Red Sox’ Alex Verdugo removed from Saturday’s game after experiencing flu-like symptoms

Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo was removed in the first inning of Saturday’s 6-5 win over the Mariners because he was experiencing flu-like symptoms, manager Alex Cora announced.

As relayed by The Eagle-Tribune’s Mac Cerullo, the Sox are hopeful that it is nothing COVID-related, but are currently going through protocol to ensure all the necessary steps are taken.

Verdugo batted fifth and started in left field for Boston on Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park. After a drawing a four-pitch walk off Seattle starter Chris Flexen in the bottom of the first, the 26-year-old was greeted by Cora upon reaching first base. He remained in the game through the end of the inning, but was taken out in the top half of the second.

Bobby Dalbec then took Verdugo’s spot in the Sox’ lineup while Franchy Cordero moved from first base to left field. Dalbec went 1-for-2 off the bench with an RBI (the 100th of his career) and a walk. Cordero, batting out of the seven-hole, went 1-for-4 with a 110.5 mph triple in addition to scoring the game-winning run in the eighth inning.

Including Saturday’s lone trip to the plate, Verdugo is now slashing .214/.255/.321 with six doubles, three home runs, 16 RBIs, 13 runs scored, nine walks, and 16 strikeouts across 38 games (153 plate appearances) this season.

At present, it is unclear if Verdugo will be able to suit up for Sunday’s series finale against the Mariners. The Red Sox are likely to know more about his status later Saturday night and will presumably go from there.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Travis Shaw elects free agency after Red Sox outright him off 40-man roster

Three days after designating him for assignment, the Red Sox outrighted veteran infielder Travis Shaw for assignment on Sunday. Shaw, however, rejected the assignment and elected free agency instead.

After being claimed off waivers by the Red Sox from the Brewers last August, Shaw enjoyed a resurgence in his second stint with Boston in 2021. The left-handed hitter batted .238/.319/.524 with three doubles, three home runs, 11 RBIs, and six runs scored over 28 games while also making the team’s Wild Card Game, Division Series, and Championship Series rosters in October.

On the other side of the lockout, Shaw inked a minor-league deal to remain with the Red Sox in March. While the 32-year-old did not perform particularly well in spring training, he still made Boston’s Opening Day roster as a left-handed bench bat who could platoon with Bobby Dalbec at first base.

That said, Shaw’s spring struggled carried over into the early stages of the regular season as he started out 0-for-19 at the plate with seven strikeouts. With Dalbec experiencing his fair share of offensive struggles as well, the Sox opted to remove Shaw from the 40-man roster so that they could call up Franchy Cordero in his place.

Now that he has cleared waivers and has become a free agent, Shaw is free to sign wherever he may choose. The Ohio native was originally selected by Boston in the ninth round of the 2011 amateur draft out of Kent State University and has 114 career home runs across 733 games between the Red Sox (2015-2016, 2021-2022), Brewers (2017-2019, 2021) and Blue Jays (2020). It will certainly be interesting to see if he can land with another team.

(Picture of Travis Shaw: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ offensive woes continue as Bo Bichette’s go-ahead grand slam lifts Blue Jays to 6-2 win

The Red Sox’ offensive struggles continued on Monday as they opened their four-game series against the Blue Jays with yet another loss. Boston fell to Toronto by a final score of 6-2 at Rogers Centre to drop to 7-10 on the season.

Nathan Eovaldi, making his fourth start of the year for the Sox, was extremely effective and did not factor into Monday’s decision. The veteran right-hander allowed just two earned run on five hits, no walks, and five strikeouts over seven economic innings of work.

Both runs Eovaldi surrendered to Toronto came by way of the long ball. After tossing four scoreless frames to start his day, the righty served up a 380-foot solo shot to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to lead off the bottom of the fifth.

In his seventh and final inning, Eovaldi yielded another solo homer to Matt Chapman. This one left Chapman’s bat at 107.2 mph, traveled 422 feet to left-center field, and gave the Jays a 2-0 lead.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 72 (56 strikes), Eovaldi induced a total of 10 swings-and-misses while throwing 29 four-seam fastballs, 22 curveballs, 12 sliders, six splitters, and three cutters. The hard-throwing 32-year-old also topped out at 98.8 mph with his heater.

Shortly after Eovaldi’s night had ended, a Trevor Story-lessRed Sox lineup finally got something going against his counterpart in Blue Jays starter Jose Berrios. Up until the eighth inning, Boston had been held in check by Berrios despite having a few scoring opportunities.

Earlier in the second inning, J.D. Martinez made his presence felt after a four-game absence by ripping a one-out double to center field. A four-pitch walk drawn by Jackie Bradley Jr. and line-drive single from Bobby Dalbec then loaded the bases for Christian Arroyo.

Arroyo, however, was unable to come through with a pair of runners in scoring position as he grounded into a back-breaking, 1-2-3 double play that extinguished the threat.

In the top of the fourth, Xander Bogaerts led off with a hard-hit single of his own and moved up to second on a Rafael Devers groundout. But he left on base after Martinez and Bradley Jr. both flew out themselves.

An inning later, Blue Jays center fielder George Springer robbed Kevin Plawecki of a two-out extra-base hit when he sprawled out and made a sensational diving catch on a 101.7 mph liner off the bat of the Red Sox catcher.

Fast forward all the way to the eighth, and the Sox ultimately chased Berrios on back-to-back singles from Dalbec and Arroyo to lead off the inning. With Adam Cimber now on the mound for Toronto, Plawecki advanced both runners into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt.

With the lineup turning back over, Enrique Hernandez broke the seal with an RBI single to left field that brought in Dalbec. Alex Verdugo followed with a sacrifice fly that scored Arroyo and knotted things up at two runs apiece.

That 2-2 tie did not last long, though. With Eovaldi done after seven, Matt Strahm got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen from acting manager Will Venable in the middle of the eighth.

Strahm got the first out of the frame but issued a one-out single to Raynel Espinal. Bradley Zimmer then dropped a drag bunt down the first base line that Strahm fielded cleanly and flipped to Dalbec covering first base. Dalbec could not squeeze the ball into his glove, though, and that allowed both runners to reach base safely.

That sequence prompted Venable to give Strahm the hook in favor of Tyler Danish, who gave up a single to Springer that loaded the bases for Bichette. Bichette, in turn, crushed a 1-0, 92 mph sinker from Danish and sent it 344 feet over the right field wall for the go-ahead grand slam.

Bichette’s slam gave the Blue Jays a commanding 6-2 lead heading into the ninth. Devers doubled to lead off the inning but was stranded there as Martinez, Bradley Jr., and Dalbec went down in order to Julian Merryweather to seal the defeat.

Some notes from this loss:

Nathan Eovaldi gave up 15 home runs in 182 2/3 innings last season. He has already given up seven home runs in just 21 2/3 innings this season.

The Red Sox went 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position on Monday and left five runners on base as a team.

At 7-10, Boston has now lost five of its last six games. They are averaging less than 2.2 runs per game and have been outscored 26-13 during this rough stretch.

Next up: Pivetta vs. Gausman

It does not get any easier for the Red Sox as they will go up against Blue Jays right-hander Kevin Gausman on Tuesday night. Boston will counter with Canadian-born righty Nick Pivetta.

First pitch from Rogers Centre is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Bo Bichette: Mark Blinch/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)

Bobby Dalbec comes through with go-ahead homer as Red Sox hold on for 4-3 win over Yankees to avoid sweep

The Red Sox will not be starting 0-3 for a second consecutive year, as they squeaked out a 4-3 win over the Yankees in the Bronx on Sunday night to avoid a sweep and improve to 1-2 on the young season.

Matched up against Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery to begin things in Sunday’s series finale, the Sox once again got on the board in their half of the first inning.

Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts each reached base via one-out singles, and both scored on a J.D. Martinez RBI double that was followed by a sacrifice fly from Christian Arroyo.

In possession of an early 2-0 lead, Sox starter Tanner Houck had an immediate cushion to work with. The right-hander was not at his sharpest on Sunday, though, as he allowed three earned runs on six hits, three walks, and one hit batsman to go along with three strikeouts over just 3 1/3 innings pitched.

The first of those three runs scored off Houck came with no outs in the bottom of the third, when Giancarlo Stanton plated Anthony Rizzo from second base to cut Boston’s lead in half at 2-1.

After Jonathan Arauz got that run back on a sacrifice fly off Yankees reliever Clarke Schmidt that scored Arroyo in the top half of the fourth, New York struck again in the latter half of the frame.

There, Houck issued back-to-back leadoff hits to Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Jose Trevino to put runners at first and second. He then punched out Josh Donaldson, who turned out to be the final batter he would face.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 78 (45 strikes), Houck turned to his four-seam fastball 45% of the time he was on the mound Sunday and hovered around 95.4 mph with the pitch.

In relief of Houck, Ryan Brasier got the first call from manager Alex Cora out of the Boston bullpen. Brasier, in turn, allowed both of the runners he inherited to score on a then-game-tying two-run single from Rizzo.

Kutter Crawford was next up in the fifth inning and impressed in his second appearance of the season. The 26-year-old righty stranded a pair of runners in scoring position in the fifth before striking out Rizzo and Aaron Judge in a scoreless sixth.

Moments before Crawford did that, Bobby Dalbec broke the 3-3 tie by cranking his first home run of the season off Schmidt. It came on the very first pitch of the sixth inning, a 94 mph sinker down the heart of the plate that Dalbec deposited 391 feet to right-center field to give the Red Sox a 4-3 advantage.

In the seventh, Crawford yielded a leadoff single to Stanton, representing the potential tying run, before making way for Matt Strahm. The left-hander proceeded to strand Stanton at first base by retiring the next three Yankees he faced in order.

From there, Hansel Robles maneuvered his way around a leadoff walk in an otherwise clean eighth inning. And in the ninth, Jake Diekman got his outing started in dramatic fashion by fanning the dangerous Judge on 11 pitches. He then got Stanton and Joey Gallo to strike out swinging as well to lock down his first save in a Red Sox uniform.

All told, five different Boston relievers (Brasier, Crawford, Strahm, Robles, Diekman), combined for 5 2/3 scoreless innings in which they scattered five hits and one walk while striking out a total of six.

Crawford, for what it’s worth, was credited with the winning decision — the first of his young career.

Some other notes from this victory:

From the Red Sox’ J.P. Long:

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

Next up: To Detroit

The Red Sox will continue their season-opening road trip by heading to Detroit for a three-game set against the Tigers at Comerica Park.

Veteran right-hander Michael Wacha is slated to make his first start of the year for Boston in the series opener on Monday. Detroit will roll with fellow righty Matt Manning.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 5:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Bobby Dalbec: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Bobby Dalbec and Rafael Devers stay hot as Red Sox hold off Twins in 4-3 win

The Red Sox improved to 9-5 in Grapefruit League on Thursday with a 4-3 win over the Twins at JetBlue Park. Boston now leads Minnesota three games to two in the race for the 2022 Chairman’s Cup.

Matched up against Twins starter Dylan Bundy to begin things on Thursday afternoon, the Sox got on the board almost immediately. With one out in the bottom of the first inning, Rafael Devers crushed a booming solo shot over everything in right-center field.

Devers’ team-leading fifth home run of the spring gave Boston an early 1-0 lead. Bobby Dalbec doubled it an inning later by taking Bundy deep to left field on a solo homer of his own. His third of the spring made it a 2-0 game.

Those two home runs provided Red Sox starter Michael Wacha with a comfortable cushion to work with out of the gate. Making his third start of the spring, the veteran right-hander retired six of the first seven batters he faced before running into some trouble in the top half of the third.

There, a one-out double off the bat of Jake Cave put a runner in scoring position for Luis Arraez, who ripped a groundball single off Wacha to plate his side’s first run of the day.

An inning later, Alex Kirilloff led things off with a line-drive single that deflected off Wacha. After striking out Miguel Sano for the first out of the frame, the righty served up a two-run blast to Ryan Jeffers to give Minnesota their first lead of the afternoon at 3-2.

Wacha did bounce back and end his outing on a positive note by sitting down the final two Twins he faced. All told, the 30-year-old hurler allowed three earned runs on five hits and zero walks to go along with five strikeouts over four innings of work.

In relief of Wacha, Oddanier Mosqueda received the first call out of the Boston bullpen beginning in the fifth. The young left-hander loaded the bases with two outs, but escaped the jam by fanning Sano.

Shortly after Mosqueda ended the top of the fifth, Jackie Bradley Jr. led off the bottom of the inning with a hard-hit single off newly-inserted Twins reliever Jharel Cotton.

Bradley Jr. advanced to second before Enrique Hernandez drew a one-out walk. Travis Shaw then came on to pinch-hit for Dalbec, and he delivered with his first hit of the spring: an RBI single to right field that scored Bradley Jr. and knotted things up at three runs apiece.

From there, John Schreiber retired the side in order in the sixth and then made way for Derek Holland in the seventh. Holland, making his spring debut after signing a minor-league deal with the Sox on March 21, impressed by tossing a pair of scoreless, 1-2-3 frames.

That paved the way for Boston to attempt to break the tie in the bottom of the eighth. With Cody Laweryson on the mound for Minnesota, Shaw — representing the potential go-ahead run — began the inning with a flyball double.

A single from Yolmer Sanchez allowed Shaw to advance to third and a walk drawn by Elih Marrero filled the bases with no outs for Alex Verdugo. Verdugo, in turn, came through with a sacrifice fly to left field that brought in Shaw from third.

Verdugo’s late RBI put the Red Sox up, 4-3, heading into the ninth. There, Phillips Valdez was dispatched from the bullpen and immediately walked the first batter he faced in Edouard Julien.

Valdez then punched out Mark Contreras before Marrero gunned down Julien at second base from behind home plate. With one out to get, Valdez put the tying run on again by plunking Stevie Berman, but rebounded by getting Roy Morales to ground out to Nick Sogard at second base to secure the save.

Some notes from this win:

Rafael Devers this spring is batting .421/.455/1.211 with five home runs, nine RBIs, and seven runs scored through eight games and 22 plate appearances.

Bobby Dalbec this spring is batting .370/.414/.815 with three home runs, nine RBIs, and five runs scored over 10 games and 29 plate appearances.

John Schreiber has yet to allow a run in three appearances (five innings) this spring. The right-hander has struck out seven of the 17 batters he has faced.

Derek Holland, in his 2022 debut on Thursday: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, and the winning decision.

Next up: Hill vs. Yarbrough

Friday’s starting pitching matchup between the Red Sox and Rays in Port Charlotte will feature a pair of left-handers going at it, with Rich Hill getting the ball for Boston and Ryan Yarbrough doing the same for Tampa Bay.

First pitch from Charlotte Sports Park is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time. The game will be televised on NESN.

(Picture of Rafael Devers: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Rich Hill returns and Bobby Dalbec stays hot as Red Sox top Rays, 4-2, to improve to 6-0 this spring

The Red Sox are nearly a week into their Grapefruit League schedule and have yet to lose a game. They improved to 6-0 this spring with a 4-2 victory over the Rays at Charlotte Sports Park on Tuesday afternoon.

Rich Hill made his 2022 debut against one of his former teams on Tuesday. Vying for a spot in Boston’s Opening Day starting rotation, the veteran left-hander scattered two hits and one walk to go along with two strikeouts over two scoreless innings of work.

Shortly after Hill retired each of the final three batters he faced, the Sox jumped out to an early 2-0 lead over the Rays in the third inning when a red-hot Bobby Dalbec scored Jonathan Arauz and Christian Arroyo on a two-run double to left field off reliever Adrian De Horta.

That paved the way for Garrett Whitlock to come on in relief of Hill beginning in the bottom of the third. Also making his first appearance of the spring, the righty escaped a bases-loaded jam in his first inning of work before stranding two more base runners in a scoreless bottom of the fourth.

Matt Barnes continued the trend of Red Sox pitchers making their 2022 debuts on Tuesday. Looking to re-establish himself as Boston’s closer, the hard-throwing righty sat down Curtis Mead, Yandy Diaz, and Ji-Man Choi in order in the fifth inning.

Non-roster invitee Taylor Cole followed suit by working around a bases-loaded jam of his own in the bottom of the sixth, while his catcher — Ronaldo Hernandez — drove in Christian Koss on an RBI single in the top of the seventh to give his side a 3-0 lead.

Geoff Hartlieb gave two of those runs back immediately when he served up a two-run home run to Ruben Cardenas a half-inning later, but outfielder Wil Dalton provided some insurance by leading things off in the eighth with a solo blast off Jack Labosky.

That sequence made it a 4-2 game for Austin Davis, who entered out of the Boston bullpen in the eighth inning and closed things out to record the save and secure a two-run win for the Red Sox.

All told, it was another decent day for Boston pitching. Despite allowing 10 hits and issuing five walks as a team, six different Sox pitchers (Hill, Whitlock, Barnes, Cole, Hartlieb, and Davis) combined to surrender just two runs while striking out 12.

Dalbec, meanwhile, is batting .444/.500/1.222 with one double, two home runs, seven RBIs, and two runs scored through his first four games (10 plate appearances) of the spring.

As they improve to 6-0 this spring, the Red Sox have outscored their opponents 34-11 in Grapefruit League play thus far.

Next up: Winder vs. Eovaldi

The Red Sox will take on the Twins in the third installment of the Chairman’s Cup. Boston currently leads Minnesota two games-to-none heading into Wednesday’s contest at JetBlue Park.

Nathan Eovaldi will make his second start of the spring for the Sox, and he will be opposed by fellow right-hander Josh Winder for the Twins. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time. The game will be televised on NESN.

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

Christian Koss crushes two home runs as Red Sox walk off Rays, 7-6

The Red Sox improved to 2-0 in Grapefruit League play on Friday afternoon following a 7-6 walk-off victory over the Rays at JetBlue Park.

Nathan Eovaldi, who was recently named the Sox’ Opening Day starter for a third consecutive year, made his 2022 debut for Boston. The veteran right-hander allowed two runs (both earned) on three hits and no walks to go along with three strikeouts over three innings of work.

After retiring each of the first six batters he faced, Eovaldi ran into some trouble in the top half of the third. The 32-year-old issued a leadoff double to Miles Mastrobuoni before yielding a pair of run-scoring hits to Esteban Quiroz and Josh Lowe.

That put Boston in early 2-0 hole, though Eovaldi was able to get through three full frames on 42 frames. His next start should come against the Twins in Fort Myers next Wednesday.

In relief of Eovaldi, Kaleb Ort got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in the fourth inning and allowed one run on two hits that made it a 3-0 contest in favor of the Rays.

A half-inning later, though, the Sox got all three of those runs back on one swing of the bat. Following back-to-back singles from Christian Arroyo and Rafael Devers, Bobby Dalbec stayed hot and greeted reliever Zack Erwin by demolishing his second home run of the spring over the Fenway South green monster.

Dalbec’s three-run blast knotted things up at three runs a piece going into the fifth, when Durbin Feltman twirled a 1-2-3 frame before 2021 Rule 5 draftee Brian Keller did the very same in the sixth.

Ceddanne Rafaela and Christian Koss led off the bottom of the sixth with a pair of singles off Rays reliever David McKay and both base runners advanced an additional 90 feet on a groundout off the bat of Hudson Potts. Rafaela then scored when Tyler Esplin reached base on a fielder’s choice.

That sequence put the Red Sox up 4-3, although their newfound lead did not last long when Keller served a go-ahead, three-run home run to Ford Proctor that gave the Rays a 6-4 edge. Joan Martinez came on for Keller and recorded the final out of the seventh.

From there, non-roster invitee Silvino Bracho took over for Martinez and maneuvered his way around a two-out single in an otherwise clean inning of work.

To lead off the bottom half of the eighth, the Sox cut into the Rays’ lead when Koss cranked his first home run of the spring to left field off Adrian De Horta. Izzy Wilson followed with a two-out single before Tyreque Reed came through with a game-tying single off former Red Sox farmhand Seth Blair.

Right-handed pitching prospect Victor Santos came on in the top of the ninth and put up one final zero for Boston to pave the way for some late-game heroics in the bottom half.

With two outs and the bases empty, Koss obliterated his second home run of the day. This one was another solo shot and came off Rays reliever Joel Peguero, thus ensuring a 7-6 walk-off victory for the Red Sox.

Next up: Pivetta makes spring debut against Twins

Nick Pivetta will make his 2022 debut for the Red Sox on Saturday as they face off against the Twins — who have yet to name a starter — at Hammond Stadium.

First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time. The game will be broadcasted on NESN.

(Picture of Christian Koss: Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Bobby Dalbec homers as Red Sox blow out Twins, 14-1, in Grapefruit League opener

The Red Sox kicked off Grapefruit League play with a one-sided 14-1 victory over the Twins at JetBlue Park on Thursday afternoon.

Jarren Duran set the tone right away, leading off the bottom of the first inning with an infield single. Bobby Dalbec immediately followed suit, taking Twins starter Cole Sands deep to left field for his first home run of the spring.

Dalbec’s two-run blast gave the Sox an early 2-0 lead. Non-roster invitee Ryan Fitzgerald doubled Boston’s advantage later in the inning when he drove in Franchy Cordero and Jeter Downs on a two-run single of his own.

After right-handers Michael Feliz (Thursday’s starter) and Taylor Cole provided a scoreless frame each out of the gate, left-handed pitching prospect Chris Murphy surrendered his side’s first run when he issued a bases-loaded walk to Miguel Sano in the top half of the third.

Andrew Politi came on to get out of the jam Murphy had created by retiring Gary Sanchez, then sat down the side in order an inning later. Zack Kelly, another non-roster invitee, took over for Politi in the fifth and put up another zero. In the latter half of the frame, Downs scored on a double steal before Yolmer Sanchez crossed home plate on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Roldani Baldwin.

Heading into the sixth inning in possession of a 6-1 lead, Red Sox manager Alex Cora handed things over to John Schreiber out of the bullpen. Schreiber worked his way around a two-out walk in the sixth before fanning one in a clean seventh inning of work.

A half-inning later, the Red Sox continued to pad their lead when the power-hitting Tyreque Reed laced a ground-rule, two-run double off Twins reliever Kody Funderburk.

In the eighth, recently-signed righty Tyler Danish kept Minnesota off the scoreboard once more before the Boston bats pushed across six more runs in their half of the inning. Elih Marrero ripped a bases-clearing, three-run double off Melvi Acosta while Reed collected one more RBI and Nick Sogard drove in two of his own.

That sequence put the Red Sox up 14-1, going into the ninth. Geoff Hartlieb closed things out in 1-2-3 fashion to preserve the blowout win in Boston’s Grapefruit League opener.

All told, the Sox tallied 14 runs on 14 hits and are now 1-0 this spring with 18 exhibition games remaining before Opening Day.

Next up: Eovaldi vs. Mazza

The Red Sox return to JetBlue Park on Friday afternoon to take on the Rays. Opening Day starter Nathan Eovaldi is slated to get the ball for Boston. He will be opposed by former teammate and fellow right-hander Chris Mazza.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time. The game will be broadcasted on NESN.

(Picture of Bobby Dalbec: Boston Red Sox)

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)