Christian Arroyo expected to start at second base for Red Sox in Wild Card Game against Yankees

From the time he was activated from the COVID-19 related injured list on September 21 until the regular season ended on Sunday, Christian Arroyo appeared in a grand total of four games for the Red Sox.

Over those four games (one start), Arroyo accrued all of six plate appearances, as he went 1-for-6 with a single, walk, and three strikeouts during the final stretch of the 2021 campaign.

Despite that limited playing time, Arroyo will get the start at second base in Tuesday night’s Wild Card Game against the Yankees at Fenway Park. Red Sox manager Alex Cora confirmed as much when speaking to reporters on Monday.

In Arroyo’s absence, Boston had primarily relied on veteran infielder Jose Iglesias to fill the void at second base. Iglesias performed valiantly in that role, slashing .356/.406/.508 with four doubles, one triple, one home run, seven RBI, and eight runs over 23 games and 64 plate appearances.

Because he signed with the Sox on September 6, though, Iglesias was deemed ineligible by Major League Baseball to play in the postseason since he joined a new organization after the August 31 deadline.

With that rule in mind, the Red Sox essentially have no choice but to roll with Arroyo — whose last start came on September 26 — in Tuesday’s contest against the Yankees.

Arroyo’s 2021 season marked his first full year with Boston, and it was also one that marked by three separate stints on the injured list (not including the COVID-related IL) on account of a left hand contusion, right knee contusion, and left hamstring strain.

Those injuries — as well as a bout with COVID — limited the 26-year-old to just 57 games this season, though he did prove to be effective when healthy by hitting .262/.324/.445 (106 wRC+) with 12 doubles, six homers, 25 RBI, 22 runs scored, one stolen base, eight walks, and 44 strikeouts over 181 trips to the plate.

Additionally, Arroyo provided the Sox with solid defense at second base, as he posted positive-five defensive runs saved as well as an ultimate zone rating of 2.2. across 387 innings at the position, per FanGraphs.

Taking that point into consideration, Arroyo’s ability to handle things at second base could prove useful on Tuesday, as the Yankees this season put up the fourth-highest groundball rate in the American League (43.4%) while also hitting into a league-leading 154 double plays.

On the flip of side that, the right-handed hitting Arroyo may not have had the best season against right-handed pitchers (.213/.302/.383), but he is 1-for-2 with an RBI single and strikeout in his career against Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, who will be starting for New York on Tuesday.

Although it’s unclear at this point where in the Red Sox lineup Arroyo will be hitting come Tuesday night, he has fared well against fastballs this season (.290 batting average, .505 slugging percentage). This, too, could prove beneficial since Cole relies heavily upon his four-seam fastball (47% of the time this season).

All that being said, Arroyo will be playing in his first career postseason game at the big-league level on Tuesday, so it’s safe to assume he is looking forward to that.

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

Red Sox activate Christian Arroyo from COVID-19 related injured list, return Jack López to Triple-A Worcester

In addition to placing Garrett Whitlock on the 10-day injured list due to a right pectoral strain and recalling Ryan Brasier from Triple-A Worcester, the Red Sox also activated infielder Christian Arroyo from the COVID-19 related injured list.

In a corresponding move, fellow infielder Jack Lopez was returned to Worcester, the club announced shortly before Tuesday’s series opener against the Mets at Fenway Park.

Arroyo returns from the COVID-19 related injured list after spending nearly a month there following a lengthy bout with the virus.

The 26-year-old was originally identified as a close contact of Enrique Hernandez when the Sox’ outbreak began in Cleveland on August 27. He tested positive for COVID just two days later and was forced to quarantine at the team’s hotel.

After getting hit hard by virus-related symptoms, Arroyo was cleared to return to action last week, as he was sent out on a rehab assignment with Worcester this past Thursday.

Appearing in three games with the WooSox during their series in Syracuse over the weekend, the right-handed hitting second baseman went 1-for-11 with a single, a run scored, and four strikeouts while playing a total of 21 defensive innings at second base.

It’s been a tough go-around for Arroyo in his first full season in Boston, with the 6-foot-1, 210 pound hitter being limited to just 53 games so far this year on account of three separate stints on the injured list (due to a left hand contusion, right knee contusion, and left hamstring strain) and one stint on the COVID-related IL.

Still, Arroyo has been productive when healthy, as he comes into play Tuesday sporting a .264/.324/.453 slash line to go along with six home runs, 25 RBI, and 22 runs scored over 175 trips to the plate.

While Arroyo will start Tuesday’s contest against the Mets on the bench, the Red Sox will need the Florida native to contribute to their Wild Card push since Jose Iglesias — who has mainly been playing second base in Arroyo’s place — is ineligible for the postseason since he was signed after September 1.

Lopez, meanwhile, returns to Worcester for a second time after he most-recently had his contract selected when Danny Santana was placed on the COVID IL on September 11.

Across two separate stints with the Sox in the month of September, the 28-year-old journeyman has slashed just .154/.214/.308 with a pair of doubles, a run, and one walk over seven games (16 plate appearances), though he has provided sound defense in limited action at second base.

(Picture of Christian Arroyo: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Christian Arroyo ‘in a good spot’ amid rehab assignment with Triple-A Worcester, Alex Cora says

Red Sox infielder Christian Arroyo continues to make progress during his rehab assignment with Triple-A Worcester, so much so that he has caught the attention of his manager, Alex Cora.

In his second game with the WooSox at Polar Park on Thursday evening, Arroyo went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts, but also drew a leadoff walk in the fifth inning and promptly stole second base before coming around to score on an RBI double off the bat of Joey Meneses.

“He must be feeling really good,” Cora said of Arroyo ahead of Friday night’s game against the Rangers at Fenway Park. “I mean, he took off yesterday and stole a base, so that was good to see. I was watching on TV. He got a few at-bats.”

Arroyo, who has been on the 10-day injured list due to a left hamstring strain since July 19, played five innings of second base for Worcester in Game 1 of their doubleheader against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (a 5-3 win) on Thursday before making way for Chad De La Guerra in the top half of the sixth.

Two nights before, Arroyo went 0-for-2 with a flyout and groundout while also getting plunked by a pitch while serving as the WooSox’ designated hitter for six innings before getting pinch-hit for by Johan Mieses in the bottom half of the seventh of a 2-0 victory.

The 26-year-old originally strained his left hamstring in his professional debut at first base against the Yankees back on July 18.

In the third inning of that Sunday night contest in the Bronx, Arroyo attempted to stretch out while receiving a throw from second baseman Enrique Hernandez in order to complete a potential double play, but wound up doing a split that resulted in his immediate removal from the game.

Since that time, Arroyo has gotten back to the point where he was able to begin a rehab assignment earlier this week and will once again be starting at second base and batting second for the WooSox on Friday night.

“He’s going to play today again,” said Cora. “I don’t think he’s that far off. Obviously he hasn’t played in a while. It’s been a month. So as far as the timing and all that, we’ll talk to him. We’ll see how he feels. But I do believe body-wise, the way he’s moving, he’s in a good spot. The fact that he stole a base yesterday, it was a good sign.”

As previously mentioned, Arroyo did injure himself in his first career start at first base at any level back on July 18, but that does not mean the Red Sox will keep the 6-foot-1, 210 pounder away from that position in the future.

“As long as he doesn’t stretch or slip, whatever you want to call it,” Cora said on Wednesday. “He’s going to work at first. I don’t think he’s going to start at first base but I think he’s going to get some work in at first base.”

Taking that point into consideration, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette’s Joe McDonald tweeted earlier Friday afternoon that Arroyo was spotted working out at first base at Polar Park.

Also, this:

Arroyo, who has missed time on the injured list on three separate occasions this season, has primarily served as Boston’s everyday second baseman when healthy.

In what is his first full season with the Red Sox, Arroyo is hitting .271/.327/.465 with 12 doubles, six home runs, 25 RBI, 21 runs scored, one stolen base, seven walks, and 41 strikeouts over 50 games (170 plate appearances).

(Picture of Christian Arroyo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Christian Arroyo to begin rehab assignment with Triple-A Worcester on Tuesday

Red Sox infielder Christian Arroyo will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Worcester on Tuesday night, manager Alex Cora announced.

Arroyo has been held out of action since July 18, one day before he was placed on the 10-day injured list on account of a left hamstring strain.

The 26-year-old sustained the injury while making his professional debut at first base in the third inning of that Sunday’s game against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

On a ground ball off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton that was hit to second baseman Enrique Hernandez, Arroyo attempted to stretch out while receiving Hernandez’s throw in order to complete a double play, but wound up doing a split that resulted in him coming out of the game.

Later diagnosed with a left hamstring strain and promptly placed on the injured list for a third time this season, Arroyo was able to start running the bases and working out at Fenway Park over the weekend. He is now at a point where he can go out on a rehab assignment as planned.

With the WooSox opening up a lengthy series against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders at Polar Park this week, Arroyo will serve as designated hitter for Worcester in the first game of his rehab assignment on Monday night.

Though not official, the hope seems to be that if all goes well with Arroyo’s rehab this week, he could potentially re-join the Sox ahead of their weekend series against the Rangers back at Fenway.

Prior to going down with that left hamstring strain, Arroyo had been catching fire at the plate, as he was hitting .310/.355/.621 with two home runs, six RBI, and four runs scored across eight July games (31 plate appearances) before that Sunday night contest in the Bronx.

As previously mentioned, Arroyo had never played first base professionally before July 18, but was thrust into the position as a result of the Red Sox promoting outfielder Jarren Duran from Worcester, which in turn required Hernandez to move to second base on days Duran would be playing.

That being said, it should be interesting to see how the Sox manage Arroyo’s playing time once he does return seeing how their infield mix has only gotten more crowded following the additions of Kyle Schwarber and Travis Shaw.

Of course, major-league rosters will expand from 26 to 28 players beginning in September, so there is that to look ahead to as well.

(Picture of Christian Arroyo: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox place Christian Arroyo on injured list with hamstring strain, activate Danny Santana

Before opening up a three-game series against the Blue Jays in Buffalo on Monday, the Red Sox placed infielder Christian Arroyo on the 10-day injured list with a left hamstring strain.

In a corresponding move, utility man Danny Santana was returned from his rehab assignment with Triple-A Worcester and reinstated from the 10-day injured list, the team announced Monday evening.

Arroyo strained his left hamstring in the third inning of Sunday night’s 9-1 loss to the Yankees in the Bronx.

In what was his first career start at first base, Arroyo attempted to stretch out to catch Enrique Hernandez’s throw that would have completed an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play, but wound up doing a split and was immediately gripping at his left hamstring upon landing on the ground.

After he was able to get back to his feet, a hobbled Arroyo was forced to exit the contest and was replaced at first base by Bobby Dalbec

“He just felt it when he stretched,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said following Sunday’s defeat. “It’s a hard one, right? He was ready, of course, to play first, but he stretches and that happens. It’s a tough one for us, but we’ll be bounce back.”

The 26-year-old will now head to the injured list for a third time this season already, as he previously missed time with a left hand contusion in May before missing more time in late June and early July with a right knee contusion.

Santana, meanwhile, is back with the Red Sox after he was placed on the 10-day injured list on July 9 because of a left quad strain he sustained in Anaheim on July 6.

While running out a groundball in the seventh inning of that 5-3 loss to the Angels, Santana came up limp, resulting in his removal from the game as well as him being put on the IL the following Friday.

The 30-year-old switch-hitter’s stint on the injured list was backdated to July 7, however, and he began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Worcester over the weekend.

Appearing in just two games for the WooSox on account of inclement weather in the Worcester-area, Santana went 0-for-4 with two walks and a run scored at Polar Park before re-joining the big-league club in Buffalo on Monday.

Prior to going down with that quad strain earlier this month, Santana had made 12 appearances at first base with the Red Sox this season, 10 of which were starts.

The versatile veteran out of the Dominican Republic is only hitting .167/.231/.292 with Boston so far this year, but half of his 16 hits in a Red Sox uniform have come as a first baseman.

(Picture of Christian Arroyo: Adam Hunger/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Christian Arroyo forced to exit Sunday’s game against Yankees due to left hamstring strain: ‘It’s most likely an injured list thing,’ Alex Cora says

Christian Arroyo’s professional debut at first base was a short-lived one that, quite simply, did not go as planned.

Making his first-ever major-league start at first base for the Red Sox in Sunday’s contest against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, Arroyo grounded out to first base in his first at-bat of the night in the top half of the third inning before suffering a painful looking left hamstring injury in the bottom half.

With one out and runners at the corners, Sox starter Martin Perez induced a sharply-hit groundball off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton that was fielded by shortstop Xander Bogaerts.

After receiving the relay from Bogaerts, second baseman Kiké Hernández made a quick throw towards first base in an attempt to complete the potential inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.

Arroyo, who was presumably trying to record the second out of the twin killing at first before the runner at third — Greg Allen — crossed home plate, wound up stretching out with his left leg to the point where he landed on the ground while doing a split.

Stanton ended up beating the throw, but Arroyo was in clear discomfort as he gripped at his left hamstring while seated near the first base bag.

Upon getting back on his feet, a hobbled Arroyo was replaced at first base by Bobby Dalbec and was later diagnosed with a left hamstring strain.

The 26-year-old is likely headed for the injured list for a third time this season, Red Sox manager Alex Cora said following Sunday night’s 9-1 loss to the Yankees.

“It’s most likely an IL thing,” said Cora. “He just felt it when he stretched. It’s a hard one, right? He was ready, of course, to play first, but he stretches and that happens. It’s a tough one for us, but we’ll be bounce back.”

Danny Santana, who has been out of action since July 6 on the injured list with a left quad strain since July 9, is expected to join the Red Sox in Buffalo on Monday ahead of their series against the Blue Jays after completing a rehab assignment with Triple-A Worcester.

The switch-hitting Santana, who went 0-for-4 with two walks and a run scored in his most recent stint with the WooSox, has appeared in 12 games at first base for Boston so far this season, so the veteran utility man could be an option to fill in there while Arroyo is sidelined.

For Arroyo, this latest setback is just the latest reminder in how snake-bitten the infielder has been in his first full season with the Red Sox.

Finally able to establish himself as a legitimate everyday player, Arroyo is on the verge of hitting the IL for a third time in 2021 after previously missing time with a left hand and right knee contusion.

Since most-recently being activated off the injured list on July 5, the former first-round pick posted a .310/.355/.621 slash line with two home runs, four runs scored, and six RBI over his last eight games coming into play on Sunday.

That stretch of success was happening concurrently with the Red Sox calling up top outfield prospect Jarren Duran from Worcester, which resulted in Hernández shifting from center field to second base — the position Arroyo had played so well at.

In search to get Arroyo consistent playing time after promoting Duran, the Sox opted to try the right-handed hitter out at first base, with Cora even saying that “he deserves to play” with the way he has been swinging the bat as of late.

So, how frustrating is it when a player such as Arroyo, who has proven to be a key contributor when healthy, suffers an injury when he is seemingly on the verge of going on a tear?

“It’s frustrating, right?” said Cora. “Because, it seems like he’s in a groove, he’s swinging the bat well, and then this happens. We don’t like our guys to get hurt. This is one of the things, too, that — and [head athletic trainer Brad Pearson] always talks about it — it’s not only in his case. When you don’t play that much and all the sudden you start playing a lot, and you start getting on base at a high rate, and you’re running the bases more than usual, stuff like this happens.

“And we try to avoid it,” Cora added. “We put them in running programs when they’re not playing everyday just to avoid stuff like this. But, it’s too bad that it happens. And we’ll keep working, we’ll keep trying to improve, because that’s something that actually makes a lot of sense. You go from not playing to all the sudden playing 10 days in a row or eight out of 10, and your body’s not used to it.

“I’m not saying this is the case for Christian, but, overall, that’s one of the things that we’ve been studying and talking about. And we’ll try to get it right, I guess, that’s what I’m trying to say. So, we’ll keep working like I said and keep getting better.”

If Arroyo were to be placed on the 10-day injured list on Monday, the soonest he could be activated would be next Thursday, July 29.

(Picture of Christian Arroyo: Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Christian Arroyo set to make first career start at first base in series finale against Yankees

Christian Arroyo will be checking off another box on his “first time in his career” list when the Red Sox take on the Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Sunday night.

After pitching and being used as a pinch-runner for the first time in his five-year big-league career at different points earlier this season, Arroyo will be making his first-ever start at first base in Sunday’s series finale in the Bronx.

The 26-year-old infielder has never played first base before at the minor- or major-league level, but will be doing so in the rubber match of this three-game series with Jarren Duran getting the start in center field and Kiké Hernández sliding over to second base as a result.

Arroyo was seen taking grounders at first base on Thursday with quality control coach Ramon Vazquez giving him some pointers, and he will now have the opportunity to take what he learned and apply it to an actual game.

So far this season, Red Sox first baseman have arguably been one of the least productive position groups in all of baseball, as they came into play Sunday sporting a collective .204/.249/.366 slash line to go along with an MLB-worst .266 weighted on-base average and 62 wRC+.

It’s unclear at the moment if Arroyo, who has been one of the better defensive second basemen in the American League to this point in the year, represents a permanent change for Boston at first base or if this is just a temporary move.

“We’re comfortable with it,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of starting Arroyo at first base. “He’s earned his playing time, let’s put it that way. He’s putting [together] good at-bats, he’s hitting good pitching, and he deserves to start. He’s comfortable with it, I’m comfortable with it, so we’ll go from there.”

With Arroyo — a right-handed hitter — getting the start at first base on Sunday, that puts Bobby Dalbec — also a right-handed hitter — in a bit of a tough spot in which he will be limited to facing just left-handed pitching for the time being.

“The way he swung the bat the first two days here, he deserves to play,” said Cora in regards to Arroyo. “With Bobby, obviously, he’ll play against lefties –we’ll use him against lefties. There’s going to be a few righties that we’ll use, but as of today, it’s Christian against their righty. And we’ll go from there the rest of the week.”

All that being said, Arroyo is starting at first base and batting ninth for Boston on Sunday night. Hernandez will lead off, while Duran — in his second major-league start — will bat out of the seven-hole.

Xander Bogaerts is also back and starting at shortstop after missing Saturday’s contest on account of some wrist soreness he sustained on Friday. The 28-year-old All-Star is batting cleanup in between J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers, per usual.

Here is how the rest of the Red Sox (56-37) will lineup behind left-hander Martin Perez and against Yankees (47-44) right-hander Jameson Taillon.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 7:08 p.m. eastern time on ESPN.

(Picture of Christian Arroyo: Michael Owens/Getty Images)

Eduardo Rodriguez punches out 8 over 5 2/3 scoreless innings as Red Sox blank Yankees, 4-0; Christian Arroyo, J.D. Martinez both homer in win

A clean-shaven Eduardo Rodriguez led the Red Sox to a 4-0 shutout victory over the Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Friday night.

Rodriguez, making his 18th start of the year for Boston, kicked off the second half of his season with a bang by keeping New York off the scoreboard while scattering just two hits and two walks to go along with eight strikeouts over 5 2/3 solid innings of work.

The left-hander gave up a leadoff single to the very first hitter he faced in D.J. LeMahieu, but nullified it immediately by getting Giancarlo Stanton to ground into a 5-4-3 double play.

After ending the first inning and issuing a leadoff walk to Gary Sanchez to begin things in the second, Rodriguez proceeded to retire the next 11 Yankees who came to the plate against him in consecutive order before walking Chris Gittens on five pitches.

A fielding error committed by Bobby Dalbec allowed Gittens to advance to third, but Rodriguez rebounded by punching out Tim Locastro to retire the side. He then got the first two outs of the seventh rather simply before a two-out double off the bat of Odor marked the end of his evening.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 97 (57 strikes), the 28-year-old hurler was able to improve to 7-5 on the season while lowering his ERA to 5.19, which is the lowest it has been since May 23 (5.06). His next start should come against the Yankees once again again back at Fenway Park on July 22.

In relief of Rodriguez, Hirokazu Sawamura got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen, and he got out of the sixth by getting Sanchez to ground out to first base.

Houck earns first career save in return

From there, Tanner Houck — fresh off getting recalled from Triple-A Worcester — came on for his first big-league outing in nearly three months.

The 25-year-old right-hander maneuvered his way around a two-out walk and single in an otherwise clean bottom half of the seventh, tossed a scoreless eighth inning, and shut the door on the Yankees in the ninth to preserve the 4-0 win for his side and pick up the first save of his career.

Houck is now lined up to start against the Blue Jays in Buffalo next Wednesday, July 21.

Arroyo and Martinez power Red Sox offense

On the other side of things, the Jarren Duran-less Red Sox were matched up against Yankees left-hander Jordan Montgomery to begin things on Friday.

After going down in order in the first, a leadoff walk drawn by Xander Bogaerts set the tone for the Sox in the second.

That being the case because Rafael Devers followed by ripping a double off Montgomery to put runners in scoring position, which allowed Hunter Renfroe to bring in a run on an RBI groundout to shortstop to give Boston an early 1-0 lead.

A flyout from Christian Vazquez brought Montgomery within one out of escaping the inning, but Christian Arroyo would not let the southpaw off that easily, as he took a 2-1, 82 mph changeup on the outer half of the plate and crushed it 409 feet to the opposite field for his sixth home run of the season.

Arroyo’s two-run blast put the Red Sox up 3-0, but Montgomery held his own from there, and it was not until their half of the eighth when the Boston bats got going again.

There, facing off against Yankees reliever Justin Wilson with two outs in the inning, J.D. Martinez deposited an 0-2, 94 mph fastball 391 feet to right-center field for his 19th big fly of the year.

In addition to picking up his 19th homer, Martinez also extended his on-base streak to 29 consecutive games dating back to June 10.

On Martinez’s solo shot, the Red Sox jumped out to a commanding 4-0 lead over the Yankees, which would go on to be Friday’s final score.

7-0 vs. NYY

With the victory, the Sox put an end to a mini two-game skid to improve to 56-36 on the season while also maintaining a 1 1/2 game lead over the Rays for first place in the American League East.

They are now a perfect 7-0 against the Yankees this year.

Next up: Eovaldi vs. Cole

Saturday’s pitching matchup between the Red Sox and Yankees will feature a pair of All-Stars going at it, with right-hander Nathan Eovaldi getting the ball for Boston and fellow righty Gerrit Cole doing the same for New York.

In sending Eovaldi to the mound, the Red Sox will look to secure their third straight series victory over the Yankees.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. eastern time on FOX.

(Picture of Eduardo Rodriguez: Adam Hunger/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Christian Arroyo among American League’s top defensive second basemen this season

Christian Arroyo had it lined up perfectly.

With the game on the line with two outs in the bottom half of the ninth inning against the Angels on Monday night, Arroyo positioned himself in shallow right field as the dangerous left-handed hitting Shohei Ohtani stepped up to the plate.

In a contest in which Boston was barely clinging on to a one-run lead, Adam Ottavino found himself in one hell of a spot after already allowing a run to score in the last half of the ninth.

With Sox closer Matt Barnes unavailable, it was up to Ottavino to take on Ohtani with runners at first and second, meaning the game was very much in the right-hander’s hands.

After falling behind in the count at 3-1, Ottavino delivered an 80 mph slider to Ohtani that hung out over the heart of the plate. Ohtani, in response, laced a 101.3 mph grounder that had an expected batting average of .910, would have made it into right field, and at the very least scored the tying run if the Red Sox infield was playing traditional defense.

Instead, Arroyo — the second baseman — was playing Ohtani to pull the ball, and that move paid off when the two-way phenom’s screamer was hit right to him on a hop.

Arroyo needed all of a fraction of a second to corral the ball and make the throw over to an awaiting Bobby Dalbec at first base, which in turn secured a 5-4 series-opening win for the Sox at Angel Stadium.

“I knew he was over there,” Ottavino said of Arroyo Monday night. “I always check the shifts, but part of the reason why I wanted to stay breaking ball there is so that if anything, he would pull it, because I knew all our guys were over there. And Christian’s really good at those plays. That’s a tough ball, it’s hit hard with topspin. I was like, ‘Just stop it.’ And he did, so it was beautiful.”

Arroyo’s game-saving play on Monday is just the latest instance of how well he has handled things at second base since the start of the season.

The 26-year-old infielder came into play Thursday having logged 321 innings at second base across 46 games so far this year.

Among the 15 American League second basemen who have played at least 300 innings at the position in 2021, Arroyo — as of Thursday morning — ranks third in Defensive Runs Saved (3), second in Ultimate Zone Rating (2.1), first in Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games (9.4), and third in Defense (2.7), according to FanGraphs.

While Baseball Savant may not exactly favor Arroyo’s defensive efforts (0 Outs Above Average), it goes without saying that the 6-foot-1, 217 pound right-handed thrower has provided the Sox with a reliable presence at second base in his first full season with the club.

Arroyo flourishing in the infield has also benefitted Boston in other areas, as Kiké Hernández — who originally signed with the intentions of being the team’s everyday second baseman — has emerged as one of the more productive defensive centerfielders in the American League.

That being the case because Hernández came into play Thursday, an off day for the Red Sox, having recorded the most outfield assists among all AL centerfielders (5) while putting up 9 Defensive Runs Saved, which is the second-highest amount among outfielders in the AL behind only the Rays’ Brett Phillips, who has 11.

“We always said that when we had the lead, he was going to end up playing second base. It’s just that the other guys stepped up at that base,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said in regards to Hernández on Monday. “That play by Christian (Arroyo) at the end was great. We’ve been able to turn double plays with Marwin (Gonzalez), Christian (Arroyo), and Michael (Chavis), so we’re very comfortable with them at second base. The way he has been playing center field, it’s above average.

“The fact they have to respect their arms, all of them out there, we can shut the running game down just because of who they are. It’s a plus for us,” added Cora.

On paper, the Red Sox may be one of the worst defensive teams in Major League Baseball in terms number of errors committed (60) and fielding percentage (.981), but the fact of the matter is that they are still getting key contributions from a plethora of players in the infield and outfield, including both Arroyo and Hernández.

Christian Arroyo makes impact felt in return as Red Sox hold on to top Angels, 5-4, in dramatic fashion

Christian Arroyo certainly made his impact felt in his first game back with the Red Sox since June 20.

Just hours after being activated from the injured list, Arroyo crushed a solo home run off Angels starter Jose Suarez in his first big-league at-bat in over two weeks.

Arroyo’s fifth homer of the season — a 431-foot blast to left-center field — provided the Sox with the early boost they would need to both spoil Shohei Ohtani’s 27th birthday and secure a series-opening 5-4 victory over the Halos at Angel Stadium on Monday night.

With the win, Boston improves to 54-42 on the campaignand 3-1 on their current West Coast road trip. They, again, remain 4 1/2 games up on the Rays for first place in the American League East.

Devers stays hot with fifth 3-hit game of season

Rafael Devers recently lost two RBI on account of a scoring change made by Major League baseball, but he wasted no time in getting them back on Monday, with interest.

Moments after Arroyo got the Sox on the board first, Devers followed by doubling his side’s early lead with a run-scoring single that brought in Marwin Gonzalez and made it a 2-0 game.

Fast forward to the fourth, and the slugging third baseman struck again, this time taking Angels reliever Dylan Bundy 405 feet deep to right-center field on a towering two-run shot that put Boston ahead 4-1.

Devers, whose fourth-inning homer was his 21st of the year, also singled in the eighth to bring his batting average on the season up to .290.

Santana’s fine fifth inning on both sides of the ball

Danny Santana was not originally in the Sox’ starting lineup on Monday, but he was forced into action when left fielder Marwin Gonzalez exited with right hamstring tightness in the third inning.

Put on the spot right away, Santana came through in his second trip to the plate in the top of the fifth, as he greeted newly-inserted reliever Tony Watson by ripping an RBI single up the middle that brought in Xander Bogaerts from second and made it a 5-1 contest.

After delivering with the run-scoring knock in the top half of the inning, Santana showed off his arm strength in the bottom half by gunning down Jose Rojas at home plate to prevent the Angels from scoring their second run of the frame off Sox starter Martin Perez.

More outfield assists for the best team in baseball in that department

The Red Sox came into the week leading all of baseball in total outfield assists with 26 of them on the season. Even with that number — and what happened in the fifth inning — in mind, the Angels still tried to run on the likes of Santana, Enrique Hernandez, and Hunter Renfroe, and it cost them.

Following Santana’s defensive display, Hernandez followed suit in the sixth when he snuffed out Max Stassi, who was trying to turn a single into a double, at second base for the second out of the inning.

With Santana and Hernandez tacking on two more, the Red Sox have now tallied 28 outfield assists this season to add on to their league lead in that particular category.

Perez the beneficiary of some outstanding defense

Not only did Martin Perez benefit from the arm strength of his outfielders, he also benefitted from their agility as well.

Making his his 17th start of the season for Boston on Monday, Perez ran into some trouble out of the gate by issuing a one-out walk and one-out single in the second inning that resulted in Los Angeles’ first run of the night crossing the plate on a sacrifice fly.

Things would have been worse for Perez were it not for Enrique Hernandez, who robbed Luis Rengifo of a two-run home run by making a leaping grab at the wall in deep center field for the final out of the inning.

The veteran left-hander settled in a bit from there, stringing together two scoreless frames before putting himself in a jam in the bottom half of the fifth.

There, with one out and one run having already scored, Danny Santana prevented the Angels from pushing anything else across by throwing out Jose Rojas at home.

Hernandez proceeded to do the same in the sixth, as he recorded the second out of the frame by gunning down Max Stassi at second, at which point Perez was given the hook by Red Sox manager Alex Cora.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 79 (56 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler wound up surrendering two runs (one earned) on eight hits and one walk to go along with three strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings of work. He did not factor into the decision, but did lower his ERA on the season to 3.89.

Red Sox bullpen holds on

In relief of Perez, Hirokazu Sawamura got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen, and he got out of the sixth by recording the final two outs of the frame in quick fashion.

Sawamura also came back out for the seventh and got the first two outs there, but not before serving up a solo home run to Rojas that trimmed the Angels’ deficit down to two runs at 5-3.

Josh Taylor was next to be dispatched, and the left-hander got Ohtani to fly out to retire the side and punched out a pair in a 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth as well to extend his scoreless appearances streak to 26 consecutive games.

Ottavino vs. Ohtani

With Matt Barnes unavailable, Cora had to turn to right-hander Adam Ottavino to lock things down in the ninth.

A leadoff walk issued to old friend Jose Igleasias would come back to bite Ottavino, as he allowed the speedster to score on an RBI single off the bat of Rojas.

David Fletcher singled to advance the potential tying run into scoring position, and that brought the vaunted Ohtani up to the plate in a pivotal spot.

Ottavino, who infamously once said he would ‘strike out Babe Ruth every time’ he faced him, was tasked with going up against the modern-day Ruth in the form of the two-way phenom that is Ohtani.

After falling behind in the count at 3-1, Ottavino got Ohtani to sharply ground out to a perfectly-positioned Arroyo in shallow right field to preserve the 5-4 victory for his side while also notching his seventh save of the year.

Next up: Eovaldi vs. Ohtani

Tuesday’s pitching matchup between the Red Sox and Angels will feature a pair of All-Stars going at it, with right-hander Nathan Eovaldi getting the ball for Boston and Ohtani, also a right-hander, doing the same for Los Angeles.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 9:38 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Shohei Ohtani and Christian Arroyo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images