Red Sox tab Eduardo Rodriguez to start Game 3 of ALCS vs. Astros; Nick Pivetta likely to start Game 4

Eduardo Rodriguez will start Game 3 of the American League Championship Series for the Red Sox as they go up against the Astros at Fenway Park on Monday night.

Sox manager Alex Cora made the announcement while speaking to reporters during an optional workout at Fenway Park on Sunday afternoon. He had previously declined to name a starter for Game 3 following Boston’s 9-5 win over Houston in Game 2 to even up the ALCS at one game apiece on Saturday.

Rodriguez, come Monday night, will be making his third start of the postseason and second straight at home. Through his first two outings, the left-hander has posted a 5.40 ERA, but a much more encouraging 1.97 FIP, to go along with seven strikeouts to just two walks over 6 2/3 total innings of work.

After struggling in his start against the Rays in the opening contest of the ALDS on October 7, Rodriguez bounced back in an encouraging way by limiting Tampa Bay to two runs on three hits, zero walks, and five strikeouts in five solid innings in the fourth and final game of the division series last Monday.

While the 28-year-old southpaw had been available out of the bullpen in Houston over the weekend, he ultimately was not used, thus allowing Cora to pencil him in as his Game 3 starter.

The last time the Red Sox faced off against the Astros in an ALCS three years ago, Rodriguez appeared in two games as a reliever and only faced a total of four batters, so there really is not much to go off there.

This time around, Rodriguez will be matched up against Houston right-hander Jose Urquidy to kick things off in Game 3 on Monday night. First pitch is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. eastern time on FS1.

As for who will start Game 4 for Boston on Tuesday, Cora indicated that responsibility will likely fall to Nick Pivetta. The right-hander will however be available to pitch in relief of Rodriguez out of the Sox bullpen on Monday if needed.

(Picture of Eduardo Rodriguez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Rafael Devers on right arm: ‘I’m feeling a lot better now’

Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers went 2-for-5 with a pair of singles and a run scored in Friday night’s 5-4 loss to the Astros in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.

Friday marked Devers’ — and the Sox’ — first in-game action since this past Monday after they eliminated the Rays from the postseason by taking the American League Division Series in a convincing four games.

During that series, it became apparent that Devers was dealing with some sort of arm or wrist injury that was later reported by The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier and Michael Silverman to be right forearm discomfort.

Throughout the ALDS, Devers would show signs of discomfort whenever he would swing and miss at the plate, particularly on a pitch that was high up in the strike zone.

Dismissed by Sox manager Alex Cora as the usual wear-and-tear from a 162-game regular season, Devers still produced despite the pain he was experiencing. The soon-to-be 25-year-old slugger went 6-for-18 (.333) with two home runs and six RBI in the ALDS.

In the fourth and final game of the series at Fenway Park, the first-time All-Star cranked a three-run home run off Rays left-hander Shane McClanahan that gave his side an early 3-0 lead in the third inning of an eventual 6-5 walk-off victory.

Following a much-needed period of rest, Devers picked up where he left off by putting together another multi-hit performance for the Sox on Friday, though it was ultimately not enough to lift them to a series-opening win over the Astros.

Over the course of his five trips to the plate in Game 1, Devers saw a total of 16 pitches. He swung and miss on just two occasions during his seventh-inning at bat against left-handed reliever Brooks Raley.

On his first whiff, which came on a first-pitch slider that was down and away, Devers promptly dropped his bat with his right hand after taking one step out of the batter’s box.

On his second whiff, which came on a 1-1 sinker that was down and in, Devers dropped to a knee before flexing and looking at his right arm, as he has been doing for the last few weeks.

As noted by Speier and Silverman earlier this month, Devers has been wearing a compression sleeve on his right arm since September 26 and has continued to do so throughout the postseason.

That being said, when speaking with reporters ahead of Game 2 of the ALCS on Saturday afternoon, Devers indicated that he and his right arm are in a better place now health-wise.

“I’m feeling a lot better now,” explained Devers. “Obviously, with the training staff, with everything that they were able to do to help me feel better out on the field, it feels a lot better than it did in the last round. So, I’m fortunate enough to be able to feel better than I did last time.”

Devers will be starting at third base and batting third for the Sox as they look to even up this best-of-seven series at one game apiece before heading back to Boston.

When asked if there is a sense of urgency within the Red Sox clubhouse since they are trailing in the series, Devers cited recent history as a reason why there is no reason to panic.

“It’s just one game. Obviously, we lost the first game against Tampa as well, and we lost our first game in the ALCS in 2018,” he said. “But we’re just going to go out there and compete. It’s a long series, and we know that we have what it takes in order to take a game here, and once we do and if we can, we’ll go back home and play games out there where we feel a lot more comfortable as well. We feel good about where we’re at right now.”

(Picture of Rafael Devers: Elsa/Getty Images)

Kyle Schwarber leading off for Red Sox in Game 2 of ALCS vs. Astros

After falling to the Astros, 5-4, in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series on Friday, the Red Sox will look to bounce back and even this best-of-seven series in Game 2 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday afternoon.

With rookie right-hander Luis Garcia getting the start for the Astros, Sox manager Alex Cora has gone with a starting lineup similar to the one used Friday night, though some alterations have been made.

Kyle Schwarber, a left-handed hitter, will bat leadoff and get the start at first base. He will be followed by Enrique Hernandez, who homered twice in Game 1 and will be starting in center field once more in Game 2 of the ALCS.

Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and Alex Verdugo make up the 3-4-5 portion of Boston’s batting order, while J.D. Martinez will slide down to the six-hole, where he is slashing .467/.467/.733 so far this postseason.

Those four will be followed by the likes of Hunter Renfroe, Kevin Plawecki, and Christian Arroyo.

Plawecki, of course, will be catching Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, who will be working on five days rest after starting Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Rays last Sunday.

Including that outing, Eovaldi has posted a 2.61 ERA and 2.88 FIP to go along with 16 strikeouts to just one walk over two starts spanning 10 1/3 total innings of work so far this postseason.

In his lone appearance against the Astros this year, the Houston-area native allowed five runs — all of which were earned — on 11 hits, three walks, and five strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings at Fenway Park back on June 9.

If the Red Sox want to head back home to Boston having split the first two games of this ALCS, they will likely need Eovaldi to step up and provide some length.

That being said, first pitch from Minute Maid Park on Saturday is scheduled for 4:20 p.m. eastern time on FOX and FS1.

(Picture of Kyle Schwarber: Elsa/Getty Images)

Red Sox squander lead, let scoring opportunities go to waste in 5-4 loss to Astros in Game 1 of ALCS

The Red Sox certainly had their opportunities, but were ultimately unable to come away with a come-from-behind win over the Astros in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.

Boston fell to Houston by a final score of 5-4 at Minute Maid Park on Friday night, meaning they now trail in this best-of-seven ALCS by one game to none.

Chris Sale, making his second start of the postseason for the Sox, saw his October struggles continue after a poor showing in last week’s American League Division Series against the Rays, though there were some signs of encouragement.

Over just 2 2/3 innings of work on Friday, Sale allowed one run on five hits, one walk, and one hit batsman to go along with two strikeouts on the night.

The lone run Sale surrendered came in the bottom half of the first, when — after the Red Sox left the bases loaded in their half of the inning — the veteran left-hander issued a leadoff walk to Jose Altuve that was followed by a one-out single from Alex Bregman.

A wild pitch from Sale allowed both of those runners to advance an additional 90 feet, and the Astros took full advantage of that miscue when Yordan Alvarez drove in the first run of the contest on a sacrifice fly to left field.

While the Sox may have fallen behind early, their potent lineup eventually got to Astros starter Framber Valdez the second time through the order beginning in the third inning.

There, moments after he bailed out Sale by making a sprawling grab in center field to escape a bases-loaded jam, Enrique Hernandez stayed hot at the plate by cranking a 448-foot leadoff home run off Valdez.

Hernandez’s solo shot knotted things up at one run apiece, while a one-out walk from Xander Bogaerts that was followed by a line-drive single off the bat of Rafael Devers put runners at first and second base for J.D. Martinez.

Martinez, a former Astro like Hernandez, nearly grounded into another double play that would have ended the inning, but his grounder was instead booted by Altuve at second base, which allowed Bogaerts to score all the way from second to give the Sox their first lead of the night at 2-1.

Hunter Renfroe kept the rally going with a hard-hit RBI double to left field that plated Devers and moved Martinez up to second, though neither runner was able to score after Alex Verdugo and Christian Arroyo both struck out swinging.

Given a two-run lead to work with going into the bottom of the third, Sale retired Bregman before Alvarez and the dangerous Carlos Correa ripped back-to-back one-out singles off him. The lefty then fanned Kyle Tucker on five pitches for the second out, but that would mark the end of his night with the right-handed hitting Yuli Gurriel looming in the on-deck circle for Houston.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 61 (37 strikes), the 32-year-old hurler relied heavily upon his four-seam fastball (57% usage) and slider (33% usage), as he only threw four changeups and two sinkers. He did, however, top out at 97.5 mph with his four-seamer.

In relief of Sale, Adam Ottavino got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen from manager Alex Cora, and he officially closed the book on Sale’s outing by getting Gurriel to ground out to second before retiring the side in order in the fourth as well.

From there, while the Boston bats continued to struggle against the Houston bullpen, Josh Taylor recorded the first two outs of the fifth inning before Ryan Brasier was deployed to finish it in the process of stranding a pair of runners.

Fellow right-hander Tanner Houck took over for Brasier in the sixth, and he saw his side’s 3-1 advantage wiped off the board when he yielded a one-out single to Chas McCormick that was followed by a game-tying, two-run home run to Altuve that traveled 382 feet into the Crawford Boxes in left-center field.

More two-out trouble came back to bite the Sox an inning later, with Hansel Robles serving up a go-ahead 350-foot blast to Correa that allowed the Astros to retake a 4-3 lead.

In the top of the eighth, Renfroe was pinch-hit for by Danny Santana, who led things off against Kendall Graveman by striking out swinging on nine pitches. Verdugo then flew out to center field, but Arroyo kept the inning alive by drilling a 106.8 mph single to left field.

That sequence prompted Cora to turn to his bench, as he had the left-handed hitting Travis Shaw pinch-hit for the right-handed hitting Christian Vazquez in that spot.

Shaw, representing the potential go-ahead run himself, proceeded to lift a 335-foot flyball to right field off Graveman, but it was one that was caught by Tucker at the warning track, thus extinguishing the threat.

Hirokazu Sawamura, meanwhile, was responsible for the bottom of the eighth, and in his first action of the postseason, struggled to find his command of the strike zone.

The righty loaded the bases with no outs by issuing a leadoff walk and a single before plunking Martin Maldonado. He then allowed the Astros to tack on a very important insurance run when he gave up a sacrifice fly to Altuve that Gurriel was able to score on to make it a 5-3 game.

Martin Perez had to come on to get the final two outs of the eighth, and he did that by inducing an inning-ending double play off the bat of a hobbled Michael Brantley.

Down to their final three outs in the ninth while opposed by Astros closer Ryan Pressly, Hernandez led things off by clubbing his second home run of the night and one that cut the Sox’ deficit down to one run at 5-4.

Pressly did recover, however, as he got Kyle Schwarber, Bogaerts, and Devers to each ground out to seal a 5-4 defeat for Boston in which they went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position while leaving nine runners on base as a team.

With the loss, not only do the Red Sox see their three-game postseason winning streak come to an end, but they also find themselves in a 1-0 hole in regards to this ALCS.

Next up: Eovaldi vs. Garcia

The Red Sox will send Houston-area native Nathan Eovaldi to the mound as they look to even up this best-of-seven series against the Astros on Saturday afternoon.

The Astros will counter with fellow right-hander Luis Garcia, who held the Sox to one run over seven impressive innings during his June 1 start against them at Fenway Park.

First pitch from Minute Maid Park on Saturday is scheduled for 4:20 p.m. eastern time on FOX and FS1.

(Picture of Enrique Hernandez and Carlos Correa: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

J.D. Martinez batting fifth for Red Sox in Game 1 of ALCS vs. Astros

The Red Sox have made some slight alterations to their starting lineup for Game 1 of the American League Championship Series against the Astros at Minute Maid Park on Friday night.

After batting sixth for all three of his starts in the American League Division Series with the Rays, designated hitter J.D. Martinez has moved up to the No. 5 spot in the Sox’ lineup for Friday’s ALCS opener in Houston.

While still recuperating from a left ankle sprain that he sustained in Boston’s regular season finale against the Nationals on October 3, Martinez — after being held out of action in Game 1 — went 7-for-15 (.467) with one double, one home run, four RBI, one run scored, zero walks, and one strikeout in the final three games of the ALDS, all of which the Red Sox won.

With left-hander Framber Valdez getting the start for the Astros to kick off this best-of-seven series, Sox manager Alex Cora has gone with a primarily right-handed heavy lineup.

Enrique Hernandez, a former Astro, will lead off and get the start in center field, while Kyle Schwarber will bat second and start at first base. Schwarber starting at first base means the right-handed hitting Bobby Dalbec will start Game 1 on the Sox’ bench.

Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, and Martinez make up the most dangerous portion of Boston’s batting order.

Those three will be followed by the likes of right fielder Hunter Renfroe, left fielder Alex Verdugo, second baseman Christian Arroyo, and — last but not least — Christian Vazquez.

Vazquez, of course, will be catching Game 1 starter Chris Sale, who will be looking to bounce back from a rough outing against Tampa Bay in Game 2 of the ALDS in which he surrendered five runs (all earned) on four hits, one walk, and two strikeouts in just one inning of work at Tropicana Field last week.

The roof will be closed at Minute Maid Park on Friday night. First pitch is scheduled for 8:07 p.m. eastern time on FOX.

(Picture of J.D. Martinez: Elsa/Getty Images)

Red Sox set 26-man roster for ALCS vs. Astros: Darwinzon Hernandez, Hirokazu Sawamura added; Matt Barnes, Austin Davis left off

The Red Sox have released their 26-man roster for their matchup against the Astros in the American League Championship Series, which kicks off at Minute Maid Park on Friday night.

Boston’s roster for their second ALCS with Houston in the last four seasons will consist of 13 pitchers and 13 position players, as was the case for the American League Division Series against the Rays that the Sox won three-games-to-one.

Of the 26 players who were included on the Red Sox’ ALDS roster, two have been left off for the upcoming ALCS. Those two would be a pair of relievers in Matt Barnes and Austin Davis.

Barnes was not named to Boston’s initial ALDS roster last week, but was later added after fellow right-hander Garrett Richards had to be removed on account of a left hamstring strain.

Davis, meanwhile, was one of five left-handers to make the Sox’ ALDS roster alongside the likes of Martin Perez, Eduardo Rodriguez, Chris Sale, and Josh Taylor.

This time around, however, Davis has been taken off the club’s ALCS roster in favor of another southpaw in Darwinzon Hernandez. Barnes, on the other hand, has essentially been replaced by the right-handed Hirokazu Sawamura.

Neither Hernandez or Sawamura were active for the Wild Card Game or Division Series, so the ALCS will mark their first action of the postseason.

With that being said, here is the Red Sox’ full ALCS roster:

Pitchers (13): Ryan Brasier, Nathan Eovaldi, Darwinzon Hernandez, Tanner Houck, Adam Ottavino, Martín Pérez, Nick Pivetta, Hansel Robles, Eduardo Rodriguez, Chris Sale, Hirokazu Sawamura, Josh Taylor, Garrett Whitlock

Catchers (2): Kevin Plawecki, Christian Vázquez

Infielders (5): Christian Arroyo, Xander Bogaerts, Bobby Dalbec, Rafael Devers, Travis Shaw

Outfielders (4): J.D. Martinez, Hunter Renfroe, Kyle Schwarber, Alex Verdugo

Infielder/Outfielders (2): Kiké Hernández, Danny Santana

(Picture of Darwinzon Hernandez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox to take on Astros in ALCS

For the second time in the last four seasons, the Red Sox will be taking on the Astros in the American League Championship Series.

After the Red Sox knocked off the Rays from the American League Division Series in four games at Fenway Park on Monday night, the Astros did the very same to the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on Tuesday.

Boston walked off on Tampa Bay to to punch their ticket to the ALCS, while Houston trounced Chicago by a final score of 10-1 to advance to their fifth consecutive championship series going back to 2017.

With that, the Red Sox and the Astros are the last two teams standing in the American League, setting up a rematch of the 2018 ALCS that Boston won in a convincing five games.

At this time three years ago, though, the Sox had homefield advantage in that series. That will not be the case this year after the Astros won their division by finishing with a 95-67 record in the regular season.

Over the course of the regular season, the Astros won the season series against the Red Sox, 5-2. They took three of four from them at Minute Maid Park from May 31 through June 3 before taking two of three at Fenway Park the following week.

The Red Sox will presumably board a flight to Houston on Wednesday and participate in a workout at Minute Maid Park on Thursday before kicking off this best-of-seven ALCS on Friday night.

Here is the full schedule. Note that pitching matchups have yet to be determined:

Game 1 – Friday, Oct. 15, 8:07 p.m. eastern time — Red Sox @ Astros — FOX

Game 2 – Saturday, Oct. 16, TBA — Red Sox @ Astros — FOX or FS1

Game 3 – Monday, Oct. 18, TBA — Astros @ Red Sox — FS1

Game 4 – Tuesday, Oct. 19, TBA — Astros @ Red Sox — FS1

Game 5 (if necessary) – Wednesday, Oct. 20, TBA — Astros @ Red Sox — FS1

Game 6 (if necessary) – Friday, Oct. 22, TBA — Red Sox @ Astros — FS1

Game 7 (if necessary) – Saturday, Oct. 23, TBA — Red Sox @ Astros — FOX or FS1

(Picture of Hunter Renfroe and Christian Arroyo: Bob Levey/Getty Images)