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 Barnes, on the other hand, has essentially been replaced by the right-handed Hirokazu Sawamura.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 advance to ALCS on Kiké Hernández’s walk-off sacrifice fly in 6-5 win over Rays in Game 4 of ALDS

The Red Sox punched their ticket to the American League Championship Series for the first time since 2018 by taking care of business against the Rays and capping off a revamped version of Marathon Monday in walk-off fashion.

For the second consecutive night, Boston walked off Tampa Bay to come away with an enthralling 6-5, American League Division Series-clinching victory at Fenway Park. The Sox win the best-of-five series three-games-to-one.

Matched up against Rays rookie left-hander Shane McClanahan to begin things in the third inning, Christian Vazquez — Sunday’s hero — led off with a line-drive single and advanced up to second base when Kyle Schwarber drew a one-out walk.

After Enrique Hernandez flew out to left field to bring McClanahan within one out of getting out of an early jam, Rafael Devers made sure that did not happen, as he took the very first pitch he saw from the lefty and crushed a 404-foot three-run home run over the center field wall.

Devers’ second homer of the series gave the Sox a 3-0 lead, but they were not done there. Not with Xander Bogaerts singling and Alex Verdugo and J.D. Martinez striking for back-to-back run-scoring hits to add on and make it a 5-0 game.

With that sizable of an advantage to work with, Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez was able to settle in nicely and bounce back from his rough outing in the first game of this series.

In Game 4, Rodriguez allowed a total of two runs — both of which were earned — on three hits and zero walks to go along with six strikeouts over five-plus solid innings of work.

The left-hander began his day by taking a perfect game into the fourth inning before yielding a leadoff single to Randy Arozarena. He then got through the remainder of the fourth unscathed, but ran into some trouble an inning later.

On the heels of a leadoff double from Jordan Luplow and a groundout from Yandy Diaz that advanced Luplow up to third base, Rodriguez gave up his first run in the top of the fifth on an RBI groundout off the bat of Austin Meadows.

The Rays threatened once more in the sixth, as they knocked Rodriguez out of the game with a pitch count of 78 (57 strikes) after he surrendered a leadoff double to Kevin Kiermaier.

Tanner Houck got the first call from Red Sox manager Alex Cora in relief of Houck, but the right-hander only endured more difficulties when he served up a two-run home run to fellow rookie Wander Franco.

Franco’s blast trimmed Tampa Bay’s deficit down to two runs at 5-3, and after Josh Taylor tossed a scoreless seventh inning for Boston, they got to Ryan Brasier for even more in their half of the eighth.

Brasier — to put it simply — got rocked in his brief time on the mound Monday. The righty allowed back-to-back doubles to Mike Zunino and Kiermaier to make it a 5-4 contest before the dangerous Arozarena ripped a single to right field to tie things up at five runs apiece.

That sequence resulted in Cora turning to Garrett Whitlock, who put out of the flames of the Rays’ rally by retiring Franco, Brandon Lowe, and Nelson Cruz in order before hurling a 1-2-3 top of the ninth as well.

To that point in the night, the Red Sox lineup had squandered multiple opportunities to add on some insurance runs against a tough Rays bullpen, such as when Bogaerts grounded into an inning-ending double play in the seventh or Renfroe being gunned down at third base for the final out of the eighth.

With that being said, though, the Sox finally broke through against J.P. Feyereisen, and they did so by playing a little bit of small ball in the ninth inning.

After Vazquez led off with a single that just got through the left side of the infield, Christian Arroyo moved him into scoring position by laying down a well-executed sacrifice bunt.

Travis Shaw, pinch-hitting for Bobby Dalbec, advanced Vazquez up to third base on a four-foot infield single to set the stage for Hernandez.

With one out and the potential winning run just 90 feet away from scoring, Hernandez lifted a 300-foot fly ball to left field that was hit plenty deep enough to score the pinch-running Danny Santana from third to send the Red Sox to the ALCS.

Next up: ALCS begins on Friday

While the Red Sox have advanced to their first American League Championship Series in three years, they will have to wait to find out who their opponent will be.

In the other division series, the Astros currently lead the White Sox two-games-to-one, with Game 4 slated to begin on Tuesday afternoon in Chicago after Monday’s contest was postponed due to rain.

Regardless of who comes out on top in that series, though, the Sox will either be traveling to Chicago or Houston for the start of the ALCS on Friday since they are the lowest seed remaining.

(Picture of Enrique Hernandez: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

After starting Game 3, Red Sox’ Nathan Eovaldi told Alex Cora he’s available to pitch an inning in Game 4 of ALDS vs. Rays

Nathan Eovaldi may be less than a full day removed his most-recent start for the Red Sox, but that does not mean he wants to take any time off.

Coming off a solid performance in which he surrendered just two runs on three hits, eight strikeouts, and one walk over five innings of work in Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Rays at Fenway Park on Sunday, Eovaldi has apparently made himself available for Game 4.

When speaking with reporters (including The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier) ahead of Monday night’s contest with the Rays, Sox manager Alex Cora said the veteran right-hander volunteered to pitch an inning of relief if needed.

In tossing five strong innings in his latest start on Sunday, Eovaldi needed 85 pitches — 58 of which were strikes. Between last Tuesday’s Wild Card Game against the Yankees and Game 3 of the ALDS against the Rays, the flame-throwing 31-year-old has posted a 2.61 ERA and 2.88 FIP to go along with 16 strikeouts to one walk over 10 1/3 total innings pitched.

Eovaldi’s postseason legend, of course, dates back to Game 3 of the 2018 World Series against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. On just one day of rest, he provided Boston with six impressive innings of relief before giving up a walk-off home run to Max Muncy in the bottom of the 18th inning.

While he was lauded for his effort and preserving the Sox bullpen for the remainder of the series, Eovaldi — having just thrown 97 pitches — came up to Cora the following morning and told him he was ‘ready to go’ for Game 4.

At that time, Eovaldi was on the cusp of free agency, leading Cora to respond to him by saying, ‘Your agent is going to kill me.’

Despite his request, Eovaldi was not used again in the World Series following the conclusion of Game 3. It’s unlikely he will be used in Game 4 of this year’s ALDS as well.

That being said, Cora did mention on Monday that the likes of Garrett Whitlock and Tanner Houck would be available out of the bullpen, while Adam Ottavino could be used to record more than three outs.

Eduardo Rodriguez will start for the Red Sox opposite Rays right-hander Collin McHugh to begin things on Monday. With a two-games-to one lead in this best-of-five series, Boston has a chance to punch their ticket to the ALCS with a win.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. eastern time on FS1.

(Picture of Nathan Eovaldi: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox rolling with Eduardo Rodriguez for Game 4 of ALDS vs. Rays

The Red Sox have an opportunity to advance to the American League Championship Series for the first time in three years on Monday night.

After walking off the Rays in dramatic fashion in a 13-inning thriller on Sunday, the Sox are now just one more victory away from taking this best-of-five American League Division Series.

With a two-games-to-one lead in hand, Boston will turn to Eduardo Rodriguez to try to put the finishing touches on this series in front of what is sure to be a packed house at Fenway Park to cap off a memorable Marathon Monday in the city.

Rodriguez struggled in his last time out, as the left-hander surrendered two runs (both earned) on two hits, two walks, and one strikeout over just 1 2/3 innings of work Thursday’s 5-0 loss to Tampa Bay in Game 1 at Tropicana Field.

Opposing Rodriguez will be a familiar foe in Rays right-hander Collin McHugh, who — like his former teammate — took the loss in Game 2 by allowing three runs over 1 2/3 innings of relief in what would go down as a 14-6 win for the Red Sox on Friday.

In facing another righty on the mound to start things out on Monday, Sox manager Alex Cora has rolled out a nearly-identical lineup to the one he put out for Game 3.

Kyle Schwarber will once again lead off and start at first base while Enrique Hernandez will bat second and start in center field. Rafael Devers will bat third and start at third baset, leaving All-Star shortstop Xander Bogaerts to assume the role as cleanup hitter.

Left fielder Alex Verdugo and designated hitter J.D. Martinez make up the 5-6 portion of Boston’s lineup, while right fielder Hunter Renfroe, catcher Christian Vazquez, and second baseman Christian Arroyo round things out.

Vazquez, who came off the bench to replace Kevin Plawecki in the sixth inning of Game 3 on Sunday, went 1-for-3 with the biggest hit of the night: a two-run, walk-off home run in the bottom of the 13th that sealed a 6-4 win for the Sox.

With that being said, first pitch for Game 4 is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. eastern time on FS1. The Red Sox will not be wearing their yellow City Connect uniforms and will instead go with their alternate red jerseys.

(Picture of Eduardo Rodriguez: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Kyle Schwarber on tipping cap to Fenway Park crowd: ‘You’ve got to be able to make fun of yourself’

Well before Christian Vazquez walked it off for the Red Sox in thrilling fashion on Sunday night, Kyle Schwarber had quite the memorable sequence in Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Rays at Fenway Park.

He later reminded everyone about the kind of endearing personality he possesses that has quickly made him a fan favorite in Boston.

“You’ve got to be able to make fun of yourself every once in a while and loosen the situation up,” Schwarber said following Boston’s 6-4 win over Tampa Bay in 13 innings.

Going back to the third inning Sunday, with the Rays in front by a score of 2-1, Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi got leadoff man Brandon Lowe to dribble a softly-hit groundball in the direction of Schwarber at first base.

Schwarber, in turn, fielded the ball cleanly, but overthrew Eovaldi on his underhand flip back to the first-base bag, which allowed Lowe to reach base safely.

An inning later, after Boston had taken a 3-2 lead, Schwarber found himself in a similar position when Ji-Man Choi led off the top half of the fourth by hitting another groundball towards him.

This time, however, the relatively inexperienced first baseman was able to hit Eovlaid in stride and successfully make an accurate, underhand flip to get Choi out at first base.

Upon recording what would normally be regarded as a routine out, Schwarber broke out into a celebration in which he pointed to the sky with both hands and pumped his right fist before tipping his cap to the Fenway faithful.

“That was awesome,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “That’s who they are. That’s what we do. Of course we wanted to make the first play, and after that he makes the play, and everyone was excited because he did it. He did what he did, and I think it was great. Sometimes we take this game too seriously, and you can actually not enjoy it. … Although we take it seriously, we also have fun with it.”

Leading up to Sunday’s contest, Schwarber had made just nine regular season starts and postseason start at first base after the Red Sox acquired him in a trade with the Nationals in late July.

The 28-year-old primarily played left field in his time with the Nationals and acknowledged that he still has room to improve at first base — a position he is learning on the fly, though he did show some gratitude towards Eovaldi for helping him out.

“Obviously being new over there at first base, you make the error, and Nate picks you up,” Schwarber said. “Unbelievable job by Nate. You go out there and make the good, old routine play and loosen it up a little bit.”

As Cora alluded to, Schwarber is someone who can have fun doing what he does while also understanding the importance of the moment, as he went 3-for-5 with a home run, one RBI, and two runs scored as part of Sunday’s win that gave the Sox a two-games-to-one edge in this best-of-five ALDS.

“You’ve got to be able to make fun of yourself,” said Schwarber. “It was a good time. I think I got a laugh out of pretty much almost everyone. It’s a game. Like you’ve got to be able to laugh at yourself.”

(Picture of Kyle Schwarber: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

J.D. Martinez once again batting sixth for Red Sox in Game 3 of ALDS vs. Rays

J.D. Martinez made his impact felt in his return to the Red Sox lineup in Friday’s 14-6 trouncing of the Rays in Game 2 of the American League Division Series at Tropicana Field, and he did so while batting out of the six-hole.

Prior to Friday night, Martinez had never started a regular season game below the No. 5 spot in the batting order in his time with the Sox, but his first exposure to the No. 6 spot in quite some time netted extremely positive results.

Hitting behind Alex Verdugo and in front of Hunter Renfroe, the 34-year-old slugger went 4-for-5 with a double, a home run, three RBI and one run scored while starting at designated hitter. He was pinch-ran for by Danny Santana in the ninth inning.

Martinez did all that while still nursing a left ankle sprain, and with another right-handed pitcher in Drew Rasmussen getting the start for the Rays, he will once again be batting sixth in Game 3 of the ALDS on Sunday afternoon.

As was also the case with Red Sox manager Alex Cora’s lineup on Friday, the left-handed hitting Kyle Schwarber will lead off and start at first base in place of Bobby Dalbec. He will be followed by center fielder Enrique Hernandez, third baseman Rafael Devers, and shortstop Xander Bogaerts.

Verdugo, Martinez, and Renfroe comprise the 5-6-7 portion of Boston’s lineup, which will be rounded out by Kevin Plawecki and second baseman Christian Arroyo.

Plawecki will be catching right-hander Nathan Eovaldi to begin things on Sunday. The pair developed quite a bit of chemistry over the course of the regular season, which carried over into Tuesday’s Wild Card Game win over the Yankees.

Eovaldi allowed just one run on four hits and eight strikeouts over 5 1/3 strong innings while earning the victory in that outing, and he will look to do more of the same on Sunday opposite Rasmussen.

Rasmussen, one of two pitchers the Rays acquired as part of the trade that sent Willy Adames to the Brewers back in May, made his postseason debut for Milwaukee in last year’s Wild Card Series against the Dodgers. He tossed a scoreless eighth inning in Game 1 of that series.

As Eovaldi goes up against his former team, he will have the opportunity to get the Red Sox ahead of the Rays after the two clubs split the first two games of this best-of-five ALDS at Tropicana Field.

With that being said, first pitch from Fenway Park on Sunday is scheduled for 4:07 p.m. eastern time on MLB Network.

(Picture of J.D. Martinez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Chris Sale will be available out of bullpen for Red Sox in Game 3 of ALDS

Red Sox manager Alex Cora had said on Saturday that the team was not considering moving Chris Sale to the bullpen on a full-time basis “for health reasons.”

Less than 24 hours later, and those plans have since changed, as Sale will be available out of the Sox bullpen for Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Rays at Fenway Park on Sunday afternoon.

Per Cora, Sale is on board with the decision, though it is unclear if his transition to a reliever will last beyond Sunday since Cora “wouldn’t say if Sale would or would not be considered as a starter moving forward.”

The decision to move Sale to the bullpen for the time being likely comes as a result of the left-hander’s performance on the mound as of late.

Upon making his highly-anticipated return from Tommy John surgery in mid-August, Sale put up a respectable 2.52 ERA and 3.93 FIP to go along with 30 strikeouts to six walks over five starts spanning 25 innings of work.

Since testing positive for COVID-19 and returning from the COVID-related injured list on September 17, though, Sale has seemingly been less effective — with his two most-recent starts sticking out in that regard.

In last Sunday’s regular season finale against the Nationals, the 32-year-old southpaw lasted 2 1/3 innings while allowing two runs on four hits, three walks, and seven strikeouts on 62 pitches (37 strikes) at Nationals Park.

In Game 2 of the ALDS at Tropicana Field on Friday, Sale got rocked for five runs (all earned) on four hits, one walk, and two strikeouts before getting pulled after just one inning.

Needless to say, whether it be that his changeup had an expected batting average against of .332 or that right-handed hitters slashed .291/.363/.461 off him in the regular season, Sale certainly has some things to work on with very little time to waste.

Sale, as well as fellow lefty Eduardo Rodriguez and right-handers Nick Pivetta and Tanner Houck, will all be available out of the Red Sox bullpen behind Game 3 starter Nathan Eovaldi.

Boston will look to go up two games to one in this best-of-five ALDS with Tampa Bay, as first pitch Sunday is scheduled for 4:07 p.m. eastern time on MLB Network.

(Picture of Chris Sale: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox add Matt Barnes to ALDS roster after Garrett Richards suffers left hamstring strain

Before taking on the Rays in Game 2 of the American League Division Series at Tropicana Field on Friday night, the Red Sox made a slight change to the composition of their bullpen.

After requesting and receiving approval from Major League Baseball to make a substitution, the Sox replaced right-hander Garrett Richards on their ALDS roster with fellow righty Matt Barnes, the club announced earlier Friday evening.

Richards, who was used in relief of Eduardo Rodriguez in Thursday’s loss to Tampa Bay, needed all of three pitches to get Randy Arozarena to ground out to retire the side in the second inning.

Since he was diagnosed with a left hamstring strain, though, Richards had to be removed from Boston’s roster. Per Major League Baseball’s postseason rules, the 33-year-old would not be eligible to participate in the American League Championship Series. He would, however, be available for the World Series if the Sox were to make it that far.

Barnes, on the other hand, was initially left off the Red Sox’ ALDS roster as a healthy scratch so that three left-handers (Austin Davis, Martin Perez, Josh Taylor) could be available out of the bullpen.

Despite not being named to the roster, Barnes still traveled with the Sox to St. Petersburg in the event that he would be needed due to an injury elsewhere, which turns out to be the case.

For how impressive of a start Barnes got his season off to — in which he netted himself a two-year, $18.75 million contract extension while being named to his first career All-Star team — the latter half of his year was full of struggles.

Over the final two-plus months of the regular season, the 31-year-old fireballer posted a dismal 9.26 ERA and 7.11 FIP in 17 appearances (11 2/3 innings pitched) out of the Boston bullpen. He also missed a significant amount of time during that stretch after testing positive for COVID-19 in late August.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Barnes is available out of the bullpen for Friday’s contest against the Rays.

(Picture of Matt Barnes: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

J.D. Martinez returns to Red Sox lineup for Game 2 of ALDS vs. Rays; Kyle Schwarber starting over Bobby Dalbec at first base

After being held out of action for the opening game of their American League Division Series against the Rays, J.D. Martinez is back in the Red Sox lineup for Game 2 at Tropicana Field on Friday night.

Martinez will be starting at designated hitter and batting sixth for the Sox as they look to even up this best-of-five series with the Rays at one game apiece.

The 34-year-old slugger was previously left off Boston’s Wild Card Game roster after twisting his left ankle while tripping over the second-base bag in the process of jogging out to right field in the fifth inning of last Sunday’s regular season finale against the Nationals.

Later diagnosed with a left ankle sprain, Martinez — after missing the Wild Card Game — was added to the Sox’ initial 26-man roster for the ALDS, though he did not start and was not able to play in Thursday’s 5-0 loss to Tampa Bay.

Despite not playing in Game 1, however, Martinez will be back in the thick of things Friday night. In batting sixth in Red Sox manager Alex Cora’s lineup, the four-time All-Star will be hitting below the No. 5 spot in the order for the first time all year.

With Martinez slotted in to serve as Boston’s designated hitter, Kyle Schwarber will start at first base, which means Bobby Dalbec is the odd man out of the lineup.

Schwarber, batting leadoff, will be followed by center fielder Enrique Hernandez, third baseman Rafael Devers, and shortstop Xander Bogaerts.

Alex Verdugo will start alongside Hernandez in center field, while Martinez, right fielder Hunter Renfroe, catcher Christian Vazquez, and second baseman Christian Arroyo make up the bottom half of the Sox lineup.

Vazquez will be catching ace left-hander Chris Sale to begin things on Friday. Sale last started at Tropicana Field on September 1 — an outing in which he allowed two runs (both earned) on six hits, two walks, two hit batsmen, and three strikeouts over six innings of work.

Opposite Sale will be rookie right-hander Shane Baz for the Rays. The 22-year-old made his big-league debut on Sept. 20 and posted a 2.03 ERA, 4.07 FIP and 18:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in three starts (13 1/3 innings pitched) to close out the regular season.

As the Red Sox go for a series-evening win over the Rays before heading back to Boston, first pitch from Tropicana Field Friday is scheduled for 7:02 p.m. eastern time on FS1.

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