What Does Future Hold for Red Sox’ Jonathan Araúz?

It took until the final inning of the final game of the regular season, but Red Sox infielder Jonathan Arauz collected his first career major-league home run in the top half of the ninth of Sunday’s 9-1 victory over the Braves.

Per Statcast, Arauz’s solo blast traveled 347 feet and had an exit velocity of 93 mph coming off a 1-1, 87 mph cutter at the top of the strike zone from Atlanta reliever Josh Tomlin. Not exactly a moonshot, but the 22-year-old will certainly take it, especially when it wraps up a three-hit afternoon.

By going 3-for-4 at the plate with three RBI on Sunday, Arauz finishes his first full big-league season with a slash line of .250/.325/.319 to go along with that lone big fly and nine total runs driven in on the year.

In remaining with Boston for the entirety of the 2020 campaign, Arauz is now in a position where he could remain a member of the Sox organization for the foreseeable future.

Last December, the Red Sox selected Arauz from the Astros in the major-league portion of the Rule 5 Draft and wound up paying Houston $100,000 to do so.

Because the Panama native made it through the entire year without getting offered back to his previous club for $50,000, though, the Sox can now maintain his services without the risk of losing him to waivers.

Prior to the 2020 season, Arauz had never played a single minor-league game above the Double-A level. With that in mind, it appears that the switch-hitting infielder could be in line to see significant playing time at the Triple-A level in 2021.

Regardless of how the minor-leagues are formatted next year, the Red Sox will still have their Triple-A affiliate in Worcester, Mass. It remains to be seen if the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will also derail the 2021 minor-league season, but assuming it doesn’t, Arauz should be part of a solid mix of infielders there that could include the likes of Jeter Downs, C.J. Chatham, and Chad De La Guerra.

Unlike those three, Arauz already has some major-league experience. And although he did not exactly shine this season, he did show some flashes with the bat (went 12-for-30 at the plate from Aug. 10-23) and proved that with time, he could become capable of adequately playing multiple positions (2B, 3B, SS) around the infield.

Arauz was one of 28 Red Sox players to make their club debuts and one of six to make their major-league debuts this season. Considering he is presumably under team control through 2025, it should it be fascinating to see what Arauz’s role with Boston looks like for 2021 and beyond in the coming months.

Former Red Sox Closer Brandon Workman Suffers Blown Save, Loss in Phillies Debut

Former Red Sox closer Brandon Workman had a tough night in his debut for the Phillies on Saturday.

One day after getting dealt from Boston to Philadelphia along with Heath Hembree, cash considerations and a player to be named later or cash considerations in exchange for right-handers Nick Pivetta and Connor Seabold, the 32-year-old was dispatched by Phils manager Joe Girardi in the eighth inning of a 4-3 game against the Braves in Atlanta.

With his new team up a run with two outs to record in the eighth, Workman was put on the spot right away, and he immediately served up a two-run double to Matt Adams on his very first pitch, an 80 mph curveball on the outer half of the plate, in a Phillies uniform.

Atlanta went up 5-4 on Adams’ two-run two-base hit, but Workman was at least able to escape the inning without giving up any further damage on a fielder’s choice and four-pitch strikeout of Johan Camargo.

Despite that small bit of success, the Texas native’s fortunes took a turn for the worst in the bottom half of the ninth even after the Phillies offense had knotted things back up at five runs each.

That being the case because after Workman allowed three of the first five Braves he faced in the frame to reach, the bases were full with two outs and nowhere to put Adam Duvall.

Entering Saturday, Workman had never faced the Braves outfielder before in his career, and he initially fell behind in the count at 2-1.

On the fourth pitch of the at-bat, the right-hander could not sneak a 77 mph curveball past Duvall, and the ex-Red laced it to center field for the walk-off single.

As a result of that game-winning base hit, Workman was simultaneously charged with the loss and blown save in his first appearance as a Phillie.

“It’s not the first impression I’m trying to make, obviously,” Workman said during his postgame media availability. “That’s not what I do on the mound. I need to execute pitches better than I did tonight. There’s no excuse for that, I just need to do a better job of getting my job done.”

It just so happens that Workman’s old bullpen mate, Red Sox right-hander Matt Barnes, also took home the loss and blown save in Boston’s 5-4, extra-innings loss to the Orioles on Saturday. I’m sure those two will have a somewhat comical, self-depreciating exchange between one another before night’s end.

That Time Hank Aaron Nearly Began His Major-League Career When the Braves Were Still in Boston

Over the course of his 23-year major-league career, Hall of Famer Hank Aaron is most notoriously known for his contributions to the game of baseball in the cities of Milwaukee, Atlanta, and Milwaukee again.

Despite being a legend in those two cities though, it’s worth mentioning that the 25-time All-Star begin his professional career with the city of Boston more than likely on his mind.

That being the case because as an 18-year-old who had just led the Indianapolis Clowns to a Negro League World Series title in 1952, Aaron had two major-league offers on the table from two northeast teams in the Boston Braves and New York Giants.

Since the Braves were offering a larger monthly salary than the Giants were, Aaron decided to sign with Boston and his contract was immediately purchased from Indianapolis in June 1952.

The Alabama native was assigned to Boston’s Class-C minor-league affiliate in Eau Claire, Wisc. shortly thereafter, where he promptly posted a .336 batting average and .493 slugging percentage to go along with nine home runs and 19 doubles over 87 games with the Bears.

As it turned out though, 1952 wound wind up being the last year the Braves called the city of Boston home.

At the major-league level, the Braves had struggled significantly since reaching the World Series in 1948. And that overall poor performance was met with dwindling attendance numbers at Braves Field.

Those two factors, along with the fact that the neighboring Red Sox had been gaining more and more popularity in the city, led club owner Lou Perini to make the decision to move the team to Milwaukee, the home of the Braves’ Triple-A affiliate at the time.

After Perini’s proposal was met with unanimous approval from the other National League owners, the Braves’ move to Milwaukee was made official on March 18th, 1953 while the club was still in spring training, much to the dismay of fans in Boston.

That April, the Braves opened the home portion of their 1953 schedule with a 3-2 walk-off win over the St. Louis Cardinals at brand-new Milwaukee County Stadium.

The newly-anointed Milwaukee Braves would go on to finish their first season in Wisconsin with a final record of 92-62, all while Aaron was still developing at the Class-A level in Jacksonville, where he mashed 22 home runs in 137 games for the Braves.

The following spring, Aaron broke camp by making his first career major-league Opening Day roster as Milwaukee’s starting left fielder.

At just 20 years old, he slashed .280/.322/.447 with 13 home runs and 69 RBI over his first 122 games in the majors and later finished fourth in National League Rookie of the Year voting. The Braves’ win total went down from the season prior, yet they led the NL in attendance for a second straight year.

Aaron would go on to have a superb career, winning his first and only MVP award and World Series trophy in 1957, winning two batting titles, three Gold Glove awards, and probably most significantly, breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record with his 715th career homer on April 8th, 1974.

Just five years after retiring from the game in 1975, Aaron was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982 after receiving 406 of 421 votes in his first year on the ballot.

Looking at things from a broader perspective, Aaron is without a doubt one of the best outfielders to ever play Major League Baseball. He’s most well-known in Atlanta and Milwaukee, but he was only a few years off from embarking on a legendary career in the city of Boston.

In 12 career games at Fenway Park, Hammerin’ Hank posted a .745 OPS to go along with one home run and three RBI over 49 total plate appearances.

 

Ryan Weber Hurls Four Scoreless Innings as Red Sox Sneak Past Braves

In their first game under the lights this spring, the Red Sox won their second consecutive one-run contest, as they topped the Atlanta Braves by a final score of 2-1 on Monday to improve to 7-10-2 in Grapefruit League play.

Making his third start of the spring for Boston in this one was Ryan Weber, coming off three one-run (unearned) innings in his last time out against the Tigers last Monday.

Working the first four innings this time around, the right-hander stayed sharp as he kept the Braves off the scoreboard while yielding just one hit and zero walks to go along with four strikeouts on the evening.

That one hit was a two-out single off the bat of Freddie Freeman in the bottom half of the first. Outside of that, Weber retired the other 12 hitters he faced in order.

Finishing with a final pitch count of  60, the 29-year-old’s next outing should come sometime early next week depending on how many days of rest he gets.

In relief of Weber, Brandon Workman, in his third appearance of the spring, loaded the bases on the first three Braves he faced in the fifth, but he got out of it unscathed thanks to an unassisted double play from Jose Peraza and a strikeout of Shea Langeliers.

From there, Marcus Walden allowed Atlanta to score their first run of the night on one hit, one hit batsman, and one sacrifice fly in the sixth before tossing a clean seventh, and left-hander Jeffrey Springs fanned three while tossing scoreless frames in the eighth and ninth innings to close out the 2-1 win for his side.

On the other side of things, a Red Sox starting lineup that featured Andrew Benintendi, Tzu-Wei Lin, Kevin Plawecki, Michael Chavis, Jonathan Lucroy (DH), Peraza, Marco Hernandez, Rusney Castillo, and Jarren Duran was matched up against a familar foe in ex-Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez for Atlanta.

Kicking off the scoring in the fourth, a leadoff walk drawn by Lucroy followed by a single from Peraza put runners at the corners with no outs for Marco Hernandez.

On the third pitch he saw from the Braves’ Hernandez, the Red Sox’ Hernandez laced a line-drive RBI single to the opposite field to drive in Lucroy from third and give Boston an early one-run edge.

Fast forward to the sixth, and it was the same part of the lineup getting things done once more, with Lucroy leading off with another walk against new Braves reliever Touki Toussaint, Jose Peraza advancing the pinch-running Kole Cottam to second on a single, and Hernandez taking a pitch off his left foot to fill the bases for Castillo.

Castillo nearly grounded into a double play, but because of a bad throw from short to second on the part of the Braves, he was credited with an RBI on a groundout that brought in Cottam from third.

That simple play made it a 2-0 game, and after Atlanta got one of their own in their half of the sixth, 2-1 would go on to be Monday’s final score at CoolToday Park.

Some observations from this win:

Andrew Benintendi went 1-for-3 with a double and two strikeouts out of the leadoff spot on Monday.

Tzu-Wei Lin returned to the Red Sox lineup on Monday and went 1-for-1 with a single and a sacrifice bunt.

Kevin Plawecki on Monday: 1-for-3 with a walk.

Jonathan Lucroy on Monday: 1-for-1 with two walks and a run scored.

Jose Peraza is looking pretty good at second base.

Through his first nine innings of work this spring, Ryan Weber has yet to surrender an earned run.

It was nice to see top prospect Triston Casas get some playing time at first base in this one, although he did strike out in his lone plate appearance.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s another afternoon game against the St. Louis Cardinals back at JetBlue Park on Tuesday.

Left-hander Brian Johnson will get the start for Boston, while right-hander Jack Flaherty will do the same for St. Louis.

Following Sunday’s roster cuts, Johnson remains one of the notable non-roster invites still in major-league camp. He is surely vying for a rotation or bullpen spot with Boston to begin the season.

Matt Barnes, Colten Brewer, and Josh Taylor are among the Red Sox relievers expected to follow Johnson.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT. This game will not be televised.

 

Eduardo Rodriguez Fans Four Over Four Innings as Red Sox Drop Fourth Straight

After getting shut out by the Astros on Thursday, the Red Sox were able to muster some offense against the Atlanta Braves on Friday, but still saw their losing streak grow to four games following a 9-7 defeat. They are now 4-9-2 in Grapefruit League play.

Making his second start of the spring for Boston was Eduardo Rodriguez, coming off an impressive debut in which he struck out six Yankees over three scoreless frames last Saturday.

Working the first four innings this time around, the left-hander surrendered two runs, both of which were earned, on three hits and two walks to go along with four strikeouts on the afternoon.

The first of those two Braves tallies came right away in the bottom half of the first on a two-out pop fly of an RBI single from Marcell Ozuna that probably should have been caught, but instead fell between Jose Peraza and Jarren Duran in shallow left-center field.

A pair of shutdown innings in the second and third preceded more two-out trouble for Rodriguez in the fourth when he served up a solo shot to Austin Riley that knotted things up at two runs apiece.

Riley would wind up being the penultimate hitter Rodriguez faced Friday, as he got the next man he faced in Dansby Swanson to ground out to third to retire the side in the fourth.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 59, the 26-year-old’s next outing should come sometime late next week.

In relief of Rodriguez, Matt Barnes got the first call out of the Sox bullpen, and he yielded some hard contact while keeping the Braves off the scoreboard in the fifth before walking two of the first three hitters he faced in the sixth, making way for Colten Brewe to come on for him.

Brewer cleaned up Barnes’ mess with the help of an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play, and he also allowed one run on two hits in the seventh.

From there, minor-leaguer R.J. Alvarez entered in the middle of the eighth with his side having just taken a 4-3 lead, and he saw that one-run advantage turn into a three-run deficit following a four-run, four-hit effort from the Braves before Hunter Haworth came on for Alvarez to end the inning on a strikeout.

Over eight total innings of work, Red Sox pitching combined to give up seven earned runs on 10 hits, five walks, and seven strikeouts.

On the other side of things, a Red Sox starting lineup that featured Duran, Peraza, Michael Chavis, Kevin Plawecki, Bobby Dalbec, Chad De La Guerra, John Andreoli, Nick Longhi, and Roldani Baldwin was matched up against Braves top pitching prospect Kyle Wright to begin things on Friday.

Longhi got the scoring started for Boston in the top half of the third, as he led off with a single, advanced to third on a one-out hit from Duran, and came in to score from third on a throwing error while Duran stole second and also advanced to third.

Duran scored himself on an RBI groundout off the bat of Peraza, and just like that, the Red Sox had jumped out to a 2-1 edge over the Braves.

Fast forward all the way to the eighth, after Atlanta had claimed their second one-run lead of the afternoon, the Sox bats answered right back, with Jonathan Arauz driving in a pair on a two-out, two-run single to right field off Braves reliever Chris Nunn.

That put the Sox ahead by one run once more at 4-3, but a four-run rally from the Braves in their half of the inning made it a 7-4 contest.

Still, they at least made things interesting in the ninth, as Rusney Castillo plated one and put the tying run on base with a one-out RBI single off Tucker Davidson. 7-5.

Jantzen Witte followed by drawing a walk to put the go-ahead run at first, but neither Joey Meneses or Johan Mieses could do anything with that, as the former grounded into a force out and the latter struck out to end this one with a final score of 7-5 in favor of the Braves.

Some observations from this loss:

Matt Barnes walked three of the eight hitters he faced on Friday.

Kevin Plawecki went 1-for-1 with two walks and a stolen base while starting behind the plate on Friday. Through 16 plate appearances this spring, he has an OPS of 1.230. Jonathan Lucroy did not play.

Jarren Duran also stole a base on Friday. He is very fast.

This game was on ESPN and both Plawecki and Michael Chavis were mic’d up.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s some split-squad action against the Phillies and Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon.

One group of players, headlined by top pitching prospect Tanner Houck, will travel to Clearwater to take on the Phils, while another group, headlined by right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, will stay behind at JetBlue Park to host the Jays.

Eovaldi has thoroughly impressed through his first two starts of the spring, as he has yet to surrender a run while fanning eight over his first five innings of work.

Houck, meanwhile, also owns an ERA of 0.00 through his first two appearances (one start) of the spring. The 23-year-old right-hander has struck out four over five scoreless frames so far.

First pitch for both contests is scheduled for 1:05 PM EST. The game against Toronto will be on NESN, while the game against Philadelphia will be on MLB.TV.

Nathan Eovaldi Fans Four Over Three Scoreless Innings, Rafael Devers Crushes Two-Run Homer as Red Sox Get Back in Win Column Against Braves

After dropping their last three, the Red Sox got back in the win column and improved to 4-5-1 in Grapefruit League play on Sunday following a 4-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves at JetBlue Park.

Making his second start of the spring for Boston was Nathan Eovaldi, who impressed in his 2020 debut by striking out four Twins over two scoreless innings last Monday.

Working three innings this time around, the right-hander impressed yet again, as he kept the Braves off the scoreboard while allowing just one hit, an infield single, and zero walks to go along with another four strikeouts on the afternoon, three of which came in consecutive order in the top half of the second.

Out of the 40 pitches Eovaldi threw Sunday, 28 went for strikes. And even though the Red Sox are opting to not use a radar gun at JetBlue Park this spring, it’s safe to say the 30-year-old had his fastball working in his favor in this one.

With two spring starts down and four to go, Eovaldi’s next outing should come next weekend against either the Braves, Phillies, or Blue Jays.

In relief of Eovaldi, Brandon Workman came on for his first appearance of the spring to begin the fourth, and he looked like he was in mid-season form with two strikeouts and four straight swings and misses to close a perfect inning out.

From there, top pitching prospect Tanner Houck followed suit by fanning three and walking one over three two-hit innings, making way for Marcus Walden, also making his spring debut, to begin the eighth.

Walden got his first Grapefruit League appearance off to a strong start by retiring the side in order in the eighth, but the ninth was a different story, as the 31-year-old allowed the first two hitters he faced to reach via a leadoff walk and HBP before recording the first two outs and yielding an RBI single to Braden Shewmake to end the shutout and make it a 4-1 game.

Another plunked batter filled the bases for Shea Langeliers, who drove in his side’s second run and subsequently ended Walden’s day by drawing a bases-loaded walk.

So, with the bases still full in what was suddenly just a two-run game, in came left-hander Emmanuel De Jesus looking to close things out. And the 23-year-old did just that, as he got Ryan Casteel to fly out to right for the third and final out, thus ending this one with a final score of 4-2.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox starting lineup that featured regulars like Michael Chavis, Rafael Devers, J.D. Martinez, Mitch Moreland, and Christian Vazquez to begin things on Sunday was matched up against Braves right-hander Mike Foltynewicz.

The Boston bats didn’t waste any time against the Braves hurler, as Chavis led off the first with a walk to bring up Devers, who unloaded on the fifth pitch he saw from Foltynewicz and crushed deep to dead center for his first home run of the spring in just his third plate appearance. A two-run shot put Boston up by two runs early.

An inning later, it was the bottom of the lineup getting things done against Foltynewicz, with Rusney Castillo and top prospect Jeter Downs putting runners at first and second with back-to-back one-out singles and Nick Longhi driving in Castillo from second on a line-drive RBI double to shallow right field. 3-0.

Fast forward all the way to the eighth, and a bases-loaded walk with one out drawn by Chad De La Guerra off of Braves reliever Huascar Ynoa brought in Brett Netzer from third to make it a 4-0 contest. And after Atlanta rallied with a pair of runs of their own in the ninth, 4-2 would go on to be Sunday’s final score.

Some observations from this win:

Mitch Moreland was pulled from this one in the middle of the first inning due to right hamstring tightness. Michael Chavis, meanwhile, only got one at-bat and was pulled after the first inning because he will be part of the group traveling to Lakeland for Monday’s game against the Detroit Tigers.

Rafael Devers in his second spring start: 1-for-2 with that two-run homer and two strikeouts.

Jonathan Lucroy off the bench: 0-for-1. Kevin Plawecki did not play.

Next up for the Red Sox, as I already mentioned, they’ll head to Lakeland to take on the Tigers Monday afternoon.

Right-hander Ryan Weber will get the start for Boston, while left-hander Daniel Norris will do the same for Detroit. Matt Barnes is also expected to make his spring debut for the Sox.

Weber is one of several candidates vying for a spot in Boston’s starting rotation to begin the 2020 season. The 29-year-old struck out one and scattered two hits over two scoreless innings in his last time out against the Orioles this past Tuesday.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EST. This game will not be televised.

 

Chris Sale Fans Seven and Mookie Betts Homers as #RedSox Bounce Back with 6-1 Victory over Braves

The Red Sox improved to 7-13-1 in Grapefruit League play on Saturday afternoon following a 6-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves at JetBlue Park, marking their first win since March 5th.

After tossing three innings in a minor league contest this past Monday, Chris Sale finally made his 2019 Grapefruit League debut in this one.

With a pitch limit set at no more than 65, the ace left-hander held Atlanta scoreless while scattering two hits and striking out seven, five of which came consecutively, in four quality frames of work. He did not walk a single batter.

Finishing with a final pitch count of exactly 50 before heading out to finish his day in the Red Sox bullpen, Sale topped out at 93 MPH with his fastball and also mixed in a fair amount of changeups and sliders.

From the beginning of the fifth inning on, we got a significant glimpse at what could potentially be the back-end of the Red Sox bullpen in 2019, as Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Tyler Thornburg, and Darwinzon Hernandez combined to surrender only one run on five hits, one walk, and five strikeouts over the final five innings on Saturday.

Like Sale, Brasier also made his 2019 Grapefruit League debut against the Braves.

Previously dealing with a toe infection earlier in the spring, the 2018 standout reliever struck out one while also allowing that lone Atlanta run to cross the plate in their half of the sixth.

Thornburg, meanwhile, finally put together his first shutout performance of the year, as he retired three of the four hitters he faced in a solid seventh inning of relief.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Braves number-two prospect Kyle Wright to start things off on Saturday.

As he typically does, Mookie Betts got the scoring started for Boston by lacing a one out first inning single off Wright.

One Mitch Moreland double later, and JD Martinez collected his first RBI of the spring on a sac-fly to right.

That plated Betts and advanced Moreland to third, who would then come around to score himself on an RBI double off the bat of Xander Bogaerts to give the Red Sox an early two-run advantage.

Fast forward all the way to the sixth, and Betts struck again by blasting his first home run of the year off Braves reliever Shane Carle, a monumental solo shot over the JetBlue Park Green Monster.

An inning later, Brock Holt would turn out to be the catalyst of a three-run frame for Boston by drawing a leadoff walk off Luke Jackson.

Two back-to-back RBI doubles from Eduardo Nunez and Jackie Bradley Jr. later, the Red sox found themselves up 5-1.

After stealing third, Bradley would come in to score on a Chad De La Guerra sacrifice fly, which would plate the club’s sixth and final run of the day, as 6-1 would go on to be your final score in this one.

Some notes from this win:

Eduardo Nunez had himself a nice day at the plate with that RBI double. He also flashed the leather at third on a hard-hit ground ball from Adam Duvall in the fourth inning.

Darwinzon Hernandez, who was responsible for the final two innings on Saturday, briefly received a visit from Alex Cora and a trainer in the eighth, but remained in the game to close things out.

In his third game back, Dustin Pedroia went 0/3 out of the leadoff spot. He started the first five innings at second base.

Next up for the Red Sox, it will be some split-squad action against both the Tampa Bay Rays and Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday.

One group will remain in Fort Myers to host the Rays with David Price slated to start, while the other group will head to Bradenton to face the Pirates, with Marcus Walden getting the start there.

Right-hander Jameson Taillon is listed as Sunday’s starter for Pittsburgh, while Tampa Bay will be going with lefty Ryan Merritt.

First pitch for both contests is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT. NESN has the Rays game covered.

Also, here’s what Red Sox manager Alex Cora said following Saturday’s win:

RECAP: Brandon Phillips Comes up Clutch with Go-Ahead Ninth Inning Home Run as #RedSox Finish off Sweep of Braves.

After taking the first two games of this interleague series against the Atlanta Braves over these last two days, the Red Sox looked to head into an off day with a three-game sweep to end their road trip on a positive note.

Making his seventh start of the season on Wednesday was Hector Velazquez, who entered the afternoon with a lifetime 3.38 ERA in two career relief appearances against Atlanta, both of which have come in 2018.

Tossing four full innings, the right-hander yielded just two runs on five hits and three walks to go along with two strikeouts on the day.

For as lousy as a start Velazquez got off to with the Braves tacking on two runs on a Ronald Acuna leadoff home run and Nick Markakis RBI single before a single out was recorded in the bottom half of the first, it was nice to see him settle down a bit.

After that disastrous first frame, the 29-year old buckled down and did not surrender a single hit to the final 12 Braves he faced in this one, as he worked his way around three walks along the way to a decent outing.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 57 (37 strikes), the Mexico native turned to his slider 33% of the time on Wednesday while topping out at 92.2 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he only threw seven times, in the fourth inning.

Although his ERA did rise from 3.24 up to 3.30 following this afternoon’s performance, Velazquez will look to build on a solid start to September in his next time out, which should come against the Toronto Blue Jays sometime next week if it’s in a starting capacity. If not, I would not be surprised to see him come out of the bullpen during this upcoming weekend series against the Houston Astros.

In relief of Velazquez, the Red Sox bullpen was responsible for the final five innings of Wednesday afternoon’s contest, and they did not really have an easy go of it.

Drew Pomeranz, who entered the day with a 2.93 ERA since moving to the bullpen earlier last month, was first out of the ‘pen to relieve Velazquez in the bottom of the fifth.

The southpaw came into the game with the score at 2-1 in favor of the Braves. By the time he departed, that one-run lead had inflated all the way up to five after Pomeranz could only record one out on a force out while technically allowing all six hitters he faced to reach base.

That was certainly not great, and the situation got even worse when William Cuevas, who came in for Pomeranz, allowed an inherited runner to score from third on a Tyler Flowers single to make it a 7-1 game.

From that point on, both Cuevas and Bobby Poyner held the Braves scoreless in a combined 2.2 innings of work before Brandon Workman made an appearance to start the eighth.

Just moments after his team rallied from a six-run deficit to even things up at seven runs a piece, Workman allowed the then go-ahead run to score on a two out, pinch hit solo home run from Freddie Freeman.

However demoralizing it was at the time, the Red Sox still made another successful comeback effort, and Workman ended up getting credited with the winning decision, his fourth of the year.

Finally, to wrap this thing up, Craig Kimbrel came in for the save opportunity against his former club with a fresh one-run lead to protect.

Despite a two out walk, the flame throwing closer rebounded by striking out the next and final batter he faced to secure both his 38th save and the team’s 97th win of the season.

On the other side of things, a Red Sox lineup absent of Mookie Betts, JD Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, and Ian Kinsler to begin things was matched up against Braves right-hander Mike Foltynewicz, who entered Wednesday with the fourth lowest ERA (2.80) among qualified starters in the National League.

Foltynewicz, 26, had already faced Boston once before this season, and he dominated with seven innings of one run ball back on May 27th in a 7-1 win for Atlanta.

Similar to that outing more than three months ago, the Braves hurler was at the top of his game again, as he allowed another lone run in another six quality innings of work.

That one run, though, was scored by none other than Brandon Phillips, who in his first game in a Red Sox uniform, had himself quite the day, and it all started with this wild sequence at third to plate Boston’s first run of the contest in the second inning.

Fast forward all the way to the top of the eighth now, with Foltynewicz out and RHP Dan Winkler in for the Braves, it was surprisingly Christian Vazquez who got a huge rally started with a leadoff single.

Three batters and two additional singles later, Blake Swihart trimmed the Red Sox’s deficit down to four runs with a two RBI double lined to center field.

Following a pitching change that saw left-hander Jonny Venters take over for Winkler, Andrew Benintendi picked up right where Swihart left off by lacing another RBI knock to score Jackie Bradley Jr. from third and make it a three-run game.

Steve Pearce, pinch-hitting for Mitch Moreland, made it a two-run game with a sacrifice fly to left field that was deep enough to drive in Swihart from third.

After Brandon Phillips reached first on a throwing error that also allowed Benintendi to advance to third, the Braves turned to their bullpen once again and out came former Oriole Brad Brach to try and get out of a sticky situation.

Greeted first by pinch-hitter Ian Kinsler, Brach could not sneak a 1-0 94 MPH fastball by Kinsler, as the Red Sox second baseman came through with the clutchest hit of the inning, a bases clearing two RBI double to pull his team even.

That would do it for the scoring in the eighth, and after the Braves jumped out to a brand new one-run lead in their half of the inning, it would all come down to the just called up Phillips in the ninth.

Down to their final out with Andrew Benintendi at first and closer AJ Minter on the mound for Atlanta, Phillips smacked the first pitch he saw, a 95 MPH fastball down the middle of the plate, and sent it 432 feet to left field. No doubt about it.

Phillips’ first big league homer since September 26th proved to be the most important hit of the afternoon, as it put the Red Sox up 9-8, which would go on to be your final score in this thrilling series finale.

Some notes from this 9-8 win:

From @SoxNotes: Brandon Phillips is the first player in Red Sox history to hit a go-ahead HR in the 9th inning or later in his debut with the team (source: ).

From @KNegandhiESPN: MLB teams were 487-0 when leading by 6 runs entering the 8th inning this season.. That streak came to an end as the erase a 7-1 deficit to beat the , 9-8.

Since August 26th, Ian Kinsler is slashing .361/.395/.528 with one home run and eight RBI in his last 10 games.

Finishing a seven-game road trip with a solid 5-2 record, the Red Sox will head into a much deserved off day on Thursday with 97 wins already under their belt.

Following the off day, the team will welcome the defending World Series Champion Houston Astros into town for a three-game weekend series at Fenway Park.

The pitching matchups for that series go as follows:

9/7. RHP Gerrit Cole (13-5, 2.86 ERA) vs. LHP David Price (14-6, 3.60 ERA)

9/8. RHP Charlie Morton (13-3, 3.14 ERA) vs. LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (12-3, 3.34 ERA)

9/9. RHP Dallas Keuchel (11-10, 3.46 ERA) vs. RHP Rick Porcello (16-7, 4.20 ERA)

For Price, Friday’s start will be the first in-game action he has seen since taking a line drive comebacker off his left wrist in his last outing against the Miami Marlins on August 29th, where he had to leave after only pitching three innings.

First pitch of the series opener against the ‘Stros is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET on Friday.

 

Brandon Phillips and Rafael Devers Both Set to Join #RedSox in Atlanta on Tuesday.

The Red Sox officially announced on Tuesday that infielders Brandon Phillips and Rafael Devers will join the big league club in Atlanta, with Phillips being added to the active roster and Devers being activated from the 10-day disabled list.

Phillips, 37, signed a minor league contract with Boston on June 27th after spending the first 16 years of his professional career with the Cleveland Indians, Cincinnati Reds, Atlanta Braves, and Los Angeles Angels, where he made three National League All-Star teams, won four Gold Gloves, and won one Silver Slugger.

In 44 minor league games this season, the former second round pick of the Montreal Expos is slashing .304/.348/.474 with five home runs and 26 RBI with both Low A Lowell and Triple A Pawtucket.

Known mostly for his time in a Reds uniform, the savvy Phillips will look to provide his new team with a boost off the bench for this final home stretch of the 2018 season.

Since he was added to Boston’s active roster this late into the year, the North Carolina native will unfortunately be ineligible for any postseason roster next month. But still, it should be fun to watch what he can do given the opportunity during these last 23 games.

Over his career, Phillips has played in just six games at Fenway Park, where he owns a .507 OPS in 26 plate appearances.

As the tweet above reads, Phillips will wear the number zero, meaning he will be the first such player in Red Sox history to do so.

On the other side of this news was the activation of 3B Rafael Devers from the 10-day disabled list.

Having been on the DL with a strain of the left hamstring since August 17th, there is no guarantee that Devers will get regular playing time. He has to earn it, according to Red Sox manager Alex Cora.

With the heavy volume of infielders currently on this team’s active roster in the likes of Ian Kinsler, Eduardo Nunez, Brock Holt, and now Brandon Phillips, it’s understandable why Devers may see his role diminish a bit over the next handful of weeks.

If he’s up to the task of playing at the level he did towards the latter half of last season though, then I’m sure he will still get regular at bats.

In his first full season in the majors, the 21-year-old is slashing .242/.298/.422 with 16 homers and 15 RBI.

First pitch of tonight’s game against the Braves is scheduled for 7:35 PM ET.

 

RECAP: Ian Kinsler Drives in Three Runs as #RedSox Open up Series Against Braves with an 8-2 Win.

Following a series split with the Chicago White Sox over the weekend, the Red Sox headed to Atlanta, where they would be taking on a first place 76-60 Braves team in the first of a three-game set in their first ever visit to SunTrust Park on Labor Day.

In a rare Monday afternoon game, it was Nathan Eovaldi who got the start for Boston after only pitching two-plus innings due to rain in his last time out on Friday.

Entering the day with a 8.05 ERA in his last five starts, the right-hander looked to get back on track against a team he has a good history with in the Braves, and that is not exactly how things went down.

Pitching into just the fourth inning of this one, Eovaldi held Atlanta scoreless on two hits and four walks, a new-season high, to go along with four strikeouts on the afternoon.

On paper, that may not look like the worst line, especially when you consider the August Eovaldi just had, but the walks, along with a high pitch count, is what limited him to those three-and-one third innings pitched.

After walking three of the first hitters he faced in the first and escaping the inning unscathed, the Texas native did settle down a bit, but the Braves forced him to work hard by consistently working the count, which led to the high volume of pitches early on.

By the time his day came to a conclusion with one out and runners on first and third in the bottom of the fourth, Eovaldi’s pitch count was already north of 85.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 86 (52 strikes), the 28-year-old relied on his three fastballs, four-seam, cut, and split-finger, a whopping 98% of the time he was on the mound. The other 2%? One slider and one curveball, that’s it.

Eovaldi also topped out at 100.9 MPH with his four-seam fastball to strike out Ronald Acuna Jr. in the first inning. According to MLB.com’s David Adler, “that’s the fastest strikeout pitch by a starter in MLB this season. It’s Eovaldi’s fastest pitch of the season.”

Unable to pick up the winning decision due to the length of the outing, Eovaldi did pitch well enough to help his team end the four-game losing streak they had in contests he had started since August 15th.

With his ERA on the season dropping down to a nice 4.20, the former 11th round pick will look to build on today’s start in his next time out, which should come against the Houston Astros next Sunday.

In relief of Eovaldi, Alex Cora first turned to Brandon Workman with runners on the corners and two outs to get in the fourth.

Although he did walk the first hitter he faced in Dansby Swanson, Workman was able to escape the frame scot-free thanks to a 3-2 put out at home and a pop out off the bat of the dangerous Ronald Acuna to retire the side.

Steven Wright, making his first appearance since June 22nd, worked his way around a HBP and two out single in an otherwise clean fifth inning.

Joe Kelly was responsible for the sixth, and his string of scoreless appearances came to an end after giving up a leadoff home run to Ozzie Albies, but he sat down the next three batters he faced after that to end the frame.

Ryan Brasier started the seventh, but could not finish it, as he gave up one run on three hits and a sacrifice fly before making way for Heath Hembree with two outs.

Earning the trust of Alex Cora to come into games with runners on base and get out of innings cleanly, Hembree got the job done yet again by fanning Ozzie Albies on four pitches to end the seventh.

From that point on, Matt Barnes earned his 25th hold of the year in a scoreless eighth inning, and Craig Kimbrel, who had not pitched in a game since last Tuesday, walked one in a scoreless ninth and final frame to secure his team’s 95th win.

All and all, the Red Sox used seven total relief pitchers this afternoon, and only two runs, along with two walks, were given up. Not too shabby. Brandon Workman earned the winning decision.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against rookie right-hander Touki Toussaint for Atlanta, who had only made one career big league start against the Miami Marlins prior to Monday.

Ranked as the Braves’ number seven prospect, Toussaint, 22, had it going on early, as he held Boston hitless through the first four innings of this one. But once the fifth inning hit, it was the bottom of the lineup who got the scoring started.

Beginning with a one out double from Eduardo Nunez, two more doubles off the bat of both Ian Kinsler and Christian Vazquez all of a sudden had the Red Sox up by two runs.

Two batters later, a Mookie Betts RBI single that drove in Vazquez from second and increased the lead to three runs is what put an end to Toussaint’s second career big league start.

Fast forward to the eighth, with the Red Sox lead trimmed down to one run, and Ian Kinsler essentially put this game out of reach with a two out, bases-clearing three RBI double off Braves left-hander Jesse Biddle.

What was even better about that big hit is the fact that it would not have even happened had Freddie Freeman not committed a throwing error on an Eduardo Nunez ground ball that ended up loading the bases for Kinsler.

Finally, in the ninth, Xander Bogaerts made the Braves pay for intentionally walking JD Martinez to load the bases by ripping a two RBI double to center field to plate Brock Holt and Andrew Benintendi.

After another intentional walk of Mitch Moreland, Eduardo Nunez put this game on ice with a 341 foot sacrifice fly to drive JD Martinez in from third and make it a 8-2 game, which would end up being your final score.

Some notes from this 8-2 win:

The Red Sox are 12-3 in interleague play this season.

Since August 24th, Ian Kinsler is slashing .351/.368/.514 with one home run and six RBI.

Looking to guarantee a series win tomorrow night, it will be Rick Porcello getting the ball for Boston.

In two interleague starts this season, the right-hander is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in 13 innings pitched against the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies. He is also 2/5 with 3 RBI at the plate in those starts.

Opposite Porcello will be LHP Sean Newcomb for the Braves.

Newcomb, 25 and a native of Brockton, Massachusetts, has posted a 3.85 ERA over 26 starts with Atlanta in his first full season in the majors.

Back on May 26th, Newcomb was only able to pitch three innings while giving up three earned runs in a losing effort in his only other start against the Red Sox.

First pitch of the second game of the series is scheduled for 7:35 PM ET Tuesday.