Red Sox’ Alex Verdugo on Aggressive Baserunning Style: ‘When You’re Sniffing a Hit, You’re Going to Do Whatever You’ve Got to Do to Get That Hit’

Going into Thursday night’s game against the Orioles, Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo has accrued a team-leading 62 hits so far this season. Out of those 62 knocks, at least three were infield singles where the 24-year-old found himself sliding head-first into first base.

That kind of approach is typically frowned upon due to the potentially painful consequences involved, but that has not prevented Verdugo from being aggressive coming out of the batter’s box. And because said approach is resulting in base hits, it has not been put to a halt by Sox manager Ron Roenicke, either.

“I know he plays all-out and some of that, he’s going to get banged up,” Roenicke said of Verdugo earlier Thursday. “The diving head-first into first. But, it’s hard to tell a guy not to do that. I mean, both times he’s done it lately he got base hits, so it’s hard to tell him not to do that. But, he’s going to get banged up because he plays hard. He prepares hard, he’s emotional, he’s got energy, he’s got all the things you like in a ballplayer that just loves to go out there and get dirty.”

In his first season with Boston, Verdugo has proven to be one of the more energetic players on the field at any given moment whether he is at the plate, on the base paths, or in the outfield. That is the kind of athlete he strives to be, and since that style has produced quality results thus far, the Arizona native is not planning on toning it down with his approach anytime soon.

“I don’t like scaling it back,” Verdugo said during his pregame media availability on Thursday. “I start scaling it back and I feel like I fall into the trend of what a lot of players do and that’s not running down the line hard. For me, I had my times where I did that and my parents would get on me and say that’s not the way to play the game. They’re right. They’re absolutely right. I just figured you got to bust your butt, you got to play hard. There are just times where the play is in front of you, and you feel like you can get there a little quicker diving and I do it. It’s just a natural habit.

“I’m very well aware of the injuries,” Verdugo added. “Your shoulder, jamming it, your thumb, anything like that. I also try not to hit the very front of the bag… I try to get the front part of the bag, but like on top so I slide right over it, so it’s not really like it’s that dangerous. Plus, I feel like I’m somewhat athletic enough to have body awareness and know how to get in there. When it’s out there right in front of you and you’re sniffing a hit, you’re going to do whatever you’ve got to do to get that hit.”

According to FanGraphs, Verdugo currently leads qualified Red Sox position players in runs scored (35), on-base percentage (.383), wOBA (.382), wRC+ (140), and fWAR (1.8). In other words, the former second-round pick has essentially been Boston’s most valuable player in an otherwise down year for the club. He also leads the majors in outfield assists (7) so far this season and could very well be in contention for his first Gold Glove Award.

Alex Verdugo Picks up League-Leading Seventh Outfield Assist as Part of Red Sox’ 5-3 Win Over Nationals; Ron Roenicke Says ‘You’re Not Going To See Too Many Plays Better Than That’

Alex Verdugo picked up his major-league leading seventh outfield assist on Saturday and in doing so prevented the Nationals from scoring what would have been their fourth run of the night.

On the play, the 24-year-old fielded a two-out single off the bat of Trea Turner. With his momentum carrying him towards the left-center field gap, Verdugo gathered the ball while simultaneously inching closer to home plate.

“You got Turner at the plate swinging a hot bat,” Verdugo said. “Just through the whole game I was watching his swings and he was kind of on everything. For me, I was ready for him to put the ball in play. It just felt like whatever you throw him, he’s going to hit a line drive.”

Upon transferring the fielded baseball from his glove hand to his throwing hand, Verdugo cocked back while still on the run and unleashed a laser back towards the infield.

“I had a good jump on it, a line drive right over the shortstop’s head,” he added. “I got to it quick enough to feel like I was able to throw across my body and it was just a good throw.”

On just one hop, the outfielder’s bullet of a throw reached Christian Vazquez, who had more than enough time to nab Kurt Suzuki, who was trying to score all the way from second base.

Once that final out of the top of the fifth inning was recorded, Verdugo flexed a little bit as he darted back towards the Red Sox dugout after orchestrating what would turn out to be a pivotal play in Saturday’s 5-3 win for Boston.

“I keep my throws low and a lot of times [Xander Bogaerts and Jose Peraza] are doing the hard part,” Verdugo continued. “They got to cut it and get me a couple outfield assists. But, there’s a few where I have to throw it all the way there myself. The main thing for me is to try to keep my throws low, to try to blow up the cutoff man and throw it right through his chest. Sometimes they cut it, sometimes it goes through and we get them.”

One factor that aided the Arizona native in racking up yet another outfield assist is the fact that he throws with his left hand. It certainly doesn’t hurt that he was a legitimate pitching prospect coming out of high school, either.

“For me, it just helped that I’m a lefty, too,” said Verdugo. “With that specific play, it was my glove side, so all I had to do was backhand it and I had to make sure I worked one shuffle forward toward the plate… I had a good understanding of where I was on the field. From there, it was just stop my momentum, try to make a shuffle, and get rid of it as quick as I can.”

When asked about this specific play during his postgame media availability Saturday, Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke seemed rightfully impressed with the arm strength Verdugo displayed while gunning down Suzuki earlier in the night.

“That’s as good a play as you can make,” Roenicke said. “To go over that far and get that ball like he did and still be under enough control to get something on it and one-hop it home. You’re not going to see too many plays better than that.”

With his league-leading seventh outfield assist, Verdugo now has more OF assists than 27 MLB teams so far this season. Pretty impressive.

Red Sox Strike Out 11 Times Against Max Scherzer, Fall To Nationals 10-2

Celebrating Jackie Robinson Day four months later than usual on Friday night, the Red Sox fell to the Nationals by a final score of 7-1 at Fenway Park to drop to 10-22 on the year.

Martin Perez made his seventh start of the season for Boston in this one as he was coming off his best outing of 2020 thus far in his last time out against the Orioles.

Working just four innings this time around, the left-hander got rocked for six runs, all of which were earned, on eight hits and no walks to go along with one lone strikeout on the night.

The first five of those Washington tallies came in the top of the third, when after retiring the first six hitters he faced rather easily, Perez yielded a leadoff single to Josh Harrison.

That simple base hit would wind up being Perez’s undoing, as it was followed by a pair of one-out doubles from Victor Robles and Trea Turner, which brought in two runs, and a pair of one-out home runs from Juan Soto and Howie Kendrick, which brought in three additional home runs to put the Sox in a 5-0 hole.

In the fourth, the Venezuelan southpaw saw another Nationals run cross the plate when with two outs in the frame, runners on the corners, and Juan Soto at the plate, the speedy Trea Turner attempted, and failed, to steal second base, but gave Victor Robles enough time to score from third before getting tagged out to retire the side. That simultaneously marked the end of Perez’s evening as well.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 82 (55 strikes), the 29-year-old hurler relied on his cutter 35% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing zero swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 95 mph with his heater, a pitch thrown 21 times.

Hit with his fourth losing decision while raising his ERA on the season to 4.58, Perez will look to rebound in his next time out, which should come against the Braves on Wednesday or Blue Jays on Thursday depending on how many days of rest he gets.

In relief of Perez, right-hander Robert Stock got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen, and he faced the minimum in a scoreless top of the fifth before surrendering one run on two hits, one of which was an infield single, and a walk in the sixth, which increased his side’s deficit to six runs.

From there, Jeffrey Springs, similarly enough to Stock, didn’t give up anything in his first frame of work in the seventh, but served up a two-run blast to Josh Harrison and an RBI double to Turner in the eighth before getting out of the inning. Josh Taylor, meanwhile, stranded a pair of base runners in an otherwise clean ninth to keep the Nats at 10 runs. It didn’t make too much of a difference in the end, but it was still something.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up their most accomplished opponent thus far in Nationals ace Max Scherzer, who was making his first appearance at Fenway Park since 2014.

Despite coming into the weekend with a 4.31 ERA through his first six starts of the season, the 36-year-old was dominant on Friday.

The only damage the Boston bats were able to do off Scherzer came in their half of the third inning.

There, after Alex Verdugo reached base on a two-out single, Rafael Devers drove the outfielder in on a blistering, 108 mph run-scoring double to the gap in left center field, which actually happened to be the 100th two-base hit of the 23-year-old’s young career.

Other than that, though, the Sox could not get anything going against Scherzer. Not even a single base on balls as the three-time Cy Young Award winner fanned 11 over six strong innings of work.

When Scherzer’s night ended after those six frames, the Washington bullpen didn’t make things any easier for the Red Sox, either.

As a matter of fact, it wasn’t until the bottom half of the ninth when Boston got on the board again. That came courtesy of a Kevin Pillar RBI single to drive in Tzu-Wei Lin.

Alas, even after loading the bases with two outs, Verdugo flew out to shallow center field, and 10-2 would go down as Friday’s final score.

Some notes and observations from this defeat:

The Red Sox are now 4-11 at Fenway Park this season.

The Red Sox went 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position on Friday and left eight runners on base as a team.

Jackie Bradley Jr. (.680) now has a higher OPS than J.D. Martinez (.663)

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the middle game of this three-game weekend series against the defending World Series champs.

Right-hander Chris Mazza will be serving as the opener for Boston, while veteran righty and former Red Sox minor-leaguer Anibal Sanchez will be doing the same for Washington.

A roster move will have to be made in order to add Mazza, who last started on August 16 against the Yankees, to the active roster.

Sanchez, meanwhile, will be making just his second career start at Fenway Park since debuting with the Marlins back in 2006.

Originally signed by Boston as an international free agent out of Venezuela in 2001, the now 36-year-old Sanchez was part of the trade that brought Mike Lowell and Josh Beckett to the Red Sox in 2005.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking to halt a two-game skid.

RIP, Chadwick Boseman.

Six-Run Sixth Inning Propels Red Sox To 9-7 Victory Over Blue Jays in Buffalo

For the first time since 1917, the Red Sox played a game in Buffalo, NY on Tuesday and were able to halt a mini two-game losing streak with a 9-7 victory over the Blue Jays to improve to 10-20 on the year.

Kyle Hart made his third start of the season for Boston since being recalled on August 13, and unlike his last time out against the Phillies, he took a step back in this one.

That being the case because over just 3 1/3 innings pitched, the rookie left-hander was charged with six runs, all of which were earned, on eight hits and three walks to go along with three strikeouts on the night.

The first four of those Toronto tallies came right away in the bottom half of the first, when after filling the bases with three of the first four hitters he faced, Hart yielded a two-run double to Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

Moments later, Danny Jansen followed suit by ripping a two-run single off the Sox starter to left field, but wound up getting gunned down at second base by Christian Vazquez to end the inning.

After dancing his way around some danger in the second and third, Hart ran into more trouble in the bottom half of the fourth, a frame he would not be able to finish.

There, Hart put runners on first and second with a one-out single and walk, which in turn marked the end of his outing and made way for Phillips Valdez to enter.

Making his 12th appearance of the year, Valdez inherited those two runners and allowed both of them to score on a two-run base knock off the bat of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., thus closing the book on Hart’s evening. Fortunately, the 28-year-old was able to escape the fourth without giving anything else up while also working a scoreless bottom of the fifth.

From there, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez stranded a total of three base runners over two scoreless innings in the sixth and seventh, while Ryan Brasier tossed a 1-2-3 eighth and Matt Barnes served up a solo shot to Teoscar Hernandez in the ninth but held on to notch the save and the 9-7 win for his side.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a fairly familiar foe in Blue Jays right-hander Chase Anderson, someone they could only push across one run against back on August 8.

This time around, the Boston bats got to Anderson starting in their half of the second when Xander Bogaerts led off with a hard-hit double up the middle and Mitch Moreland drove him in on an RBI single to center field.

Fast forward to the fourth, and the Bogaerts-Moreland combination struck once more as the former led the inning off with a single this time and the latter followed with a run-scoring double off of Anderson.

A passed ball later in the inning allowed Moreland to move up 90 feet to third base, and Jackie Bradley Jr. took full advantage of that mistake committed by the Blue Jays by plating the first baseman on an infield single.

Toronto did manage to tack on two runs of their own in the fourth to re-take the three-run lead they previously had, but that did not stop the Sox offense from erupting in the sixth.

It started with a leadoff walk drawn by Moreland, which would result in the Jays making a pitching change that saw Wilmer Font take over for Anderson.

Christian Vazquez greeted the new reliever by lacing a sharply-hit double over Teoscar Hernandez’s head in deep center field to advance Moreland up to third.

With one out and two runners in scoring position, Bradley Jr. followed Vazquez’s lead and drove in Moreland on an RBI single.

As the lineup was about to flip back over, Jose Peraza took a 95 mph fastball from Font off his wrist and the bases were full for leadoff man Alex Verdugo.

Having already extending his hitting streak to 14 games, Verdugo proceeded to rip a run-scoring single to right field to score Vazquez and keep the bases loaded for Rafael Devers.

Devers, up against new Blue Jays reliever A.J. Cole, did not waste too much time in clearing the bases, as the 23-year-old took a 3-2, 82 mph slider from the right-hander and absolutely tattooed a three-run triple down the right field line.

Per Statcast, Devers’ fifth career triple had an exit velocity of 110.2 mph off the bat. It also put the Red Sox up 8-6, and J.D. Martinez made it a 9-6 contest with a sacrifice fly.

By the time the final out of the top of the sixth was recorded, the Red Sox had plated six runs and sent 10 hitters to the plate.

As it would later turn out, that sixth inning would be all the Red Sox would need to top the Blue Jays on Tuesday, with 9-7 going on to be your final score.

Some notes and observations from this win:

It’s tough to see Kyle Hart getting another start the next time through the rotation given his numbers in the majors thus far, as The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham points out:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the middle game of this three-game set against the Blue Jays in Buffalo on Wednesday night.

Right-hander Colten Brewer will get the start for Boston in place of Nathan Eovaldi, who is dealing with a calf cramp, while the Blue Jays have yet to name a starter.

In his last time out against the Orioles last Friday, Brewer put together four scoreless innings of work in his second start and ninth overall appearance of the season.

With the PawSox last year, the 27-year-old actually made two appearances at Sahlen Field right and tossed 1 1/3 total total shutout innings of relief. He also pitched a perfect fifth inning against the Blue Jays back on August 7.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 6:37 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking to start the second half of the season on a positive note.

Red Sox Lineup: Alex Verdugo Leading off in First of Three Against Blue Jays in Buffalo

After enjoying their first off day in more than two weeks on Monday, the 9-20 Red Sox will open up a three-game series against the 14-13 Blue Jays in Buffalo on Tuesday night. For Boston, it will be their first time playing in Buffalo since 1917.

Rookie left-hander Kyle Hart will be making his third start of the season for the Sox, and he’ll be opposed by veteran right-hander Chase Anderson for the Jays.

Hart, who brings with him an 11.12 ERA into Monday’s contest, has yet to face the Blue Jays in his young career, while Anderson, who brings with him a 2.79 ERA, will be facing off against the Red Sox for the second time this season. The 32-year-old held Boston to one run over three innings pitched in his 2020 debut back on August 8, a game Toronto won by a final score of 2-1.

Here is how the Red Sox will be lining up behind Hart and against Anderson to begin things on Tuesday:

With a right-hander on the mound for the Jays, Alex Verdugo is back in the lineup, starting in left field, and batting out of the leadoff spot, while Mitch Moreland is starting at first base and hitting fifth.

Among these nine hitters, Verdugo, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Jose Peraza have all taken Anderson deep before in their careers.

In terms of who has seen the Toronto starter best, Peraza has six hits in 18 prior at-bats against Anderson, good for a .333 batting average.

First pitch from Sahlen Field Tuesday is scheduled for 6:37 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox going for win No. 10 as the halfway point of the season nears.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some notes and observations from this loss:

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

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

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

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

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

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

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

Red Sox Lineup: Mitch Moreland Returns as Boston Seeks Series Win Over Orioles

After stringing together their fist three-game winning streak of the season following an 8-5 victory over the Orioles on Friday, the Red Sox will look to improve to 10-18 on the season with another win in Baltimore on Saturday.

Left-hander Martin Perez will make his sixth start of the year for Boston, and he will be opposed by veteran right-hander Alex Cobb for Baltimore.

The 29-year-old Perez is coming off a rain-shortened outing in his last time out against the Yankees in which he surrendered three earned runs over three innings of work.

On the season as a whole, the Venezuelan southpaw owns a 4.07 ERA, a 4.82 FIP, and a .665 OPS against through five outings and 24 1/3 total innings pitched.

In four prior starts at Camden Yards, Perez has yielded 14 runs (12 earned) on 24 hits and five walks over 25 total frames. That’s good for a 4.32 ERA.

Cobb, meanwhile, has made three of his five starts this season in Baltimore and owns an ERA of 4.60 and OPS against of .691 in those outings.

Back on July 25, the 32-year-old opposed Perez in his first outing of the year and held the Sox to just one run on four hits over 5 1/3 innings on the mound.

Including that strong start, Cobb has posted a 3.73 ERA in 18 career outings against Boston.

Here is how the Red Sox will be lining up against Cobb and behind Perez to begin things on Saturday:

Outside of the fact that Alex Verdugo has moved back up to the leadoff spot and Kevin Pillar has slipped down to the seven-hole, there really is not too much to point out here. Mitch Moreland is also back in the lineup with a right-hander on the mound for Baltimore.

Among these nine hitters, Moreland, Pillar, and J.D. Martinez have all taken Cobb deep once before in their careers, while Christian Vazquez has accrued 10 hits and collected two RBI in 14 prior at-bats against the Orioles righty.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox going for the series win over the O’s as well as their fourth straight win overall.

Powered by Home Runs From Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, and Rafael Devers, Red Sox Extend Winning Streak To Three Following 8-5 Victory Over Orioles

On a night they made their first move before the trade deadline, the Red Sox extended their winning streak to a season-best three consecutive games on Friday following an 8-5 victory over the Orioles.

Colten Brewer made his second start and ninth overall appearance of the season for Boston, and he looked much better than he did in his first career start against the Yankees last week.

That being the case because over four strong innings of work, the right-hander held the O’s scoreless while scattering three hits and two walks to go along with two strikeouts on the night.

The only real trouble Brewer ran into came in the bottom of the first, when he yielded two straight two-out singles to Renato Nunez and Pedro Severino before getting out of the inning unscathed.

Other than that, Brewer proceeded to retire eight of the final 11 hitters he faced going into the end of the fourth, which is the point where his outing came to a close.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 71 (50 strikes), the 27-year-old turned to his four-seam fastball 49% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing two swings-and-misses and topping out at 95.2 mph with the pitch.

Unable to pick up the winning decision due to the length of his outing, Brewer did manage to lower his ERA on the season to 3.50. If he gets another start, it will likely come against the Blue Jays in Buffalo sometime next week.

In relief of Brewer, Darwinzon Hernandez got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in what was his 2020 debut.

The 23-year-old southpaw faced eight batters over two scoreless frames of work, allowing one hit, walking another, and fanning three on his way to picking up his first career major-league victory.

From there, fellow lefty Josh Osich got lit up for five runs on three separate homers over 1 2/3 innings before Austin Brice had to come on and record the final out of the eighth.

And in the ninth, with Brandon Workman on his way to Philadelphia, Matt Barnes got the call to close this one out, and the right-hander did just that by maneuvering his way around a leadoff single in an otherwise clean inning to secure his first save and his team’s ninth win of the season in 8-5 fashion.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Orioles ace left-hander John Means, who entered Friday with a 10.57 ERA through his first three starts of 2020.

After going down 1-2-3 in their half of the first, the Boston bats got it going in the second inning for a second straight night when a red-hot Xander Bogaerts led the frame off with a 412-foot solo shot to give his side an early one-run lead.

An inning later, the middle part of the Sox lineup struck once again, when after Kevin Pillar reached base on a one-out single, J.D. Martinez drove the outfielder and himself in on a 431-foot two-run blast to center field for his third homer of the year. 3-0 Boston.

Fast forward to the fifth, with reliever Jorge Lopez pitching for Baltimore, Rafael Devers put his power on display and had by far the best swing of the night.

With one out and runners at first and second, the 23-year-old took a 1-0, 85 mph changeup down the chute from the O’s right-hander and proceeded to deposit it 447 feet to dead center.

Per Statcast, Devers’ fourth big fly of the year had an exit velocity of 108.1 mph, which was the hardest hit ball of the evening for either side. It also put the Red Sox up 6-0.

In the sixth, Michael Chavis provided what would turn out to be some much-needed insurance with a two-run single off Lopez following back-to-back leadoff base knocks off the bats of Christian Vazquez and Alex Verdugo.

Chavis’ sixth and seventh RBI of the season put the Red Sox up 8-0, and 8-5 would go on to be Friday’s final score.

Some notes and observations from this victory:

With two hits on Friday, Alex Verdugo has extended his hitting streak to 12 straight games.

Rafael Devers has six hits in his last three games.

From Red Sox Notes:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the third game of this four-game weekend set on Saturday night.

Left-hander Martin Perez will get the ball for Boston, while veteran right-hander Alex Cobb will do the same for Baltimore.

Perez surrendered five runs (four runs) to the O’s in his Red Sox debut back on July 25. The 29-year-old has made four career starts at Camden Yards and owns a 4.32 ERA and .698 OPS against in those outings.

Cobb, meanwhile, held the Sox to just one run in that same game Perez started in July. The 32-year-old, who was born in Boston, comes into the weekend with a 3.76 ERA and .634 OPS against through his first five starts and 26 1/3 innings pitched this season.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking for their fourth straight victory.

Red Sox Lineup: Colten Brewer Making Second Start of Season in Second of Four Against Orioles

After picking up their second straight victory on Thursday, the Red Sox will look to kick off the weekend with another win over the Orioles in Baltimore on Friday night.

Right-hander Colten Brewer will make his second start and ninth overall appearance of the season for Boston, and he will be opposed by Orioles left-hander John Means.

In his first start of the year, Brewer surrendered two runs on four hits and three walks over 2 2/3 innings of work against the Yankees last Friday. Outside of that, the 27-year-old owns a 3.97 ERA and .756 OPS against as a reliever this season.

Upon completing anywhere from two to four innings against the O’s on Friday, Brewer will be followed by the recently-activated Darwinzon Hernandez out of the Boston bullpen.

Per Sox manager Ron Roenicke, the plan for the 23-year-old southpaw, who was activated from the COVID-19 related injured list on Thursday, is to pitch one or two innings in his season debut.

As for Boston’s opposition, fellow southpaw John Means owns a lifetime 4.02 ERA and .704 OPS against in six career outings (five starts) and 31 1/3 total innings pitched against the Red Sox.

The 27-year-old, who was Baltimore’s lone All-Star last season, has posted a 10.57 ERA and 6.56 FIP through his first three starts of 2020.

Here is how the Red Sox will be lining up behind Brewer and against Means to begin things on Friday:

With a left-hander on the mound for Baltimore, Kevin Pillar moves up to the leadoff spot while Alex Verdugo slips to the six-hole and Mitch Moreland takes a seat in favor of Michael Chavis at first base.

Among these nine hitters, Xander Bogaerts has by far seen Means the best, as the 27-year-old shortstop owns a lifetime .417/.429/.750 slash line with one home run in 12 career at-bats against the Orioles starter.

J.D. Martinez has also taken Means deep twice before.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox going for their third consecutive victory.

Nathan Eovaldi Tosses Seven Strong Innings, Xander Bogaerts and Mitch Moreland Both Homer as Red Sox Open Series Against Orioles With 7-1 Victory

For the first time in nearly two weeks, the Red Sox have won two consecutive games following a 3-1 victory over the Orioles on Thursday night.

Nathan Eovaldi made his sixth start of the season for Boston, and he put together a strong outing after getting rocked for eight runs in his last time out against the Yankees.

Working a season-best seven innings against Baltimore on Thursday, the right-hander yielded just one run while scattering five hits and one walk to go along with six strikeouts on the night.

That lone O’s tally came in Eovaldi’s final inning of work when the hurler served up a leadoff homer to Pat Valaika to make it a 3-1 contest at the time.

Other than that one blip though, Eovaldi settled down after a rather rocky top half of the first in which he escaped a bases loaded jam by retiring 18 of the last 21 hitters he faced from the middle of the second up until the end of the seventh, which is the point where his outing came to a close.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 97 (64 strikes), the 30-year-old fireballer turned to his four-seam and cut fastball 68% of the time he was on the mound Thursday, inducing six swings-and-misses with the combination of pitches while topping out at 99.2 mph with his heater.

Able to pick up his second winning decision and lower his ERA on the season down to 4.98, Eovaldi will look to build off this impressive performance in his next time out, which should come against the Blue Jays in Buffalo on Wednesday.

In relief of Eovaldi, Ryan Brasier got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen for the bottom of the eighth, and he fanned a pair in a quick, painless, and scoreless frame of work.

From there, Phillips Valdez was dispatched in the ninth in what had turned out to be a runaway for Boston, and the right-hander tossed a 1-2-3 inning to lock down the 7-1 win for his side.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a fairly familiar foe in Orioles right-hander Asher Wojciechowski, someone who had given the Sox trouble in the past.

This time around, Wojciechowski was not quite as effective, and the Boston bats put that to the test right away in their half of the second.

There, a Christian Vazquez leadoff single that likely could have been caught was followed by Kevin Pillar drawing a six-pitch walk.

That sequence brought Jose Peraza to the plate with one out and a runner in scoring position, and the second baseman capitalized fully on the scoring chance by driving in Vazquez on a blooper of an RBI single to shallow center field.

Alex Verdugo doubled his side’s early lead with a groundout to second that brought in Pillar from third, and just like that, the Red Sox were up 2-0.

An inning later, Xander Bogaerts added on to that lead by taking Wojciechowski 366 feet deep to left field off a 1-2, 84 mph changeup near his hands for his fifth long ball of the season.

Fast forward all the way to the ninth, and Bogaerts struck again, this time ripping an RBI single off Miguel Castro to drive in Verdugo from third and make it a 3-1 contest.

With runners at first and second now, Mitch Moreland followed suit by putting this one to bed with a 402-foot three-run homer to deep center field off Castro.

Moreland’s team-leading seventh big fly of the year, as well as the Red Sox’ first three-run home run, put Boston up 7-1, which would go on to be Thursday’s final score.

Some notes and observations from this victory:

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

Alex Verdugo’s streak of recording an extra-base hit may have ended at seven consecutive games, but he still has an 11-game hitting streak going.

Xander Bogaerts is 5-for-his-last-11 at the plate over his last three games.

The Red Sox’ 4-5-6 hitters (Bogaerts, Moreland, Vazquez) went a combined 7-for-14 with two homers and five RBI.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the second game of this four-game weekend set against the Orioles on Friday night.

Right-hander Colten Brewer will serve as the opener for Boston, while left-hander John Means will get the traditional start for Baltimore.

Brewer opened for the Sox against the Yankees back on August 14 and he allowed two runs over 2 2/3 innings in that outing.

Means, meanwhile, owns a 10.57 ERA and 6.54 FIP through his first three starts and 7 2/3 innings pitched this season.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking for their third straight win.