Rafael Devers homers, collects 3 RBI as Red Sox come back to top Braves, 9-5, in rain-filled night at Fenway Park; Nick Pivetta records season-high 9 strikeouts

It took until the wee hours of Thursday morning on account of a 2 hour and 53 minute rain delay, but the Red Sox were able to salvage a series split against the Braves with a 9-5 win at Fenway Park on Wednesday night.

With the victory, which took nearly six hours to see through to the end, the Red Sox snap a two-game losing streak and improve to 30-20 (14-13 at home) on the season. They remain a half-game back of the Rays for first place in the American League East.

Shoutout to Dave Mellor and the rest of the Red Sox grounds crew for their efforts in this one.

Pivetta strikes out nine over six innings

Nick Pivetta made his 10th start of the season for Boston in Wednesday’s series finale, and despite getting hit relatively hard, he did keep his team in the game.

Over six innings of work, the right-hander yielded four runs — all of which were earned — on seven hits and two walks to go along with a season-high six strikeouts on the night.

The first two of those four Atlanta runs came right away in the top of the first, as Pivetta walked Freedie Freeman on five pitches which was promptly followed by an RBI triple off the bat of Ozzie Albies.

Albies came into score on a two-out, run-scoring double from Dansby Swanson, and Boston found themselves down 2-0 just like that.

A Guillermo Heredia leadoff double an inning later would result in another Braves run crossing the plate when William Contreras picked up an RBI on a sacrifice fly. 3-0 Atlanta.

Pivetta would settle in for a bit from there, with the only hiccup coming when he served up a solo home run to Austin Riley in the top half of the fifth.

Wednesday’s outing marks the second straight start in which Pivetta has allowed four or more runs, but he wrapped things up on a much more positive note by punching out four of the final five hitters he faced — which included striking out the side in his sixth and final frame of work.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 102 (68 strikes), the 28-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball 45% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing seven swings and misses while topping out at 97 mph with the pitch. He also induced eight swings-and-misses with his slider, a pitch he threw 20 times.

Able to improve to a perfect 6-0 on the season despite raising his ERA to 3.86 in what technically goes down as a complete game (the second of his career), Pivetta’s next start should come against the Astros in Houston next Tuesday.

Renfroe homers to get scoring started for Sox

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against veteran left-hander Drew Smyly for the Braves, who came into play Wednesday sporting a 5.11 ERA through his first seven starts of the season.

After finding themselves in an early two-run hole, Hunter Renfroe got things started for the Sox in the second inning when unloaded on a hanging curveball from Smyly and deposited it 377 feet on a line over the Green Monster.

Renfroe’s sixth home run of the season, which made it a 2-1 game in favor of Atlanta, had an exit velocity of 102.4 mph.

Devers’ big fly to dead center ties it

Fast forward to the bottom of the fourth, and the long ball again proved to be Boston’s best friend, as a two-out walk drawn by Xander Bogaerts brought Rafael Devers to the plate, representing the tying run in a 3-1 contest.

On the third pitch he saw from Smyly — yet another hanging curveball — the dangerous left-handed slugger crushed a booming, game-tying two-run shot 434 feet (107. 1 mph off the bat) to deep center field for his team-leading 14th home run of the year.

Four-run rally in sixth proves to be pivotal

The Braves went up by a run on the heels of Devers’ two-run blast to re-take the lead at 4-3, but the Boston bats would not be silenced.

With one out in the bottom half of the sixth, the Sox had Smyly on the ropes with Alex Verdugo and J.D. Martinez each lacing a sharply-hit single to put runners at first and second.

A wild pitch with Bogaerts at the plate allowed Verdugo to advance to third. That miscue would prove to be costly for Atlanta when Bogaerts plated Verdugo on a softly-hit fielder’s choice to third base moments later.

Verdugo — aggressive as ever — was going on contact, and on a headfirst slide he managed to slip under Contreras’ tag at home plate to score and knot things up at four runs apiece.

Devers took responsibility for the go-ahead run by driving in Martinez on an RBI double down the left field line, while Christian Vazquez provided some much-needed insurance by greeting new Braves reliever Luke Jackson with a bases-loaded, opposite field two-run single that scored both Boagaerts and Devers and gave the Red Sox a commanding 7-4 advantage.

Inclement weather results in long delay

As the sixth inning came to a close, the rate at which the rain was falling from the Boston skies picked up. That led to the Red Sox grounds crew rolling out the tarp on the field at a Fenway.

A rain delay began at approximately 9:08 p.m. eastern time. And after a 173-minute standstill, the game resumed shortly after midnight.

Red Sox bullpen closes it out

When the tarp came off the field, it was Josh Taylor who got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen for the start of the seventh inning.

The left-handed reliever plunked the first hitter he faced in Ronald Acuna before recording the first two outs. Adam Ottavino was deployed to face the right-handed hitting Riley and got him to pop out to retire the side.

Ottavino also worked a 1-2-3 top of the eighth. The Sox tacked on two more insurance runs on a Danny Santana RBI and Vazquez sacrifice fly in the bottom half of the inning to give Matt Andriese a five-run lead to operate with.

Andriese, making his first appearance since May 23, got the first out, gave up a towering solo home run to Contreras, and a single to Acuna, which prompted Red Sox manager Alex Cora to turn to his closer, Matt Barnes, to finish things up in a non-save situation.

Barnes, making his first relief appearance since May 22, induced a game-ending double play from Freeman to secure the 9-5 win for his side.

Next up: An off day on Thursday, then a weekend series against the Marlins

The Red Sox will enjoy their second off day of the week on Thursday before welcoming the Miami Marlins into town for a three-game weekend series that begins Friday night.

Left-hander Martin Perez is slated to get the ball for Boston in the series opener, while rookie right-hander Cody Poteet is lined up to do the same for Miami.

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

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Red Sox held to just 3 hits by Charlie Morton in 3-1 loss to Braves

The Red Sox had an opportunity to get to Charlie Morton early on Tuesday night at Fenway Park, but were unable to truly capitalize against the veteran right-hander.

With the bases loaded and no outs in the bottom of the first, Xander Bogaerts struck out on five pitches, Rafael Devers managed to drive in a run by getting hit by a pitch, and Christian Vazquez lined into a deflating inning-ending 6-4 double play.

In the second, the Sox again were presented with a chance to put something together off Morton, as Danny Santana led off with a triple and Hunter Renfroe drew a walk to put runners on the corners with no outs.

Despite having yet another opportunity to jump out to a commanding lead, Bobby Dalbec struck out swinging on three pitches, while Enrique Hernandez grounded into an inning-ending, 4-6-3 twin killing to get Morton out of a jam.

From that point forward, Morton — like quality starting pitchers do — settled in nicely for Atlanta by sitting down 15 of the final 16 Red Sox hitters he faced from the middle of the third until the end of the seventh.

The Braves bullpen took over in the eighth and kept the scoreless stretch going, with Edgar Santana working a scoreless bottom of the eighth and closer Will Smith tossing a 1-2-3 ninth inning to secure what goes down as a 3-1 loss for the Sox.

All in all, Boston went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position on Tuesday and left five runners on base as a team.

With the defeat, their second straight overall, the Red Sox fall to 29-20 on the season and an even 13-13 at Fenway Park. They still trail the Rays by a half-game for first place in the American League East.

Richards grinds through 5 2/3 innings

Garrett Richards made his 10th start of the season for the Red Sox on Tuesday night, and while he was not particularly sharp in this one, he did pitch well enough to keep his team in the game.

Over 5 2/3 innings of work, the veteran right-hander yielded three runs on six hits and four walks to go along with four strikeouts on the night.

For Richards, it’s his second straight outing with at least four walks, and one of those free passes proved to be costly.

With no outs in the third inning, Richards issued a seven-pitch walk to William Contreras — Atlanta’s No. 9 hitter, which would prove to be harbinger of unfortunate things to come.

That being the case because the Braves tacked on their first two runs of the night on an RBI double off the bat of Marcell Ozuna and a run-scoring fielder’s choice in which Ozzie Albies drove in Freddie Freeman from third base.

The third inning could have ben even worse for Richards had Enrique Hernandez, while fielding the groundball from Albies, made a heads-up play by gunning down Ozuna at third base for the second out of the frame.

After getting through the fourth and fifth unscathed, Richards again walked Contreras, this time with two outs in the sixth, which would mark the end of his outing with the Braves lineup turning over.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 97 (59 strikes), the 32-year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball 69% of the time he was on the mound Tuesday, inducing eight swings-and-misses while topping out at 96.7 mph with the pitch.

Eventually falling to 4-3 on the season while raising his ERA to 3.83, Richards’ next start should come against the Astros in Houston next Monday.

Red Sox bullpen takes over

In relief of Richards, Hirokazu Sawamura got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen, and he allowed one of the runners he inherited to score on a sharply-hit Ronald Acuna Jr. RBI double before putting together 1 1/3 scoreless innings through the middle of the seventh.

From there, Garrett Whitlock also kept the Braves off the scoreboard while sitting down six of the seven hitters he faced over the eighth and ninth innings to keep his side’s deficit at two runs.

Sandoval notches three hits in Fenway return

While the Red Sox lineup struggled to get anything going on Tuesday, old friend Pablo Sandoval did not.

The former Boston third baseman — in his first game back at Fenway Park since being released by the club in July 2017 — enjoyed a 3-for-4 day at the plate in which he collected three singles and scored one run.

Next up: Pivetta vs. Smyly

Wednesday’s pitching matchup between the Red Sox and Braves will feature a pair of former Phillies toeing the rubber for their respective clubs.

Right-hander Nick Pivetta will get the ball for Boston, and he will be opposed by left-hander Drew Smyly for Atlanta.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN. Red Sox will be going for the series split.

(Picture of Christian Vazquez: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Adam Ottavino fans a pair in Red Sox debut, says closing out games is not ‘a must’ for him, but would be something he would ‘definitely embrace’

A little less than two months after being acquired in a surprising trade with the Yankees, Adam Ottavino made his Red Sox debut against the Braves at JetBlue Park on Wednesday afternoon.

Getting the call for the top half of the fourth inning, the veteran right-hander retired three of the four hitters he faced while picking up his first two strikeouts — one looking, one swinging — of the spring.

For Ottavino, Wednesday’s outing marked the first time he had thrown in front of fans in nearly a year, and it also marked the first time he threw in a game with Christian Vazquez behind the plate.

“I felt pretty good out there,” Ottavino said of his performance. “It was exciting to have people in the crowd again and throw to Vazquez for the first time in a game. So that type of stuff was good to get out of the way. And physically it felt good, so that was the bonus.”

As he prepares to embark upon his first season with the Red Sox, Ottavino has the chance to emerge as the club’s closer coming out of camp. He is currently competing with fellow right-handed reliever Matt Barnes for that job.

Over the course of his 10-year major-league career, the 35-year-old hurler has only notched 19 lifetime saves, a majority of which came with the Rockies from 2015-2018.

The closer role is one that Ottavino hasn’t had to undertake in quite a while, but it is not one he would shy away from if given the opportunity to do so with his new team.

“It would be great,” he said when asked how it would feel to close out games for the Red Sox. “The last time I had the job was right before I got hurt in 2015 and a little bit in 2016 when I came back. It was exciting. I really enjoyed it. It’s not something that I feel like is a must for me, but it is something I would definitely embrace. If Alex [Cora] gives me the ball in the ninth, I’ll definitely be pumped up about that.”

For his career, the former Cardinals, Rockies, and Yankees reliever owns a lifetime 2.76 ERA and .596 OPS against when pitching in the ninth inning of games.

Barnes, meanwhile, has posted a 4.03 ERA and .690 OPS against when working in the ninth inning over the course of his seven-year career with Boston.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora has gone as far to say that there is no frontrunner in the team’s closer competition, but the competition between Ottavino and Barnes itself is interesting due to the fact that neither have extensive closing experience and both are slated to become free agents at the end of the 2021 season.

Despite not having too much experience as a closer, though, Ottavino already seems to know what adjustments he will need to make if he does indeed win the job out of spring training.

“I think the biggest thing is you’re pretty much starting clean 80% of the time,” said the Brooklyn native. “You might finish off the eighth once in a while, but for the most part you’re starting clean in the ninth. You know exactly what it’s going to take to get the job done. Whether you’re up by one or up by three or whatever the case may be. So you kind of pitch to the scoreboard a little bit in that way and just try to do your job for the team.

“I’m sure I would get a lot more pinch-hitters — probably lefties, that sort of thing — but I’ve done it before,” he added. “I think the biggest thing is just attacking that first guy and putting yourself in a good position for success.”

The reason Ottavino specifically brought up the possibility of facing left-handed pinch-hitters is because of the struggles he has had against lefty bats in general since making his big-league debut for St. Louis in 2010.

Last season alone, across 24 appearances out of the Yankees bullpen, the Northeastern University product allowed left-handed hitters to slash .294/.458/.353 off of him.

This aspect of his game, not his ability to close out games, seems to take precedence for Ottavino as free agency looms.

“I have no idea what they’re looking at these days in terms of roles and stuff like that,” he said. “But I do think it would benefit me to get a full season in of facing as many lefties as possible so I can put that narrative to bed and show that I can dominate both sides. That would probably be a bonus, but beyond that, I think regardless of role I’m looking to put together a great season. Not only for myself, but for the team.”

Ottavino, who primarily relies on his sinker-slider combination to dominate his competition, has quickly become one of the more intriguing pitchers — if not players — the Red Sox have on their major-league roster.

“He’s just very smart, a great communicator,” Cora said of Ottavino Wednesday. “Him and Christian [Vazquez] were talking about sequences and pitch shapes in the dugout. Like I said before, we’re happy that he’s with us. He’s a great addition to our bullpen and is a guy that we trust.”

Right-handed pitching prospect Frank German, who New York included in the trade that sent Ottavino to Boston, also made his Red Sox debut against the Braves on Wednesday.

The 23-year-old maneuvered his way around a leadoff single and two out-walk while striking out one in a scoreless top of the eighth to pick up his first hold of the spring.

(Picture of Adam Ottavino: Mark Brown/Getty Images)

Matt Barnes, Red Sox closer candidate, impresses with two strikeouts in spring debut

Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes made his first appearance of the spring for Boston as part of Sunday afternoon’s 5-4 defeat at the hands of the Atlanta Braves in North Port.

Working in relief of Garrett Richards and Josh Winckowski in the bottom half of the fourth inning, the veteran right-hander looked sharp in his 2021 debut, as he retired the Braves’ 8-9-1 hitters — Jake Lamb, Cristian Pache, and Ronald Acuna Jr. — in order while needing just 12 pitches to do so.

Recording two strikeouts (one looking, one swinging) in the process of tossing a perfect frame of relief, Barnes worked in a healthy mix of curveballs and high-velocity fastballs on Sunday.

“I felt really comfortable out there,” the 30-year-old hurler said during his in-game media availability. “Felt like my mechanics were working well. Couple of high fastballs got away from me. But overall, the way the ball was coming out, the command of the fastball and the breaking ball, definitely happy.”

Barnes came into camp this spring as a potential closer candidate for Red Sox manager Alex Cora given the experience he gained in that role last year after Brandon Workman was traded to the Phillies.

On the 2020 campaign as a whole, the UCONN product posted a 4.30 ERA and .706 OPS against over 24 appearances out of the Boston bullpen spanning 23 innings of work.

Regardless of how he performs throughout the rest of spring training, Barnes feels as though his body of work in the majors would outweigh what he does this month when it comes to the team’s closer competition.

“I’ll be honest with you,” said Barnes. “I don’t think I’m going to be judged on eight outings in spring training more than the last four or five years worth of work. “If there was something drastic and I was coming out throwing 88 (mph), that’s a topic for a different day. If I come out showing the stuff I’ve had my entire career, I don’t think eight or nine outings in spring training in which I’m building up looking to get ready for the season are going to define the decision and what they want to do.”

Alongside Barnes, another fellow New Englander in Adam Ottavino is also vying for the role as the Sox’ ninth-inning man, though he has yet to make his team debut.

Between the two relievers, Boston has a pair of intriguing arms who bring different skillsets to the table, and both figure to see the majority of their appearances this coming season come late in games regardless of who the closer is.

Barnes, who has accrued 15 career saves over the course of his seven-year big-league career with Boston, had said last week that he would like to close, but Cora does not seem ready to name who his closer will be to kick off the 2021 campaign just yet.

“There’s no frontrunners here,” Cora said Sunday afternoon. “Those guys are going to build up, be ready and we’ll make a decision toward the end of camp.”

Having said that, Cora was still impressed with how Barnes performed in his spring debut against Atlanta to close out the weekend.

“That was impressive,” the Sox skipper stated. “Velocity was up, made some adjustments, and it was a good one for Barnesy. You don’t have to worry too much about him. Physically, he’s always in shape. He’s a guy just like Adam. We’re going to take our time. They know what they need to be ready for the start of the season. But that was impressive. Velocity was up — I think it was a tick up from last year, which is a good sign.”

One reason as to why Barnes’ velocity may be up right now is simply because of how little he pitched last year on account of the 2020 season only being 60 games in length.

As previously mentioned, the former first-round draft pick only pitched 23 innings in 2020. From 2016-2019, he averaged 66 innings of work per season.

“It’s really when I started playing catch during the offseason this year,” Barnes recounted. “I got to a point where the ball was coming out good — a lot sooner — I felt like because I only threw 23 innings, which is only 33% of a normal year’s workload. So when you take that into account, my arm feels fantastic. It almost feels like I didn’t even pitch last year. So I’m really happy with that; really happy with where I’m at right now.”

While Barnes may be pleased with where he is at currently, the flame-throwing righty still has plenty of work to do before Opening Day, so he is going to be sure to not get too ahead of himself between now and then.

“Obviously, you got to be conscious not to try and overdo it,” he said. “Sometimes you feel so great that you push and push, and I got to be conscious that we still have three weeks until the season. I don’t need to go out there and blow it out right now. I got to make sure that I pace myself and that I’m ready for April 1.”

Barnes, who turns 31 in June and will earn $4.5 million this season, is slated to become a free-agent for the first time in his career next winter. He has said that he is open to signing a contract extension to remain with the Red Sox.

(Picture of Matt Barnes: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Nick Yorke, the youngest player at Red Sox camp, makes solid first impression in spring debut

Red Sox infield prospect Nick Yorke was in the midst of his senior year at Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose at this time one year ago.

On Monday afternoon, the 18-year-old made his spring training debut for the Sox as a defensive replacement at second base for Marwin Gonzalez in the fifth inning of a Grapefruit League contest against the Braves.

Playing the final three innings of Monday’s eventual 5-3 loss to Atlanta, Yorke got the chance to step up to the plate for the first time with one out in the bottom half of the fifth.

His opposition? Only Braves right-hander A.J. Minter, who is coming off a 2020 season in which he allowed just two earned runs over 22 relief appearances and 21 2/3 innings pitched.

Going up against that caliber of competition is no easy task, especially for a teenager who had not gotten a legitimate, in-game at-bat in well over a year.

Having said that, Yorke held his own, and after looking at and fouling off a handful of pitches, golfed a single to right-center field that found a nice patch of grass to land on.

Fast forward to the seventh, and the California native again showed discipline at the plate by drawing a walk to cap off what was an impressive 2021 debut.

“That was the highlight of the day, having that kid play,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Yorke during his postgame media availability. “It’s funny because I told him before the game, ‘Hey, you’re playing second base.’ He’s like, ‘Ok, cool.’ I asked him, ‘Are you nervous?’ He’s like, ‘Nope.’ I said, ‘Ok, good for you.’ I was probably more nervous for him, so that’s a good sign.”

Boston selected Yorke with the 17th overall pick in the 2020 amateur draft last June, which at the time was viewed as a somewhat surprising selection considering the notion he was not projected to go that early.

Since then, though, the right-handed hitting, right-handed throwing second baseman has been turning heads on a consistent basis — whether it be at the Red Sox’ alternate training site or fall instructional league — to the point where he is entering the 2021 season as Boston’s ninth-ranked prospect according to Baseball America.

He’s also entering the 2021 season in better shape than he was in the fall, as he explained when speaking to reporters on Monday afternoon.

“In Pawtucket (alternate site) and instructs I wasn’t in the greatest shape,” Yorke explained. “Going into my first offseason, we made a goal to lose 10-15 pounds before I came back, and just focusing on that I came back and lost 25 (pounds).”

Yorke, who turns 19 in just over a month, is far and away the youngest player at Red Sox camp. While he may not be playing for a spot on the club’s Opening Day roster this spring, he is using this time to learn as much as possible by following around the likes of Enrique Hernandez and Xander Bogaerts.

“I’m working out with all the big-league infielders and just trying to be a sponge,” he said. “They’ve been in this game a lot longer than me, so I’m just trying to take what I can from them and piece this thing together.”

Cora himself echoed this same sentiment as well in regards when detailing why Yorke is at major-league spring training in the first place.

“He’s here to learn,” said the Sox skipper. “He’s here to be around big-leaguers and learn how to act in the clubhouse and be a professional, but you can see. He controlled the strike zone, controlled his at-bats.”

One thing that aided Yorke in his ability to control the strike zone and his at-bats on Monday was the fact that he did not let his nerves get to him, which is something the Red Sox coaching staff helped him with in getting him ready for in-game action.

“Once they said, ‘Play ball,’ I was ready to go,” Yorke said. “We haven’t been able to play on the field a lot the last year, so to get on the field, it’s just exciting. You get to go do what you love. I didn’t have a lot of nerves. It’s baseball at the end of the day. It’s just a game. I was just trying to go and have some fun.”

Listed at 6-foot and 200 pounds, Yorke is projected to begin the 2021 minor-league season with Low-A Salem, whose season is slated to begin on May 4.

For the time being, though, Yorke is looking forward to continuing to show what he’s got under the watchful eyes of Red Sox management these next few weeks in southwest Florida.

“Any opportunity they give me to touch a baseball field, I’m going to try to run away with it,” he said. “I’m very grateful for the opportunity and just trying to get better.”

(Picture of Nick Yorke: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Garrett Richards makes Red Sox debut as sloppy defense leads to 5-3 loss at hands of Braves

The Red Sox opened the home portion of their Grapefruit League schedule on Monday by falling to the Braves by a final score of 5-3 in seven innings at JetBlue Park.

Newcomer Garrett Richards, who signed a one-year, $10 million deal with Boston last month, made his first start of the spring for Boston in this one.

Working two “full” innings, the veteran right-hander surrendered two earned runs on three hits and two walks to go along with one strikeout on the afternoon.

Both of those Atlanta runs came in the top half of the first, when Richards managed to record just one out before the rest of the inning was called off for pitch count purposes.

The 32-year-old was able to rebound in the second inning, however, as he retired the Braves’ 7-8-9 hitters in order to end his day on a more positive note.

Ultimately hit with the losing decision in what was his Red Sox debut, Richards will look to pick up where he left off in his next time out, which should come against the Braves once again on Sunday.

In relief of Richards, left-hander Kyle Hart, a non-roster invitee, came on for the third and yielded two runs — both of which were unearned thanks to a Bobby Dalbec fielding error — on a pair of walks and a two-run single.

From there, right-hander Kevin McCarthy — another non-roster invitee — worked a scoreless top half of the fourth, while right-handed pitching prospects Thad Ward and Connor Seabold combined to toss a pair of shutout frames in the fifth and sixth innings.

Zac Grotz, a right-hander, was responsible for the seventh, and he gave up one unearned run before being injuring his elbow on a pitch that required him to leave the game immediately.

All in all, Sox pitchers allowed five total runs, but only two of those runs were earned due to sloppy defensive play that resulted in five errors being committed; one from Dalbec, one from Ward, one from Marwin Gonzalez, and two from Jeter Downs.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox starting lineup featured the likes of Christian Arroyo, Gonzalez, J.D. Martinez, Dalbec, Michael Chavis, Yairo Munoz, Cesar Puello, Jeisson Rosario, and Jett Bandy.

Matched up against right-hander Huascar Ynoa — one of the top pitching prospects in Atlanta’s farm system — Bandy kicked off the scoring for his side by drawing a bases-loaded walk with two outs in the bottom of the second.

Fast forward to the fourth, and the bases were loaded once more. This time with one out as Rosario, one of the two prospects Boston acquired from the Padres in the Mitch Moreland trade, came to the plate to face Touki Toussaint.

Rosario managed to pick up an RBI, but only by dribbling a grounder to the right side of the infield that gave Chavis enough time to score from third and make it a 4-2 contest in favor of Atlanta.

In the seventh, a leadoff double off the bat of catching prospect Kole Cottam resulted in another Boston run crossing the plate when Jonathan Arauz grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.

That sequence cut the Sox’ deficit to two runs at 5-3, and it allowed the tyring run to come to the plate in the form of Roldani Baldwin, who stuck out against Jasseel De La Cruz to put this one to bed.

Some notes from this one:

Nick Yorke, the Red Sox’ first-round pick in the 2020 draft, made his spring debut on Monday. The 18-year-old infielder went 1-for-1 off the bench with a walk and a fifth-inning single off Braves reliever A.J. Minter.

Ward and Seabold, ranked by Baseball America as the No. 10 and No. 11 prospects in Boston’s farm system, were probably the two most impressive pitchers the Red Sox threw out there on Monday.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll host the reigning American League champion Tampa Bay Rays at JetBlue Park on Tuesday afternoon.

Left-hander Martin Perez will get the ball for Boston, and he will be opposed by veteran righty Michael Wacha.

Garrett Whitlock, Joel Payamps, Ryan Weber, Josh Winckowski and Andrew Politi are also expected to pitch for the Sox.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time on ESPN, which means we are in for nine innings of baseball since this will be a nationally-televised game.

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

What Does Future Hold for Red Sox’ Jonathan Araúz?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On This Day in Red Sox History: Luis Tiant Signs With Boston

On this day in 1971, the Red Sox signed free-agent right-hander Luis Tiant to a minor-league contract.

Tiant, 30 at the time, had just been released by the Braves two days earlier after Atlanta refused to promote him to the majors.

The beginning of the 1971 campaign was eventful for Tiant. He had been diagnosed with a crack in a bone in his right shoulder the year prior and missed ten weeks of the 1970 season because of it.

Entering 1971 as a member of the Twins organization, Tiant missed two weeks of spring training due to a pulled muscle in his rib cage and was subsequently released by Minnesota in late March.

As previously mentioned, the Braves picked the veteran righty up on what was then called a 30-day trial contract with their Triple-A affiliate in Richmond.

That experiment did not work out however, as Atlanta eventually cut Tiant loose on May 15th. He was on the open market for just two days before the Red Sox acquired his services on the 17th.

Tiant’s Red Sox tenure began in Louisville home of the Sox’ Triple-A affilate at the time,, where he posted a 2.61 ERA over 31 innings of work, which was good enough to earn him a call up to Boston on June 3rd.

The Cuba national’s first major-league experience with the Sox did not go so well as he went just 1-7 with a 4.85 ERA over 21 appearances (10 starts) and 72 1/3 innings of work in ’71.

Fortunately though, El Tiante would wind up being one of the better starting pitchers of the decade in his time with the Red Sox.

From 1972 until 1978, Tiant owned an ERA of 3.30, an ERA+ of 121, and a FIP of 3.50 over 253 outings (228 starts) and 1,702 1/3 total innings pitched. Per FanGraphs, he was the 14th-most valuable starting pitcher in baseball during that time period in terms of fWAR (28.0) while compiling two All-Star appearances and three top-six finishes in American League Cy Young voting.

In his lone postseason action with Boston in 1975, the Red Sox won all four games Tiant started in against the Athletics and Reds, although they did go on to fall to Cincinnati in the World Series that year.

Following the 1978 season, Tiant inked a two-year deal with the Yankees and went on to also pitch for the Pirates and Angels before calling it quits in 1982.

Inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 1997, Tiant currently serves as a special assignment instructor for the club.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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