Red Sox fail to complete sweep of Rangers, end road trip with 7-1 loss in Texas

The Red Sox were unable to finish off a three-game sweep of the Rangers to close out the weekend. Boston instead saw their winning streak snapped at two games following a 7-1 loss to Texas at Globe Life Field on Sunday afternoon. Their record is now 13-21.

In what was a bullpen game for the Sox’ pitching staff, Austin Davis served as the opener while also making the first start of his major-league career. The left-hander pitched well, allowing just one walk to go along with two strikeouts over two-plus scoreless and hitless innings of work. 19 of the 35 pitches he threw went for strikes.

Davis’ day came to an end after issuing a leadoff walk to Nathaniel Lowe in the bottom of the third. He was replaced by Tanner Houck, who took a combined no-hit bid into the fifth inning.

Shortly before Houck took the mound for the bottom half of the fifth, the Boston lineup finally got something going against old friend Martin Perez in their half of the fifth. With two outs in the inning, Enrique Hernandez singled and immediately came into score on a 110.6 mph RBI double off the bat of Rafael Devers.

That gave the Red Sox their first lead of the day at 1-0. Houck, however, gave that run right back when he served up a leadoff homer to Kole Calhoun a half-inning later, which knotted things back up at 1-1.

After Houck got through the rest of the fifth, manager Alex Cora next turned to fellow righty Ryan Brasier out of the Boston bullpen. Brasier, in turn, got hit hard. He gave up a one-out double to Marcus Semien that was followed by a five-pitch walk of Corey Seager. Jonah Heim fanned for the second out, but Adolis Garcia demolished a three-run home run 413 feet to right-center field.

Calhoun followed in Garcia’s footsteps by going deep again moments later. His second big fly of the afternoon put the Rangers up 5-1. Tyler Danish took over for Brasier in the seventh and surrendered another homer to Adolis Garcia. This one was good for two runs and gave Texas a commanding 7-1 lead.

Besides what they did in the fifth inning, the Red Sox bats were held in check by Perez and three relievers out of the Rangers’ bullpen. After exploding for 10 runs on Saturday, Boston went a measly 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position on Sunday while leaving nine runners on base as a team.

If there are any positives to take away from Sunday’s performance, it’s that Devers extended his hitting streak to eight consecutive games with a 3-for-4 showing at the plate. J.D. Martinez, on the other hand, went 1-for-4 with a single to extend his hitting streak to 16 straight games.

Next up: Back to Boston

The Red Sox will head back to Boston and kick off a seven-game homestand by first welcoming the Astros into town for the first of three on Monday night. Boston will give right-hander Garrett Whitlock the ball in the series opener while Houston will roll with fellow righty Jake Odorizzi.

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

(Picture of Kole Calhoun: Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

Austin Davis to make first career start for Red Sox on Sunday

When the Red Sox go for a three-game sweep over the Rangers on Sunday afternoon, they will be sending Austin Davis to the mound to make his first career major-league start.

It was already known that Boston would be having a bullpen game on Sunday after they pushed Garrett Whitlock back to start against the Astros at Fenway Park on Monday.

Following the Sox’ 11-3 win over the Rangers earlier Saturday night, manager Alex Cora confirmed it would be Davis getting the ball first in Sunday’s series finale at Globe Life Field.

While Davis will likely only go a few innings and be more of an “opener,” it will still mark the left-hander’s first-ever start in the big-leagues. Upon being drafted by the Phillies in 2014, Davis made a total of 13 starts over his first three professional seasons. He has not started a game at any level since August 30, 2016.

Originally acquired from the Pirates in exchange for Michael Chavis at last year’s trade deadline, Davis has proven to be an effective left-handed option out of the Red Sox bullpen.

This season alone, the 29-year-old southpaw has posted a 2.70 ERA and 4.26 FIP with 16 strikeouts to six walks over 14 relief appearances spanning 13 1/3 innings of work.

Davis will be opposed by a former teammate and fellow lefty in Rangers starter Martin Perez. Perez, back with Texas after a two-year stint in Boston, has produced a 2.10 ERA through his first six starts (34 1/3 innings) of the year.

With all that being said, first pitch Sunday is scheduled for 2:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Austin Davis: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Red Sox break up no-hitter in 10th inning, then get walked off on by Kevin Kiermaier in wild 3-2 loss to Rays

The Red Sox delivered a late birthday present to Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier on Saturday night. Kiermaier, who turned 32 on Friday, crushed a two-run walk-off home run off Hansel Robles in the 10th inning to lift Tampa Bay to a stunning 3-2 win over Boston at Tropicana Field.

With the loss, the Sox fall to 7-8 on the season. They have not won consecutive ballgames since April 16-17.

Garrett Whitlock, making his first start and fifth overall appearance of the year, absolutely dominated the Rays’ lineup. In what was his first career big-league start, the right-hander yielded just one hit and no walks to go along with seven strikeouts over four scoreless, near-perfect innings of work.

After taking a perfect game into the fourth inning, Whitlock gave up a leadoff double to Brandon Lowe. He then stranded Lowe at second base by retiring the final three batters he faced in order. The 25-year-old finished with a final pitch count of 48 (33 strikes) and turned to his sinker 58% of the time he was on the mound.

In relief of Whitlock, Austin Davis received the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen from acting manager Will Venable. The left-hander maneuvered his way around a two-out walk in an otherwise clean frame before making way for Kutter Crawford, who twirled three scoreless innings of his own while striking out five.

Tyler Danish walked the first batter he faced in the ninth to put the potential winning run on base, but left him there to send this 0-0 game into extra innings.

To that point in the contest, the Red Sox lineup had been no-hit by six different Rays pitchers in J.P. Feyereisen, Javy Guerra, Jeffrey Springs, Jason Adam, Ryan Thompson, and Andrew Kittredge. They reached base six times over that stretch via five walks and a fielding error, but were unable to do anything with those base runners.

In the top of the 10th, Matt Wisler took over for Kittredge and Jackie Bradley Jr. became the automatic runner at second base. On the third pitch he saw from Wisler, an 0-2 slider, Bobby Dalbec came through in the clutch by lacing an RBI triple down the right field line.

Dalbec’s 322-foot foot triple left his bat at 97.1 mph. It also provided the Sox with their first hit of the night and drove in Bradley Jr. to give them a late 1-0 lead. Dalbec then scored on a Christian Vazquez sacrifice fly to double that advantage to 2-0.

That sequence led to Venable going with Robles in the bottom half of the 10th. With Randy Arozarena at second base and the potential tying run at the plate, Robles fanned Ji-Man Choi and Josh Lowe for the first two outs of the inning.

A balk from Robles allowed Arozarena to advance to third. With the Rays down to their final out, Taylor Walls reached base on a throwing error committed by Trevor Story and Arozarena scored to cut Tampa Bay’s deficit to one.

Robles then fell behind in the count against Kiermaier and served up the game-winning, two-run homer on a 96 mph four-seamer down the heart of the plate. Kiermaier deposited it 372 feet into the right field seats to send the Rays home with a come-from-behind victory.

Next up: Hill vs. McClanahan in rubber match

Despite losing in heartbreaking fashion, the Red Sox still have a chance to win this three-game series against the Rays on Sunday afternoon. Boston will turn to left-hander Rich Hill as he makes his return from the bereavement list in the series finale. Tampa Bay, on the other hand, will roll with fellow southpaw Shane McClanahan.

First pitch from Tropicana Field is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Hansel Robles and Kevin Kiermaier: Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

Trevor Story makes game-saving play as Red Sox hold on for 4-3 win over Rays

The Red Sox kicked off one of their longest road trips of the season with a series-opening win over the Rays in St. Petersburg on Friday night. Boston barely defeated Tampa Bay by a final score 4-3 at Tropicana Field to improve to 7-7.

Matched up against a familiar foe in Corey Kluber to begin things, the Sox wasted no time in attacking the Rays starter. A pair of first-inning singles from leadoff man Trevor Story and Xander Bogaerts put runners at the corners for Alex Verdugo, who drove in Story on an RBI single back up the middle. Bogaerts himself scored on an RBI groundout from Jackie Bradley Jr.

Given an early 2-0 lead to work with out of the gate, Michael Wacha was rudely greeted to begin his third start of the season. With one out in the bottom of the first, the right-hander served up his first of two solo shots to Rays phenom Wander Franco. This one left Franco’s bat at 109.7 mph and traveled 389 feet into the right field seats to make it a 2-1 game.

The Sox were able to respond, though, and that happened when Rafael Devers led off the third inning with his third home run of the season. On a 1-0, 84 mph cutter from Kluber, Devers clubbed a 380-foot solo shot down the right field line to give his side a 3-1 edge. Bogaerts tacked on another by lacing a 107 mph double and scoring on a one-out RBI single off the bat of Enrique Hernandez. Travis Shaw nearly extended the inning with a three-run home run down the right field line like Devers’, but it was instead deemed a foul ball and Shaw struck out.

With a three-run cushion to operate with now, Wacha received some help from his infield in the bottom of the third. After putting runners on first and second with two outs, Bogaerts robbed Yandy Diaz of an extra-base hit by snatching a 110.7 mph line drive in mid-air to extinguish the threat.

An inning later, Story made a sprawling grab up the middle to rob Manuel Margot of a one-out single. Wacha continued to roll on through the fourth and was one out way from getting through a scoreless fifth. Franco prevented that from happening, though, as he took the righty deep once more to cut Tampa Bay’s deficit to two. Randy Arozarena struck out to end the fifth, which would wind up being Wacha’s final inning.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 82 (50 strikes), Wacha surrendered just two runs on three hits and two walks to go along with three strikeouts in his five innings. The 30-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball and changeup a combined 69% of the time he was on the mound Friday.

In relief of Wacha, Austin Davis received the first call from acting manager Will Venable out of the Boston bullpen in the sixth inning. With some help from Verdugo, who recorded his second outfield assist of the year by gunning down Yandy Diaz at second base, the left-hander faced the minimum on 17 pitches — 10 of which went for strikes. Fellow southpaw Matt Strahm was next up for the eighth and immediately gave up a leadoff single to Margot.

Kevin Kiermaier effectively traded places with Margot while grounding into the first out of the inning. Kiermaier then went from first to third on a Mike Zunino single that was accompanied by a Bogaerts throwing error and scored from third on a Brandon Lowe groundout.

With two outs in the seventh inning of a 4-3 game, Venable went back to the bullpen and brought in Hansel Robles to face off against Franco. Forcing the switch-hitter to hit from the left side of the plate, Robles got Franco to fly out to Verdugo in left to strand the potential tying run at second base.

Robles’ job was not yet done, however, as the hard-throwing right-hander came back out for the eighth. He struck out one and induced a pair of groundouts to send things along to the ninth inning.

Jake Diekman was unable to lock things down in the ninth. The left-hander instead walked the bases loaded while recording the first two outs of the frame to leave things in the hands of Matt Barnes.

Branes was brought in to face Franco and had nowhere to put him. Looking to reclaim his role as Boston’s closer, Barnes got Franco to ground out to Story, though it was no easy play.

After sliding to his left to field the 101 mph grounder, Story quickly got back to his feet and made the throw over to Bobby Dalbec at first base to record the final out. Barnes was credited with his first save of the year as he closes out the 4-3 victory.

Next up: Whitlock set to make first career start

As the Red Sox go for their second straight win over the Rays on Saturday, right-hander Garrett Whitlock will be making his first career big-league start for Boston. Tampa Bay has yet to announce who will be starting for them.

Regardless, first pitch is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Enrique Hernandez and Trevor Story: Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

Should the Red Sox consider trading Austin Davis?

Seven games into the 2022 season, the two Red Sox relievers who are tied for the team lead in appearances with four apiece are Ryan Brasier and Austin Davis.

Both Brasier and Davis were used by manager Alex Cora out of the bullpen in Friday’s 8-4 loss to the Twins at Fenway Park. The former struck out the side in a scoreless seventh inning. The latter allowed two runners to reach base but also fanned three in a scoreless eighth inning.

In Davis’ case, the left-hander has now yielded three earned runs on five hits and two walks to go along with five strikeouts over his first three innings pitched this year.

Put another way, Davis has posted a 9.00 ERA, a 2.33 WHIP, an OPS against of .945, a strikeout rate of 29.4%, and a walk rate of 11.7% so far this season. Two of his four outings have been scoreless, though Friday’s performance was undoubtedly his best work to this point.

Of the 21 pitches Davis threw in Friday’s loss to Minnesota, 13 went for strikes. The 29-year-old southpaw induced a total of seven swings-and-misses; three on his slider and changeup and one on his four-seam fastball.

In regards to his four-seamer, Davis averaged 93.6 mph with the pitch across 26 1/3 innings between the Pirates and Red Sox in 2021. On Friday, he averaged 95.6 mph with his heater and topped out at 97 mph with it, per Baseball Savant. For his big-league career, which dates back to June 2018, Davis had only thrown a pitch 97 mph or faster on two separate occasions prior to Friday’s outing.

Since the Red Sox acquired Davis from the Pirates for infielder Michael Chavis last July, the lefty has been one of Cora’s more frequently-used relievers. From the time he debuted for Boston on July 31 of last season, Davis has now made 24 relief appearances for the Sox. The only other hurlers who have seen more action over that stretch are Adam Ottavino (24 appearances), who is no longer with the team, and Hansel Robles (30 appearances).

Despite a career ERA of 5.49 in a Red Sox uniform, it would appear as though the club likes what they have in Davis. With that being said, though, it is worth wondering if Davis’ spot in Boston’s bullpen could be on the line sometime in the near future.

As a result of a shortened spring training, major-league teams were permitted to carry 28 players on their active roster. This, for instance, allowed the Red Sox to carry 10 relievers on their Opening Day squad.

On May 2, however, teams will be required to trim their rosters back down to the traditional size of 26 active players. When that time comes, the Sox will have no other choice but to carry no more than 13 pitchers on their active roster.

The way things stand now, Davis is one of three lefties in Boston’s bullpen alongside the likes of Jake Diekman and Matt Strahm. Josh Taylor, who began the season on the injured list due to a low back strain, could be nearing a minor-league rehab assignment.

With Diekman and Strahm being new free-agent additions and Taylor already earning the trust of Cora last season, would the Red Sox still entertain the idea of carrying four left-handed relievers on their 26-man roster beginning next month?

If Davis is deemed the odd man out once rosters shrink and Taylor returns from the injured list, the Red Sox could not simply option him to Triple-A Worcester, for the Arizona native is out of minor-league options. Because of this, Boston would need to expose Davis to waivers if they wanted to retain his services as a non-40-man roster player in the minors.

Taking that into account and assuming that Taylor will be back before long, what would be stopping the Red Sox from trading Davis away for a prospect who is not on a 40-man roster at some point between now and May 2? Why risk losing Davis for nothing when you could get something back in return?

Under chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, the Red Sox have made similar moves in the past, with the Yoan Aybar-for-Christian Koss swap probably sticking out the most. Davis, of course, is far more established than Aybar and could fetch an intriguing return since he is still under club control for three more seasons after 2022.

At the end of the day, do the Red Sox need to trade Davis? No. Even with Taylor on his way back, perhaps the club still believes Davis can play an important role out of the bullpen this season. If not, though, then perhaps it would be in Boston’s best interest to explore their options now before running into a roster crunch in a few weeks.

(Picture of Austin Davis: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

How did former Red Sox infielder Michael Chavis fare this season after getting traded to Pirates?

A little less than five months ago, the Red Sox traded infielder Michael Chavis to the Pirates in exchange for left-handed reliever.

To that point in the 2021 season, the Sox had used Chavis sparingly after not including him on their Opening Day roster. Across five stints with Boston, the 26-year-old batted an underwhelming .190/.207/.342 with four doubles, one triple, two home runs, six RBIs, 12 runs scored, one stolen base, one walk, and 32 strikeouts over 31 total games spanning 82 plate appearances.

Upon arriving in Pittsburgh in late July, Chavis assigned to the Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate in Indianapolis, and it took him a little more than three weeks for him to make his way back to the big-leagues.

On August 23, the Pirates recalled Chavis from Triple-A Indianapolis and he made his National League debut that very same day against the Diamondbacks at PNC Park while batting seventh and starting at second base.

For the next week or so, Chavis was a regular in Pittsburgh’s lineup and even made his first career start in right field against the Cardinals on Aug. 28. In the third inning of that contest, however, the Georgia native suffered a right elbow strain while sprawling out for a sharply-hit fly ball off the bat of Edmundo Sosa.

Chavis was removed from the game at the beginning of the fifth inning and was subsequently placed on the 10-day injured list because of it the following day. He was sidelined for more than two weeks before being sent out on a rehab assignment with Indianapolis on September 16 and later returning to the Pirates on Sept. 28.

In the process of starting four of Pittsburgh’s final six games, Chavis ended an eventful year on a high note. All told, the right-handed hitter slashed a scorching .357/.357/.500 to go along with three doubles, one homer, five RBIs, four runs scored, zero walks, and 10 strikeouts across 12 games (42 plate appearances) in his debut with the Pirates.

Chavis, who does not turn 27 until next August, is heading into his final year of pre-arbitration eligibility in 2022, meaning he remains under club control for at least the next four seasons.

When the Red Sox originally selected Chavis in the first round of the 2014 amateur draft, they did so while Ben Cherington was still heading the team’s baseball operations department. Cherington, of course, now serves as general manager of the Pirates, so there is a level of familiarity there.

In his time with the Red Sox, Chavis logged time at every infield position besides shortstop and made 12 appearances in left field during the compressed 2020 campaign. He briefly added right field to his repertoire this past season, making it seem as though the Pirates value his defensive versatility.

While Chavis will likely get the opportunity to compete for a utility tole on Pittsburgh’s Opening Day roster next spring, there are still some areas of his game he needs to improve on, such as faring better against right-handed pitchers (.547 OPS this year) or better handling off-speed and breaking pitches.

To that end, Chavis does have one minor-league option year remaining, so the Pirates could shuttle him between Indianapolis and Pittsburgh next season if they so choose.

(Picture of Michael Chavis: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Late rally lifts Red Sox to 5-3 victory over Nationals after Tanner Houck tosses 5 scoreless innings

It took nearly four hours to complete, but the Red Sox managed to hold off the Nationals on Saturday afternoon to ensure that their season will extend beyond Sunday one way or the other.

Powered by a four-run outburst in the ninth inning, Boston outlasted Washington by a final score of 5-3 at Nationals Park, marking their second straight win that tightens their grip on one of the two American League Wild Card spots.

The Sox did not announce a starter for Saturday’s contest until a few hours before first pitch, but who they ultimately rolled with — Tanner Houck — turned in quite the outing to put the finishing touches on his rookie season.

Houck, making his first start since September 17, twirled five perfect innings in which he kept the Nationals off the scoreboard while striking out eight and walking none in the process of retiring each of the first 15 batters he faced in order.

The right-hander got through those five flawless frames on just 53 pitches (39 strikes), but given the fact he had just thrown 41 pitches this past Tuesday, the 25-year-old’s day came to an end as soon as he recorded the final out of the fifth.

In the process of witnessing Houck put together a bid at a perfect game, the Red Sox got very little production out of their lineup while matched up against Nationals starter Josiah Gray.

Rafael Devers put Boston on the board by crushing his 36th home run of the season off Gray with two outs in the top of the fourth, but that was all they could push across while Houck was still on the mound.

In relief of Houck, Garrett Richards got the first call from Red Sox manager Alex Cora out of the Boston bullpen, and he saw the combined perfect game bid come to a close when he issued a two-out single to the pinch-hitting Gerardo Parra in an otherwise clean sixth inning.

Ryan Brasier, taking over for Richards in the seventh, got himself in and out of trouble, as he loaded the bases with two outs on a pair of singles and a walk before emphatically punching out Jordy Mercer on five pitches to extinguish the threat.

Brasier, who completed his fourth straight scoreless appearance in as many days, celebrated getting out of the jam by pounding his chest, though the Sox lineup found themselves in a similar situation just a half-inning later.

After Enrique Hernandez, Kyle Schwarber, and Xander Bogaerts had each drawn a walk with two outs in the eighth, Devers had an opportunity to put this one way, but instead struck out against Nationals reliever Tanner Rainey.

With the score remaining at 1-0 in favor of Boston, Adam Ottavino appeared well on his way to recording the first two outs of the bottom of the eighth rather quickly. The veteran righty punched out Carter Kieboom on three straight strikes and proceeded to get Ryan Zimmerman to lift a 288-foot fly ball in the direction of center fielder Hunter Renfroe.

Renfroe, however, lost the ball in the sky, which allowed Zimmernan to reach base safely on a double that allowed the Nats to fill the bases when Ottavino yielded back-to-back walks to Lane Thomas and Alcides Escobar.

At that moment, the dangerous, left-handed hitting Juan Soto was looming in the on-deck circle for Washington, which prompted Cora to turn to the left-handed throwing Austin Davis out of the bullpen.

Davis got Soto to hit a 303-foot sacrifice fly to deep center field that brought in Zimmerman from third to tie things up at 1-1, but followed that up by getting Josh Bell to line out to shortstop to retire the side there.

Potentially down to their final three outs in the ninth, J.D. Martinez led the inning off by drawing a 10-pitch walk that put the go-ahead run on base.

Jose Iglesias took over for Martinez as the runner at first, and he came in to score all the way from first when Christian Vazquez unloaded on a first-pitch fastball from Rainey and laced a run-scoring single to deep right field.

Travis Shaw followed by plating Vazquez on an RBI single of his own, and the Red Sox had themselves a 3-1 lead just like that. Hernandez provided what would turn out to be some much-needed insurance when he greeted new Nationals reliever Mason Thompson by clubbing a 401-foot tow-run shot to left-center field.

Hernandez’s 20th home run of the year gave Boston a commanding 5-1 lead going into the bottom half of the ninth. And although Davis gave two of those runs back on a two-run homer off the bat of Andrew Stevenson, Hansel Robles took over from there.

Robles worked his way around a two-out walk in relief of Davis and ultimately slammed the door on the Nationals to secure the 5-3 victory for the Sox as well as notch his 14th save of the season.

With the win, not only do the Red Sox improve to 91-70 on the season, they also move into a tie with the Yankees, who lost on Saturday, for the top American League Wild Card spot.

Additionally, Boston remains one game ahead of the Blue Jays, who also won on Saturday, while remaining one game up on the Mariners, who defeated the Angels on Saturday.

That being said, the Sox have ensured that they will be playing beyond Sunday’s series finale regardless of who wins and loses elsewhere. Whether their first action after Sunday comes in the form of a tiebreaker on Monday or the American League Wild Card game on Tuesday has yet to be determined.

Next up: Sale vs. Adon in regular season finale

While their plans could change, the Red Sox — at the moment — are slated to give the ball to ace left-hander Chris Sale in Sunday’s finale against the Nationals.

The Nationals in turn, will have right-handed pitching prospect Joan Adon make his major-league debut and close out their season.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

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

Red Sox injuries: Josh Taylor to have MRI on back; X-rays on Kevin Plawecki’s foot come back negative

In the process of blowing a late one-run lead and dropping a heartbreaker to the Yankees by a final score of 5-3 at Fenway Park on Saturday, the Red Sox were also dealt two blows on the injury front, though one may be considered more significant than the other.

For starters, Josh Taylor was not available out of the bullpen because of a back issue, Sox manager Alex Cora relayed following Saturday night’s defeat at the hands of the Yankees.

“Taylor is down,” Cora said. “He’s actually going to have an MRI tomorrow. His back has been bothering him, so we’ll see where we’re at with that, but he was down.”

With Taylor unavailable, Boston was left without an additional left-handed relief option in its bullpen, leaving Austin Davis and Darwinzon Hernandez as the two primary lefties who could be called upon.

After Tanner Houck issued a pair of two-out walks to New York’s No. 1 and No. 2 hitters in the top of the eighth inning, Cora was put into a spot where his side had a 2-1 lead to protect with a left-handed hitter in Anthony Rizzo due to hit next for the opposition.

That led Cora to turn to Hernandez for the left-on-left matchup with one out to get in the eighth. Hernandez, however, plunked Rizzo on a 3-1, 96 mph fastball to load the bases as the ever-dangerous, right-handed hitting Giancarlo Stanton loomed in the on-deck circle.

While Cora could not make another pitching change since Hernandez had yet to face the minimum of three batters, he did pay the 24-year-old a visit on the pitcher’s mound to have a brief conversation with him — as well as the rest of the Red Sox infield.

Cora’s pep talk did not pay off, though, as Hernandez proceeded to groove a first-pitch fastball down the heart of the plate to Stanton that the Yankees slugger crushed 452 feet over the Green Monster for what would turn out to be the game-winning grand slam.

In choosing Hernandez over Davis to face Rizzo, Cora was left to defend his decision during his postgame media availability, and he did just that.

“I mean, the fact that his stuff plays, right? He’s been throwing the ball well, and you always have to be prepared for the next hitter, right?” Cora said in regards to having Hernandez pitch in that spot. “It’s not that you’re thinking something negative is going to happen with the lefty (Rizzo), but we do believe that he can get the righty out, too, in that spot so we went with him.”

Coming into play on Saturday, Hernandez had actually fared better against right-handed hitters (.615 OPS) than left-handed hitters (.736 OPS against).

Davis, on the other hand, has given up just four hits to the 31 left-handed hitters he faced since joining the Red Sox as a trade deadline acquisition.

On the flip side of that, however, Davis has struggled against right-handed hitters (.886 OPS against) dating back to July 31, so Cora truly did have a difficult decision to make when taking the three-batter minimum rule into consideration.

“There’s two outs. We’ve got to get him (Rizzo) out there,” said Cora. “That’s why we went with Darwinzon. Because we do believe he can get the lefty and the righty out. It just didn’t happen. But the rules are the rules. We’ve been playing with them all season. It’s not the first time we had a situation like this. Just like he wasn’t able to pound the strike zone with the lefty.”

Regardless of which reliever was tasked with getting out of the eighth inning, Boston’s late-game collapse stems from Houck’s inability to throw strikes consistently.

The right-hander was dispatched in the seventh inning and walked the first two batters he faced on eight straight balls before escaping the jam on a double play off the bat of Gleyber Torres and a three-pitch strikeout of Gary Sanchez.

Houck proceeded to fan the first two Yankees he faced in the eighth as well and appeared to be on the verge of punching out the side when he had leadoff man Brett Gardner in a 1-2 count. He instead walked Gardner on six pitches before getting in another two-strike count against Aaron Judge that ultimately resulted in a six-pitch walk to bring Rizzo to the plate.

“We didn’t throw enough strikes in that inning,” Cora said. “We had two outs, 1-2 count, we weren’t able to put [Gardner] away. Then 2-2 count against Judge, we didn’t put him away. Obviously the walk to Rizzo [by Hernandez], but I think it goes back to the leadoff hitter. We had two outs and we made some good pitches, but not in the strike zone.”

In other injury-related news, Red Sox catcher Kevin Plawecki, who went 2-for-2 with a walk and a home run in Saturday’s loss, was struck in the right foot by a 98.5 mph fastball from Aroldis Chapman during final plate appearance of the night in the ninth inning.

A hobbled Plawecki was removed from the contest and replaced at first base by the pinch-running Christian Vazquez, but Cora later revealed that X-Rays on the veteran backstop’s foot came back negative.

“It’s feeling better now. X-rays are negative, so that’s good,” Plawecki said. “Obviously sore, but we’ll get some treatment on it tomorrow and it shouldn’t be anything for me to really worry about. So, I dodged a bullet, I guess you could say.”

(Picture of Josh Taylor: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Kiké Hernández, Xander Bogaerts both homer as Red Sox top Mets, 6-3, for sixth straight win

Exactly two weeks out from the American League Wild Card game, the Red Sox continued their winning ways against the Mets to kick off their final homestand of the regular season.

Although they fell behind first, Boston fought their way back for a 6-3 victory over New York at Fenway Park on Tuesday night, marking their sixth straight win.

Eduardo Rodriguez, making his 29th start of the season for the Sox and his very first against the Mets, was sharp early on, but later fell off in what turned out to be another relatively short outing.

Over just 4 1/3 innings of work, Rodriguez allowed two runs — both of which were earned — on five hits and three walks to go along with five strikeouts on the night.

The veteran left-hander took a perfect game into the third inning, as he did not give up his first hit until yielding a two-out single to New York’s No. 9 hitter, Tomas Nido, in the top half of the frame.

While it appeared as though Rodriguez was well on his way to putting together a strong performance, things took a turn for the worse in the fourth when he loaded the bases with no outs before issuing a bases-loaded, run-scoring walk to J.D. Davis to give the Mets their first lead of the night at 1-0.

Michael Conforto followed by grounding another RBI single through the left side of the infield that scored Javier Baez and very well could have pushed across another had Enrique Hernandez not gunned down Pete Alonso at home plate from center field.

Hernandez’s seventh outfield assist of the season proved to halt the Mets’ momentum, as Rodriguez escaped the jam by recording the final two outs of the fourth in consecutive order.

At that point, the Red Sox lineup had struggled to get anything going against Rodriguez’s counterpart in Mets starter Marcus Stroman despite having their fair share of opportunities — particularly in the third inning.

There, with no outs and the bases full, Xander Bogaerts grounded into what was at the time a back-breaking 5-2-3 double play, which was followed by an inning-ending flyout off the bat of Rafael Devers.

Compounded with New York jumping out to a 2-0 lead in their half of the fourth, things were looking rather dire for the Boston bats, but they were able to bounce back in a tremendous way beginning in the bottom of that particular frame.

With two outs in the inning, Bobby Dalbec stayed hot by ripping a 104.5 mph line-drive double off the center field wall. Christian Vazquez followed by lacing another liner, though this one flew over the outstretched glove of a back-pedaling Kevin Pillar, took a bounce off the Green Monster, and brought in Dalbec to cut the deficit in half at 2-1.

Rodriguez, meanwhile, came back out for the fifth, though he gave up back-to-back hits to Brandon Nimmo and Francisco Lindor that put runners at second and third with only one out.

That led to Red Sox manager Alex Cora giving Rodriguez the hook at that moment, as the 28-year-old ended his day having thrown 92 pitches (55 strikes).

In relief of Rodriguez, Cora first turned to the recently-recalled Ryan Brasier, who inherited a bit of a mess but got out of it by fanning Baez on three straight strikes before getting the dangerous Alonso to ground out to short.

With their lineup flipping over for a third time beginning in the middle of the fifth, the Sox continued to pound Stroman, as Hernandez clubbed a game-tying, 379-foot solo shot over the Green Monster (his 18th home run of the season, Kyle Schwarber drilled a hard-hit double to the left-center field gap, and Bogaerts capped it off with an act of redemption — mashing a 426-foot, two-run moonshot to left field.

Bogaerts’ 23rd homer of the year put the Sox up 4-2, but the star shortstop was not done there, as he — with the bases full and two outs in the sixth — plated two more on a 107 mph two-run double off Brad Hand to make it a 6-2 game in favor of Boston.

From there, after Brasier and left-hander Austin Davis combined to work a scoreless sixth inning, fellow trade deadline acquisition Hansel Robles took over and did the very same in the seventh.

Garrett Richards, on the other hand, served up a towering solo homer to Alonso in an otherwise clean eighth inning. He also got the first out of the ninth before Darwinzon Hernandez slammed the door on the Mets to preserve the 6-3 victory for the Sox, though the lefty did not pick up the save.

With the win, not only do the Red Sox extend their winning streak to six consecutive games, but they also improve to 87-65 on the season by doing so. The Blue Jays and Yankees also won on Tuesday, so the Sox maintain their 1 1/2 game lead over Toronto for the top Wild Card spot in the American League.

Next up: Sale vs. Walker

The Red Sox will hand the ball to ace left-hander Chris Sale as they go for the quick two-game sweep over the Mets on Wednesday night. Sale will be working on regular rest in just his second start back from the COVID-19 related injured list.

The Mets, in turn, will counter with right-hander and 2021 All-Star Taijuan Walker as they look to prevent the sweep from happening.

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

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Red Sox roster moves: Hirokazu Sawamura, Austin Davis activated; Brad Peacock, Stephen Gonsalves returned to Triple-A Worcester

Before opening up a pivotal three-game series against the Mariners at T-Mobile Park in Seattle on Monday, the Red Sox made a series of roster moves.

First off, right-handed reliever Hirokazu Sawamura was activated from the COVID-19 related injured list, while left-handed reliever Austin Davis was activated from the paternity leave list.

Secondly, right-hander Brad Peacock and left-hander Stephen Gonsalves were both returned to Triple-A Worcester to make room for Sawamura and Davis on the major-league roster.

The Red Sox made these transactions official earlier Monday night. They also reinstated righty Eduard Bazardo from the 60-day injured list and optioned him to Worcester.

Sawamura rejoins the Sox after initially testing positive for COVID-19 while the club was in Tampa Bay in the final days of August. At that time, he was the fifth player on the team to return positive results since their outbreak began in Cleveland on Aug. 27.

Upon his quarantine period coming to an end, the 33-year-old — who is vaccinated against coronavirus — traveled with the Red Sox to Chicago for their weekend series against the White Sox and even threw a bullpen session at Guaranteed Rate Field on Friday.

On Monday, MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo tweeted that Boston would be making Sawamura available to reporters ahead of the series opener against Seattle, indicating that he would indeed be activated.

In his first season with the Red Sox, Sawamura has posted a 3.09 ERA and 5.35 FIP to go along with 54 strikeouts to 29 walks over 50 relief appearances spanning 46 2/3 innings of work. The Japanese hurler last pitched in a game on August 28, as he did not require a rehab assignment.

Davis, on the other hand, returns to the Red Sox bullpen after being placed on paternity leave over the weekend.

Acquired from the Pirates in exchange for Michael Chavis ahead of the July 30 trade deadline, the 28-year-old southpaw has put up a 4.61 ERA, but much more respectable 3.38 FIP, with 14 strikeouts to six walks in 14 outings (13 2/3 innings pitched) since making his Boston debut on July 31.

In activating Davis, the Sox gain yet another left-handed bullpen option alongside the likes of Darwinzon Hernandez, Josh Taylor, and Martin Perez, who is expected to be reinstated from the COVID IL himself on Tuesday.

With Sawamura and Davis back in the fold, the Red Sox returned another pair of hurlers to Worcester in the form of Peacock and Gonsalves.

Peacock had just been sent back to the WooSox on Saturday when Connor Seabold was called up to make his major-league debut, but remained on Boston’s taxi squad before having his contract selected once again on Sunday after Phillips Valdez was placed on the COVID-19 related injured list on account of a positive test.

That being said, it’s safe to assume that the 33-year-old righty will remain with the Red Sox in Seattle as part of the taxi squad in the event that they need to add another pitcher for the final leg of this road trip.

Gonsalves, meanwhile, had his contract selected from Worcester on August 31 — when both Taylor and Sawamura were added to the COVID-related IL.

The 27-year-old lefty made his Red Sox debut that very same day and appeared in three games for the club, allowing a total of two earned runs on two hits, two walks, one hit batsman, and four strikeouts over 4 1/3 total innings in that stretch.

(Picture of Hirokazu Sawamura: Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)