Red Sox break out for 6 runs in 10th inning to run away with 9-4 victory over Mariners in extras

It took nearly four hours to see it through, but the Red Sox were able to cap off their road trip in style with a hard-fought victory over the Mariners in extra innings on Wednesday (Roberto Clemente Day) afternoon.

Boston broke out for six runs in the 10th inning to top Seattle by a final score of 9-4, marking their second straight win and their third in their last five games.

Matched up against Mariners starter Marco Gonzales to begin things on Wednesday, the Sox struck early and often to jump out to an early 3-0 lead.

Right out of the gate, Hunter Renfroe crushed a 414-foot solo shot — his 28th home run of the season — off Gonzales in the top half of the first inning. In the second, Kyle Schwarber drew a one-out walk and Bobby Dalbec followed by drilling a ground-rule double to left-center field, paving the way for Kevin Plawecki to drive in a run on an RBI groundout.

Having moved up to third on that play, Dalbec scored on an RBI double off the bat of a seemingly red-hot Jose Iglesias to put Boston up by three.

To that point, Tanner Houck — making his 12th start of the year — had been cruising along for the Red Sox, taking a no-hitter into the third inning before giving up a one-out single to fellow rookie Jarred Kelenic.

Houck proceeded to yield another single to Tom Murphy that should have put runners at the corners, but instead scored a run and put a runner at second base when Hunter Renfroe attempted to gun down Kelenic at third, though his throw eluded Rafael Devers and wound up going out of play.

Kelenic was able to score as a result of Renfroe’s miscue, while Houck walked J.P. Crawford on four pitches, spiked a wild pitch into the dirt that put runners at second and third. The right-hander did get the second out of the third, but could not end it before serving up a two-run double down the left field line to Kyle Seager.

The momentum had shifted going into the fourth with the Mariners battling back to knot things up at three runs apiece. Houck, however, rebounded by punching out the side in the bottom half of the fourth before falling victim to Kelenic once again in the fifth.

The Mariners outfielder led off the fifth inning with a single back up the middle and proceeded to steal second base to put the potential go-ahead run in scoring position. Houck then fanned Tom Murphy for the first out of the frame, and that is when his day came to a close with the Seattle lineup turning back over.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 71 (45 strikes), the 25-year-old wrapped up his outing having allowed three runs — all earned — on four hits, one walk, and seven strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings of work.

Josh Taylor got the first call out of the bullpen from Red Sox manager Alex Cora, and the left-hander officially closed the book on Houck’s start by stranding the lone runner he inherited while recording the last two outs of the fifth.

Garrett Richards took over for Taylor in the sixth and worked his way around a leadoff single by inducing a 6-5-3 double play and getting a strikeout. The veteran righty was nearly rewarded for his effort a half inning later when a walk from Dalbec and two-out single from Iglesias put runners at the corners.

Alex Verdugo came off the bench to pinch-hit for Enrique Hernandez in that spot against right-handed Mariners reliever Paul Sewald and proceeded to lace a 102 mph line drive to left field.

Verdugo’s screamer, which had an expected batting average of .850, was caught by M’s left fielder Luke Fraley, however, and that kept things tied up at 3-3.

Richards, again, faced the minimum three batters in the seventh with the help of a smooth, inning-ending double play started by Iglesias.

After both Devers and J.D. Martinez reached base with two outs off Sewald in the eighth, Schwarber had an opportunity to replicate his late-game heroics from the night before, but flew out to center field to strand the pair of runners.

In the bottom half of the inning, Austin Davis got the first two outs despite Mitch Haniger reaching base on a throwing error committed by Devers, but Adam Ottavino was able work around that by fanning Ty France on three straight strikes.

With former Rays reliever Diego Castillo entering this game for the Mariners in the ninth, neither Dalbec, Christian Vazquez (pinch-hitting for Plawecki), nor Travis Shaw (pinch-hitting for Iglesias) mounted anything resembling a rally, as they were sat down in order.

Ottavino, having needed just three pitches to finish off the eighth, came back out for the ninth. He got the first two outs of the inning rather easily before plunking the pinch-hitting Jake Bauers in the leg. Bauers then stole second base while Kelenic was at the plate, but Ottavino left him there by fanning the top prospect to send this one to extras.

Before Ottavino came through when it mattered most, Jack Lopez had taken over for Shaw at second base. And since Shaw recorded the final out of the ninth, that meant Lopez started the 10th inning as the runner at second base.

With Erik Swanson now on the mound for Seattle, Boston got an immediate boost when Verdugo sliced a single to shallow left field. Lopez, who advanced up to third on Verdugo’s base hit, proceeded to score from there on a passed ball — giving the Red Sox their first lead since the second inning at 4-3.

A walk drawn by Renfroe and bloop single from Bogaerts filled the bases with one out for Martinez, who greeted new Mariners reliever Justus Sheffield by ripping a 107 mph RBI single to the left side of the infield that deflected off Crawford’s glove and brought in Renfroe from third.

That made it a 5-3 contest, but the Sox were not done there, as Schwarber provided some much-needed insurance by lining a two-run single to right field that plated both Bogaerts and Devers and opened up a 7-3 lead for his side.

Vazquez pushed across two more on a two-run, bases-loaded double down the right field line, thus capping off a six-run inning in which Boston sent 10 batters to the plate to give themselves a commanding 9-3 advantage.

Martin Perez was dispatched in the bottom half of the 10th. The left-hander, making his first appearance since being activated from the COVID-19 related injured list on Tuesday, did just that.

Perez did allow one unearned run, but ultimately slammed the door on the Mariners to preserve a 9-4 victory for the Sox.

With the win, the Red Sox secure their first series victory in Seattle since 2013 to finish off a 3-3 road trip and improve to 83-65 on the season. They also remain tied with the Blue Jays for the top American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: Welcoming in the Orioles to kick off the final homestand of 2021

The Red Sox will board a flight to Boston and enjoy a well-deserved off day on Thursday before opening up a three-game weekend series against the lowly Orioles at Fenway Park on Friday night.

Neither team has yet to name a starter for Friday’s series opener, but Boston is expected to activate ace left-hander Chris Sale from the COVID-19 related injured list — meaning that responsibility would fall to him.

Friday’s contest against the O’s will mark the beginning of the Sox’ final (eight-game) homestand of the season. First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Kyle Schwarber: Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Bobby Dalbec homers once again, but Red Sox fall short, 4-3, in series opener against White Sox

On a night where the two teams directly behind them in the American League Wild Card race both lost, the Red Sox were unable to take advantage of the opportunity in front of them and instead dropped their series opener to the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Boston fell to Chicago by a final score of 4-3 on Friday night, marking their fourth loss in their five games.

Tanner Houck, making his 11th start and 13th overall appearance of the season for the Sox, was quite simply not as sharp as he was in his last time out.

Coming off an outing in which he tossed five scoreless innings where he walked none and struck out seven against the Indians last Saturday, Houck’s command of the strike zone was not as sharp on Friday.

Over just 3 2/3 innings of work, the right-hander surrendered four runs — three of which were earned — on four hits, three walks, and one hit batsman to go along with one strikeout on the night.

After maneuvering his way around a walk in the first and putting up a 1-2-3 second, Houck ran into some trouble in the bottom of the third, where he was just one out — and one pitch — away from escaping a jam with runners at first and second base.

Rather than getting out of the jam, though, Houck served up a 378-foot three-run home run to the vaunted Jose Abreu off a hanging, 0-2 slider on the outer half of the plate.

Houck’s struggles did not end there, as he issued a two-out single to Eloy Jimenez before plunking Yasmani Grandal to put runners at first and second once more, but got out of the inning when Christian Vazquez gunned down Jimenez at second base for the final out.

Still, even after running into an out, the White Sox added on to their three-run lead in the fourth, with Gavin Sheets leading off by reaching first base on a Jose Iglesias fielding error while playing in the shift, moving up to second on a six-pitch walk of Brian Goodwin, and up to third on a Cesar Hernandez groundout.

Once again, Houck was just one out from getting through four full frames, but instead allowed that runner from third to score on an RBI single off the bat of Luis Robert that gave Chicago a 4-0 lead and marked the end of the line for the rookie righty as he got the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 70 (39 strikes), the 25-year-old hurler was ultimately hit with his fourth loss of the year while raising his ERA on the season to 3.54.

In relief of Houck, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez got the first call from Cora out of the Boston bullpen in order to face the switch-hitting Yoan Moncada from the right side of the plate.

Hernandez, in his first appearance since late July after being reinstated from the 10-day injured list on Friday, beaned Moncada to load the bases, but rebounded by getting Abreu to ground out to retire the side.

To that point in the contest, a J.D. Martinez-less Red Sox lineup had been held in check by White Sox All-Star starter Carlos Rodon. Bobby Dalbec, though, had other plans to lead off the top half of the fifth, as he stayed hot by crushing a 414-foot solo shot to deep left field.

Dalbec’s 21st home run of 2021 got the Sox on the board to make it a 3-1 game, but Rodon rallied by sitting down the final three batters he faced while former Red Sox prospect Michael Kopech got the first two outs of the sixth before running into some trouble himself.

Having seen Enrique Hernandez and Kyle Schwarber both punch out ahead of him, Hunter Renfroe changed the tone by drawing a five-pitch walk off Kopech and promptly moved up to second on a hard-hit single off the bat of Xander Bogaerts.

That brought Rafael Devers to the plate representing the tying run, and he — now matched up against left-handed reliever Aaron Bummer — could only manage a sharply-hit, inning-ending groundout that stranded yet another runner in scoring position.

Following scoreless innings of relief from Hernandez (in the fifth) and Michael Feliz (in the sixth), Dalbec again proved to be an offensive catalyst in his side’s half of the seventh.

With Ryan Tepera on the mound for Chicago, Dalbec lifted a leadoff triple just out of the reach of Goodwin in right field and quickly scored on an RBI groundout courtesy of Vazquez.

Danny Santana followed by ripping a single to right field and advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch from Tepera.

Alex Verdugo, coming off the bench to pinch-hit for Jose Iglesias in that spot, brought in Santana from second by lifting a 196-foot run-scoring single to left field.

That cut Boston’s deficit down to one run at 4-3, but they were unable to push across another runner in that particular inning.

After Adam Ottavino danced his way around a leadoff walk in the bottom of the seventh, former Red Sox closer and current White Sox reliever Craig Kimbrel countered by stranding a runner of his own in the top of the eighth.

Ryan Brasier, who took over for Ottavino, put two of the four batters he faced on base, while Josh Taylor came in and plunked Moncada to load the bases with two outs.

Taylor did manage to strand the bases loaded by fanning Abreu to keep it at a one-run game going into the ninth, where the bottom of the Boston lineup would be squaring up against another All-Star in Liam Hendriks.

Vazquez led off the ninth with an infield single and moved up to second on a groundout from Santana.

With the potential tying run in scoring position, Verdugo grounded out sharply to shortstop for the second out of the inning, while Travis Shaw — pinch-hitting for Hernandez — flew out to center field for the third out, meaning 4-3 would go on to be Friday’s final score.

With the loss, the Red Sox fall to 80-63 on the season as their lead over the Yankees for the first American League Wild Card spot remains at one full game.

Next up: Seabold(?) vs. Cease

The Red Sox have yet to officially name a starter for the middle game of this three-game set on Saturday, though it seems likely that that responsibility will fall to right-handed pitching prospect Connor Seabold, who traveled with the club to Chicago as part of their taxi squad.

The White Sox, meanwhile, will turn to fellow right-hander Dylan Cease as they look to secure a series win.

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

(Picture of Bobby Dalbec: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Bobby Dalbec homers twice, but Red Sox unable to recover from early pitching woes in 12-7 loss to Rays

If the Red Sox were looking to bounce back and get back on track coming one of their more humiliating losses of the season on Monday, they may have just about done the exact opposite of that against the Rays at Fenway Park on Tuesday night.

Boston fell to Tampa Bay, 12-7, marking their third consecutive loss coming off a four-game winning streak that now seems long forgotten.

Eduardo Rodriguez, making his 27th start of the season for the Sox, was unable to carry over any momentum from his last time out against the Rays last week, which he described as his “best start” of the year.

That being the case because Rodriguez surrendered six runs — all of which were earned — on eight hits and zero walks to go along with three strikeouts over just 3 2/3 innings of work.

The left-hander began his nigh on a positive note by retiring the side in order in the first, but ran into trouble an inning later when he yielded a one-out double to Jordan Luplow that Alex Verdugo was unable to come up with in left field.

Former Red Sox prospect Manuel Margot followed with a double of his own, as he swapped places with Luplow to give the Rays an early 1-0 lead.

A groundball single from Joey Wendle put runners at the corners for Mike Zunino, who got his productive evening at the plate started by ripping a two-run triple to right field that nearly landed in foul territory, but instead landed just short of the fence by Pesky’s pole, hit the chalk, and proceeded to roll away from Hunter Renfroe.

Renfroe, thinking the ball was foul, did not react immediately, allowing both Margot and Wendle to score while Zunino collected just his second triple of the year, though he was promptly picked off by Christian Vazquez before Kevin Kiermaier struck out to end the inning.

The Red Sox lineup, matched up against Rays starter Drew Rasmussen, got one of those three runs back in their half of the second, but could have easily gotten more.

Following a leadoff single from Rafael Devers and 113.2 mph double from Renfroe that put runners at second and third with no outs, Alex Verdugo punched out on three straight strikes. Vazquez was able to plate Devers on a run-scoring groundout, but newcomer Jose Iglesias flew out to right field to extinguish the threat.

The Rays’ bats took advantage of the Sox’ inability to capitalize with runners in scoring position by striking for two more runs in the third, as Randy Arozarena led off with a double and the ever-dangerous Nelson Cruz crushed a two-run home run 410 feet into the Red Sox bullpen off a hanging cutter from Rodriguez.

After giving up that bomb, Rodriguez managed to record just three more outs before serving up a 407-foot solo shot to Zunino with one out in the fourth. That essentially marked the end of the line for the lefty, as he got the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora after recording the second out of the inning.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 68 (44 strikes), the 28-year-old hurler averaged just 92.6 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 24 times and only got two swings-and-misses on. He also saw his ERA on the season rise to 5.15 while getting hit with eighth loss of the year.

In relief of Rodriguez, Michael Feliz got the first call from Cora out of the Boston bullpen for what was his Red Sox debut.

Feliz, just selected from Triple-A Worcester earlier in the day, ended the fourth inning rather easily, but yielded a pair of solo homers (one to Cruz, one to Zunino) in the fifth and sixth innings to increase his side’s deficit to seven runs at 8-1.

Brad Peacock, making his first appearance since last Tuesday, did not fare much better than Feliz. The veteran right-hander got shelled for four runs in the top of the seventh, yielding a two-run double to Cruz and two-run home run to Luplow that allowed the Rays to jump out to a commanding 12-1 advantage.

Peacock did manage to put together the first scoreless inning of any Red Sox pitcher since the top of the first in the eighth, though, and the offense responded in the bottom half of the frame.

There, Kyle Schwarber laced a leadoff single off Tampa Bay reliever David Hess, while Bobby Dalbec and Danny Santana — both of whom came on as defensive replacements in the top half of the eighth — clubbed back-to-back home runs to cut into the deficit.

A pair of two-out singles off the bats of Vazquez and Iglesias put runners at first and second for Jonathan Arauz, who drove in Vazquez on an RBI single to center field, putting the Sox behind by just seven runs at 12-5.

After Peacock put up another zero in the top of the ninth, Dalbec brought in Schwarber on yet another two-run blast — this one being his 20th of the season to make it a 12-7 contest.

Alas, even after making things a bit more interesting, the Sox were unable to push across anything else, as 12-7 would go on to be Tuesday’s final score.

With the loss, the Red Sox extend their losing streak to three consecutive games while also falling to 79-62 on the season. They do, however, remain just a 1/2 game back of the Yankees for the top American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: Eovaldi looks to stave off sweep

The Red Sox will send right-hander Nathan Eovaldi to the mound Wednesday night as they look to avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of the Rays, who will counter with rookie left-hander Shane McClanahan in the series (and season series) finale.

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

(Picture of Kyle Schwarber and Bobby Dalbec: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Red Sox squander 6-run lead, commit 4 errors in 11-10 loss to Rays in extras

Despite holding leads of 7-1, 8-6, and 9-7 on Monday afternoon, the Red Sox were unable to keep the Rays at bay and ultimately fell to their division rivals by a final score of 11-10 in 10 innings at Fenway Park.

Chris Sale, making his fifth start of the season for the Sox, did not factor into Monday’s decision, though Boston did lose a game he started for the first time this year.

Over just 3 2/3 innings of work, Sale surrendered five runs — only one of which was earned — on 10 hits and one walk to go along with six strikeouts on the afternoon.

The veteran left-hander began his day by fanning Randy Arozarena on three straight strikes, but then issued a 394-foot triple to rookie sensation Wander Franco.

Franco quickly came into score on an RBI single off the bat of Nelson Cruz to give the Rays their first lead of the contest at 1-0.

Sale did manage to get out of the top of the first by escaping a bases-loaded jam, and the Red Sox lineup responded by getting to Rays starter Ryan Yarbrough for an equalizing run on a run-scoring single from J.D. Martinez.

Pushing across one run in their half of the first was not the only damage the Boston bats did while Yarbrough was on the mound, as they plated six additional runs off the left-hander an inning later.

On an RBI single from Taylor Motter, an RBI double from Hunter Renfroe, an RBI single from Rafael Devers, a two-run double from Bobby Dalbec, and a sacrifice fly from Alex Verdugo, the Sox took a commanding 7-1 lead and appeared as though they would be well on their way to a series-opening win.

At that point, Sale had seemingly settled in by putting up a zero in the second and third innings while also recording the first two outs of the fourth rather quickly.

The division-leading Rays, however, did not go down quietly, as Taylor Walls ignited a two-out rally by reaching base via softly-hit, two-foot infield single. Arozarena and Franco followed with singles of their own, loading the bases for the ever-dangerous Cruz.

Sale got Cruz to lift a 370-foot fly ball to center field that had an expected batting average of just .270. Verdugo, the center fielder, was in position to make the inning-ending catch, but instead battled with the sun and was unable to make a clean snag, resulting in the ball rolling towards right field.

On Verdugo’s fielding error, Cruz managed to unload the bases while also advancing all the way up to third base. He then scored from third when Motter, the second baseman, overthrew Devers.

Tampa Bay’s little-league grand slam allowed them to trim Boston’s advantage down to two runs at 7-5 while also getting Sale out of this contest after just 86 pitched (65 strikes).

In relief of Sale, right-hander Garrett Richards closed out the fourth inning, tossed a 1-2-3 top of the fifth, and surrendered one run on three singles in the sixth, with Jordan Luplow making it a 7-6 game on his RBI base hit.

The Sox answered back in their half of the sixth, though, with Motter ripping a leadoff triple off Rays reliever J.T. Chargois and Renfroe plating him on a hard-hit RBI single through the left side of the infield.

Boston’s newfound two-run lead did not last long, with Arozarena driving in Mike Zunino in the seventh while Adam Ottavino was on the mound.

Jonathan Arauz quickly got that run back by clubbing a 416-foot solo shot off J.P. Feyereisen a half inning later, but Ottavino — for the second appearance in a row — served up a leadoff home run to Cruz to begin things in the eighth.

The Rays completed their comeback in the ninth, with Austin Meadows drilling an inside-the-park homer off Garrett Whitlock.

Meadows had scorched a 393-foot line drive to center field to lead off the inning, but it was one Verdugo could not come up cleanly with while leaping in the direction of the wall.

Neither Martinez nor Renfroe backed up Verdugo as the ball caromed away, resulting in recently-signed shortstop Jose Iglesias to hustle out from the infield to make the play himself.

Iglesias, however, bobbled the ball while attempting to corral it, and that allowed the speedy Meadows to complete his trek around the base paths to tie things up at nine runs apiece.

Whitlock did manage to get through the rest of the frame unscathed to keep the 9-9 stalemate intact, and the pinch-hitting Travis Shaw led things off against former Red Sox hurler Collin McHugh in the bottom of the ninth by lacing a leadoff ground-rule double.

The Rays intentionally walked Verdugo and the Sox had Franchy Cordero run in place of Shaw, but Christian Vazquez was not able to advance the lead runner when his botched bunt attempt wound up getting caught by Zunino in foul territory.

Arauz followed by grounding into an inning-ending 5-6-3 double play, meaning the Red Sox had squandered yet another scoring opportunity as this one headed into extras.

Whitlock, back out for the 10th, gave up back-to-back RBI singles to Cruz and the pinch-hitting Brandon Lowe, thus putting his side in a two-run hole while giving the Rays their first lead of the first inning at 11-9.

Down to their last chance in the bottom of the 10th, Iglesias promptly drove in Arauz from second base and later advanced to second himself when Renfroe reached base on a fielding error.

Devers proceeded to draw a two-out walk against McHugh, meaning the potential tying run was just 90 feet away from scoring while the potential winning run was 180 feet away.

In that spot, Red Sox manager Alex Cora opted to have Kevin Plawecki hit for Cordero, but the veteran backstop could only dribble a softly-hit, inning-ending groundout to shortstop that secured a hard-fought 11-10 win for the visitors and a disappointing 11-10 defeat for the home side.

In a game that took 4 hours and 54 minutes to complete, the Red Sox committed four errors, went 6-for-15 with runners in scoring position, and left 12 runners on base as a team in the process of falling to 79-61 on the season.

Next up: Rodriguez vs. Rasmussen

The Red Sox will send left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez to the hill on Tuesday night as they look to halt this latest skid. The Rays will counter with right-hander Drew Rasmussen.

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

(Picture of Alex Verdugo: Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

Red Sox struggle with runners in scoring position, come up short, 11-5, in series finale against Indians

Despite a plethora of opportunities, the Red Sox were unable to finish off a series sweep and extend their winning streak to five consecutive games on Sunday afternoon, as they fell to the Indians by a final score of 11-5 at Fenway Park.

It was a day that started with uncertainty for the Sox, with Nick Pivetta being scratched from his start on account of being placed on the COVID-19 related injured list.

Instead of Pivetta, Boston was forced to turn to pitching prospect Kutter Crawford, who had been on the club’s taxi squad after making just six appearances (five starts) above the Double-A level this season.

Crawford’s inexperience showed on Sunday, as the right-hander surrendered five runs — all of which were earned — on five hits and two walks to go along with two strikeouts over just two-plus innings of work.

While he did not necessarily get shelled, Crawford did fall victim to some poor luck, as evidenced by his loading the bases with no outs in the top half of the first.

Cleveland did get to Crawford for two runs on a pair of sacrifice flies after loading the bases, and they got to him for an additional run an inning later when Owen Miller led off with a double and came around to score on a two-out RBI single off the bat of Myles Straw.

In the third, Crawford served up a monstrous 419-foot solo shot to Franmil Reyes to lead off the inning, and the righty’s day quickly came to a close after issuing a six-pitch walk to Bobby Bradley.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 57 (40 strikes), the 25-year-old hurler threw 26 four-seam fastballs, 15 cutters, 13 curveballs, two sinkers, and one changeup. He induced nine total swings-and-misses while averaging 93.8 mph with his four-seamer.

In relief of Crawford, John Schreiber got the first call out of the Boston bullpen, and he officially closed the book on the starter’s outing by giving up a hard-hit double to Harold Ramirez that was followed by a softly-hit two-run single from Bradley Zimmer to give Cleveland a commanding 6-0 lead.

Schreiber, to his credit, managed to escape the third inning without giving anything else up before stringing together two scoreless frames in the fourth and fifth innings in what was his Red Sox debut.

At that point, the Sox, still trailing by six runs, finally got to Indians starter Zach Plesac, as Hunter Renfroe led off the bottom of the fifth with a line-drive double to center field.

Renfroe did not stay at second base for long, though, with J.D. Martinez getting his productive afternoon of the plate started with an RBI double to left field.

After an Alex Verdugo walk, Kevin Plawecki snuck a run-scoring single back up the middle to bring in Martinez, while Travis Shaw came up just inches short of a three-run homer, but settled for an RBI single that scored Verdugo and put runners at first and second with no outs.

Bobby Dalbec failed to advance either runner on a flyout to left field, and — at that moment — Red Sox manager Alex Cora got aggressive by dispatching Rafael Devers, who initially had the day off, to pinch-hit for Jack Lopez.

Devers, however, was unable to get the job done off the bench, as he punched out on seven pitches before Jonathan Arauz also struck out to leave two important runs at second and third base.

Still, after Schreiber and left-hander Stephen Gonsalves combined to put up a zero in the top of the sixth, the Boston bats kept things going against the Cleveland bullpen.

Matched up against Nick Wittgren, the Renfroe-Martinez combination struck once more, with the former reaching base via a one-out single and the latter clearing the bases on a 401-foot two-run home run into the Red Sox bullpen.

Martinez’s 25th homer of the season made cut the Sox’ deficit down to just one run at 6-5, and Verdugo kept the pressure on by ripping a line-drive double to put the potential tying run in scoring position.

Plawecki moved Verdugo up to third base on a softly-hit groundout, but Shaw was unable to bring him in and instead grounded out to first base to extinguish the threat.

From there, Ryan Brasier bounced back from a shaky 2021 debut on Friday by facing the minimum of three batters in the top of the seventh, and the Red Sox offense had another chance to pull even with the Indians in the bottom half.

Taylor Motter, who replaced Lopez at second base earlier in the contest, had drawn a one-out walk off Trevor Stephan and remained there when Arauz flew out to left field. With Kyle Schwarber at the plate, though, Motter was picked off at first base, thus ending the inning.

Hansel Robles kept Cleveland at six runs with a 1-2-3 eighth inning, but this one got away from Boston when Phillips Valdez took the mound for the top half of the ninth.

After twirling two shutout frames on Saturday, Valdez got rocked for five runs on five hits on Sunday afternoon.

That meltdown of an inning allowed the Indians to jump out to an 11-5 lead, and that would go on to be Sunday’s final score.

In total, the Sox went 3-for-18 with runners in scoring position and left 12 runners on base as a team on Sunday.

With the loss, the Red Sox fall to 79-60 on the season, though they remain just a 1/2 game back of the Yankees, who lost to the Orioles on Sunday, for the first American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: Rays on deck

The Red Sox will celebrate the Labor Day holiday on Monday by welcoming in the Tampa Bay Rays into town for a three-game series at Fenway Park.

Left-hander Chris Sale will get the ball for Boston in Monday’s series opener, while fellow lefty Ryan Yarbrough will do the same for Tampa Bay.

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

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

Alex Verdugo delivers with walk-off single as Red Sox extend winning streak to four straight with 4-3 victory over Indians

In the midst of a COVID-19 outbreak that could ravage other teams’ postseason aspirations, the Red Sox are proving that they should still be taken seriously despite having placed nine players on the COVID-related injured list.

Saturday was just the latest instance of this resilience, as the Sox fought their way to a 4-3 walk-off victory over the Indians at Fenway Park to push their winning streak to four consecutive games.

Tanner Houck, making his 10th start and 12th overall appearance of the season for Boston, laid out the groundwork for his team’s fourth straight win by keeping Cleveland off the scoreboard while scattering just three hits, zero walks, and seven strikeouts over five strong innings of work.

Having just faced off the Indians on the road last weekend, Houck proved to be much more in control this time around by demonstrating better command on the mound.

The right-hander dealt with some traffic on the base paths, such as a leadoff single in the first inning or leadoff double in the third inning, but was otherwise solid as he retired the final nine batters he faced in order through the end of the fifth.

At that moment in time, Houck’s pitch count was relatively low, but Red Sox manager Alex Cora did not want him to go up against the Indians lineup for a third time, so his night promptly came to an end there.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 68 (47 strikes), the 25-year-old hurler did not factor into Saturday’s decision, though he did lower his ERA on the season to 3.26.

In relief of Houck, left-hander Austin Davis got the first call out of the bullpen in the sixth inning of a scoreless contest and immediately surrendered a leadoff double to Andres Gimenez to put the potential go-ahead run in scoring position.

Davis did manage to get the next two outs, but did so while allowing Gimenez to steal third before intentionally walking the dangerous Jose Ramirez and issuing another free pass to Bobby Bradley.

That sequence led to the Indians loading the bases with two outs in the sixth, and it led to Cora turning to Hansel Robles to get out of the jam.

Robles, in turn, got Harold Ramirez to rip a 97.2 mph grounder back up the middle that deflected off his foot and rolled over to Bobby Dalbec at first base in time to get the final out.

Phillips Valdez followed in Robles’ footsteps by tossing a scoreless top of the seventh, granting the Red Sox lineup to put something together in their half of the frame.

To that point, the Boston bats had been stymied by Indians starter Eli Morgan, but were able to get it going once the Cleveland bullpen took over.

Christian Vazquez led off against Nick Wittgren by lacing a hard-hit single to center field. Jack Lopez followed by moving Vazquez up to second on a successful sacrifice bunt, while Jonathan Arauz followed suit by advancing to Vazquez to third on a groundout.

Those two productive outs put the Sox in a promising position as the lineup flipped back over for Kyle Schwarber, who greeted new Indians reliever Blake Parker by drawing a five-pitch walk to put runners at the corners for Rafael Devers.

After working a full count on the first five pitches he saw from Parker, Devers took the sixth pitch — a juicy 92 mph fastball on the outer half of the plate — and came through with the clutchest hit of the ballgame to that point by clubbing a 419-foot three-run homer well over the Green Monster.

Not only did Devers’ 33rd home run of the season set a new career-high for the young All-Star and bring him up to 100 RBI on the year, it also gave the Red Sox their first lead of the night at 3-0.

Valdez, after retiring the side in order in the seventh, did the very same in the eighth, meaning the Sox were just three outs away from securing a series win over the Indians.

Adam Ottavino, however, had different plans, as he gave up a leadoff single to Ramirez to begin things in the ninth before yielding an RBI double to Bradley, making it a 3-1 game in favor of Boston.

The veteran reliever did get the first two outs of the ninth and was one strike away from retiring the pinch-hitting Franmil Reyes, but instead served up a game-tying, two-run home run to Reyes, thus knotting things up at three runs apiece.

To their credit, the Red Sox did not waver even after seeing their three-run lead come off the board. Travis Shaw, pinch-hitting for Lopez, led off the bottom of the ninth off Indians reliever Bryan Shaw by reaching base via an infield single.

Shaw was then replaced by the pinch-running Taylor Motter, who moved up to second on yet another sacrifice bunt from Arauz.

Schwarber then flew out to center field against Alex Young, while Devers drew a five-pitch walk off the newly-inserted Cleveland reliever.

J.D. Martinez got ahead in the count at 2-0, and was promptly intentionally walked to fill the bases with two outs for Alex Verdugo.

Verdugo, motivated by the Indians intentionally walking to get to Martinez since they had a left-hander in Young on the mound, made Cleveland pay for their decision by drilling a walk-off, run-scoring single over the head of Daniel Johnson in right field.

Motter was able to easily score from third on Verdugo’s late-game heroics, and the Sox came away with a 4-3 victory as a result.

By extending their winning streak to four straight games on Saturday, the Red Sox improved to 79-59 on the season and are once again 20 games over .500 for the first time since July 31.

With the Yankees and Athletics both losing on Saturday, Boston now has a four-game lead over Oakland for the second American League Wild Card spot and only trail New York by 1/2 a game for the first American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: Pivetta vs. Plesac

The Red Sox will send right-hander Nick Pivetta to the mound as they look to complete the three-game sweep of the Indians on Sunday afternoon.

Pivetta will be going up against fellow righty Zach Plesac, who will be making his 21st start of the season for the Indians.

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

(Picture of Alex Verdugo: Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Chris Sale tosses 5 scoreless innings in second start back as Red Sox blank Rangers, 6-0, to snap 3-game skid

The Red Sox remain unbeaten in games started by Chris Sale in 2021, as they took care of business in the first of a three-game set against the Rangers at Fenway Park on Friday night.

Boston came out on top over Texas by a final score of 6-0, with Sale leading the way by putting together his second straight solid outing after returning to the major-league mound for the first time in nearly two years last Saturday.

Sale, in what was his second start of the season for the Sox, kept the Rangers off the scoreboard while scattering just five hits and one walk to go along with five strikeouts over his five innings of work.

Granted, he was going up against one of the worst lineups in the American League, but the veteran left-hander still strung together five scoreless frames despite dealing with his fair share of traffic on the base paths.

In the top of the first, Sale gave up a one-out double to Isiah Kiner-Falefa, but followed that with two straight strikeouts to get out of the inning. In the top of the second, he issued a one-out walk and single to Yohel Pozo and Yonny Hernandez, but countered that by getting a strikeout and flyout to retire the side. In the top of the fourth, he yielded back-to-back one-out base hits to Jonah Heim and Pozo that put runners on the corners, but that runner on third was stranded there.

That being the case because Sale got Hernandez to bunt into a force out at second base before getting Jason Martin to fly out to left field to end things in the fourth. He then maneuvered his way around a leadoff single in the fifth and capped off his night by sitting down the final two batters he faced in order thanks to a nifty 6-4-3 double play on a Brock Holt grounder.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 71 (49 strikes), the 32-year-old hurler ultimately earned his second winning decision of the season while lowering his ERA to 1.80.

While Sale was in the process of weaving his way through the Rangers lineup, the Red Sox lineup was able to wake up to some degree after a sleepy series in the Bronx earlier this week.

Matched up against rookie right-hander Dane Dunning, the Boston bats got things started right away in their half of the first, and Enrique Hernandez proved to be the catalyst for that with a leadoff double.

After advancing up to third base on a passed ball, Hernandez came into score on an RBI single off the bat of Xander Bogaerts, who kicked off his productive night at the plate by giving his side an early 1-0 lead.

Christian Vazquez followed suit in the second, as he, too, ripped a leadoff double to right field, moved up to third on a Jarren Duran groundout, and was plated on a sharp line-drive RBI single from Hernandez to double Boston’s advantage to 2-0.

Fast forward to the fifth, right after Sale’s outing had come to a close, and the Red Sox did most of their damage off Dunning — all with two outs in the inning.

Following outs from Hernandez and Rafael Devers, Bogaerts drilled an 0-1, 84 mph changeup down the heart of the plate 371 feet down the left field line and over the Green Monster for his 20th home run of the season.

Kyle Schwarber followed by drawing a seven-pitch walk, while J.D. Martinez put runners at second and third for Alex Verdugo by lacing a two-out double to left field.

Verdugo took full advantage of that, as he tattooed a two-run double 101 mph off the Green Monster off the very first pitch he saw from Dunning.

That piece of impressive hitting gave the Sox a commanding 5-0 lead, though Hernandez tacked on one more to that an inning later when he plated Duran from third on another run-scoring groundout to make it a 6-0 contest.

Red Sox bullpen takes over for Sale

In relief of Sale, Hansel Robles got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen to begin things in the top half of the sixth, and he worked his way around a leadoff walk by sitting down the next three batters he faced in consecutive order.

From there, after Hernandez provided some insurance and made it a 6-0 game, Austin Davis tossed a scoreless seventh inning with some defensive help from Devers and Bogaerts, Hirokazu Sawamura punched out two in a 1-2-3 top of the eighth, and Matt Barnes — in a nonsave situation — shut the door on the Rangers in the ninth.

It was Barnes’ first relief appearance since last Sunday, and it was one in which he struck out the side en route to securing a 6-0 shutout victory for the Sox.

With the win, the Red Sox improve to 70-54 on the season to snap a three-game skid. They are — at the moment — six games back of the Rays for first place in the American League East and tied with the Athletics for the second American League Wild Card spot.

Some assorted offensive notes from Friday’s win:

Enrique Hernandez went 2-for-5 with a double, one run scored, two RBI out of the leadoff spot.

Xander Bogaerts went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI out of the No. 3 spot.

Kyle Schwarber went 2-for-2 with two walks and a run scored out of the cleanup spot.

Next up: Rodriguez vs. Lyles

The Red Sox will send left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez to the hill on Saturday night as they go for the series victory over the Rangers.

The Rangers, in turn, will counter with veteran right-hander Jordan Lyles as they look to even things up.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.

(Picture of Chris Sale: Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)

Chris Sale strikes out 8 over 5 solid innings in triumphant return to mound as Red Sox cruise past Orioles, 16-2

The Red Sox certainly made sure to give Chris Sale plenty of run support in his return to the mound at Fenway Park on Saturday afternoon, as they came away with a 15-2 blowout victory over the lowly Orioles to clinch their first series win in over two weeks.

Sale, making his first major-league start in over two years and first since undergoing Tommy John surgery last March, showed flashes of what makes him so special in his 2021 debut.

Over five solid innings of work, the ace left-hander yielded just two runs — both of which were earned — on six hits and zero walks to go along with eight strikeouts on the afternoon.

Both runs Sale surrendered came by way of the home run ball, as he served up pair of back-to-back solo shots to Austin Hays and Trey Mancini with two outs in the top half of the third after retiring eight of the first nine hitters he faced.

Still, even with that tough sequence that saw Baltimore net their first and only two runs of the day, Sale was able to settle in, as he got the final out of the third before working his way around some traffic in a scoreless fourth inning.

In his fifth and final frame, Sale issued a leadoff single to Richie Martin and another single to Austin Wynns that was hit to Hunter Renfroe in right field. Renfroe, however, put his arm strength on full display by gunning down Martin at third base for his league-leading 14th outfield assist of the season.

That turned a potential situation in which there would have been runners on the corners with no outs to a situation where there was one out and just one runner on first, and Sale took full advantage of that by fittingly sitting down the final two batters he faced — Hays and Mancini — to end his outing on an extremely encouraging note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 89 (60 strikes), the 32-year-old hurler induced 16 total swings and misses while topping out at 96 mph and averaging 93.3 mph with his four-seam fastball.

Able to pick up his first win in his first start of the year, Sale is slated to pitch again against the Rangers back at Fenway Park next Friday.

While Sale was in the process of putting together his five impressive frames in his season debut, the Red Sox lineup was busy piling it on against Sale’s counterpart in Orioles starter Jorge Lopez.

Right from the jump, the Boston bats provided Sale with a sizable cushion by compiling four runs in their half of the first inning alone.

Enrique Hernandez kicked things off with a leadoff single, while Alex Verdugo got his productive day at the plate started with a single of his own. Lopez then drilled Xander Bogaerts on the wrist to load the bases having yet to record an out.

A wild pitch from Lopez allowed Hernandez to score easily from third for his side’s first run of the contest, and Rafael Devers followed by emptying the bases on a 424-foot three-run shot to right field that left his bat at a sizzling 107.7 mph.

Devers’ team-leading 29th home run of the year gave the Sox a commanding 4-0 lead early on, and they tacked on two more an inning later with Bogaerts and Verdugo each drilling run-scoring hits to make it a 6-0 contest.

Though Baltimore cut the deficit down to four with two runs of their own in their half of third, Boston got one of those runs back an inning later when Devers greeted newly-inserted reliever Paul Fry by lacing a bases-loaded RBI single to left field.

Going up 7-2 on Devers’ base knock, the Sox offense opted to double their run total to that point in their half of the fifth.

There, moments after Sale’s evening had come to a close, Renfroe led the inning off by drawing a leadoff walk off Orioles reliever Adam Plutko, though he did not remain on first base for long since Jarren Duran promptly brought him in on an RBI triple into the triangle in center field.

Another Red Sox rookie got in on the action a few moments later, as Bobby Dalbec stayed hot and crushed a two-run big fly 373 feet over the Green Monster.

Dalbec’s first of two home runs on the day added on to the Sox’ lead and also flipped the lineup back over for Hernandez, who drew another walk, moved up to third on a Verdugo single, and scored on an RBI single off the bat of Bogaerts.

After Devers struck out for the second out of the fifth, J.D. Martinez came through by depositing a three-run blast 424 feet to left-center field.

Martinez’s 22nd homer of the year put Boston up 14-2 and also capped off an explosive seven-run inning.

Dalbec’s second homer of the afternoon in the sixth and Renfroe’s first in the eighth (off Wynns, a catcher) gave the Red Sox a 16-2 lead.

At that point, Hirokazu Sawamura, Hansel Robles, and Austin Davis already provided three scoreless innings of relief out of the Red Sox bullpen to follow up Sale’s impressive performance, and Martin Perez closed things out by shutting the door on the O’s in the ninth to preserve the 16-2 victory for his side.

With the win, the Red Sox have now won two consecutive games for the first since July 25-26 to earn the series victory over the Orioles. They also improved to 68-51 on the season to move 4 1/2 games back of the Rays for first place in the American League East.

Next up: Rodriguez vs. Akin

The Red Sox will send left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez to the mound as they go for the three-game sweep over the Orioles on Sunday afternoon. The Orioles will counter with fellow southpaw Keegan Akin as they look to prevent that from happening.

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

(Picture of Chris Sale: Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

Red Sox activate Alex Verdugo from paternity leave list, option Tanner Houck to Triple-A Worcester

In addition to activating first baseman/outfielder Kyle Schwarber from the injured list and designating utility man Marwin Gonzalez for assignment, the Red Sox also activated outfielder Alex Verdugo from the paternity leave list ahead of Friday night’s series opener against the Orioles at Fenway Park.

In order to make room for Verdugo on the 26-man roster, right-hander Tanner Houck, as expected, has been optioned to Triple-A Worcester, Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo) earlier Friday afternoon.

Verdugo had been held out of action since last Sunday on account of being placed on the paternity list while the Red Sox were in Toronto.

The 25-year-old flew to Los Angeles for the birth of his son, A.J., and returned to Boston on Thursday night, though the Sox were forced to move him to the restricted list since he was away from the club for more than three days.

At the time he left the Red Sox to be with his family in Southern California, Verdugo was heating up at the plate, slashing a scorching .500/.500/.833 with three doubles, one home run, two RBI, and two runs scored over his last five games (20 plate appearances) dating back to August 4.

On the 2021 campaign — his second with the Sox — as a whole, the 6-foot, 192 pound left-handed hitter has posted a .278/.344/.428 slash line to go along with 24 doubles, one triple, 11 home runs, 41 RBI, 66 runs scored, five stolen bases, 38 walks, and 65 strikeouts across 105 total games (439 plate appearances) in which he has played all three outfield positions.

As he makes his return to the Red Sox for the first of three games against the Orioles, Verdugo will be starting in left field and batting out of the two-hole Friday night.

Houck, meanwhile, was optioned to Worcester to make room for Verdugo on the major-league roster, though his stay with the WooSox is expected to be temporary.

This is the case because, as Cora explained on Thursday, Houck will be back with the big-league club “soon.”

Put another way, the 25-year-old hurler made his last start for Boston in Thursday’s loss to the Rays. Assuming he remains on a normal schedule, he would be in line to pitch again on Tuesday, when the Red Sox will be taking on the Yankees in a split doubleheader against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

By optioning Houck to Worcester now, the Sox will be able to call him up as the 27th man for Tuesday’s twin bill in the Bronx and start him on regular rest.

Through eight appearances (six starts) across five stints with Boston so far this season, Houck has pitched to the tune of a 2.93 ERA and 1.84 FIP to go along with 44 strikeouts and just seven walks over 30 2/3 total innings of work dating back to April 3.

Tuesday would mark the third time this year Houck has served as the club’s 27th man for a doubleheader, as he previously started one of two games against the White Sox on April 18 and one of two games against the Blue Jays on August 7.

Update: The roster moves have been made official.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Martín Pérez allows 3 runs in just 1 1/3 innings as Red Sox get blown out by Tigers, 8-1, in series finale

Any good vibes the Red Sox accumulated while snapping their five-game losing streak on Wednesday night were immediately wiped off the board in Thursday’s series finale against the Tigers at Comerica Park.

The Sox fell to the Tigers by a final score of 8-1, dropping the three-game series in the process of getting hit with their sixth loss in their last seven games.

Martin Perez, making his 21st start of the season for Boston, was hit hard in what was his shortest outing of the year to date.

Managing to record just four outs, the veteran left-hander surrendered three runs — all of which were earned — on five hits, zero walks, and one hit batsman to go along with two strikeouts over his 1 1/3 innings of work.

Right out of the gate, Perez was rudely greeted by Detroit, as he served up a leadoff home run to Robbie Grossman to begin things in the very first inning.

More leadoff trouble did Perez in in the second, with Victor Reyes leading off with a triple and Zack Short following with a sacrifice fly to give his side the early 2-0 lead.

After yielding back-to-back singles to the Tigers’ No. 8 and No. 9 hitters, Perez plunked Grossman on a 90 mph cutter that subsequently ended his day much sooner than expected.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 37 (25 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler raised his ERA on the season to 4.77 in what could very well be one of — if not his last start in a Red Sox uniform for the time being.

In relief of Perez, Phillips Valdez got the first call from manager Alex Cora out of the Boston bullpen, and he inherited quite a mess with the bases loaded and two outs to get in the second.

Valdez officially closed the book on Perez’s start by allowing one of those inherited runners to score on a groundout, making it a 3-0 game in favor of Detroit. He did, however, fan Miguel Cabrera to get out of the second inning before tossing two more scoreless frames.

From there, Hansel Robles got roughed up for the first time since being traded to the Red Sox, as he served up a two-run, ground-rule double to Jeimer Candelario in the fifth that was followed by an RBI triple off the bat of Reyes. Both back-breaking hits came with two outs in the inning.

Fellow deadline acquisition Austin Davis did not fare much better over the next two innings, with the lefty issuing a run-scoring base hit to Jonathan Schhop in the sixth as well as an RBI groundout to Reyes in the seventh that put Detroit up 8-0.

Yacksel Rios took over for Davis with two outs in the seventh, and he ended the inning while also striking out one in a 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth, though it did not make much of a difference in the end.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Tigers rookie left-hander Tarik Skubal, making his first ever start against Boston.

Dealt a 3-0 deficit after just two innings, the Sox really were not able to get much going against Skubal.

They had an early opportunity in their half of the third, with Enrique Hernandez reaching base via a one-out walk and Rafael Devers following with an infield single. Both runners advanced an additional 90 feet on a throwing error on a pickoff attempt, but J.D. Martinez was called out on strikes and Xander Bogaerts lined out to extinguish the threat.

All in all, the Boston bats went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position against Skubal and three Detroit relievers, with Alex Verdugo taking responsibility for his side’s lone run of the afternoon with a sacrifice fly that brought in Franchy Cordero from third base.

That cut the Sox’ deficit down to seven runs at 8-1, which would go on to be Thursday’s final score.

With the loss, the Red Sox fall to 64-46 on the season while dropping to 1 1/2 games back of an idle Tampa Bay Rays team for first place in the American League East.

Next up: On to Canada

The Red Sox will board a flight to Toronto as they head north of the border for the first time in nearly two full years for the start of what has the makings to be a pivotal four-game weekend series against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on Friday night.

Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi will get the ball for Boston in the opener, and he will be matched up against fellow righty Alek Manoah for Toronto.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. eastern time on NESN. Red Sox need to turn things around quickly.

(Picture of Martin Perez: Nic Antaya/Getty Images)