Rays GM Erik Neander explains reasoning behind acquiring Chris Mazza, Jeffrey Springs from Red Sox

On Wednesday morning, the Red Sox traded left-hander Jeffrey Springs, right-hander Chris Mazza, and $100,000 in cash considerations to the Rays in exchange for catching prospect Ronaldo Hernandez and infield prospect Nick Sogard.

Both Springs and Mazza had just been designated for assignment by the Sox, so it came as somewhat of a surprise that Boston was able to acquire a highly-touted prospect such as Hernandez — formerly Tampa Bay’s No. 13 prospect according to Baseball America — for two pitchers they were surely prepared to outright or part ways with for nothing in return.

Having said that, why would the Rays strike a deal with their division rival that seemingly strengthens that rival’s minor-league pipeline in exchange for Springs and Mazza, who combined to yield 36 runs (32 earned) in 50 1/3 innings pitched a season ago?

Tampa Bay’s general manager, and Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom’s friend and former colleague, Erik Neander explained the process behind that decision recently.

“This guy is a really talented player and a great person,” Neander said of Hernandez when speaking with reporters via video conference Wednesday night. “I think for us, it’s a situation where it was probably more about the two guys that we’re bringing in. It’s safe to say that in Mazza and Springs, both are talented, we have more optimism than their 2020 ERA’s would suggest. We think they are players that — Mazza in more of a length capacity, Springs in a shorter relief capacity, but can get stretched a little bit — we think are going to be additive to our group and help us win.

“Ultimately, the track records underneath those guys is not extensive by any means, obviously,” he continued. “But, forward-looking on both of them, we’re optimistic that they are better than they’ve been and are players that are going to help us. And with respect to Ronaldo, he’s a good, young talent, and we wish him nothing but the best, certainly. He’s gone about his business with us the right way and is going to continue to develop into being a major-league player one day.”

Mazza, 31, owns a lifetime 5.05 ERA and 4.00 FIP over 18 appearances (six starts) and 46 1/3 major-league innings between the Red Sox and Mets since 2019.

Last season with Boston, the California native ranked in the 83rd percentile among qualified big-league pitchers in regards to exit velocity and ranked in the 8th percentile in regards to hard-hit percentage, so that ability to limit hard contact must be a part of Mazza’s game the Rays find appealing.

Springs, meanwhile, owns a lifetime 5.42 ERA and 4.66 FIP over 59 appearances (two starts) and 84 2/3 innings pitched between the Red Sox and Rangers since 2018.

Last season with Boston, the 28-year-old southpaw ranked also ranked in the 83rd percentile among qualified big-league pitchers in regards to exit velocity while ranking in the 95th percentile in regards to whiff rate.

On top of that, both Mazza and Springs have at least one minor-league option remaining, so Tampa Bay would have the ability to send each of them down this coming season without worry if necessary.

This is the first trade the Red Sox have completed with the Rays since Bloom took over Boston’s baseball operations department a little less than 16 months ago.

“It was different. I think this was our first one, so I told him, ‘You’re making this one easy. Trying to throw you a softball the way it’s perceived. So go ahead, enjoy it,'” Neander said jokingly of his conversations leading up to the trade with Bloom. “It is what it is. We have a good relationship. There’s a lot of trust there. I think that helps cut through a lot of the negotiations that usually take place…. It was different, but it’s been over a year. We’ve grown used to these roles we’re in, and it was nice to work with each other to agree to a trade.”

(Thank you to the Tampa Bay Rays for providing BloggingtheRedSox.com with Erik Neander’s full video conference from Wednesday)

(Picture of Erik Neander: Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

A sampling of scouting reports — and more — on newest Red Sox catching prospect Ronaldo Hernández

In case you missed it, the Red Sox acquired catching prospect Ronaldo Hernandez and infield prospect Nick Sogard from the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday morning in exchange for left-hander Jeffrey Springs and right-hander Chris Mazza, as well as $100,000 in cash considerations.

Among the two minor-leaguers Boston received in this deal, Hernandez is without a doubt the most highly-touted.

The 23-year-old was originally signed by the Rays out of Colombia for $225,000 in 2014 and worked his way up to earning a spot on the club’s 40-man roster in November 2019 to avoid being eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.

Despite not getting to experience a minor-league season last year on account of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Hernandez did spend the entirety of the major-league season at the Rays’ alternate training site, so it is not like 2020 was a complete wash for him.

Having said that, the 6-foot-3, 23o pounder saw his offensive production decline the last time he took the field for organized minor-league action in 2019.

Compared to his 2018 slash line of .284/.339/.494 to go along with 21 home runs and 79 RBI over 109 games with Class-A Bowling Green, Hernandez posted a .265/.299/.397 slash while clubbing just nine homers and driving in 60 runs in 103 games with High-A Charlotte two years ago.

He did bounce back by producing an .894 OPS over 42 plate appearances in the Arizona Fall League after the season ended, but there still might be some lingering concerns there.

On the other side of the ball, Hernandez has thrown out 120 of the 288 (42%) of the base runners that attempted to steal against him over the course of his four-year professional career. He is also averaging more than 13 passed balls per season over that span.

Taking what he does offensively and defensively into consideration, here is a sampling of scouting reports from 2020 on Hernandez from various baseball outlets.

FanGraphs:

“If you just look at raw tools, Hernandez compares to Gary Sánchez and is not only a potential everyday catcher but one who might have real impact. He has big raw power and run-stopping, plus-plus arm strength, but his approach is bad (which might impede the power), and his swing only generates power in certain parts of the zone. He loads his hands very high and deep and then cuts down through the typical hitting zone, which causes Hernandez’s power to come toward the top of the zone and out in front when his swing starts to lift, making his point of impact of paramount importance to his power production… His defensive ability, specifically the receiving, might still be a problem and is part of why Kevan Smith was ahead of him on last year’s depth chart. He’s still a high-variance prospect with some flaws that may be exploited in a significant way at the big league level, but Hernandez has a shot to be an everyday player due to his power.”

MLB Pipeline:

“Hernández has a pair of plus tools in his raw power and arm strength, but he’s still learning the nuances of the game and seeking consistency on both sides of the ball. Big and strong, he makes hard contact with strength-driven bat speed and shows feel for finding the barrel thanks to good hand-eye coordination. That Hernández’s power plays almost entirely to his pull side during games speaks to his aggressive approach and leads some scouts to question his overall hitting ability. While he doesn’t strike out much, Hernández does chase contact too often and will need to adopt a more selective approach as he works his way through the Minors.

“A rocket, 70-grade arm and solid catch-and-throw skills help Hernández control the running game, and he’s thrown out 36 and 39 percent of base stealers, respectively, in his first two full-season campaigns. He’s improved as a receiver but still has a way to go to become average, and the same goes for Hernández’s blocking skills. Improving his body and conditioning should help with the latter, and the Rays expect some gains to occur naturally as Hernández gains much-needed experience behind the plate. If it all clicks for him, Hernández could develop into an average defensive catcher who hits for enough power to compensate for his lack of average and receiving issues.”

Baseball America:

“Hernandez’s 2018 breakout season with low Class A Bowling Green has started to fade into the background, but his trade in a swap for a designated for assignment player is still a surprisingly low return for a catcher with significant power potential. Hernandez was not a particularly good fit in a Rays organization that emphasizes receiving ability far above offensive contributions from its catchers.

“Hernandez struggles as a future fringe-average receiver and will have to improve in this facet of the game to earn an everyday role in the majors. His power comes from a very pull-heavy approach that may be exploited by more advanced pitchers. That said, Hernandez has plus power and a plus arm and he’s only 23, so he has a chance to refine some of his current issues. He’s a very useful addition to the Red Sox farm system as a catcher to develop. And if MLB eventually goes to computerized ball-strike calls, his biggest liabilities will largely diminish. Hernandez had to be added to the 40-man roster before the 2020 season and has used one option. He will head into 2021 having not played above high Class A.”

Hernandez was regarded by Baseball America as the Rays’ No. 13 prospect headed into the 2020 season.

According to SoxProspects.com’s Chris Hatfield, the young backstop will likely rank somewhere between No. 11 and No. 2o in regards to the site’s ranking of the Red Sox’ top prospects.

That in turn, would make Hernandez one of, if not the top catching prospect in Boston’s farm system, as noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

On the subject of Red Sox minor-league catchers, Hernandez will join a position group that includes the likes of Connor Wong (also on the 40-man), Jhonny Pereda, Roldani Baldwin, Kole Cottam, Chris Hermann, Jhonny Pereda, and Austin Rei at major-league camp the onset of spring training.

It’s already been said, but in a matter of 12-plus months, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have seemingly transformed the organization’s catching depth from an area of weakness to an area of strength. Not too shabby.

(Picture of Ronaldo Hernandez: Eric Espada/Getty Images)

Red Sox acquire catching prospect Ronaldo Hernández, infield prospect Nick Sogard from Rays in exchange for Chris Mazza, Jeffrey Springs

The Red Sox have traded right-hander Chris Mazza and left-hander Jeffrey Springs as well as cash considerations to the Rays in exchange for catching prospect Ronaldo Hernandez and infield prospect Nick Sogard, the team announced Wednesday morning.

Both Mazza and Springs were recently designated for assignment by Boston so that the club could make room on its 40-man roster and accommodate the additions of Martin Perez and Hirokazu Sawamura.

Mazza, 31, posted a 4.80 ERA and 4.26 FIP over nine outings (six starts) and 30 innings pitched in his debut season with the Sox after being claimed off waivers from the Mets in December 2019.

Springs, meanwhile, put up worse numbers than Mazza (7.08 ERA, 4.81 FIP) in 2020, but there is plenty of appeal in what he does on the mound. That much was highlighted by the fact that over a nine-game stretch from August 31 through September 23 last season, the 28-year-old produced a 2.53 ERA and 2.39 xFIP over 10 2/3 innings of relief.

Considering that Mazza and Springs both have at least one minor-league option remaining, it’s not too surprising to see a team — especially a team like the Rays — take a chance on the hurlers via trade.

As for who the Red Sox are acquiring, let’s start with Hernandez.

The 23-year-old backstop entered the 2020 season as Tampa Bay’s No. 13 prospect according to Baseball America.

Although he did not see any big-league playing time in 2020, Hernandez did spend the entirety of the year at the Rays’ alternate training site on account of his being added to the team’s 40-man roster the previous November in order to be protected from the 2019 Rule 5 Draft.

Leading up to that protection, the Colombian posted a .265/.299/.297 slash (104 wRC+) to go along with nine home runs, 60 RBI, and seven stolen bases across 103 games for High-A Charlotte. He also threw out more than 39% of the base runners that attempted to steal against him.

Following the 2019 minor-league season, Hernandez played for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League and posted an OPS of .894 over 11 games played and 42 plate appearances.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 230 lbs., the right-handed hitting Hernandez will join a catching mix at Red Sox camp that includes the likes of Christian Vazquez, Kevin Plawecki, Connor Wong, Jhonny Pereda, and Roldani Baldwin. More on Plawecki in a minute.

Turning to Sogard now, the 23-year-old was the Rays’ 12th-round selection in the 2019 amateur draft out of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

The Southern California native was not included in Tampa Bay’s 60-man player pool this past season, but he did enjoy moderate success in 2019 by slashing .290/.405/.313 with five doubles, 21 RBI, and 20 swiped bags across 63 games for short-season Hudson Valley.

A switch-hitting infielder listed at 6-foot-1 and 180 lbs., Sogard has garnered experience at every infield position besides first base as a professional thus far. He will presumably start the 2021 minor-league season at one of the Red Sox’ Class-A affiliates (Salem or Greenville).

Circling back to Plawecki, the Sox placed the 29-year-old backstop on the COVID-19 related injured list on Wednesday, which cleared up a 40-man roster spot for Hernandez.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Plawecki can spend as much time on the COVID-19 injured list as he needs and will not count against Boston’s 40-man roster during that time.

(Picture of Ronaldo Hernandez: Eric Espada/Getty Images)

Red Sox make Martín Pérez re-signing official, designate right-hander Chris Mazza for assignment

Nearly a full month after reaching an agreement with him, the Red Sox announced on Friday that they have brought back left-hander Martin Perez on a one-year contract for the 2021 season that includes a club option for 2022.

In order to make room for Perez on the 40-man roster, the Red Sox also designated right-hander Chris Mazza for assignment on Friday.

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported back in January that Perez, 30 in April, will earn a base salary of $4.5 million this season and will have the opportunity to earn $6 million in 2022 if his club option is picked up.

If not, Perez will net himself $500,000 in the form of a buyout, so he is guaranteed to make $5 million regardless of what happens next winter. His deal also includes incentives based on number of innings pitched in 2021 and 2022.

The 29-year-old hurler is a few months removed from a solid 2020 campaign with the Red Sox in which he posted a 4.50 ERA and 4.88 FIP over 12 starts and 62 innings pitched in his first go-around in Boston.

Don’t let those numbers fool you, though, because outside of two poor outings against the Orioles on July 25 and September 24, Perez proved to be one of the Sox’ most consistent starters last year by putting up a 3.57 ERA and .686 OPS against in 10 starts (53 innings) from July 30 through September 18.

The Red Sox originally inked the Venezuelan international to a one-year pact that also included a $6.25 million team option back in December 2019, but went on to decline that option this past November.

At the time, Perez was rather dismayed by that decision, but he did not give up hope that he might be able to re-sign with the club this winter.

“I was disappointed at one point,” he said when speaking with reporters via Zoom earlier Friday evening. “But at the same time, I told my agent, ‘I want to wait because I know they’re trying to make a lot of moves.’ And I want to wait because all offseason, my mind was in Boston — my heart too. I felt good last year. I enjoyed the short season that we played, and I especially enjoyed the fans and how they texted me after games. You guys, too, do a great job for me. That’s why I always told my agent, ‘I want to be back. I just want to wait and let’s see what they got for me.’ And finally, we made the deal and now I’m back.”

Given his return to Boston’s pitching staff, Perez figures to open the 2021 season as the Sox’ No. 2 or No. 3 starter depending on how things play out at spring training. He joins a mix of arms vying for rotation spots that consists of Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathen Eovaldi, Garrett Richards, Nick Pivetta, Tanner Houck, Matt Andriese, and Garrett Whitlock.

Moving on to Mazza now, the 31-year-old was designated for assignment by the Sox a little under 14 months after originally being claimed off waivers from the Mets in late December 2019.

Starting the 2020 season at the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket, Mazza made his Red Sox debut on August 1 and went on to produce a 4.80 ERA and 4.26 FIP over nine appearances, six of which were starts, and 30 innings of work in three separate stints with the team.

The Red Sox now have a week to either trade, release, or sneak Mazza through waivers, though it doesn’t seem too crazy for another team to put in a waiver claim for the California native considering the fact he still has one minor-league option remaining for 2021.

With this transaction completed, the Red Sox’ 40-man roster is at full capacity, which means two spots still need to be cleared so that Hirokazu Sawamura and Marwin Gonzalez can be added sooner rather than later.

That will be something to monitor as the start of major-league camp draws closer (February 18).

(Picture of Martin Perez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox Relievers Combine To Toss 6 2/3 Scoreless Innings en Route To 5-3 Victory Over Nationals

The Red Sox bounced back from an ugly 10-2 loss on Friday and were carried by their bullpen en route to a 5-3 victory over the defending World Series champion Nationals on Saturday.

Chris Mazza made his second start and third overall appearance of the season for Boston in this one, as he was recalled from Pawtucket on Saturday in a roster move that saw Nathan Eovaldi placed on the injured list.

Working 2 1/3 innings while facing the Nationals for the first time in his career, the right-hander yielded three runs, all of which were earned, on six hits and two walks to go along with three strikeouts on the night.

All three of those Washington tallies came in the top half of the third, when after retiring six of the first nine hitters he faced, Mazza struggled to record a single out and instead allowed three runs to cross the plate on four hits and a walk before fanning Kurt Suzuki on five pitches, which actually marked the end of his outing.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 75 (46 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler turned to his slider and cutter a combined 70% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing 10 swings-and-misses with the two pitches. He also topped out at 94 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 11 times.

Hit with the no-decision due to the length of this outing, Mazza could be a candidate to get another start next time through the rotation, which would likely come against the Blue Jays late next week. We will have to wait and see on that.

In relief of Mazza, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez was dispatched with runners on first and second and two outs to get in the top of the third, and he got those outs while dancing around a bases-loaded jam in between two swinging strikeouts.

From there, Phillips Valdez stranded two runners and punched out the side in a scoreless fourth inning, and he also put two more runners on and recorded two more outs in the fifth before Austin Brice came on and ended the frame with the help of Alex Verdugo’s seventh outfield assist of the season.

Brice got the call for the start of the sixth as well and kept the Nationals off the board while leaving another two base runners stranded.

Josh Osich, Ryan Brasier, and Matt Barnes followed suit by combining to toss three shutout frames the rest of the way, with Barnes picking up his third save of the year courtesy of a seven-pitch groundout off the bat of Eric Thames to close out the ninth.

All in all, Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke used six different relievers on Saturday — Hernandez, Valdez, Brice, Osich, Brasier, and Barnes — and the six combined to twirl 6 2/3 shutout innings out of the bullpen. Not too shabby.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against another veteran right-hander for the Nationals in Anibal Sanchez. This time around, though, the Boston bats had an easier time of getting runs on the board, and it started right from the jump in the bottom of the first.

There, an Alex Verdugo leadoff single and one-out double from J.D. Martinez put runners in scoring position for Xander Bogaerts, who took full advantage of that opportunity by swinging away at the first pitch he saw from Sanchez, an 89 mph four-seamer above the strike zone, and crushing a 440-foot three-run home run to left-center field.

Bogaerts’ seventh big fly of the season, which had an exit velocity of 106.3 mph off the bat, gave his side an early three-run advantage.

An inning later, the bottom of the lineup got it done this time, as Kevin Pillar led the second off with a hard-hit triple and came into score moments later on a Jackie Bradley Jr. RBI groundout. 4-0.

Fast forward to the fourth, after the Nationals had stormed back to make things interesting at 4-3, Pillar struck once more, collecting his second extra-base hit of the night off an 0-1, 89 mph fastball from Sanchez at the top of the zone. It just so happens that this extra-base knock was hit 435 feet over the Monster and was good for Pillar’s fourth big fly of 2020.

That solo blast gave the Red Sox a two-run edge at 5-3, which would go on to be Saturday’s final score.

Some notes and observations from this victory:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this three-game weekend series against the Nationals on Sunday afternoon.

Right-hander Zack Godley will get the starting nod for Boston, while fellow righty Austin Voth will do the same for Washington.

Under normal circumstances, Godley’s rotation spot may be in jeopardy here seeing how the 30-year-old owns an ERA of 11.17 over his last three starts going back to August 12. However, Godley may be safe regardless of how he performs on Sunday since the Red Sox do not have a great deal of starting pitching options at the moment.

In nine career outings (five starts) against the Nationals, the South Carolina native has posted a lifetime 5.53 ERA and .884 OPS against over 40 2/3 total innings pitched.

Voth, meanwhile, is coming off a start in which he surrendered six runs in less than four innings of work at home against the Marlins on August 24.

The 28-year-old has never faced the Red Sox before in his career, but he does own a lifetime 3.52 ERA in six prior interleague outings that span 30 2/3 innings of work.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox going for the series win to close out the weekend.

Red Sox Right-Hander Nathan Eovaldi Placed on Injured List Due To Mild Calf Strain

Before taking on the Nationals on Saturday, the Red Sox placed right-hander Nathan Eovaldi on the 10-day injured list retroactive to August 26 and recalled right-hander Chris Mazza from the alternate training site, manager Ron Roenicke announced.

Eovaldi was originally slated to start against Washington on Sunday, but Roenicke said Friday that the 30-year-old hurler would not be ready in time due to a right calf cramp suffered in Baltimore last weekend.

As it turns out, an MRI on Eovaldi’s calf revealed a mild strain, hence the move to place him on the IL Saturday.

“We feel like, to do it right, we want him to throw two bullpens before he pitches,” Roenicke said of Eovaldi’s status going forward. “He’ll be eligible [to return] Saturday. He’ll throw a bullpen tomorrow. He’ll throw an up-and-down bullpen Wednesday to try and make sure we don’t spike too much after his layoff, and then he’ll be eligible to pitch in Saturday’s game.”

That start on Saturday, September 5, would come against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park.

Prior to straining his calf, Eovaldi had posted a 4.98 ERA and 4.58 FIP through his first six starts and 34 1/3 innings pitched of the season. Other than lefty Martin Perez, the Houson native is just about the only starter the Red Sox can rely on to make it through at least five innings when he takes the mound. And even if he is only out for another week, the reliability that Eovaldi provides will surely be missed in the meantime.

“We’ve been kind of chasing this thing around with the calf,” Roenicke continued. “Yesterday’s bullpen was definitely the best we’ve had. I kind of felt like it was going to be a while anyway, being able to back-date it and have a plan for him, we feel really good about him being ready on Saturday. Even though we know we’re losing him, I know now with the MRI that it’s nothing serious and that we can get back on the mound and have him pitch games again. You always wonder what’s going on and how long is this going to last? We feel pretty good about what it is and when he’ll be back.”

With Eovaldi sidelined, Mazza will start against the Nationals on Saturday night, while right-hander Zack Godley will do the same on Sunday afternoon to close this three-game weekend series out.

Red Sox Muster Just Three Hits, Go Down Quietly in 9-1 Loss To Blue Jays in Buffalo

On a rain-soaked Wednesday night in Buffalo, the Red Sox kicked off the second half of the 2020 season by falling to the Blue Jays by a final score of 9-1 to fall to 10-21 on the year.

Colten Brewer made his third start and 10th overall appearance of the season for Boston in this one, as he was filling on for the cramped up Nathan Eovaldi.

Coming off a fine outing in his last time out against the Orioles, the right-hander struggled this time around, surrendering four runs, all of which were earned, on five hits and two walks to go along with four strikeouts on the night.

The first pair of those Toronto tallies scored off Brewer came on a pair of solo home runs from Randal Grichuk and Rowdy Tellez in the bottom halves of the first and second.

The other two came in the fourth, when after yielding a leadoff double to Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Brewer served up another homer, this one good for two runs, to Tellez off a hanging 1-1, 76 mph curveball towards the inner half of the plate.

Tellez’ second blast of the night, which was his ninth in 20 career game against the Red Sox, put the Jays up 4-0.

Brewer’s evening came to a close shortly thereafter, as he recorded the first two outs of the frame before walking old friend Santiago Espinal on five pitches and getting the hook from Sox manager Ron Roenicke.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 80 (49 strikes), the 27-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball 41% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing four swings-and-misses with the pitch while topping out at 95.6 mph with it.

Hit with his second losing decision of the year later on while raising his ERA to 4.57, Brewer’s next start, if he does get one that is, would likely come against the Braves back in Boston sometime next week.

In relief of Brewer, Ryan Weber got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen and came into a four-run game with a runner on first and one out to get in the bottom of the fourth.

The 29-year-old got that out pretty easily, and he was also lights out in the fifth and sixth innings before running into a significant amount of trouble in the seventh.

There, Weber allowed the first three hitters he faced to reach base, resulting in another Blue Jays run crossing the plate to make it a 5-1 contest.

A lineout off the bat of Travis Shaw would mark the end of Weber’s outing, and in came Austin Brice who immediately walked Teosar Hernandez on six pitches to fill the bases for Guerrero Jr.

The Toronto phenom took full advantage of the opportunity that had been laid out before him, as he took a 3-0, 94 mph sinker from Brice and ripped a bases-clearing, three-run double down the left field line. Just like that, the Jays were up 8-1.

A Tellez RBI single moments later brought in Guerrero Jr. from second and put the Sox in an eight-run hole.

All in all, Boston pitching gave up five runs in the seventh inning. Three of those runs were charged to Weber, the other two to Brice.

Left-hander Josh Osich did manage to toss a scoreless ninth to keep the eight-run deficit intact, but by then the damage had already been done.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against rookie right-hander Julian Merryweather for the Blue Jays, who was making just his second career major-league start on Wednesday.

To put it simply, Merryweather impressed by keeping the Boston bats off the scoreboard over the first two innings while throwing strikes 64% of the time.

It wasn’t until the top of the fourth when the Sox offense finally got it going. There, with Shun Yamaguchi on the hill for Toronto, Mitch Moreland stayed hot by crushing his eighth big fly off the season deep to the opposite field off a two-out, first pitch 84 mph changeup on the outer half of the plate.

As it would later turn out, though, Moreland’s solo blast would prove to be the only offense the Red Sox could muster over nine frustrating innings on Wednesday.

In fact, Moreland’s homer was one of just three hits for the Sox all night, as 9-1 would go on to be your final score in this one.

Some notes and observations from this defeat:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Alex Verdugo’s 14-game hitting streak has come to an end following the 24-year-old’s 0-for-4 night at the plate.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this three-game set against the Blue Jays on Thursday night.

Right-hander Chris Mazza will get the start for Boston, while veteran left-hander Hyun Jin Ryu will do the same for Toronto.

Mazza, who will be making his second start of the year for the Sox, will need to be added to the active roster prior to first pitch, which is scheduled for 6:37 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI.

Red Sox Activate Josh Taylor off Injured List, Option Chris Mazza To Pawtucket in Slew of Roster Moves

Before wrapping up a four-game series against the Yankees on Monday night, the Red Sox made a series of roster moves, activating left-hander Josh Taylor off the 10-day COVID-19 related injured list, optioning right-hander Chris Mazza to the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket, and placing newly-acquired infielder Christian Arroyo on the injured list retroactive to August 14.

Taylor had been on the IL since July 14 after testing positive for COVID-19 during intake screening in Boston before the start of Summer Camp. After getting cleared to return to baseball activities after self-isolating in a hotel room in the city, the 27-year-old had been building up his stamina while working out at McCoy Stadium prior to Monday’s announcement. His return to the Red Sox bullpen will be a welcome one.

Mazza, meanwhile, was optioned back down to Pawtucket shortly after making his first career major-league start at Yankee Stadium on Sunday night. The 30-year-old hurler surrendered four runs on eight hits and one walk over three innings pitched in his second appearance of the season with the Red Sox, and it now appears as though the club will turn to someone else next time through the rotation.

As for Arroyo, MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo suggests that the Sox placing the 25-year-old on the COVID-19 related  injured list does not imply a positive test, just that the intake process is not yet complete. Per Cotillo, the “hope is to activate him [Tuesday].”

A former top prospect selected in the first round of the 2013 amateur draft by the Giants, Arroyo was claimed off waivers by Boston from the Indians last Thursday.

The Florida native has not exactly lived up to that first-round hype to this point, as he owns a lifetime OPS+ of 66 through his first 71 major-league games dating back to 2017, but he is capable of playing all around the infield, so he certainly comes with plenty of versatility.

When the time comes for the Red Sox to activate Arroyo, which again could be as early as Tuesday, expect a 40-man roster move to be made then.

 

Red Sox Manage to Hold Yankees to Just Four Runs but Can’t Get Offense Going in Seventh Consecutive Loss

For the first time since last Sunday, the Red Sox did not give up eight or more runs in a game, yet saw their season-worst skid grow to seven games following a 4-2 defeat at the hands of the Yankees once again on Sunday.

Chris Mazza made his first career majoor-league start and second overall appearance for Boston in this one after gettting recalled from the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket hours before the game.

Working the first three innings of Sunday’s contest, the right-hander surrendered four runs, all of which were earned, on eight hits and one walk to go along with four strikeouts on the night.

The first two of those New York tallies came on a pair of RBI hits from Mike Ford and Aaron Hicks in the bottom halves of the first and second. The other two came in the bottom half of the third, when Ford struck again by following up a Gleyber Torres one-out single by crushing a 2-0, 92 mph sinker from Mazza 429 feet to right-center field fot a two-run home run.

That gave the Yankees a 4-1 lead, and Mazza’s evening came to a close shortly thereafter once he retired the side in the third by getting Brett Gardner to fly out to center and Clint Frazier to fan on five pitches.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 66 (40 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied on his sinker 42% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing one swing-and-miss with the pitch. He also topped out at 93.3 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 12 times.

Later hit with his first losing decision of the season while raising his ERA to 6.35, Mazza could still very well get another start for Boston despite this rough showing. If that happens, the Bay Area native could very well take the mound again against the Orioles in Baltimore on Friday.

In relief of Mazza, another pitcher who does not rely on his velocity got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in the form of Ryan Weber.

Fresh off six one-run innings of relief against the Rays on Wednesday, the right-hander impressed once again on Sunday by sitting down eight of the 10 hitters he faced with the help of a double play over three scoreless frames from the middle of the fourth up until the end of the sixth.

From there, Ryan Brasier danced his way around a bases loaded jam and kept the Yankees off the board despite needing 30 pitches to do so in the eighth, while Marcus Walden bounced back from Thursday’s disastrous outing with a 1-2-3 ninth.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against another veteran left-hander for the Yankees in 37-year-old J.A. Happ, whose last turn through the Yanks’ rotation was actually skipped partly due to his sluggish start to the 2020 season.

As it turns out, Happ was anything but sluggish on Sunday, as he held the opposition to just one run over 5 2/3 innings pitched.

That one Boston run came courtesy of Kevin Pillar, when with two outs and the bases empty in the top of the third, the Red Sox center fielder took a 1-1, 84 mph slider on the inner edge of the strike zone from the Yankees starter and deposited it 382 feet down the left field line for the solo shot.

At the time, Pillar’s second big fly of the season cut his side’s deficit in half at 2-1. However, that deficit would only grow while the Boston bats were held in check by Happ as well as Adam Ottavino and Chad Green out of the Yankees bullpen.

The Sox offense did make a bit of noise in the ninth though, when with Zack Britton on the hill for New York, the pinch-hitting Jose Peraza followed up a Christian Vazquez two-base hit and plated a run on a fielding error committed by the Yankees reliever.

That made it a 4-2 contest and brought the tying run to the plate in the form of Kevin Plawecki, but the veteran backstop whiffed on five pitches, and that was that in what would go down as a two-run defeat.

Some notes and observations from this loss:

Chris Mazza was the 11th different starting pitcher used by the Red Sox through the club’s first 22 games of the season. They are now 6-16 on the year.

The Red Sox allowed four or fewer runs in a game for the first time since August 9, which also happens to be the last time they won.

The Red Sox are 5-20 against the Yankees dating back to the start of the 2019 season. They have been outscored 44-20 by New York in six games this year.

The Red Sox went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position in this one and left six men on base as a team.

Kevin Pillar’s last seven games: 8-for-26 (.308) with one home run, four RBI, and two walks.

Alex Verdugo went 2-for-4 on Sunday with a hard-hit double, a stolen base, and an outfield assist.

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this four-game series at Yankee Stadium on Monday night.

Left-hander Martin Perez will get the start for Boston, while fellow southpaw Jordan Montgomery will do the same for New York.

Perez is coming off an outing in which he allowed two runs over 5 2/3 innings of work in a loss to the Rays. The 29-year-old has only made one career start at Yankee Stadium and it did not go too well, as he got shelled for seven runs on 11 hits in five innings pitched on August 12 of the 2018 season.

Montgomery, meanwhile, held Boston to just one run over 5 2/3 innings pitched in his 2020 debut back on July 31. The Red Sox wound up losing that contest by a final score of 5-1.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN, MLB Network, and WEEI. Red Sox looking to put a stop to this losing streak.

 

 

 

Red Sox Option Dylan Covey to Pawtucket in Order to Make Room on Roster for Chris Mazza

Before making his first career major-league start on Sunday night, right-hander Chris Mazza needed to be added to the Red Sox’ active roster. In order to make that happen, the Sox optioned fellow righty Dylan Covey to the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket prior to Sunday’s contest against the Yankees.

In his second stint with Boston after initially getting recalled from Pawtucket back on August 8, Covey, who just turned 29 on Friday, surrendered three earned runs on five hits, no walks, and two strikeouts over three relief appearances and 4 1/3 total innings pitched.

All three of those runs came in Friday’s loss to the Yankees, as the California native now owns a 7.11 ERA and .692 OPS against through his first four outings as a member of the Red Sox dating back to July 25. He will likely be up with the big-league club again before the end of the 2020 season.

As for Mazza, the 30-year-old will make his second appearance with the Red Sox a little more than two weeks after making his team debut at Yankee Stadium on August 1.

Mazza limited New York to just one hit and two walks while fanning three over 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief in that outing, and he will now get the chance to start a game for the first time as a major-leaguer.

Prior to coming over to the Sox in December, the Bay Area native made 13 starts for the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate in Syracuse last season and posted a 3.77 ERA and .234 batting average against over 74 innings pitched.

That being said, expect Mazza to get anywhere between three to five innings of work in on Sunday depending on how he looks early on. First pitch is scheduled for 7:08 p.m. eastern time on ESPN and WEEI.