Nick Pivetta strikes out 10, Trevor Story and Christian Vázquez both homer as Red Sox take series from Cardinals with 6-4 win

The Red Sox won the rubber match of their three-game series against the Cardinals on Sunday afternoon. Boston yet again held on for a 6-4 victory over St. Louis at Fenway Park to improve to 36-31 on the season and 13-4 in the month of June.

Nick Pivetta, making his 14th start of the year for the Sox, dazzled by limiting the Cards to one run on four hits and four walks to go along with 10 strikeouts over seven strong innings of work.

All four walks Pivetta gave up came within the first three innings of Sunday’s contest. The one run came on a two-out RBI single from Harrison Bader in the top of the fourth.

From there, though, Pivetta stranded Bader at third base by getting Ivan Herrera to strike out on six pitches. The right-hander then retired eight of the final 10 batters he faced and emphatically ended his outing by punching out the side in the top of the seventh.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 108 (65 strikes), Pivetta wound up throwing 60 four-seam fastballs, 35 knuckle-curveballs, and 13 sliders. The 29-year-old induced eight of his 12 swings-and-misses with the four-seamer while averaging 93.3 mph and topping out at 95.1 mph with the pitch.

Following Sunday’s performance, Pivetta now owns a 1.77 ERA in his last nine starts dating back to May 7. The Red Sox are 7-2 in those games.

By the time Pivetta’s afternoon had come to an end, the Sox lineup had already compiled a 2-1 lead over the Cardinals and rookie starter Andre Pallante. Trevor Story got Boston on the board first in the bottom half of the second inning.

With two outs and the bases empty, Story crushed his 10th home run of the season and first since May 26 on a 3-1, 95 mph heater down the heart of the plate from Pallante. The ball left his bat at 104.4 mph and traveled 397 feet to right field.

Three innings later, Alex Verdugo led off the bottom of the fifth with a groundball single to center field. A wild pitch allowed Verdugo to move up to second base, and Jackie Bradley Jr. proceeded to drive him in on a two-out RBI single through the right side of the infield.

Bradley Jr., who is now batting .313/.353/.479 in 31 games at Fenway Park this season, put the Red Sox up 2-1 with his 22nd RBI of the year.

Shortly after Pivetta recorded the final out in the top of the seventh, Christian Vazquez led off the bottom half of the frame with a line-drive double before advancing to third on a Bradley Jr. groundout. Rob Refsnyder then plated Vazquez on a run-scoring base hit off Genesis Cabrera that made it a 3-1 game in favor of Boston.

In relief of Pivetta, John Schreiber struck out the only three batters he faced in a perfect eighth inning. In the latter half of the frame, Vazquez struck again after Verdugo and Story both reached base with one out.

On a 2-1, 94.3 mph sinker from Drew VerHagen that was down in and, Vazquez clobbered a three-run home run 407 feet over the Green Monster to give the Red Sox a commanding 6-1 advantage.

Vazquez’s third big fly of the season would prove to be important given the trouble Tyler Danish ran into in the ninth. Danish allowed two runners to reach base while recording the first two outs of the inning. Rather than slam the door on the Cardinals, though, the righty served up a 114.4 mph, three-run blast to Juan Yepez that cut Boston’s lead down to two runs at 6-4.

Not taking any chances, Red Sox manager Alex Cora gave Danish the hook in favor of Tanner Houck, who gave up a single but rebounded by fanning Brendan Donovan on eight pitches to pick up his fourth save of the season in as many opportunities.

Next up: The Tigers come to town

The Red Sox will kick off the final leg of their homestand by welcoming the 26-40 Tigers into town for a three-game set. Monday’s series opener will feature a pair of rookie right-handers going at it as Josh Winckowski will start for Boston and Alex Faedo will do the same for Detroit.

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

(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Hansel Robles and Hirokazu Sawamura combine to give up 6 runs in sixth inning as Red Sox fall to Cardinals, 11-2

The Red Sox fell to the Cardinals by a final score of 11-2 at Fenway Park on Saturday night. With the loss, Boston drops to 35-31 on the season.

Kutter Crawford, making his second start of the season for the Sox, did not pitch as effectively as he did in his last time out against the Mariners. This time around, the rookie right-hander surrendered four runs on six hits and no walks to go along with three strikeouts over four innings of work.

Two of the six hits Crawford gave up were home runs. With two outs and a runner on in the top of the first, Nolan Arenado crushed a two-run shot 382 feet over the Green Monster to give St. Louis an early 2-0 lead.

In the second, Tyler O’Neill led off with a groundball single and scored all the way from first base on a line-drive double to right field off the bat of Dylan Carlson.

Already trailing by three runs going into the bottom of the second, Xander Bogaerts provided a spark with a leadoff single of his own off Cardinals starter Dakota Hudson. Franchy Cordero then drew a one-out walk to put runners at first and second for Bobby Dalbec, who drove in Bogaerts and moved Cordero up to third on an RBI single. With runners on the corners and the chance to cut further into the deficit, Jackie Bradley Jr. grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Crawford and Hudson each traded zeroes in the third inning, but Crawford ran into more trouble in the fourth when he served up a booming 440-foot leadoff homer to Nolan Gorman. The ball left Gorman’s bat at 106.7 mph and gave St. Louis a 4-1 lead.

The fourth inning would prove to be Crawford’s last frame. The 26-year-old hurler finished with a final pitch count of 85 (53 strikes) and topped out at 96.1 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 37 times. His ERA on the season now sits at 6.41.

In the bottom of the fourth, the Red Sox lineup took advantage of Hudson’s apparent lack of command, but only got one run out of it. Trevor Story singled and Dalbec and Bradley Jr. drew a pair of two-out walks to fill the bases for Kevin Plawecki, who took ball four himself to plate Story. As the lineup flipped back over, though, Jarren Duran extinguished the threat by grounding out to Arenado.

With Boston’s bullpen taking over for Crawford beginning in the fifth, it was Ryan Brasier who got the first call from manager Alex Cora. Brasier made relative quick work of the St. Louis bats in a scoreless inning of relief. The same cannot be said for Hansel Robles in the sixth.

After fanning Gorman on five pitches for the first out of the frame, Robles proceeded to give up a first-pitch, 410-foot solo shot to O’Neill to put the Cardinals up 5-2. Robles’ troubles did not end there, as the righty loaded the bases on one single and two walks before getting pulled for Hirokazu Sawamura.

Robles, for what it’s worth, averaged 94 mph with his four-seamer on Saturday. He came into the night averaging 96 mph with his most-frequently used pitch. Sawamura, meanwhile, inherited a bases-loaded jam and immediately gave up a two-run single to Tommy Edman. Paul Goldschmidt tacked on an additional two runs and Arenado capped off the six-run sixth inning with another RBI single.

From there, Austin Davis tossed three one-run innings of relief while setting a new career high in pitches thrown in a game with 54.

Down to their final three outs in the bottom of the ninth, the Sox went down quietly to seal an 11-2 defeat and their fourth loss in the month of June.

Next up: Pivetta vs. Pallante in rubber match

The Red Sox will look to close out the weekend with a series win over the Cardinals on Father’s Day. Nick Pivetta will get the start for Boston and will be opposed by fellow right-hander Andre Pallante for St. Louis.

First pitch from Fenway Park on Sunday is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.

(Picture of Hansel Robles: Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Tanner Houck remains perfect in save opportunities as Red Sox hold on for 6-5 win over Cardinals

The Red Sox opened their three-game interleague series with the Cardinals on a nerve-racking, but positive note on Friday night. Boston held on for a 6-5 victory over to St. Louis to improve to 3-1 on the homestand and 35-30 on the season as a whole.

Michael Wacha, making his 11th start of the year, was solid against the team he began his professional career with. In his first time facing the Cardinals, the veteran right-hander allowed just one run on six hits and one walk to go along with five strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings of work.

The lone run Wacha surrendered came with no outs in the second inning, as he served up a 403-foot solo shot to Nolan Arenado that left the third baseman’s bat at a blistering 108.6 mph.

From there, though, Wacha limited the damage by retiring 12 of the next 16 batters he faced before giving up a one-out single to Paul Goldschmidt in the top of the sixth that was followed by a four-pitch walk of Arenado. At that point, the righty was given the hook by Red Sox manager Alex Cora.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 88 (54 strikes), Wacha relied on his four-seam fastball 36% of the time he was on the mound Friday and topped out at 96.3 mph with the pitch. The 30-year-old hurler also induced six swings-and-misses with his changeup, a pitch he threw 27 times. His ERA on the season now sits at 2.28.

By the time Wacha’s night had ended, the Red Sox lineup had pushed across three runs of their own. Matched up against Wacha’s mentor and former teammate in Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright, Jarren Duran made his impact felt right away with a leadoff triple in the bottom of the first inning.

Duran tripled on a 104.5 mph line drive off the center field wall. He then scored from third base when J.D. Martinez grounded into a run-scoring double play.

Fast forward to the fourth, Martinez led off with a single and immediately advanced to third on a line-drive double off the bat of Xander Bogaerts. Both runners scored when Trevor Story snuck a two-run single through the right side of the infield to give the Sox a 3-1 lead.

Picking things up in the top of the sixth, John Schreiber took over for Wacha and stranded the two runners he inherited by retiring Nolan Gorman and Tyler O’Neil. He then got the first two outs of the seventh before Matt Strahm came on to get the third.

In the bottom half of the frame, Franchy Cordero led off with a double and scored from second on a Jackie Bradley Jr. RBI single. After the pinch-hitting Bobby Dalbec moved Bradley Jr. up to third on a hard-hit double, both runners scored on a two-run single courtesy of Rafael Devers.

Taking a 6-1 lead into the eighth inning, Strahm took care of business there before fellow left-hander Austin Davis was called upon in the top of the ninth. Davis got the first two outs rather easily, then allowed the next three Cardinals he faced to reach base on a double, an RBI triple, and a hit batsman.

That prompted Cora to turn to Tanner Houck, who proceeded to give up back-to-back doubles that plated three more St. Louis runs. With Brendan Donovan representing the tying run, Houck did not falter and instead punched out National League MVP candidate on eight pitches to slam the door on the Cardinals.

Houck is now 3-for-3 in save opportunities as he secured the 6-5 win for the Red Sox.

Next up: Crawford vs. Hudson

The Red Sox will go for another series victory on Saturday by sending right-hander Kutter Crawford to the mound for his second start of the season. The Cardinals will counter with fellow righty Dakota Hudson.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. eastern time on FOX.

(Picture of Christian Vazquez and Tanner Houck: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox sign former Cardinals right-hander Carlos Martínez to minor-league deal

The Red Sox have signed free-agent right-hander Carlos Martinez to a minor-league contract, according to the team’s transaction log on MLB.com. He has been assigned to Triple-A Worcester. SoxProspects.com’s Chris Hatfield was the first to bring this news to the forefront.

Martinez, 30, began the 2022 season in the Giants organization after signing a minors pact with San Francisco in late March. He did not appear in a game at any level before being released by the club on April 28.

As an article XX(B) free agent, Martinez had the ability to opt out of his deal by May 1 and informed the Giants he would be doing so beforehand, per The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly.

A native of the Dominican Republic, Martinez originally signed with the Red Sox as a shortstop in February 2009. His contract was voided by Major League Baseball, though, and he ultimately signed with the Cardinals the following year.

After debuting with St. Louis in 2013 and pitching against Boston in the World Series that fall, Martinez spent the first nine years of his major-league career with the Cardinals and was used as both a starter and reliever.

Most recently, the two-time All-Star opened the 2021 campaign in St. Louis’ starting rotation and posted a 6.23 ERA and 4.76 FIP to go along with 57 strikeouts to 36 walks over 16 starts spanning 82 1/3 innings of work. His season ended in early July after suffering a torn ligament in his right thumb that required surgery.

Five months after going under the knife, Martinez began throwing again and started two games for Aguilas Cibaenas of the Dominican Winter League, allowing a total of four runs over three innings in those two outings.

Listed at 6-feet and 200 pounds, Martinez pre-surgery worked with a six-pitch arsenal that consisted of a four-seam fastball, slider, cutter, sinker, changeup, and curveball.

Considering that he is only 30 and does not turn 31 until September, Martinez may not be who he once was in his peak years with the Cardinals, but the righty should still provide the Red Sox with some experienced and versatile rotation/bullpen depth in Worcester.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Martinez will start for the WooSox in their series finale against the Toledo Mud Hens on Sunday afternoon.

(Picture of Carlos Martinez: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Red Sox ‘made competitive offer’ to Steven Matz before lefty reached agreement with Cardinals, per report

The Red Sox have lost out on Steven Matz, as the free agent left-hander has reportedly agreed to a four-year, $44 million contract with the Cardinals that includes an additional $4 million in potential incentives, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

While Boston may have come up short in the bidding war for Matz, MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo reports that the Sox were “involved in the sweepstakes for the lefty until the bitter end” and “made a competitive offer” before he ultimately chose the Cardinals.

After a down 2020 season with the Mets, Matz was dealt to the Blue Jays in January and flourished in his first year with Toronto. In 29 starts for the Jays, the 30-year-old southpaw posted a 3.82 ERA and 3.79 FIP to go along with 144 strikeouts to 43 walks over 150 2/3 innings pitched in 2021.

Because of the strong season he had, as well as the fact that he was not extended a qualifying offer, Matz drew plenty of interest on the open market. Per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, the Angels, Blue Jays, Cubs, Giants, Mets, and Tigers — in addition to the Cardinals and Red Sox — all made offers to Matz.

With Matz ultimately landing in St. Louis, though, Boston will have to look elsewhere when it comes to filling the void in their starting rotation left behind by Eduardo Rodriguez, who signed a five-year, $77 million deal with Detroit last week.

When speaking with reporters (including Cotillo) earlier this week, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom discussed just how involved the club has been in free agency as notable starters such as Max Scherzer, Marcus Stroman, Kevin Gausman, and Robbie Ray remain unsigned.

“We don’t have anything teed up that I would say is close but we’re very active in conversations with a few different guys,” Bloom said. “We’ve touched base with a wide variety of players. Just about everybody who is on the market and it’s gotten more serious and more involved with some of them.

“I don’t know right now if that’s going to lead to anything or when,” he added. “I think by the time the offseason is over, we will have added pitching of various sorts, including starting pitching. I think that’s something that’s a clear goal of ours. But who that’s going to be or when, I don’t know yet.”

It is also worth mentioning that the Sox may be more aggressive when it comes to pursuing free agents or potential trade targets in the coming days since the collective bargaining agreement expires next Wednesday and will likely trigger a work stoppage.

(Picture of Steven Matz: Mark Blinch/Getty Images)

Could Red Sox take enticing catching prospect Henry Davis with No. 4 pick in 2021 MLB Draft?

The 2021 MLB first-year player draft is set to begin in just under three months. In case you haven’t heard, the Red Sox will be making their top selection in the draft with the fourth overall pick after finishing with the fourth-worst record in baseball last season.

In his latest 2021 draft prospect rankings, The Athletic’s Keith Law listed University of Louisville catcher Henry Davis as his No. 4 draft-eligible prospect.

“Davis has mashed all year, with huge power and a patient eye, and he’s got a plus arm and enough receiving skills to stay behind the plate,” Law wrote earlier Thursday. “Joey Bart went second overall with less bat and more glove; I don’t think it’s a stretch to think Davis could be the first college position player taken.”

Davis, 21, is listed at 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds. Through the Cardinals’ first 30 games of the season, the third-year sophomore is slashing an impressive .389/.514/.676 with eight home runs, 32 RBI, and an ACC-leading nine stolen bases. He has also thrown out 11 of the 20 baserunners who have attempted to steal against him.

In the history of the first-year player draft — which dates back to 1965 — the Red Sox have taken a catcher in the first round on just four separate occasions, most recently selecting Blake Swihart out of Cleveland High School (Rio Rancho, NM) with the 26th overall pick (compensation pick from the Rangers for Adrian Beltre) in 2011.

The last catcher who played his college baseball at Louisville to be selected in the first round of an amateur draft was the Dodgers’ Will Smith, whom Los Angeles took with the 32nd overall pick in 2016.

Since then, Smith has risen through the prospect ranks and has emerged as one of the top young catchers in the National League, if not all of baseball.

Coming into play on Thursday, the 26-year-old is slashing .261/.438/.652 with two home runs and four RBI through his first eight games of the 2021 campaign.

This is not to say that Davis should be compared to Smith at the moment. Both backstops may be right-handed hitters who attended the same school, but one is already establishing himself as an everyday big-leaguer while the other has yet to go pro.

That said, it is worth mentioning that the last University of Louisville catcher to be selected in the first round of the draft turned out to be someone with plenty of potential in the form of Smith.

As for how Davis — a native of Bedford, N.Y. who played for the Cape League’s Bourne Braves in 2019 — is viewed in the eyes of scouts, his MLB Pipeline scouting report goes as follows:

“Davis’ standout tool is his plus-plus arm strength, and he erased 34 percent of basestealers in his first two college seasons while also displaying quick footwork and good throwing accuracy. His receiving still needs a lot of work because it lacks consistency and he sometimes struggles to handle quality stuff, as evidenced by six passed balls in just 13 starts last spring. Though he has below-average speed and conceivably could try an outfield corner, his value comes from staying behind the plate, so he’ll have to improve. 

“While he doesn’t have a pretty right-handed swing, Davis makes it work at the plate and has a higher offensive ceiling than most catchers. He manages the strike zone well and makes repeated hard contact, even if his stroke lengthens and he gets a bit pull-happy at times. His strength and controlled aggression could produce 20 homers per season.”

Whoever the Red Sox take — whether it be Davis, Marcelo Mayer, Jack Leiter, or someone else — with their top selection in this summer’s draft, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, amateur scouting director Paul Toboni and Co. will have approximately $6.64 million in recommended slot value to spend on the No. 4 pick.

On a somewhat related note, The Baseball Prospect Journal’s Dan Zielinski III wrote back in January that during the offseason, Davis caught bullpens for Red Sox relievers Matt Barnes and Adam Ottavino.

(Picture of Henry Davis: Louisville Athletics)

Yairo Muñoz among Red Sox’ most impressive performers early on in spring training

In his first traditional spring training with the Red Sox, Yairo Munoz is off to a hot start.

Following a 1-for-3 performance against the Rays on Tuesday that was highlighted a hard-hit two-run home run to the opposite field, the 26-year-old came off the bench as a pinch-runner in Wednesday’s contest against the Twins and collected another RBI by lining a run-scoring single in his only trip to the plate in the sixth inning of an eventual 14-6 victory for the Sox.

Through his first four Grapefruit League games of the year, Munoz is 5-for-9 (.555) at the plate with that one homer, one double, and four RBI while playing left field and third base.

The Dominican native is coming into the spring without a spot on Boston’s 40-man roster, meaning he is one of 33 non-roster invitees currently at big-league camp in Fort Myers.

The Sox outrighted Munoz off their 40-man roster in December. That decision was met with much surprise considering the fact that the utilityman impressed over the course of the final month of the 2020 campaign and the team had just signed him a one-year contract for the 2021 season.

After spending a healthy chunk of July and the entirety of August at the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket, Munoz was called up by Boston on August 31 and made his team debut on September 1.

From that point forward, the right-handed hitter — listed at 5-foot-11 and 200 lbs. — slashed an impressive .333/.333/.511 to go along with one home run, five doubles, four RBI, and two stolen bases over 12 games played before a lower back strain prematurely ended his year on September 19.

Given the fact he performed well and proved more than capable of playing multiple defensive positions (was worth positive-4 defensive runs saved in left field), it, again, was somewhat shocking to see Munoz stripped of his 40-man roster spot three months ago.

Having said that, it might be even more shocking that the ex-St. Louis Cardinal managed to clear waivers without getting claimed by another organization beforehand.

At just 26 years old, Munoz is still relatively young, under team control through 2024, and has one minor-league option remaining. All while just a few years removed from being one of the top prospects in the Athletics’ farm system, which is the organization he originally signed with back in 2012.

In Chaim Bloom’s tenure as chief baseball officer thus far, the Red Sox have clearly placed an emphasis on bringing in — whether by trade, waiver claim, or free agency — versatile players who can be put to the test on the field. Christian Arroyo, Enrique Hernandez, and Marwin Gonzalez are among those on the team’s projected Opening Day roster who fit that mold.

While Munoz may have taken a step back this offseason and still has some work to do in order to crack Boston’s Opening Day roster, he seems to fit that mold, too.

At the end of the day, it’s as MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith wrote earlier Wednesday: “The Red Sox are lucky Yairo Munoz remains in the organization.”

Smith also wrote that Munoz “is one of the top outfield depth options heading into 2021. He will play for Boston at some point this season.”

(Picture of Yairo Munoz: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Adam Ottavino ‘a big part’ of what Red Sox are trying to accomplish, Alex Cora says: ‘I’m happy that he’s pitching for us’

When the Red Sox traded for Adam Ottavino last month, the move was greeted with plenty of shock since he was coming over in a trade with the Yankees that seemingly came out of no where.

As it turns out, though, Ottavino could prove to be a vital piece of Boston’s late-inning bullpen puzzle this coming season. The veteran reliever has already made a positive first impression on Red Sox manager Alex Cora at the onset of spring training in Fort Myers.

“Very smart individual,” Cora said Saturday in regards to Ottavino. “He’s very quiet. He moves very smoothly and very slow around. But, when you talk to him, he opens up. He knows a lot about pitching. He knows himself. Like he told me a few days ago, he’s excited to be here.”

Boston acquired Ottavino — as well as right-handed pitching prospect Frank German and cash considerations — from New York on January 25 in exchange for cash considerations or a player to be named later.

The 35-year-old right-hander is six months removed from a 2020 campaign with the Yankees in which he posted a 5.89 ERA and .770 OPS against over 24 appearances and 18 1/3 innings pitched.

Upon closer inspection, however, six of the 12 earned runs Ottavino surrendered last year came against the Blue Jays on September 7, an outing in which he failed to record a single out. If you take that one blowup away, his ERA on the season drops to 2.98.

For his major-league career, which dates back to 2010, Ottavino has not surprisingly had more troubles against left-handed hitting (.792 OPS against) than right-handed hitting (.615 OPS against), but the ex-Rockie will still get the chance to face hitters from both sides of the plate with his new club.

“We talked a little bit about the way we’re going to use him, and we’re not going to limit him to righties,” added Cora. “He’s going to get lefties and righties out. He worked hard in the offseason to improve a few things. He threw a bullpen today, actually Christian [Vazquez] caught him. This is a guy that was very dominant in Colorado. He was dominant two years ago [in New York]. He had a bad outing against Toronto last year. So, he’s a big part of what we’re trying to accomplish and I’m happy that he’s pitching for us.”

Working primarily with a sinker, slider, cutter, and changeup, Ottavino originally attended Northeastern University before getting selected by the Cardinals in the first round of the 2006 amateur draft.

While at Northeastern from 2004-2006, the Brooklyn native got the chance to watch the Red Sox from up close since the university’s campus is just a few blocks away from Fenway Park.

“When I was in college, I went there regularly,” Ottavino said last month of his past experiences at Fenway. “I would get the standing room tickets after practice, especially if [Curt] Schilling or Pedro [Martinez] was pitching. Try to watch those guys from behind home plate up the stairs there.”

In addition to watching the Sox when he was younger, playing for them is actually something he has envisioned doing as recently as his free agency in the winter of 2018/2019.

“The Red Sox were one of my top teams I wanted to go to at that time,” said Ottavino, who ultimately wound up signing a three-year, $27 million deal with the Yankees. “They reached out early in the process but it never really got off the ground… The team had just won the World Series, so there was nothing not to like there. Boston has always been a place I saw myself playing. So it was definitely one of the teams at the very beginning of the process I was hoping would reach out to me. And they did and it never got off the ground. But I still appreciate the interest, for sure.”

Now that he is with the Red Sox, the 6-foot-5, 246 lb. hurler figures to be part of a group of relievers made up of Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Hirokazu Sawamura, Darwinzon Hernandez, and Josh Taylor; all of whom will be vying for the role as Boston’s closer over the next month-plus.

That being said, Cora was rather mum about which sort of specific role Ottavino will be undertaking out of the bullpen once the 2021 season does begin.

“He’s going to get big outs in the last third of the game,” the Sox skipper said with a wry smile. “Whenever you ask me about these guys (Barnes, Brasier, etc.), that’s going to be the answer.”

(Picture of Adam Ottavino: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Red Sox Announce Schedule Changes for August and September

The remainder of the Red Sox’ 2020 schedule got shaken up a little bit by Major League Baseball on Thursday in order to accommodate other clubs who have been affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the changes, first pitch against the Phillies at Fenway Park on August 19 has been moved up to 1:35 p.m. eastern time, while a double-header against the Phis will now be played at Citizens Bank Park on September 8. On top of that, in addition to now having off-days on September 9 and 14, the Sox will wrap up a three-game series against the Marlins in Miami on September 17 rather than September 16.

Originally, first pitch against the Phillies on August 19 was scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time, and a two-game series in Philadelphia was scheduled for September 8-9 while that series against the Marlins in Miami was slated to conclude on September 16.

As the tweet above points out, traditional double-headers this season will persist of two seven-inning games, something new for 2020.

If all goes according to plan, the Red Sox will hopefully still be able to get in a full 60 games this year. Of course, the threat of more teams other than the Marlins, Phillies, or Cardinals experiencing coronavirus outbreaks is still as prevalent as ever.

Koji Uehara, Chris Sale Reflect on Recording Final Outs of 2013, 2018 World Series for Red Sox

Despite being born on opposite sides of the world 14 years apart and despite throwing with the opposite hand, Koji Uehara and Chris Sale have something in common: They both recorded the final out of a World Series for the Red Sox in the last 10 years.

Uehara, then 38, did so for Boston against the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6 of the 2013 fall classic at Fenway Park, while Sale, then 29, did so for Boston against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 5 of the 2018 fall classic at Dodger stadium.

Uehara, a right-hander, got the Cardinals’ Matt Carpenter swinging on a 2-2 splitter on the outer half of the plate, while Sale, a left-hander, got the Dodgers’ Manny Machado to corkscrew into the ground and whiff on a 1-2, 84 MPH slider.

Both hurlers wrapped up historic seasons for the Red Sox with those respective punchouts, and both hurlers recently spoke to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal in separate conversations about what they recall from those special nights in late October of 2013 and 2018.

Starting with Uehara, the Japan native was coming off a dominant season in which he didn’t even start the year as Boston’s closer.

Season-ending surgeries for Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey resulted in Uehara sliding into that ninth-inning role in July, and he did not look back from there all the way until coming into the final frame of Game 6 of the 2013 World Series with a 6-1 lead to protect.

With the chance to secure the Sox’ first World Series win at Fenway Park since 1918, Uehara retired Jon Jay and Daniel Descalso in simple fashion, leaving Carpenter as the lone obstacle remaining.

Upon fanning the Cardinals infielder on the seventh and final pitch he would throw in 2013 to secure his club’s eight World Series title in franchise history, Uehara reveled in what he and the Red Sox had just accomplished.

“I realized that I didn’t need to throw anymore,” he said, through team interpreter Mikio Yoshimura. “It came purely from my complete satisfaction…how fulfilled I was. I can still feel the ultimate happiness when I look back at that moment.”

According to Rosenthal, Uehara considers recording the final out of the ’13 World Series the ‘pinnacle of his’ professional baseball career.

Turning to Sale now, the Florida native was slated to start Game 5 of the 2018 World Series for Boston, but that responsibility instead went to fellow left-hander David Price while Sale would be available to pitch out of the bullpen that night.

“We were like, ‘We’re in,'” Sale recalled him and Price’s meeting with then-manager Alex Cora following Boston’s Game 4 win over the Dodgers. “Me and DP high-fived, hugged it out. I looked at him and said, ‘We’re going old-school tomorrow.”

Price delivered with seven-plus quality innings of work in Game 5, while Joe Kelly finished the eighth and the Red Sox entered the ninth with a comfortable four-run advantage.

Sale had begun to warm up in the eighth, but after Kelly got through the frame unscathed, he sat back down until he got the call for the ninth.

“I remember running in from the bullpen,” Sale told Rosenthal. “The only two things going through my mind were, I have a four-run lead and I have three outs to get. Don’t trip on the way in.”

Sale did not trip on the way in, and he mowed down Justin Turner and Kike Hernandez in consecutive order before fanning Machado on four pitches to secure the series victory.

“It was like the chain didn’t catch. It happened so slow for me,” Sale said of the first few moments after recording the final out. “It was almost like strike three, OK, click-click, game’s over, click-click, holy shit, we’re world champions, we just won the World Series. It was like a delay for me. I got the third out. I took a couple of steps. Then boom, it hit me.”

Just recalling what happened that night gave Sale chills, he told Rosenthal. As it should considering how the 119-win, World Series champion 2018 Boston Red Sox are one of, if not the greatest team in the franchise’s storied history.