Red Sox shut out in American League Rookie of the Year voting

The Red Sox were totally shut out in American League Rookie of the Year voting on Monday night.

Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena took home American League Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year honors, while Astros right-hander Luis Garcia and Rays infielder Wander Franco finished second and third, respectively.

This was to be expected, as all three of Arozarena, Garcia, and Franco were the three Rookie of the Year finalists selected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America last week.

What was not expected by some, though, was the Red Sox not sniffing a single ballot despite receiving key contributions from three different rookies throughout the 2021 season.

Per the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s website, eight different players received A.L. Rookie of the Year votes from 30 different writers, but none were Red Sox.

Instead, it was Rangers outfielder Adolis Garcia who finished in fourth, Guardians reliever Emmanuel Clase who finished in fifth, Orioles outfielder Ryan Mountcastle who finished in sixth, Rays left-hander Shane McClanahan finishing in seventh, and Blue Jays right-hander Alex Manoah finishing in eighth.

At first glance, one has to wonder how one of Bobby Dalbec, Tanner Houck, or Garrett Whitlock were all unable to crack the list as one of the top eight rookies in the junior circuit this year.

After a slow start to his first full season in the majors, Dalbec wound up slashing .240/.298/.494 on the year to go along with 21 doubles, five triples, 25 home runs, 78 RBIs, 50 runs scored, two stolen bases, 28 walks, and 156 strikeouts over 133 games spanning 453 plate appearances.

Among qualified American League rookie hitters this season, the 26-year-old first baseman ranked third in home runs, third in RBIs, seventh in runs scored, third in isolated power (.254), second in slugging percentage, and 11th in wRC+ (107).

Houck, like Dalbec, debuted for Boston during the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign but exceeded his rookie limits in 2021. Across several stints between Triple-A and the majors this year, the right-hander posted a 3.52 ERA and 2.58 FIP with 87 strikeouts to 21 walks over 18 appearances (13 starts) and 69 innings of work.

Among qualified American League rookie hurlers this season, the 25-year-old ranked fifth in strikeout rate (30.5%), second in FIP, third in xFIP (3.20), and eighth in SIERA (3.28), per FanGraphs.

Whitlock, on the other hand, is perhaps the biggest snub here considering that he underwent Tommy John surgery in July 2019 and came over from the Yankees organization in last December’s Rule 5 Draft.

While expectations were likely low out of the gate for Whitlock, the 25-year-old right-hander proved to be one of — if not the most effective reliever out of Red Sox manager Alex Cora’s bullpen this season.

In 46 outings, Whitlock produced a 1.96 ERA and 2.84 FIP while recording 81 strikeouts and 17 walks across 73 1/3 total innings of relief for Boston. Among qualified A.L. rookie pitchers, he ranked second in ERA, fifth in FIP, fourth in xFIP (3.22), and fourth in SIERA (3.06), per FanGraphs.

Still, despite those three — particularly Whitlock — putting up those kind of numbers in their rookie seasons, none of them received any sort of recognition on Monday, much to the dismay of Red Sox fans.

There is, however, a reason as to why neither Dalbec, Houck, or Whitlock wound up on any ballots. According to the BBWAA’s Voting FAQ page, there are only three spots on members’ ballots when it comes to Rookie of the Year voting as opposed to 10 for Most Valuable Player voting and five for Cy Young voting.

In last year’s American League MVP voting, for instance, 21 different players received votes on account of there being 10 different spots for writers to fill out.

If this were the case in Rookie of the Year voting, it’s likely that someone such as Whitlock would have received some recognition in the form of one or several 4th-10th place votes on Monday.

(Picture of Garrett Whitlock: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox unveil lineup for Wild Card Game vs. Yankees: Kyle Schwarber leads off while Bobby Dalbec starts at first base

For the first time since its inception in 2012, the Red Sox are hosting the American League Wild Card Game against the Yankees at Fenway Park on Tuesday night.

It took until the final day of the regular season on Sunday, but the Sox finished ahead of the Yankees in the Wild Card standings despite both clubs having identical records (92-70) on account of winning the season series against their division rivals, 10-9.

Because of this, the 2021 installment of the American League Wild Card Game will be taking place in Boston as opposed to New York, meaning the Red Sox will have home-field advantage.

With ace right-hander Gerrit Cole starting for the Yankees, the left-handed hitting Kyle Schwarber will serve as the Sox manager Alex Cora’s leadoff leadoff hitter Tuesday night. He will be doing so while serving as the club’s designated hitter, as J.D. Martinez was left off Boston’s Wild Card roster due to a left ankle sprain.

Enrique Hernandez will start in center field and bat behind Schwarber, marking the first time all year the 30-year-old has started a game as the Sox’ No. 2 hitter after primarily batting leadoff throughout the regular season.

On account of Martinez’s absence from the roster, it will be third baseman Rafael Devers, shortstop Xander Bogaerts, and left fielder Alex Verdugo comprising the Nos. 3, 4, and 5 spots.

Hunter Renfroe rounds out the outfield and the middle third of Boston’s lineup, as the strong-armed 29-year-old gets the start in right field while batting sixth behind Verdugo and ahead of Kevin Plawecki.

Plawecki will be catching right-hander Nathan Eovaldi to begin things on Tuesday. Over the course of the regular season, Eovaldi posted a 3.28 ERA and .644 OPS against in 17 starts (96 innings pitched) with Plawecki behind the plate as opposed to a 4.77 ERA and .766 OPS against in 13 starts (66 innings pitched) with Christian Vazquez doing the same.

After Plawecki, Bobby Dalbec will be getting the start at first base and batting eighth, while Christian Arroyo will be getting the start at second base and batting ninth.

Of these nine hitters, Bogaerts, Devers, Hernandez, Schwarber, Shaw, and Verdugo have all homered off Cole at least one time in either the regular or postseason.

Hernandez specifically is 5-for-11 (.455) in his career against Cole, as he took the Yankees ace deep back in June.

Additionally, the Red Sox will have the likes of Jonathan Arauz, Jarren Duran, Travis Shaw, and Connor Wong available off the bench if needed.

First pitch from Fenway Park Tuesday night is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. eastern time on ESPN.

(Picture of Kyle Schwarber: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Hunter Renfroe and Bobby Dalbec go back-to-back as Red Sox hold on for 4-2 win over Nationals

The Red Sox prioritized offense over defense with their starting lineup for Friday’s series opener against the Nationals, and it paid off in a tremendous way.

Boston came out on top over Washington, 4-1, at Nationals Park to kick off the month of October and their final series of the regular season with a crucial.

Eduardo Rodriguez may have very well made his final start for the Sox on Friday, but the impending free-agent-to-be certainly put together a solid outing.

Over five-plus innings of work, the left-hander kept the Nationals off the scoreboard while scattering five hits and three walks to go along with six strikeouts on the night.

After retiring nine of the first 11 batters he faced, Rodriguez ran into some trouble in the bottom of the fourth when he loaded the bases with no outs for the bottom half of Washington’s lineup. The lefty did escape the jam, however, as he got Jordy Mercer to punch out and Carter Kieboom to fly out into foul territory before Andrew Stevenson dribbled a grounder in the direction of second baseman Enrique Hernandez.

The ball left Stevenson’s bat at 75 mph, which forced Hernandez to charge towards the infield grass, grab the ball with his barehand, and make a side-armed toss to an awaiting Bobby Dalbec while going into a head-first dive.

To Dalbec’s credit, the first baseman himself made an athletic play to record the out and keep the potential go-ahead run from scoring going into the fifth — another frame in which Rodriguez put up a zero.

At that point, the Red Sox lineup had been held in check by Rodriguez’s counterpart in Nationals starter Josh Rogers, though that changed when Xander Bogaerts, who was celebrating his 29th birthday on Friday, led off the top of the sixth with a groundball single.

Another base hit from J.D. Martinez put runners at first and second with one out for Hunter Renfroe, who greeted Rogers after a brief mound visit by crushing a towering three-run blast 423 feet to center field.

Renfroe’s 31st home run of the season gave Boston their first lead of the night at 3-0, but Dalbec quickly added on to that by going deep himself off the very next pitch from Rogers — a hanging 79 mph slider down the heart of the plate — moments later.

Dalbec made it a 4-0 contest on his 25th homer of the year. It also allowed Rodriguez to bat for himself (he hit a 101.2 mph groundout) and come back out for the bottom of the sixth, though he did not remain on the mound for long after issuing a leadoff walk to Josh Bell that was followed by a single off the bat of Keibert Ruiz.

That sequence marked the end of the line for Rodriguez, as he promptly got the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora in favor of Ryan Brasier.

Brasier continued his impressive run since being recalled from Triple-A Worcester on September 21, as he got Mercer to ground into a force out at third base before fanning both Kieboom and Stevenson to strand the runners he inherited and officially close the book on Rodriguez’s night.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 93 (62 strikes), the 28-year-old ultimately earned his 12th winning decision of the year while lowering his ERA on the season down to 4.77.

Matt Barnes took over for Brasier in the seventh and got the first two outs of the inning before serving up a solo shot to Alcides Escobar, resulting in Cora turning to Darwinzon Hernandez to face off against the left-handed hitting Juan Soto.

Hernandez walked Soto on six pitches and proceeded to yield a hard-hit single to Josh Bell that was corralled in right field by Martinez. Soto attempted to test Martinez’s arm strength by heading towards third base, but Martinez — with the help of a swift tag from Rafael Devers — made him pay by gunning him down there for the final out of the inning.

Martinez’s fourth outfield assist of the season kept the score at 4-1 in favor of Boston. Adam Ottavino, however, made things a bit more interesting in the eighth by surrendering another solo blast to Mercer that cut his side’s lead down to two runs.

Ottavino did get through the eighth, though, and Hansel Robles — despite walking two — followed by slamming the door on the Nationals in the ninth to preserve a 4-2 victory for the Sox as well as notch his 13th save of the year in doing so.

With the win, the Red Sox improve to 90-70 on the season. They maintain a one-game lead over the Blue Jays, who won on Friday, for the second American League Wild Card spot and now trail the Yankees, who lost on Friday, by just one game for the top Wild Card spot.

The Mariners lost to the Angels on Friday night, so they, too, remain one game back of the Red Sox.

Next up: TBD vs. Gray

The Red Sox have yet to name a starter for Saturday afternoon’s contest against the Nationals, who will counter with right-hander Josiah Gray — one of four players they acquired from the Dodgers in the blockbuster trade that sent Max Scherzer and Trea Turner to Los Angeles back in July.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Hunter Renfroe: Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Bobby Dalbec sits, Kyle Schwarber starts at first base as Chris Sale, Red Sox look to complete sweep of Mets

Bobby Dalbec is not in the Red Sox’ starting lineup for their series finale against the Mets at Fenway Park on Wednesday night.

Despite slashing a scorching .368/.500/.842 with two home runs and five RBI over his last six games, Dalbec will sit in favor of Kyle Schwarber, who will get the start at first base as the Sox go up against Mets starter Taijuan Walker.

Walker, who did not pitch against Boston the last time these two teams matched up in April, was named an All-Star for the first time in his big-league career earlier this summer.

Since the All-Star break, though, the 29-year-old right-hander has struggled to the tune of a 7.04 ERA and 6.87 FIP over his last 11 starts and 55 innings pitched dating back to July 18. He does however own a lifetime 1.69 ERA in two career starts (10 2/3 innings) at Fenway Park.

In his career against Walker, Schwarber has fared quite well, going 3-for-8 (.375) with three home runs and a walk off the righty. Between the Nationals and Red Sox this season, the 28-year-old left-handed hitter has slashed .257/.352/.605 (149 wRC+) against right-handed pitchers.

Schwarber will be batting second in Boston’s lineup behind leadoff man Enrique Hernandez, who has reached base in each of his last four games and will be starting in center field on Wednesday. They will be followed by Xander Bogaerts at shortstop, Rafael Devers at third base, and J.D. Martinez at designated hitter.

Martinez, like Schwarber, has also got the best of Walker, as he is a lifetime .546 (6-for-11) off him.

Rounding out Red Sox manager Alex Cora’s lineup is Alex Verdugo in left field, Hunter Renfroe making his return in right field, Christian Vazquez behind the plate, and Jose Iglesias — who has three hits in eight career plate appearances against Walker — at second base.

Vazquez will be catching ace left-hander Chris Sale, who will be making his seventh start of the season for the Sox. The 32-year-old hurler last pitched on September 17, meaning he will be working on regular rest in just his second start back from the COVID-19 related injured list.

Since making his 2021 debut after returning from Tommy John surgery last month, Sale has put up a 2.40 ERA and 4.26 FIP to go along with 31 strikeouts to six walks in exactly 30 innings of work thus far. He owns a career 2.45 ERA in two prior outings against the Mets.

The Red Sox (87-65) on Wednesday will be going for the quick two-game sweep of the Mets while also extending their winning streak to seven consecutive games. They currently hold a 1 1/2 game lead over the Blue Jays (85-66) for the top American League Wild Card spot.

Boston will also be wearing their City Connect uniforms once again, for what it’s worth.

Taking that point into consideration, first pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and ESPN.

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

Kyle Schwarber bounces back with clutch 3-run double off bench as Red Sox top Mariners, 8-4

There was a point in time where it looked like a key defensive miscue would once again cost the Red Sox dearly in their matchup against the Mariners at T-Mobile Park on Tuesday, but they were able to overcome their mistakes this time around.

In what was a close contest for most of the night, Boston used a five-run eighth inning to best Seattle, 8-4, and put an end to their two-game losing streak.

Nathan Eovaldi, making his 29th start of the season for the Sox, put together yet another solid outing, as he has consistently been doing over the past month-plus.

Over five innings of work, Eovaldi surrendered just two runs — only one of which was earned — on five hits and one walk to go along with nine strikeouts on the night.

After issuing a leadoff single to J.P. Crawford to begin things in the first, the veteran right-hander proceeded to settle into a nice groove, retiring the next nine batters he faced in order going into the top of the fourth.

Things were still scoreless at that point in time, but Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez quickly changed that by clubbing a 414-foot solo shot off Mariners starter Tyler Anderson to give his side an early 1-0 lead on his 28th home run of the season.

That one-run lead did not last long, however, as the M’s answered with two runs of their own in their half of the fourth, though Eovaldi certainly cannot be dealt all the blame.

Following a softly-hit single from Mitch Haniger and an infield single from Kyle Seager, Ty France blooped a 228-foot RBI single to shallow center field that landed in front of Enrique Hernandez and brought in Haniger to tie things up at one run apiece.

Eovaldi then get Abraham Toro to lift a 358-foot fly ball to right field that should have gone for the second out of the inning, but was instead misplayed by Hunter Renfroe when the right fielder quite simply dropped the ball.

Seattle was able to load the bases on Renfroe’s 11th later of the year, and they took advantage of that by jumping out to a 2-1 lead on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Jake Fraley.

Still, all things considered, Eovaldi did manage to escape the fourth without giving anything else up, and he ended his day by getting out of another jam in what would turn out to be a scoreless fifth inning as well.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 95 (66 strikes), the 31-year-old hurler did not factor into Tuesday’s decision, though he did lower his ERA on the season down to 3.52.

As soon as Eovaldi’s evening had officially ended, the Red Sox made sure to het the All-Star off the hook, as Seattle-area native Bobby Dalbec greeted new Mariners reliever Anthony Misiewicz by crushing a game-tying, 367-foot solo homer off him with two outs in the sixth.

Dalbec’s 22nd big fly of the season made it a 2-2 game entering the later stages, and while Darwinzon Hernandez (1 2/3 scoreless innings) and Adam Ottavino (1/3 scoreless innings) proved effective out of the Boston bullpen, the bats broke this one open in the eighth.

Following a hard-hit leadoff triple from Xander Bogaerts that prompted the Mariners to turn to Drew Steckenrider out of their bullpen, Rafael Devers drew a hard-fought eight-pitch walk, Martinez advanced Devers into scoring position on a groundout, and then it was in the hands of the bench.

Even after Dalbec homered in his previous at-bat, Red Sox manager Alex Cora opted to have the left-handed hitting Travis Shaw pinch-hit for him, and that move paid off since Shaw loaded the bases on a walk of his own.

Next up was Kyle Schwarber, pinch-hitting for Kevin Plawecki, and coming off one his more forgettable performances in his brief Red Sox career on Monday.

With redemption on his mind, Schwarber promptly unloaded the bases by drilling a 108 mph three-run double to the right-center field gap, allowing all three of Bogaerts, Devers, and Shaw to score to give the Sox their largest lead of the night at 5-2.

Schwarber’s heroics would not mark the end of the line for the Boston rally, though, as Alex Verdugo followed by mashing a two-run home run 348 feet over the left field fence to cap off a five-run inning and put his side ahead 7-2.

From there, Michael Feliz maneuvered his way around a leadoff walk in an otherwise clean bottom of the eighth and Martinez provided some much-needed insurance by ripping an RBI single off former teammate Matt Andriese in the top of the ninth.

Now working with an 8-2 lead, Hirokazu Sawamura was only able to record the first out of the bottom of the ninth while also loading the bases.

Austin Davis, meanwhile, took over for Sawamura, allowed two of the three base runners he inherited to score on a sacrifice fly and base hit, but ultimately closed things out to preserve an 8-4 victory for the Sox.

With the win, not only do the Red Sox snap a two-game skid to improve to 82-65 on the season, but they also move into a virtual three-way tie with the Yankees and Blue Jays for the top American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: Houck vs. Gonzales

Right-hander Tanner Houck will get the ball for the Red Sox on Wednesday afternoon as they look to secure a series victory over the Mariners, who will counter with left-hander Marco Gonzales.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.

(Picture of Nathan Eovaldi: Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

Travis Shaw delivers with 3-run homer, game-winning hit as Red Sox battle back to defeat White Sox, 9-8, in extras

The Red Sox have seemingly made a habit of blowing sizable leads as of late and nearly let that trend continue against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on Saturday.

After grabbing an early five-run lead, Boston later fell behind by a run in the middle stages of the game, but battled back for a 9-8 win over Chicago in 10 innings.

Connor Seabold, making his major-league debut and first career start for the Sox on Saturday, was the beneficiary of some significant run support.

In just three innings of work, Seabold allowed two runs — both of which were earned — on three hits and two walks to go along with zero strikeouts on the night.

Both runs the right-hander gave up came on one swing of the bat in the bottom of the second, as he yielded a one-out single to Yasmani Grandal before serving up a monstrous two-run shot to Leury Garcia.

The Red Sox fell behind, 2-0, on Seabold’s miscue, but they quickly responded in their half of the third while still matched up against White Sox starter Dylan Cease.

Enrique Hernandez proved to be the catalyst for the rally by ripping a one-out single to center field, then Cease issued two straight walks to Kyle Schwarber and Xander Bogaerts to fill the bases for Rafael Devers, who drew a free pass himself to bring in Hernandez from third for his side’s first run of the evening.

Alex Verdugo kept the train moving by lacing a two-run single to left-center field that brought in Schwarber and Bogaerts, while Bobby Dalbec plated Devers from second on an RBI single of his own.

Travis Shaw, who wasn’t even in Boston’s original starting lineup, promptly ended Cease’s outing by driving in both Verdugo and Dalbec on a towering, 372-foot three-run blast to right field.

Shaw’s ninth home run of the season gave the Sox a commanding 7-2 lead while also knocking Cease out of this game, but the Boston bats were unable to score again in the third despite getting two hits off White Sox reliever Ryan Burr.

Seabold, meanwhile, escaped one final jam in his third and final inning by getting the dangerous Jose Abreu to ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play, thus ending his night with a final pitch count of 43 (27 strikes). The 25-year-old did not factor into Saturday’s decision.

In relief of Seabold got the first call from Red Sox manager Alex Cora out of the Boston bullpen to begin the fourth, and he ran into some trouble when he issued a one-out walk to Grandal.

Richards nearly got Garcia to ground into another inning-ending twin killing, but Devers committed a fielding error by misplaying Garcia’s grounder before failing to field a chopper off the bat of Romy Gonzalez cleanly.

That sequence loaded the bases for the White Sox, and Richards followed suit by walking Brian Goodwin on five pitches to bring in one run before surrendering a bases-clearing, three-run double to Luis Robert with two outs in the inning.

Ryan Brasier took over for Richards after Chicago had trimmed their deficit down to one run at 7-6, but former Red Sox prospect Yoan Moncada knotted things up at seven runs apiece by lacing a game-tying, run-scoring double to left field.

Brasier’s woes rolled on in the fifth, as he got taken deep to right field by Grandal, who gave the White Sox their first lead since the second inning with his 20th big fly of the season.

Fast forward to the eighth, when the Sox were down to their final six outs, former Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel was unable to keep his old team off the scoreboard as he had done the night before.

Christian Vazquez drilled a one-out double to center field off Kimbrel to put the potential tying run in scoring position. The recently called-up Jack Lopez pinch-ran for Vazquez at second base and quickly advanced up to third on a wild pitch.

A sacrifice fly from Hernandez was hit deep enough (357 feet) to center field to allow Lopez to coast in from third, and that tied things up once again at 9-9.

After Liam Hendriks and Garrett Whitlock kept things that way for their respective teams in the ninth inning, this one headed into extras.

There, in the 10th, Verdugo assumed his role as the runner at second base after recording the final out of the previous inning.

A groundout off the bat of Dalbec allowed Verdugo to move up to third, and Shaw brought him in on an 85 mph RBI single off White Sox reliever Mike Wright.

Given a one-run lead to protect going into the latter half of the 10th, Josh Taylor was dispatched to get the three most important outs of the night.

Despite giving up a leadoff single to the first man he faced in Grandal which also put the potential tying run (Eloy Jimenez) at third base, Taylor did just that.

The left-hander punched out Garcia on three straight strikes, fanned the pinch-hitting Joey Mendick, and got Goodwin to ground out to second base to slam the door on the White Sox, preserve the 9-8 victory, and notch the first save of his big-league career.

With the win, the Red Sox improve to 81-63 on the season to maintain their one-game lead over both the Yankees and Blue Jays for the top American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: Pivetta vs. Lynn

The Red Sox will activate right-hander Nick Pivetta from the COVID-19 related injured list and have him make his return to the mound in Sunday’s series finale against the White Sox, who will counter with fellow righty Lance Lynn.

First pitch of Sunday’s rubber match is scheduled for 2:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and TBS.

(Picture of Travis Shaw: Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

Bobby Dalbec homers once again, but Red Sox fall short, 4-3, in series opener against White Sox

On a night where the two teams directly behind them in the American League Wild Card race both lost, the Red Sox were unable to take advantage of the opportunity in front of them and instead dropped their series opener to the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Boston fell to Chicago by a final score of 4-3 on Friday night, marking their fourth loss in their five games.

Tanner Houck, making his 11th start and 13th overall appearance of the season for the Sox, was quite simply not as sharp as he was in his last time out.

Coming off an outing in which he tossed five scoreless innings where he walked none and struck out seven against the Indians last Saturday, Houck’s command of the strike zone was not as sharp on Friday.

Over just 3 2/3 innings of work, the right-hander surrendered four runs — three of which were earned — on four hits, three walks, and one hit batsman to go along with one strikeout on the night.

After maneuvering his way around a walk in the first and putting up a 1-2-3 second, Houck ran into some trouble in the bottom of the third, where he was just one out — and one pitch — away from escaping a jam with runners at first and second base.

Rather than getting out of the jam, though, Houck served up a 378-foot three-run home run to the vaunted Jose Abreu off a hanging, 0-2 slider on the outer half of the plate.

Houck’s struggles did not end there, as he issued a two-out single to Eloy Jimenez before plunking Yasmani Grandal to put runners at first and second once more, but got out of the inning when Christian Vazquez gunned down Jimenez at second base for the final out.

Still, even after running into an out, the White Sox added on to their three-run lead in the fourth, with Gavin Sheets leading off by reaching first base on a Jose Iglesias fielding error while playing in the shift, moving up to second on a six-pitch walk of Brian Goodwin, and up to third on a Cesar Hernandez groundout.

Once again, Houck was just one out from getting through four full frames, but instead allowed that runner from third to score on an RBI single off the bat of Luis Robert that gave Chicago a 4-0 lead and marked the end of the line for the rookie righty as he got the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 70 (39 strikes), the 25-year-old hurler was ultimately hit with his fourth loss of the year while raising his ERA on the season to 3.54.

In relief of Houck, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez got the first call from Cora out of the Boston bullpen in order to face the switch-hitting Yoan Moncada from the right side of the plate.

Hernandez, in his first appearance since late July after being reinstated from the 10-day injured list on Friday, beaned Moncada to load the bases, but rebounded by getting Abreu to ground out to retire the side.

To that point in the contest, a J.D. Martinez-less Red Sox lineup had been held in check by White Sox All-Star starter Carlos Rodon. Bobby Dalbec, though, had other plans to lead off the top half of the fifth, as he stayed hot by crushing a 414-foot solo shot to deep left field.

Dalbec’s 21st home run of 2021 got the Sox on the board to make it a 3-1 game, but Rodon rallied by sitting down the final three batters he faced while former Red Sox prospect Michael Kopech got the first two outs of the sixth before running into some trouble himself.

Having seen Enrique Hernandez and Kyle Schwarber both punch out ahead of him, Hunter Renfroe changed the tone by drawing a five-pitch walk off Kopech and promptly moved up to second on a hard-hit single off the bat of Xander Bogaerts.

That brought Rafael Devers to the plate representing the tying run, and he — now matched up against left-handed reliever Aaron Bummer — could only manage a sharply-hit, inning-ending groundout that stranded yet another runner in scoring position.

Following scoreless innings of relief from Hernandez (in the fifth) and Michael Feliz (in the sixth), Dalbec again proved to be an offensive catalyst in his side’s half of the seventh.

With Ryan Tepera on the mound for Chicago, Dalbec lifted a leadoff triple just out of the reach of Goodwin in right field and quickly scored on an RBI groundout courtesy of Vazquez.

Danny Santana followed by ripping a single to right field and advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch from Tepera.

Alex Verdugo, coming off the bench to pinch-hit for Jose Iglesias in that spot, brought in Santana from second by lifting a 196-foot run-scoring single to left field.

That cut Boston’s deficit down to one run at 4-3, but they were unable to push across another runner in that particular inning.

After Adam Ottavino danced his way around a leadoff walk in the bottom of the seventh, former Red Sox closer and current White Sox reliever Craig Kimbrel countered by stranding a runner of his own in the top of the eighth.

Ryan Brasier, who took over for Ottavino, put two of the four batters he faced on base, while Josh Taylor came in and plunked Moncada to load the bases with two outs.

Taylor did manage to strand the bases loaded by fanning Abreu to keep it at a one-run game going into the ninth, where the bottom of the Boston lineup would be squaring up against another All-Star in Liam Hendriks.

Vazquez led off the ninth with an infield single and moved up to second on a groundout from Santana.

With the potential tying run in scoring position, Verdugo grounded out sharply to shortstop for the second out of the inning, while Travis Shaw — pinch-hitting for Hernandez — flew out to center field for the third out, meaning 4-3 would go on to be Friday’s final score.

With the loss, the Red Sox fall to 80-63 on the season as their lead over the Yankees for the first American League Wild Card spot remains at one full game.

Next up: Seabold(?) vs. Cease

The Red Sox have yet to officially name a starter for the middle game of this three-game set on Saturday, though it seems likely that that responsibility will fall to right-handed pitching prospect Connor Seabold, who traveled with the club to Chicago as part of their taxi squad.

The White Sox, meanwhile, will turn to fellow right-hander Dylan Cease as they look to secure a series win.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Bobby Dalbec: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Bobby Dalbec homers twice, but Red Sox unable to recover from early pitching woes in 12-7 loss to Rays

If the Red Sox were looking to bounce back and get back on track coming one of their more humiliating losses of the season on Monday, they may have just about done the exact opposite of that against the Rays at Fenway Park on Tuesday night.

Boston fell to Tampa Bay, 12-7, marking their third consecutive loss coming off a four-game winning streak that now seems long forgotten.

Eduardo Rodriguez, making his 27th start of the season for the Sox, was unable to carry over any momentum from his last time out against the Rays last week, which he described as his “best start” of the year.

That being the case because Rodriguez surrendered six runs — all of which were earned — on eight hits and zero walks to go along with three strikeouts over just 3 2/3 innings of work.

The left-hander began his nigh on a positive note by retiring the side in order in the first, but ran into trouble an inning later when he yielded a one-out double to Jordan Luplow that Alex Verdugo was unable to come up with in left field.

Former Red Sox prospect Manuel Margot followed with a double of his own, as he swapped places with Luplow to give the Rays an early 1-0 lead.

A groundball single from Joey Wendle put runners at the corners for Mike Zunino, who got his productive evening at the plate started by ripping a two-run triple to right field that nearly landed in foul territory, but instead landed just short of the fence by Pesky’s pole, hit the chalk, and proceeded to roll away from Hunter Renfroe.

Renfroe, thinking the ball was foul, did not react immediately, allowing both Margot and Wendle to score while Zunino collected just his second triple of the year, though he was promptly picked off by Christian Vazquez before Kevin Kiermaier struck out to end the inning.

The Red Sox lineup, matched up against Rays starter Drew Rasmussen, got one of those three runs back in their half of the second, but could have easily gotten more.

Following a leadoff single from Rafael Devers and 113.2 mph double from Renfroe that put runners at second and third with no outs, Alex Verdugo punched out on three straight strikes. Vazquez was able to plate Devers on a run-scoring groundout, but newcomer Jose Iglesias flew out to right field to extinguish the threat.

The Rays’ bats took advantage of the Sox’ inability to capitalize with runners in scoring position by striking for two more runs in the third, as Randy Arozarena led off with a double and the ever-dangerous Nelson Cruz crushed a two-run home run 410 feet into the Red Sox bullpen off a hanging cutter from Rodriguez.

After giving up that bomb, Rodriguez managed to record just three more outs before serving up a 407-foot solo shot to Zunino with one out in the fourth. That essentially marked the end of the line for the lefty, as he got the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora after recording the second out of the inning.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 68 (44 strikes), the 28-year-old hurler averaged just 92.6 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 24 times and only got two swings-and-misses on. He also saw his ERA on the season rise to 5.15 while getting hit with eighth loss of the year.

In relief of Rodriguez, Michael Feliz got the first call from Cora out of the Boston bullpen for what was his Red Sox debut.

Feliz, just selected from Triple-A Worcester earlier in the day, ended the fourth inning rather easily, but yielded a pair of solo homers (one to Cruz, one to Zunino) in the fifth and sixth innings to increase his side’s deficit to seven runs at 8-1.

Brad Peacock, making his first appearance since last Tuesday, did not fare much better than Feliz. The veteran right-hander got shelled for four runs in the top of the seventh, yielding a two-run double to Cruz and two-run home run to Luplow that allowed the Rays to jump out to a commanding 12-1 advantage.

Peacock did manage to put together the first scoreless inning of any Red Sox pitcher since the top of the first in the eighth, though, and the offense responded in the bottom half of the frame.

There, Kyle Schwarber laced a leadoff single off Tampa Bay reliever David Hess, while Bobby Dalbec and Danny Santana — both of whom came on as defensive replacements in the top half of the eighth — clubbed back-to-back home runs to cut into the deficit.

A pair of two-out singles off the bats of Vazquez and Iglesias put runners at first and second for Jonathan Arauz, who drove in Vazquez on an RBI single to center field, putting the Sox behind by just seven runs at 12-5.

After Peacock put up another zero in the top of the ninth, Dalbec brought in Schwarber on yet another two-run blast — this one being his 20th of the season to make it a 12-7 contest.

Alas, even after making things a bit more interesting, the Sox were unable to push across anything else, as 12-7 would go on to be Tuesday’s final score.

With the loss, the Red Sox extend their losing streak to three consecutive games while also falling to 79-62 on the season. They do, however, remain just a 1/2 game back of the Yankees for the top American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: Eovaldi looks to stave off sweep

The Red Sox will send right-hander Nathan Eovaldi to the mound Wednesday night as they look to avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of the Rays, who will counter with rookie left-hander Shane McClanahan in the series (and season series) finale.

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

(Picture of Kyle Schwarber and Bobby Dalbec: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Eduardo Rodriguez twirls 6 scoreless frames, Bobby Dalbec stays hot with 2-RBI night as Red Sox earn series split by blanking Rays, 4-0

For everything they went through over the last week in regards to placing eight players on the COVID-19 related injured list, the Red Sox were able to cap off a hellish seven game-road trip with a 4-0 shutout victory over the Rays at Tropicana Field on Thursday.

Matched up against a tough opponent in Rays starter Shane McClanahan, the shorthanded Sox jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on Tuesday right out of the gate.

Bobby Dalbec, having just earned American League Rookie of the Month honors for what he did in August, got his month of September off to a solid start by driving in Hunter Renfroe on a two-out, sharply-hit RBI single in the top half of the first inning.

Renfroe, on the other hand, delivered with a two-out RBI base hit of his own an inning later, as he plated Danny Santana from second base on a line-drive single to left field, thus giving his side an early two-run advantage.

Eduardo Rodriguez, making his 26th start of the season for Boston, took that two-run lead and essentially ran away with it in yet another strong outing.

Over six-plus scoreless innings of work, Rodriguez kept Tampa Bay off the scoreboard while scattering just four hits and one walk to go along with six strikeouts on the night.

After taking a perfect game into the third inning, the left-hander managed to face the minimum of 12 batters through his first four frames.

In the fifth, the Red Sox lineup tacked on two more runs of McClanahan, and No. 9 hitter Jonathan Arauz got the mini-rally started by drawing an 11-pitch leadoff walk.

That impressive display of patience and plate discipline flipped the lineup back over, as Kyle Schwarber moved Arauz up to second on another hard-hit single. J.D. Martinez drove Arauz in on a sharply-hit RBI single of his own, while a red-hot Dalbec made it a 4-0 contest by pushing across Schwarber on a run-scoring base knock to center field.

With that brand-new four-run cushion to work with, Rodriguez continued to dominate, stranding a pair of base runners in the fifth and sixth innings, though he did run into some trouble in the seventh.

There, after issuing a leadoff walk to rookie sensation Wander Franco that was followed by a Yandy Diaz single, Rodriguez was put in his first true jam of the night, and he got the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora as a result.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 94 (56 strikes), the 28-year-old southpaw turned to his four-seam fastball 46% of the time he was on the mound Thursday, inducing nine swings-and-misses while topping out at 95.6 mph with the pitch. He also later improved to 11-7 on the season and lowered his ERA to 4.88 in the process of doing so.

In relief of Rodriguez, Garrett Richards got the first — and only — call out of the Boston bullpen, and he continued to show how effective he can be as a reliever.

Inheriting a bit of a mess with three outs still to get in the seventh, Richards proceeded to retire the first three Rays he faced (two by way of the strikeout) to officially close the book on Rodriguez’s night before tossing two more shutout innings to pick up his second save of the season and secure a 4-0 victory for the Red Sox.

Since moving to the bullpen on August 13, Richards has allowed a total of one earned run over 13 1/3 innings of relief. That’s good for an ERA of 0.68.

With the win, the Sox were able to salvage a split in their four-game series with the Rays while also improving to 77-59 on the season. They picked up 1/2 a game on an idle Yankees team for the first American League Wild Card spot in addition to maintaining a two-game lead over the Athletics for the second Wild Card spot.

Next up: Welcoming in the Indians

The Red Sox will happily board a flight to Boston and open up a three-game weekend series against the Indians that begins at Fenway Park on Friday night.

Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is slated to get the ball for Boston in the series opener, while fellow righty Cal Quantrill is expected to do the same for Cleveland.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Eduardo Rodriguez: Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Bobby Dalbec named American League Rookie of the Month after posting 1.205 OPS in August

The month of August continues to treat Red Sox first baseman extremely well.

After making his major-league debut last August, Dalbec was named the American League Rookie of the Month for what he did this August earlier Thursday evening.

In 24 games this month, the 26-year-old slugger slashed an impressive .339/.431/.774 to go along with four doubles, one triple, seven home runs, 21 RBI, and 12 runs scored across 72 trips to the plate.

Two of his seven homers and seven of his 21 RBI came in one game against the Twins on August 26 — a Thursday night at Fenway Park in which he racked up three hits to tie a season-high.

Among all American League position players who accrued at least 70 plate appearances in the month of August, Dalbec ranked ninth in batting average, second in on-base percentage, second in slugging percentage, first in OPS (1.205), first in isolated power (.435), first in weighted on-base average (.491), and first in wRC+ (214), per FanGraphs.

One thing that has aided the right-handed hitter as of late has been an increase in awareness at the plate, or — to put it simply — plate discipline.

As of July 31, Dalbec carried with him a strikeout rate of 37.5% and walk rate of just 4.4%, both of which were among the worst marks in all of baseball at that point in the season.

Once the calendar flipped to August, however, the former top prospect demonstrated a much more patient approach at the plate, as he cut his punchout rate down to 25% while bumping up his walk rate to 11.1%.

Dalbec’s improved performance at the plate over the last four weeks or so certainly comes at interesting time, as the Red Sox activated trade deadline acquisition Kyle Schwarber from the injured list with the intention of having him play some first base on August 13 and subsequently claimed corner infielder Travis Shaw off waivers on August 15.

In being named American League Rookie of the Month, Dalbec becomes the first Red Sox rookie to receive the honor since former teammate Michael Chavis did so in May 2019.

As he looks to build off a successful month of August in his first appearance of September, Dalbec will be batting fifth and getting the start at first base for the Red Sox in Thursday’s series finale against the Rays at Tropicana Field.

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