiece.

Gleyber Torres followed by driving in Odor on a go-ahead RBI single, and just like that, the Red Sox found themselves trailing for the first time all day at 4-3.

Ottavino wound up getting charged with the loss and blown save, as the Sox fell to the Yankees in gut-wrenching fashion by a final score of 4-3.

Eovaldi’s strong start goes for naught

Eovaldi, making his 20th start of the season for Boston, was in cruise control through most of his outing on Saturday.

With the benefit of some early run support, the veteran right-hander put up seven consecutive scoreless frames to begin his day, never facing more than four Yankees in a single inning while retiring 20 of the first 25 batters he faced.

The eighth inning presented a different challenge for Eovaldi, though, as he served up a leadoff double to Estevan Florial and later let that runner score by giving up a two-out RBI single to Brett Gardner, which would be how his outing came to an end.

In came Ottavino after Eovaldi got the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora, and the righty allowed the lone runner he inherited to score before yielding two more runs of his own on three straight two-out hits that was capped off by Torres’ game-winning single.

As a result of how the top of the eighth inning ended for Boston, Eovaldi wound up surrendering two earned runs on seven hits, zero walks, and eight strikeouts over his 7 2/3 innings pitched. Of the 100 pitches the 31-year-old hurler threw, 82 — or 82% of them — went for strikes.

Red Sox offense gets on the board early, then sputters

Opposite Eovaldi to begin things in Saturday’s contest was fellow Houston-area native Jameson Taillon for New York.

Matched up against Taillon for a third time this season, the Sox scored early and often off of the right-hander.

Before the first out of the first inning could even be recorded, Kiké Hernández led off by lacing a hard-hit triple off the Green Monster. Upon reaching third base via a head-first slide, Hernández was able to score on an errant throw to third from Odor, giving the Red Sox an early 1-0 lead.

Kevin Plawecki doubled that advantage in the bottom of the second, as he drove in J.D. Martinez on an RBI double that left the backstop’s bat at an impressive 105.7 mph.

In the third, Jarren Duran’s elite speed on the base paths proved to be an effective weapon, with him reaching first and advancing to second on a ground ball that eluded Odor at second base and made its way to the outfield.

After advancing to third on a Xander Bogaerts groundout, Duran scored easily on a sacrifice fly from Rafael Devers, earning Devers his team-leading 80th RBI of the season to put the Sox up 3-0.

While it seemed like the Boston bats had Taillon’s number, the New York starter was able to settle in to the point where he held the opposition in check to the tune of seven quality innings of work in which only one of the three runs he gave up was earned.

Sox threaten late, but to no avail

Moments after the Red Sox saw the last of Taillon Saturday, the Yankees put together a four-run rally in their half of the eighth and essentially turned this game on its head in the process of doing so.

Finding themselves down by one all of the sudden, Boston threatened with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, as back-to-back singles from Bogaerts and Devers put runners at the corners for Martinez.

Martinez, matched up against Yankees reliever Jonathan Loaisiga, proceeded to rip a 90.3 mph line drive to right field, but it was one that was caught by Greg Allen to retire the side.

In the ninth, with struggling closer Aroldis Chapam on the mound for New York, the Sox nearly manufactured another late two-out rally, with Hunter Renfroe — pinch-hitting for Franchy Cordero — drew a two-out walk and Christian Vazquez — pinch-hitting for Michael Chavis — followed with a ground-rule double.

That dramatic sequence put the potential tying run at third base and the potential winning run at second base with two outs for Hernández, but he fell victim to a five-pitch strikeout that sealed a dispiriting 4-3 defeat for the Sox.

With the loss, the Red Sox see their four-game winning streak come to an end as they drop to 60-39 on the season.

The Rays, meanwhile, topped the Indians by a final score of 8-2 in their game on Saturday, meaning Tampa Bay and Boston will be tied atop of the American League East standings going into Sunday’s action.

Next up: Game No. 100

The Red Sox will play their 100th game of the 2021 season on Sunday afternoon as they go for the series victory over the Yankees.

Left-hander Martin Perez is slated to get the ball for Boston in the weekend finale, while right-hander Domingo German is lined up to do the same for New York.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and TBS.

(Picture of Adam Ottavino: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Rafael Devers leads the way with 2-homer, 5-RBI night as Red Sox come back to top Yankees, 6-2

On a night where they lost starter Eduardo Rodriguez due to migraine symptoms early on, the Red Sox were still able to get it done against the Yankees at Fenway Park on Friday.

Powered by eight strong innings from the bullpen and a two-home run, five-RBI night from Rafael Devers, Boston defeated New York by a final score of 6-2 to take the first two games of this four-game weekend series.

Rodriguez, in what was his 19th start of the season, was forced to exit this contest in just the second inning because of migraine-related issues.

The left-hander had just yielded an RBI double to Brett Gardner with no outs in the second, and went into a crouch shortly thereafter before being visited by Red Sox manager Alex Cora, pitching coach Dave Bush, trainers, and his teammates on the mound.

After a few short moments, Rodriguez headed to the Sox dugout as his outing came to a premature close.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 25 (16 strikes), the 28-year-old hurler wound up surrendering one earned run on two hits and one walk to go along with one strikeout over one-plus inning of work.

In relief of Rodriguez, Phillips Valdez — who was just recalled from Triple-A Worcester earlier in the day — was forced into an emergency spot, and he did his job, and then some.

Making his first major-league appearance since June 9, Valdez escaped a bases-loaded jam to get out of the top of the second unscathed before stringing together two additional scoreless frames in which he recorded a career-best seven strikeouts.

Yacksel Rios took over for Valdez in the fifth, and he put up another zero to keep his side within one run at the midway point.

That would prove to be fruitful for the Red Sox lineup, who at that point had been held in check by Yankees ace Gerrit Cole. Kiké Hernández led things off with a hard-hit single in the bottom half of the fifth, and Jarren Duran followed by lacing a line-drive, ground-rule double into the triangle to put runners in scoring position for Bogaerts.

Bogaerts delivered with an RBI sacrifice fly that was hit just deep enough to right field to bring in Hernández from third and knot things up at 1-1, while Devers kicked off his brilliant night by clubbing a go-ahead two-run home run to deep center field — giving the Sox a 3-1 lead in the process of doing so.

Rios continued to keep the Yankees off the board in the sixth, as did Garrett Whitlock in the seventh to set the top half of the Sox lineup for success once more.

In the bottom of the seventh, matched up against New York reliever Nestor Cortes, back-to-back one-out singles from Hernández and Duran put runners at first and second with two outs for a red-hot Devers.

On the second pitch he saw from Cortes, a 1-0, 77 mph curveball at the top of the zone, Devers clobbered his second homer of the evening, with this one traveling 397 feet to center field with an exit velocity of 103 mph.

Devers’ second home run of the night, which was also his 26th of the season and the 100th of his major-league career, essentially put this one to bed, as it pushed the Red Sox’ advantage to five runs at 6-1.

From there, Darwinzon Hernandez maneuvered his way around a walk and a hit batsman in a scoreless top of the eighth, while Brandon Workman allowed one run, but otherwise shut the door on the Yankees to preserve a 6-2 victory for Boston.

With the win, the Red Sox improve to 60-38 on the season to maintain their one game lead over the Rays as well as the best record in the American League. They also extended their winning streak to three consecutive games.

Next up: Taillon vs. Eovaldi

The Red Sox will look to extend that winning streak to four straight ballgames as they go for the series victory over the Yankeeson Saturday afternoon.

Right-hander Jameson Taillon will get the ball for New York, while Boston will counter with fellow righty Nathan Eovaldi.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN and FS1.

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

Red Sox’ Eduardo Rodriguez forced to exit Friday’s game against Yankees with migraine symptoms

Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez was forced to exit Friday night’s game against the Yankees due to migraine symptoms, the team has announced.

Rodriguez was removed in the second inning after giving up an RBI double to Brett Gardner. Upon allowing the hit and returning the mound, the left-hander crouched down in discomfort and remained in that position for several minutes.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora, along with pitching coach Dave Bush, assistant trainer Masai Takahashi, and several of his teammates paid Rodriguez a visit on the mound, and the 28-year-old came out of the game shortly thereafter. He was replaced by right-hander Phillips Valdez.

Prior to his night prematurely coming to a close, Rodriguez had thrown 25 pitches (16 strikes) as he retired the side in order in the first inning before yielding a leadoff walk to Gary Sanchez and back-to-back hits to Gleyber Torres and Gardner in the second. Gardner drove in Sanchez on his run-scoring double.

Rodriguez, making his 19th start of the season on Friday, came into play this weekend with an ERA of 5.19 and FIP of 3.51 through his first 18 outings (95 1/3 innings pitched) of the year.

The Venezuelan southpaw missed the entirety of the shortened 2020 campaign after contracting myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) as a result of a bout with COVID-19.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, though, Rodriguez has made all 19 of his scheduled starts this season after arm fatigue delayed his 2021 debut by a few days.

(Picture of Alex Cora, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Masai Takahashi: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox place Danny Santana on injured list with left groin strain, recall Franchy Cordero from Triple-A Worcester

Before opening up a four-game weekend series against the Yankees at Fenway Park on Thursday night, the Red Sox placed utility man Danny Santana on the 10-day injured list due to a left groin strain.

In a corresponding move, first baseman/outfielder Franchy Cordero will be recalled from Triple-A Worcester, the team announced Thursday evening.

Santana returns to the injured list just three days after coming off it on Monday following a near two-week absence that came as a result of a left quadriceps strain sustained in Anaheim earlier this month.

In just his second game back from that quad strain, Santana, who started in left field, strained his groin while chasing after a fly ball in the seventh inning of the Red Sox’ 7-4 win over the Blue Jays in Buffalo on Wednesday night. He was immediately removed from the game, replaced in left field by Alex Verdugo, and later diagnosed with a tight left groin.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora seemed pretty certain that the versatile 30-year-old wound wind up on the IL as a result of him straining his groin, and that is what ends up happening.

Through 33 games with Boston this season, the switch-hitting Santana is batting .171/.230/.324 with two doubles, one triple, four home runs, 13 RBI, 11 runs scored, three stolen bases, seven walks, and 27 strikeouts over 113 trips to the plate. He has also played first base, left field, and center field.

At the moment, it’s unclear if Santana will require more than the minimum 10 days on the injured list, though the Dominican native could be activated as soon as Sunday, August 1 if that is the case.

Cordero, meanwhile, returns to the Red Sox nearly two full months after he was demoted to Worcester in late May.

One of five players Boston acquired as part of the February trade that sent Andrew Benintendi to the Royals, Cordero got off to a miserable start with the Sox in which he posted a .179/.228/.274 slash line to go along with just one home run and nine RBI over 34 games.

At the time he was sent down on May 27, the 26-year-old was viewed strictly as an outfielder, but he has since added another dimension to his game by working out at first base with the WooSox.

Of the 44 games he has played in a WooSox uniform, Cordero has patrolled first base six times and has yet to commit an error at the new position.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, Cordero originally signed with the San Diego Padres out of the Dominican Republic as a shortstop back in November 2011. He made 164 starts at shortstop and one start at third base during his minor-league career, but has spent the entirety of his big-league career to this point in the outfield.

Offensively, Cordero got off to a torrid start upon getting optioned to Worcester, as he posted an impressive 1.129 OPS from the end of May through the end of June before running into a bit of a wall this month.

Following an 0-for-4 showing against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs on Wednesday, the left-handed hitter is now sporting a .224/.297/.328 slash line in the month of July.

That being said, in the absence of Santana, Marwin Gonzalez, and Christian Arroyo — all of whom are on the injured list, Cordero can provide the Red Sox with a boost from the left side of the plate.

Not only that, but the 6-foot-3, 232 pounder could also platoon with Bobby Dalbec at first base when he’s not playing the outfield.

Regardless of that, though, Cordero is not in the Sox’ starting lineup for Thursday’s series opener against the Yankees with left-hander Jordan Montgomery starting for New York.

Right-hander Tanner Houck will get the start for Boston opposite Montgomery.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Franchy Cordero: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Danny Santana likely to be placed on injured list after experiencing left groin tightness on Wednesday

Just two days after he was activated from the injured list, it appears as though Danny Santana could be headed back to the IL once again.

In the seventh inning of the Red Sox’ 7-4 win over the Blue Jays in Buffalo on Wednesday night, Santana — starting in left field — suffered a left groin injury while chasing after a line drive off the bat of Danny Jansen that saw him take a spill in the Sahlen Field outfield.

Replaced in left field by Alex Verdugo, Santana was later diagnosed with left groin tightness. His status as of now remains up on the air, though it certainly seems likely that he could be placed on the IL as soon as Thursday.

“It seems that way,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said about Santana. “We’ll see. It’s the left groin. He felt it. I was just talking to him. We’ll know more tomorrow but it doesn’t seem too promising.”

The 30-year-old utility man had just came off the injured list on Monday after missing nearly two weeks with a left quadriceps strain that he sustained in Anaheim on July 6.

Assuming Santana is placed on the injured list ahead of Thursday’s series opener against the Yankees at Fenway Park, Franchy Cordero seems like a suitable option to replace the switch-hitter on Boston’s major-league roster.

Not only is Marwin Gonzalez still on the IL recovering from a right hamstring strain, but Cordero was pinch-hit for in the ninth inning of Triple-A Worcester’s 7-4 victory over the Lehigh Valley IronPigs on Wednesday night.

Cordero, one of the five players the Red Sox acquired as part of the three-team trade that sent Andrew Benintendi to the Royals in February, opened the 2021 season in Boston’s outfield, but got off to a miserable start in which he slashed .179/.228/.274 with just one home run and nine RBI over his first 34 games.

Those struggles led to the 26-year-old getting demoted to Worcester on May 27, and he got off to a torrid start with the WooSox by clubbing six homers, 10 doubles, and one triple, collecting 24 RBI, and scoring 22 runs while posting an OPS of 1.129 in 28 games between May 27 and June 30.

Since the calendar flipped to July, however, Cordero has cooled off significantly, as an 0-for-4 showing on Wednesday dropped his slash line on the month down to a chilly .224/.297/.328.

That being said, Cordero — who has appeared in 31 games at left field for the Red Sox this season — has been getting some work in at first base while at Worcester.

Including Wednesday’s contest against the IronPigs, the 6-foot-3, 232 pounder has made six appearances at first base for the WooSox and has yet to commit an error at that position.

Cordero, who turns 27 in September, originally signed with the San Diego Padres as a shortstop out of the Dominican Republic back in 2011.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, “he made 164 starts at shortstop and one start at third base during his minor-league career,” but has spent the entirety of his big-league career at left, center, and right field.

With that in mind, the Red Sox would be getting a more versatile version of Cordero, one who could platoon with Bobby Dalbec at first base (with Santana, Gonzalez, and Christian Arroyo all sidelined), while also playing some outfield when necessary.

That remains all speculation, however, as we will have to wait and see if the Red Sox do indeed call up Cordero from Worcester on Thursday if Santana requires another stint on the injured list.

(Picture of Danny Santana: Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images)

Red Sox crush 5 homers en route to 7-4 win to finish off sweep of Blue Jays in Buffalo

An unplanned off day on account of inclement weather in the Buffalo-area could not halt the Red Sox from pouring it on against the Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

In the final major-league game to be played at Sahlen Field this season, Boston finished off their two-game sweep of Toronto with a 7-4 victory that was powered by five home runs from five different players.

Matched up against a tough opponent in Jays left-hander Robbie Ray, a right-handed heavy Sox lineup got things started in their half of the third after not recording a hit through the first two innings.

There, a hard-hit leadoff double from Bobby Dalbec set the stage as the lineup flipped back over, and a red-hot Kiké Hernández took full advantage of that by crushing a 434-foot two-run home run to left field off an 0-2, 95 mph fastball from Ray.

Hernández’s 14th homer of the season — and third of the series — gave the Red Sox an early 2-0 lead, but Rafael Devers tacked on another with his 24th big fly of the year to lead off the top half of the fourth.

While the Sox offense was getting it done by way of the long ball against Ray, Garrett Richards was in the midst of putting together one of his better outings of the season.

Making his 19th start of the year for Boston, Richards allowed just one base hit to the first 12 Blue Jays he faced, though Vladimir Guerrero Jr. took him deep to right-center field in the fourth inning to put an end to the shutout bid.

Michael Chavis was able to get one of those runs back with a solo shot off Ray in the top half of the fifth, while Christian Vazquez plated another on an RBI single that brought in J.D. Martinez an inning later.

With a 5-1 cushion to work with now, Richards appeared to be on his way to six clean innings as he recorded the first two outs of the sixth in simple fashion.

A two-out walk of Guerrero Jr. prevented that from happening, though, and the veteran right-hander faltered even further by serving up back-to-back homers to George Springer and Teoscar Hernandez, thus allowing the Blue Jays to trim their deficit down to one run at 5-4.

Having yielded home runs to the last two hitters he faced, Richards’ night came to an end with Red Sox manager Alex Cora giving him the hook in favor of Garrett Whitlock.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 82 (55 strikes), the 33-year-old hurler wound up giving up four earned runs on four hits, one walk, and five strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings of work.

Able to pick up the win to improve to 6-5 on the season despite raising his ERA to 4.99, Richards’ next start should come against these same Blue Jays back at Fenway Park next Tuesday.

In relief of Richards, Whitlock came on, got out of the sixth, and maneuvered his way around a two-out double in an otherwise perfect seventh inning.

From there, the Boston bats responded with back-to-back home runs of their own in their half of the eighth, with Martinez and Hunter Renfroe clubbing their 20th and 15th big flies of the year for some valuable insurance that gave their side a 7-4 edge.

Adam Ottavino followed by facing the minimum three batters in the bottom half of the eighth, and Matt Barnes — making his second half debut — shut the door on the Blue Jays in the ninth to secure the 7-4 victory and notch his 20th save of the campaign.

With the win — Alex Cora’s 250th with the team — the Red Sox improve to 58-38 on the season while maintaining a one-game lead over the Rays for first place in the American League East.

Santana suffers groin injury

Danny Santana was originally starting Wednesday’s contest in left field, but was forced to exit in the seventh inning because of a tight left groin he sustained while diving for a fly ball.

The 30-year-old was replaced by Alex Verdugo in left field and seems likely to be placed back on the injured list just two days after being activated from it.

Next up: Four against the Yankees at Fenway

The Red Sox will return to Fenway Park to open up a four-game weekend series against the Yankees that begins on Thursday night.

Right-hander Tanner Houck is slated to start for Boston in the series opener, while left-hander Jordan Montgomery is in line to do the same for New York.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Kiké Hernández: Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Chris Sale set to make another rehab start for Double-A Portland on Sunday

Red Sox ace Chris Sale woke up Wednesday morning without issue and is in line to make his next rehab start this weekend, manager Alex Cora said Wednesday afternoon.

Sale, who is on the road back from Tommy John surgery, dominated in his rehab outing for Double-A Portland Tuesday night, striking out six and walking just one over 3 2/3 scoreless, no-hit innings against the Harrisburg Senators in front of a sold-out crowd at Hadlock Field.

It was Sale’s second rehab start of the month and his first in front of thousands of fans in nearly two years.

Of the 49 pitches the veteran left-hander threw on Tuesday, 34 went for strikes. He retired 10 of the 12 hitters he faced and topped out at 97-98 mph with his vaunted four-seam fastball while also mixing in his swing-inducing slider.

“He was a little bit off mechanics-wise early on,” Cora said of Sale prior to Wednesday’s game against the Blue Jays in Buffalo. “That’s part of the progression. Now he’s pitching in front of fans. Obviously the competition is a little better. But he settled down and he was able to repeat his delivery. His slider was really good. The fastball obviously was up velocity-wise. Everybody is very happy with the way the outing went. Warming up, he was excited. He was a little bit off. But little by little, he was able to repeat it and he was great.”

This latest milestone for Sale comes nearly 17 months after he initially underwent Tommy John surgery on March 30, 2020 — his 31st birthday.

Since that time, the 32-year-old hurler has reached the point where he can now face live hitters in a competitive environment on a regular schedule.

After completing his start in Portland on Tuesday, Sale was to work out with the Sea Dogs on Wednesday and is now slated to start for them once again on regular rest in Sunday’s series finale against the Senators (July 25).

Though it is not yet clear when Sale could potentially make his return to the Red Sox’ starting rotation, one thing is for certain: the day in which the seven-time All-Star takes a big-league mound again is only getting closer and closer.

“Everybody’s excited with what we saw yesterday. I’m happier with the way he reacted today,” said Cora. “Hopefully, we keep progressing the way it should be and he’ll join us whenever he’s ready.”

(Picture of Chris Sale: Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images)

Red Sox go with right-handed heavy lineup for series finale against Robbie Ray, Blue Jays

After getting rained out on Tuesday, the Red Sox will look to complete a two-game sweep over the Blue Jays in Buffalo on Wednesday night, and they will do so with an extremely right-handed heavy starting lineup.

Boston will be matched up against Toronto left-hander Robbie Ray in Wednesday’s series finale, hence the reason for all the right-handed bats from Sox manager Alex Cora.

Ray, 29, will be making his 19th start of the season for the Jays at Sahlen Field on Wednesday. So far this year, the veteran southpaw has posted an impressive 2.31 ERA and 3.81 FIP to go along with 138 strikeouts to just 26 walks over 107 1/3 innings of work. That includes an outing against the Red Sox in which he yielded three runs on four hits, three walks, and 10 strikeouts in six innings at Fenway Park back on June 13.

In his first full season with the Blue Jays after coming over in a trade with the Diamondbacks last summer, Ray has been extremely tough against opposing left-handed hitters, as he has held them to a measly .165/.208/.308 slash line.

Against right-handed hitters, Ray has still been difficult, but not nearly to the same extent (.228/.280/.442), so it’s safe to assume those splits played a role in how Cora wrote out his lineup card ahead of Wednesday’s contest.

With that being said, Kiké Hernández will lead things off for the Red Sox, as he gets the start in center field. The switch-hitting Danny Santana will follow and flank Hernández in left field. Xander Bogaers, Rafael Devers, and J.D. Martinez comprise the 3-4-5 portion of Boston’s lineup, playing their usual positions, while Hunter Renfroe, Christian Vazquez, and Bobby Dalbec will do the same. Michael Chavis rounds things out as he will make his 13th start of the year at second base.

Devers represents the lone, pure left-handed hitter in this installment of the Red Sox lineup. Jarren Duran and Alex Verdugo, two more left-handed bats, will start this one out on the bench.

On the other side of things, right-hander Garrett Richards will oppose Ray and make his 19th start of the season for Boston.

First pitch between the 57-38 Red Sox and 48-43 Blue Jays is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Kiké Hernández : Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)