Darwinzon Hernandez Struggles in First Start, Alex Cora and Andrew Benintendi Get Tossed as Red Sox Fall Back to .500 in 9-5 Loss to Rangers

After blowing a late lead to open up a four-game series against the Texas Rangers on Monday, the Red Sox fell behind early Tuesday and could never really recover, as they dropped their third straight contest to fall back to .500 on the season in a 9-5 loss.

Making his first career start and second appearance for Boston was top pitching prospect Darwinzon Hernandez, who was recalled from Double-A Pawtucket earlier Tuesday.

Last working as a reliever in his first stint with the club back in April, the left-hander surrendered four runs, three of which were earned, on three hits and five walks to go along with seven strikeouts on the night.

Despite fanning 77% of the nine hitters he faced, control remained Hernandez’s biggest issue in this one, as it has been in his time with the Sea Dogs.

From the jump, the Venezuela native dazzled, punching out the side in the first while also leading off the second with his fourth K.

The trouble began with a one-out, seven-pitch walk of Hunter Pence, which was followed with a four-pitch walk of Asdrubal Cabrera to give the Rangers their first two baserunners.

Two pitches later, Rougned Odor drove in his team’s first run by ripping an RBI ground-rule double over Mookie Betts’ head in right field, which came at the benefit of the Red Sox with Cabrera being held up at third.

In the third, the free pass bit Hernandez yet again, this time with three of the first five Rangers hitters to come to the plate in the inning reaching base by way of the BB, loading the bases for Cabrera.

After falling behind 3-0 and battling back to fill the count, Cabrera ultimately won his second battle against the young southpaw, as he made it a 3-1 contest with a two-run single to center.

Hernandez would fan Odor for his seventh and final strikeout, and proceeded to allow the first two Rangers he faced to reach in the fourth with the help of a Rafael Devers fielding error before getting the hook from Sox manager Alex Cora.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 86 (42 strikes), the 22-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball nearly 76% of the time he was on the mound Tuesday, inducing seven swings and misses while also topping out at 97.7 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

It’s never been a question about Hernandez’s stuff, that is certainly there. It’s the control that’s the issue, and for whatever reason, he just folded after recording the first out of the second inning.

Can’t say for sure that Hernandez will make another start, but if he does, it will most likely come against the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday.

In relief of Hernandez, Colten Brewer came on in that fourth inning, yielded a six-pitch walk to the first man he saw to fill the bases, and officially closed the book on Hernandez’s first big league start by giving up a sacrifice fly to Danny Santana to make it a 4-3 game.

From there, after Brewer escaped the fourth with back-to-back punchouts, Bobby Poyner came on for his first appearance since being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on Monday, and he, at the very least, ate some innings.

To put it bluntly, the left-hander entered with his team trailing by one run, and left with them down by six, with those last two runs coming on a two-run inside-the-park home run off the bat of Hunter Pence that was just out of Brock Holt’s reach in the top half of the sixth.

And finally, Mike Shawaryn continued to impress out of the bullpen by fanning four Rangers in two perfect frames of relief to wrap up what was another underwhelming night from Red Sox pitching.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Rangers right-hander Ariel Jurado, who had never pitched against Boston nor at Fenway Park before Tuesday.

Already down a run by the middle of the second, Xander Bogaerts answered back and got his side on the board by blasting his 13th home run of the season, this one a 422 foot shot over the Green Monster.

An inning later and trailing by a pair this time, Rafael Devers erased that deficit quickly, following by back-to-back two-out walks with a two-run triple off Jurado to break out of an 0-for-20 slump. He was stranded at third.

Fast forward to the bottom of the fifth, and some drama arose when Andrew Benintendi had a few choice words for home plate umpire Angel Hernandez following a groundout to short.

The thing was, Hernandez couldn’t hear Benintendi’s words, but first base umpire Vic Carapazza could, and without giving a warning, ejected the Red Sox outfielder as he was heading back towards his dugout.

That led to even more pandemonium, and ultimately resulted in Cora’s ejection and more colorful language from Benintendi.

Once all was settled, the Sox still trailed by three runs going into the sixth, and that deficit did not shrink.

A Michael Chavis leadoff double in the seventh off new Rangers reliever Jose LeClerc, followed by an RBI two-bagger from JD Martinez two outs later gave Boston their fourth run of the night.

And in the ninth, Mookie Betts swung at the very first pitch he saw from right-hander Chris Martin, and came away with his 11th dinger of the year, although it didn’t make much of a difference in what would go down as a 9-5 loss for the Red Sox.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox are 34-34 on the season and 5-6 in June.

Mike Shawaryn is averaging 16.5 strikeouts per nine innings.

JD Martinez’s last two games since returning from back spasms: 4-for-7, two doubles, one run scored, one RBI.

Andrew Benintendi on his ejection:

Alex Cora on his:

Brock Holt, who was in right field because of the Benintendi ejection, on what happened on the inside-the-park homer:

It was a bizarre night, really. Both managers got ejected, the Red Sox didn’t use one pitcher who appeared in a big league game before the start of the 2018 season, and Mookie Betts had himself a rough time of things in center field.

Next up for the Sox, it’s the third game of this four-game set, which was moved up three hours from its original start time because of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Right-hander Rick Porcello, will be getting the ball for Boston, while fellow righty Lance Lynn will be doing the same for Texas.

In his career against the Rangers, Porcello (4-6, 4.86 ERA) owns a lifetime 5.16 ERA over 12 prior starts and 68 total innings pitched.

Lynn (7-4, 4.39 ERA), meanwhile, has posted a career 2.40 ERA in three previous appearances (two starts) and 15 innings of work at Fenway Park.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 4:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox need to wake up.

 

 

 

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Red Sox Recall Bobby Poyner from Triple-A Pawtucket, Option Josh Taylor

Before kicking off their four-game series against the Texas Rangers on Monday, the Red Sox swapped a pair of left-handed bullpen arms, with southpaw Bobby Poyner being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket and fellow lefty Josh Taylor being optioned to the PawSox in a corresponding move. The club made the transaction official earlier Monday.

Poyner rejoins Boston after spending less than a week with the big league club back in April, where he allowed a total of two runs on three hits and two walks over two relief appearances and one inning pitched.

With Triple-A Pawtucket this season, the 26-year-old has appeared in 20 games, posting an ERA of 3.91 and a batting average against of .247 while striking out 32 hitters over 25.1 total innings of work.

Eight of Poyner’s last 10 relief outings have been scoreless, and he last pitched on June 8th.

Taylor, meanwhile, will rejoin the PawSox after spending nearly two full weeks with Boston.

In five appearances with the big league club going back to the 29th of May, the undrafted 26-year-old surrendered six earned runs, four of which came in Sunday’s loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, on 12 hits, no walks, and six strikeouts over a total of five innings of relief. That’s good for a 10.80 ERA, although his FIP was only 3.35.

While with Pawtucket this season, Taylor’s numbers look much better, as he has limited the opposition to a .234 batting average to go along with an ERA of 2.91 through 19 games and 21.2 innings.

With Brian Johnson still on the injured list but working his way back, Poyner is the only left-handed option the Red Sox have out of their bullpen for the time being.

The Red Sox also announced that the start time for Wednesday’s game against the Rangers has been moved from 7:10 PM to 4:05 PM EDT to accommodate Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins, which is set to begin at TD Garden shortly after 8 PM EDT that night.

Let’s also remember to keep David Ortiz in our thoughts and prayers.

#RedSox Recall No. 17 Prospect Travis Lakins From Triple-A Pawtucket, Option Bobby Poyner

In addition to adding top pitching prospect Darwinzon Hernandez to the active roster, the Red Sox also announced Tuesday that they have recalled right-handed pitching prospect Travis Lakins from Triple-A Pawtucket to the club’s 25-man roster. In a corresponding move, left-hander Bobby Poyner was optioned to the PawSox following Tuesday’s Game 1 loss at the hands of the Detroit Tigers.

The team made the following statement regarding the aforementioned transactions.

Lakins, 24, is ranked as Boston’s 17th-best overall prospect and seventh-best pitching prospect, according to MLB.com

Originally drafted in the sixth round of the 2015 amateur draft out of Ohio State, Lakins has posted a 3.38 ERA and .281 batting average against over six appearances and eight innings of work with the PawSox so far this season.

So, all of a sudden, the Red Sox have three of their top 20 prospects on their temporary 26-man roster in Michael Chavis, Hernandez, and Lakins.

Hernandez, of course, will be optioned back to Double-A Portland later Tuesday night, while both Chavis and Lakins will remain with the big league club for the time being.

 

Andrew Benintendi Launches First Career Grand Slam as #RedSox Top Rays for First Series Win of 2019

It took nearly four weeks, but for the first time this season, the Red Sox have won a series following a narrow 6-5 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays Saturday night. This is also the first time this season that the team has won two consecutive road games.

Making his fourth start of the season at a place he usually finds success in for this one was Rick Porcello.

Entering the day with a lifetime 2.86 ERA at Tropicana Field, the right-hander took the first steps in turning around what has been an ugly start to his walk year, as he held Tampa Bay to just two runs on six hits, one walk, and one HBP to go along with five strikeouts in 5.2 innings of work.

That lone free pass, as well as two double plays being turned, may serve as a few important indicators that Porcello is on the road to improvement.

Working with a lead from the second inning on, one of the six hits given up by the 30-year-old hurler traveled 413 feet off the bat of Avisail Garcia in the bottom half of the second to plate the Rays’ first run of the evening on a solo home run.

Later in the fourth, a pair of triples from Ji-Man Choi and Brandon Lowe in that order gave Tampa Bay their second run and make it a 5-2 game.

Retiring six of the next nine hitters he faced after that, Porcello’s night would come to a close following a two out single from Lowe in the sixth. With Avisail Garcia, with one home run under his best already, due up next for the Rays, Alex Cora made the switch for Heath Hembree out of the Red Sox bullpen.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 91 (60 strikes), Porcello turned to his two-seam fastball nearly 40% of the time he was on the mound on Saturday while also topping out at 93.6 MPH with his four-seamer.

Still without a winning decision on the season despite better results, Porcello’s next start should come against the Detroit Tigers, his former club, sometime next week.

In relief of Porcello, Hembree entered with one out to get in the sixth and did just that before surrendering a leadoff triple to the speedy Kevin Kiermaier in the seventh.

After recording the first out of the inning, Hembree made way for the recently called up Bobby Poyner, who walked the first man he faced in Rays pinch-hitter Guillermo Heredia and gave up a two-run triple to the next hitter he faced in Austin Meadows.

That cut Boston’s lead down to one run and in came Marcus Walden.

Recently called up himself, Walden had himself another impressive showing, fanning the only two Rays hitters he faced to send this contest to the eighth with his team still in the lead.

In that eighth inning, Matt Barnes, working two days in a row, allowed Tampa Bay to come all the way back from an initial five run deficit by serving up a leadoff, then game-tying homer to Yandy Diaz.

Presumably upset at himself, Barnes retired the next three hitters faced all via the punch out.

Thanks to a mini rally from the Red Sox bats in their half of the ninth, Ryan Brasier had the opportunity to come on for the save with a one run lead to protect and Christian Vazquez now behind the dish after Sandy Leon was pinch hit for.

Like Barnes, Brasier was also in his second straight game, and it showed, as he allowed the go-ahead run to reach base on a leadoff single from Robertson and a two out knock from Tommy Pham.

With Willy Adames at the plate for Tampa Bay with the chance to be a hero, Christian Vazquez made the play of the game, picking off Pham with a rocket of a throw to Steve Pearce covering first. And that’s how this 6-5 win came to a close.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against ex-Astros right-hander Charlie Morton for Tampa Bay, who had only made four career starts against Boston prior to Saturday.

Able to get the scoring started right away in the second, a JD Martinez leadoff single and a pair of walks drawn by Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. filled the bases for the Red Sox with just one out in the inning.

Following a mound visit and a Tzu-Wei Lin strikeout, Sandy Leon, in his second game back with the big league club, was able to drive in the Red Sox’ first run of the night by taking a 86 MPH cutter from Morton off his foot. That made it a 1-0 game and reloaded the bases for the top of the order.

Capitalizing on that miscue from Morton right away, Andrew Benintendi swung at the very first pitch he saw in his second at bat against the Rays hurler and wound up blasting his first career grand slam to unload the bases.

That put the Red Sox up 5-0 early on, but they were kept quiet over the next few hours, unable to score again until the ninth.

Going into that final frame having given away that aforementioned five-run advantage, Jackie Bradley Jr. of all people would begin things by ripping a leadoff single to right field off Rays reliever Jose Alvarado and representing the go-ahead run.

After another Tzu-Wei Lin punch out, the nine spot was due up next for the Red Sox, and instead of Sandy Leon, in came top prospect Michael Chavis to make his major league debut in a decently crucial spot against the left-handed Alvarado.

Called up by the Red Sox on Friday, Chavis took advantage of the unfamiliar matchup and laced a 1-2 double over the head of Kevin Kiermaier in center field, advancing Bradley Jr. to third in the process of picking up the first hit of his young career.

According to Statcast, that two-bagger from Chavis had an exit velocity of 109 MPH and traveled a distance of 401 feet. Not bad for your first AB in the bigs.

chavis.jpg

With the lineup turning over and the go-ahead run now just 90 feet away, Benintendi came through with another huge plate appearance, this time driving in Bradley Jr. on a sacrifice fly to left to collect his fifth and final RBI of the night. That put the Red Sox up 6-5, which would go on to be the final score in this one.

Some notes from this win:

Mitch Moreland, who started at first, departed from this game in the third inning due to back spasms. According to Moreland himself though, he should be able to play Sunday.

From @SoxNotes, regarding JD Martinez’s 10-game hitting streak:

From the Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato, regarding Chavis’ ninth inning double:

From the Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham, quoting Alex Cora talking about Chavis:

Already with their first series win of 2019 in hand, the Red Sox will for the sweep over the Rays on Easter Sunday.

Left-hander David Price will get the start against his former club, while former Pirates hurler Tyler Glasnow is slated to take the mound on the opposite side.

Michael Chavis is also due to make his first career big league start in this series finale, although it is not clear where he will be playing.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 2:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for the sweep.

 

#RedSox Place Nathan Eovaldi on 10-Day Injured List with ‘Loose Body’ in Throwing Elbow

For the third consecutive day, the Red Sox have placed someone on the 10-day injured list, with right-hander Nathan Eovaldi hitting the IL for the first time this season due to, “a loose body in the right elbow.”

In a corresponding move, the Red Sox also recalled left-handed reliever Bobby Poyner from Triple-A Pawtucket. The club announced the transaction Saturday.

Eovaldi, 29, was coming off his best start of the season last time out against the New York Yankees, in which he surrendered just one unearned run over six quality innings of work on Wednesday, so this news definitely comes at a bad time for a starting rotation still trying to work things out.

Going back to the 2018 season when he was with the Tampa Bay Rays, the right-hander was first diagnosed with loose bodies in his throwing elbow right before Opening Day.

Arthroscopic surgery was needed and Eovaldi did not make his first start with Tampa Bay until May 30th of that year.

Although no timetable has been set yet, it seems likely that Eovaldi will be sidelined for the forseeable future. Expect Hector Velazquez to fill his spot in Boston’s rotation.

Bobby Poyner, meanwhile, has posted a 4.26 ERA over five relief appearances and 6.1 total innings pitched with the PawSox so far this season.

Making his first stint with the big league club this year, the 26-year-old southpaw made 20 appearances out of the Red Sox bullpen in his rookie season last year, posting a 3.22 ERA and 1.345 WHIP in 22.1 frames of relief.

 

Top Pitching Prospect Darwinzon Hernandez Optioned to Double-A Portland in Third Round of #RedSox Roster Cuts

With Opening Day just five days away, the Red Sox made their third round of roster cuts on Saturday, reassigning two players to minor league camp and optioning three to the minors.

Outfielder Gorkys Hernandez and catcher Juan Centeno, both non-roster invites this spring, were the two reassigned to minor league camp. They will, however, remain with the big league club before they head off to Seattle.

Hernandez, 31, slashed .244/.279/.415 with two home runs and five RBI in 43 plate appearances this spring, while Centeno, 29, slashed .294/.368/.294 with three RBI in just 19 plate appearances. Both figure to start the 2019 season with Triple-A Pawtucket.

On the other side of things, the two surprising additions to Boston’s 2018 Opening Day roster did not make the club out of the gate this year, as left-hander Bobby Poyner and right-hander Marcus Walden were both optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket.

Poyner, who is technically still a rookie, surrendered seven earned runs on 10 hits and three walks to go along with eight strikeouts over seven appearances and 9.2 total innings of work this spring.

Walden, meanwhile, had a much better time of things in his second spring with Boston, as he allowed four runs (two earned) on nine hits, four walks, and 13 strikeouts over seven appearances (one start) and 12.2 innings.

And finally, top pitching prospect Darwinzon Hernandez was optioned to Double-A Portland.

The 22-year-old southpaw really impressed this spring, posting a miniscule 0.82 ERA over six outings (two starts) and 11 frames pitched.

Despite the rumblings that Hernandez could potentially make the Red Sox’ Opening Day roster as reliever, the club ultimately made the decision not to rush things.

Now, the native of Venezuela will have the chance to develop more while in Portland as a starter, presumably.

Following Saturday’s transactions, the Red Sox’ active roster now stands at 30 players.

PITCHERS (13): Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Colten Brewer, Nathan Eovaldi, Heath Hembree, Brian Johnson, Rick Porcello, David Price, Eduardo Rodriguez, Chris Sale, Tyler Thornburg, Hector Velázquez, Brandon Workman

CATCHERS (3): Sandy León, Blake Swihart, Christian Vázquez

INFIELDERS (10): Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Marco Hernández, Brock Holt, Tzu-Wei Lin, Mitch Moreland, Eduardo Núñez, Steve Pearce, Dustin Pedroia, Sam Travis

OUTFIELDERS (4): Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., J.D. Martinez

Assuming that Hernandez and Pedroia start the season on the injured list, while Lin and Travis are optioned, and Leon is either traded or designated for assignment, the Red Sox’ 25-man Opening Day roster is essentially set.

JD Martinez Returns to Lineup as #RedSox Get Blown out by Yankees in Tampa

The Red Sox fell to 6-13-1 in Grapefruit League on Friday afternoon following a 14-1 shellacking at the hands of the New York Yankees in Tampa.

As indicated by that final score, this was not and ideal day for Red Sox pitching.

Making his fourth appearance (third start of the spring), Hector Velazquez kicked things off by allowing four runs, only one of which was earned, on three hits and one walk to go along with one strikeout in less than two full innings of work.

After loading the bases by allowing the first three hitters he faced to reach base in the second, the right-hander managed to only surrender two Yankees runs, with DJ LeMahieu reaching on a fielding error to score Miguel Andujar and Gary Sanchez scoring from third on a Brett Gardner sacrifice fly, before Alex Cora made the first call to the bullpen.

With Adam Lau now on the mound and runners at the corners, Yankees slugger Aaron Judge greeted the 2015 37th-round pick by blasting his fifth home run of the spring over the center field wall.

That homer put the Red Sox in an early five-run hole, which turned out to be one they never recovered from. Lau did strike out the next and final hitter he faced in Giancarlo Stanton, though.

From the middle of the third on, Jenrry Mejia, Bobby Poyner, Jordan Weems, Erasmo Ramirez, and Ryan Weber combined to give up nine runs (six earned) on 10 hits, two walks, three strikeouts, and surprisingly no other home runs.

Mejia put together the best performance of any Red Sox reliever on Friday, as he retired the side in order with one punch out in a scoreless third inning.

Poyner, meanwhile, was hit the hardest, as the left-hander could only sit down one of the seven hitters he faced in what would turn out to be another five-run frame for the Yankees.

Through six outings this spring, Poyner owns an ERA of 8.22 and a WHIP of 1.57 over seven total innings. Not favorable numbers for someone looking to make Boston’s Opening Day roster like he did last season.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Yankees right-hander Domingo German, who figures to have a shot at cracking New York’s starting rotation with ace Luis Severino out all of April.

German, 26, shut out the Boston bats in four impressive frames of work, allowing just three total baserunners while fanning six in the process.

In fact, it wasn’t until the sixth inning when the Red Sox finally get on the board.

Facing off against new Yankee reliever Adam Ottavino, three consecutive no out hits from Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers, and JD Martinez would plate the club’s first and only run of the afternoon on a GIDP off the bat of Sam Travis.

So, no RBI awarded there and the Red Sox would go on to drop this one by a final score of 14-1. They have not won a Grapefruit League contest since March 5th.

Some notes from this loss:

As stated above, JD Martinez was back in the Red Sox lineup on Friday after dealing with back tightness earlier in the week.

According to @RedSoxStats: In 13.2 innings this spring, Brian Johnson and Hector Velazquez have combined to give up 28 hits and 18 earned runs.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll head back to Fort Myers to play host to the Atlanta Braves at JetBlue Park on Saturday.

Right-hander Kyle Wright, who is ranked as the second best pitching prospect in the Braves’ system according to MLB Pipeline, is slated to start for Atlanta.

And for the Red Sox, it will be Chris Sale making his 2019 Grapefruit League debut. The left-hander tossed three innings in a minor league game this past Monday, meaning he will be coming off a regular five days of rest. Should be exciting to see.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 1:05 ET. NESN has it covered.