Michael Chavis, Alex Verdugo Both Homer While Martin Perez Tosses Five Scoreless Innings Against Rays as Red Sox Halt Losing Streak at Four

The Red Sox capped off their first road trip of the season on a positve note on Wednesday night, topping the Rays by a final score of 5-0 to put an end to their four-game losing streak.

Martin Perez made his third start of the year for Boston in this one, and he picked up where he left against the Mets with another solid outing on Wednesday.

Working five scoreless innings, the left-hander worked a bit of a tight-rope act, but still managed to keep Tampa Bay off the board while scattering four hits and three walks to go along with four strikeouts on the night.

Part of the reason Perez was able to avoid any real damage was his ability to induce soft contact on Wednesday, as he got the Rays to ground into a double-play on two separate occasions.

On top of that, the Sox starter also did an adequate job of dealing with traffic on the base-paths. Among the 20 batters he faced, Perez allowed seven to reach base, yet none of them scored thanks in part to the Rays going 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position, with the last of those chances coming with two outs in the fifth.

There, Yandy Diaz reached base on a line-drive double off Perez, but the 29-year-old countered by getting the dangerous Austin Meadows to fly out to right and that was that.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 91, only 48 of which were strikes, Perez relied on his cutter and changeup a combined 53% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing eight swings-and-misses with the pair of pitches while also topping out at 93.6 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 20 times en route to picking up his second consecutive winning decision.

With that, Perez is now 2-1 on the season with an ERA of 3.45. His next start will also come against the Rays, this time at Fenway Park, sometime next week, likely on Tuesday.

In relief of Perez, Colten Brewer got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in the middle of the sixth, and he maneuvered his way around a leadoff walk in an otherwise perfect inning of work.

From there, Austin Brice tossed a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh, Matt Barnes bounced back with a quick and painless bottom of the eighth, and Brandon Workman closed things out and preserved the shutout by striking out the side in the ninth.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup, absent the likes of Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr., was matched up against Rays southpaw Ryan Yarbrough to kick things off on Wednesday.

As it turned out, Boston’s first runs of the night were driven in by a left-handed bat. That hitter’s name? Alex Verdugo.

Yes, it took until the fourth inning, but after Michael Chavis reached base on a two-out double, the 24-year-old outfielder followed by crushing a 0-1, 71 mph curveball from Yarbrough just over the fence in right field for his first Red Sox home run.

Fast forward to the sixth, and Chavis was in the offensive spotlight once more, this time coming to the plate against Yarbrough with no outs and a runner on first following a Christian Vazquez RBI single that brought in Xander Bogaerts.

On the sixth pitch he saw from the Rays starter, Chavis unloaded on a 3-2, 78 mph changeup down the heart of the plate and deposited it 421 feet to the seats in left field, right off a cardboard cutout.

Chavis’ second big fly of 2020 and his second within the last five days put his side up 5-0, which as previously mentioned, would be all the Red Sox would need to pick up their fourth win of the season in this one.

Some notes and observations from this victory:

Michael Chavis on Wednesday: 3-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. His first multi-hit game of the season, and he also looked really sharp at first base.

Since giving up five runs (four earned) in his first two innings pitched as a member of the Red Sox back on July 25, Martin Perez has yielded just two earned runs over his last 13 2/3 innings of work.

Xander Bogaerts over the course of this seven-game road trip: 10-for-23 (.435) with two homers and four RBI.

From Red Sox Notes:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s a happy flight back home to Boston, another off day on Thursday, and the first of three against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park to kick off the weekend on Friday.

As things currently stand, the Sox will roll with right-hander Ryan Weber on Friday, right-hander Zack Godley on Saturday, and an opener on Sunday. The Jays have yet to name any of their starters for the three-game set.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI.

Before that though, major-league rosters across baseball have to go from 30 players down to 28 by Thursday morning, so stay tuned for that.

Even After Tough Loss, Red Sox Stars Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers Remain Optimistic

In what appeared to be a soul-crushing 9-7 loss to the Yankees on Sunday night, the Red Sox might actually have some positives to take away from a rather disappointing weekend in the Bronx.

Despite blowing a late lead to close out the weekend, Boston enjoyed some decent success on the offensive side of the ball, especially from the likes of Christian Vazquez, Rafael Devers, and Xander Bogaerts. The trio combined to go 7-for-13 at the plate with three home runs, six RBI, and 17 total bases between them on Sunday.

It may not have been enough for the Sox to avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of their division rivals, but it could be a sign of better things to come.

“We fought back, man,” Bogaerts said via Zoom in regards to his team’s effort-level on Sunday. “This is one of the games we can take a lot of positives out. Haven’t been (many) games like this. It sucks that we lost but it was pretty fun, honestly. Back-and-forth, back-and-forth. … This game was a nice fight from us.”

Already a sixth of the way through this truncated season, the Red Sox are 3-7, good for last place in the American League East, and are getting outscored by more than one run per game.

That being said, Sunday’s loss to the first-place Yankees offered a glimpse of hope for Boston, according to Bogaerts.

“Coming into today, the energy level was different before the game,” the two-time All-Star added. “Me and (Christian) Vazquez and (Rafael) Devers were talking about that. I don’t know why. But it was just different.”

Speaking of Devers, the 23-year-old echoed the same sentiment Bogaerts did in his postgame Zoom call with reporters Sunday night, saying that, “It was fun out there. I came out there today just a bit more motivated. There was an extra fire from all of us, not just myself. We just continue to just play hard and try to get the results we wanted, but obviously we just couldn’t get it today.”

After their first off day of the season on Monday, the Red Sox will open up a two-game series against the Rays at Tropicana Field beginning on Tuesday night. Perhaps some of that optimism shared by Bogaerts and Devers can carry over to the rest of the team during the final leg of this seven-game road trip.

Red Sox Waste Big Offensive Nights From Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers in Soul-Crushing 9-7 Loss to Yankees

In their highest-scoring game since Opening Day, the Red Sox still found a way to lose to the Yankees on Sunday night, as they fell to the Bronx Bombers by a final score of 9-7 and were unable to avoid getting swept by their division rivals.

Utilizing the opener strategy in this one, the Sox first turned to right-hander Austin Brice on Sunday, who was technically making his first career major-league start although he only pitched a scoreless first inning while walking two and striking out the side.

From there, left-hander Matt Hall, who served as an opener for Boston last week, had a tougher time of things from the middle of the second on. That being the case because the 27-year-old served up a three-run blast to Aaron Judge in his first frame of work and back-to-back, two-out RBI doubles to Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela in his second.

Heath Hembree was next up, and after tossing a perfect bottom of the fourth, the veteran righty got taken deep by Luke Voit on a two-out solo shot in the fifth. At the time, Voit’s homer pulled the Yankees back even with the Sox at 6-6.

The Boston offense was able to tack on another run in between Marcus Walden’s two shutout frames of relief in the sixth and seventh, but things took a turn for the worse for the Red Sox bullpen in the bottom of the eighth.

There, Matt Barnes entered with his side up one run at 7-6, got the first two outs of the inning rather easily, and then walked Mike Tauchman, the Yankees’ No. 9 hitter, on five pitches.

As the saying goes, “walks will haunt,” and that walk certainly would come back to haunt Barnes later on.

With New York’s lineup turning back over, Tauchman took off for second base with D.J. LeMahieu at the plate and got to the bag safely. Having to deal with a runner in scoring position now, Barnes couldn’t sneak a 2-2, 96 mph fastball past the Yankees second baseman and instead gave up a game-tying, run-scoring single back up the middle. 7-7.

It would have been one thing if Barnes managed to escape the eighth with the 7-7 stalemate still intact, but the ever-dangerous Judge had other ideas in mind.

Arguably the girthiest No. 2 hitter in baseball, the Yankees slugger took a 2-0, hanging 84 mph curveball from Barnes and deposited it 468(!) feet to the bleachers in left field.

That soul-crushing missile of a two-run home run put the Yanks up 9-7, which would ultimately go on to be Sunday’s final score as Barnes was hit with his first loss and blown save of the season.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against another familiar foe in the form of Yankees southpaw James Paxton.

With the Canadian-born Paxton on the hill, the Boston bats actually got on the board in the first inning for the first time all weekend when after J.D. Martinez reached base on a two-out double that could have been caught, Xander Bogaerts crushed his second big fly of the season 386 feet to right-center field to put his side up two early on.

In the third, more damage off Paxton came when Kevin Pillar led things off with a ground-rule double and came around to score moments later on a Rafael Devers RBI base knock to right.

A Martinez strikeout followed by consecutive one-out, run-scoring singles off the bats of Bogaerts and Christian Vazquez brought in two more runs, and the Red Sox had themselves a 5-3 lead just like that.

Fast forward to the fifth, and Bogaerts struck once more, this time taking Yankees reliever Michael King 437 feet to left-center field for his second dinger of the evening. 6-5 Boston.

And in the seventh, it was Devers’ turn to put his pull-side power on display, as he watched King hang a 2-1, hanging changeup on the inner half of the plate and proceeded to send it all the way to the right field bleachers, or more specifically, 427 feet away from home plate.

Devers’ long-awaited first long ball of the new season looked to be the all-important go-ahead hit in this one as it put the Sox up by one run at 7-6. A las, as previously mentioned, the Yankees staged a rather soul-crushing comeback in their half of the eighth, and 9-7 would go on to be your final score. Red Sox get swept.

Some notes and observations from this loss:

The Red Sox are 3-7 through their first 10 games of 2020.

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Despite the loss, Rafael Devers had an impressive night on both sides of the ball.

10 games into the season, the Red Sox have one of the worst records in baseball. Not great! It’s not a total surprise, but it’s still not great!

Anyway, the Sox have an off day on Monday before opening up a rare two-game set against the Rays in St. Petersburg on Tuesday.

Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi and left-hander Martin Perez are slated to start for Boston, while right-hander Charlie Morton and left-hander Ryan Yarbrough are lined up to do the same for Tampa Bay.

This will be the first of two trips to St. Pete for the Sox this season. They won 60% of their games at Tropicana Field in 2019.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Enjoy the off day.

Zack Godley Gets Taken Deep Twice, Red Sox Manage Just Two Runs in Second Straight Loss to Yankees

For a second consecutive night, a Red Sox starting pitcher only managed to pitch 3 1/3 innings in a loss at the hands of the New York Yankees. Ryan Weber did so on Friday, and newcomer Zack Godley followed by doing the same on Saturday in the Bronx.

More specifically, the veteran right-hander yielded five runs, all of which were earned, on six hits and two walks to go along with just one strikeout over those 3 1/3 innings pitched.

All five of those runs for New York off Godley came by way of the home run ball, as Aaron Judge crushed a 455-foot solo shot off the 30-year-old with one out in the first, and Gio Urshela, after seeing Luke Voit, Mike Tauchman, and Gary Sanchez reach base safely to lead off the second, clobbered a 412-foot grand slam over the center field wall. Just like that, the Yankees had themselves an early five-run edge.

If there’s any positives to take away from Godley’s first start with the Red Sox, it would be the fact that he retired seven of the next eight hitters he faced after serving up that grand slam, but two straight one-out walks of Urshela and Brett Gardner in the bottom of the fourth marked the conclusion of a rather disappointing outing.

Finishing with a final pitch count of a not-so nice 69 (39 strikes), Godley primarily remained on his cutter and changeup in this one, turning to the combination of pitches 69% of the time he was on the mound Saturday. He also topped out at 91 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw just three times.

Hit with his first loss of the year five days after tossing four scoreless innings of relief in his Red Sox debut this past Monday, Godley’s next start, assuming he gets another one, will likely come against the Blue Jays next weekend.

In relief of Godley, right-hander Chris Mazza got the first call out of the Boston bullpen with two outs in the fourth, and after escaping a bit of a jam in the inning to clean up Godley’s mess, the 30-year-old actually put together a solid performance in what was his Red Sox debut.

That being the case because Mazza, who was claimed off waivers from the Mets back in December, surrendered just one hit while fanning three and scattering two walks over 2 2/3 scoreless frames of work to to hold the Yankees at five runs scored heading into the seventh inning.

From there, Ryan Brasier punched out a pair in a perfect bottom half of the seventh and left-hander Josh Osich worked his way around a leadoff single in an otherwise clean eighth.

All in all, Sox relievers held the Bronx Bombers scoreless 4 2/3 combined innings pitched, but it was not enough in the end in what would turn out to be a 5-2 defeat.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar foe in the form of Yankees veteran right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who was making his first official start of 2020 after sustaining a concussion in an intrasquad game last month.

With that in mind, Tanaka did not stick around very long in this one, but the Boston bats were able to get to the 31-year-old hurler prior to his early departure.

That came in the top half of the third inning, when after falling behind by five runs early on, the top of the Sox lineup got itself together for Tanaka’s second time through the order, as a one-out walk drawn by Andrew Benintendi followed by a Kevin Pillar single put runners at first and second.

Rafael Devers, the next man up, was unable to do anything with that seeing how he flew out to center for the second out of the inning, but Xander Bogaerts did not let a prime scoring opportunity go to waste, as he drilled a two-run double to the opposite field that was just a few feet shy of being a three-run homer.

Still, Bogaerts’ extra-base hit, which was later ruled just an RBI double on account of a missed catch error committed by Gleyber Torres, brought the Sox to within three runs of the Yankees at 5-2.

A las, just like the Boston bullpen, the New York bullpen didn’t give an inch in this one, either.

Tanaka was relieved by left-hander Luis Avilan after giving up that Bogaerts two-base hit, and the Yankees wouldn’t have to look back from there.

The only other time the Red Sox sent more than four batters to the plate the rest of the way came in the top half of the ninth, when Jackie Bradley Jr. and Tzu-Wei Lin reaching base with two outs in the inning off David Hale brought the tying run to the plate in the form of Benintendi.

With a skidding Benintendi at the dish in a rather huge spot, Sox manager Ron Roenicke had the option to go with J.D. Martinez off the bench. But, considering the fact he wanted the slugger to get the entire day off, he stuck with Benintendi, who proceeded to punch out on four straight strikes to kill the rally and this one with a final score of 5-2.

Some notes and observations from this loss:

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

From The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey:

The Red Sox are averaging just over three runs per game on this road trip. Poor pitching aside, that’s not going to get the job done most nights.

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

Right-hander Austin Brice will get the start and likely serve as the opener for Boston, while left-hander James Paxton will do the same for New York.

Brice, 28, has never started a game at the major-level before in his career, but he does have 114 career minor-league starts under his belt.

Paxton, meanwhile, owns a lifetime 2.88 ERA and .604 OPS against in eight career starts against the Red Sox spanning 50 total innings pitched.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 7:08 p.m. eastern time on ESPN and WEEI. Red Sox looking for win No. 4 in game No. 10 on the young season.

 

Red Sox’ Jonathan Lucroy Clears Waivers, Gets Outrighted to Club’s Alternate Training Site in Pawtucket

Three days after being designated for assignment by the Red Sox, veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy cleared waivers and was subsequently outrighted to the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket on Saturday.

Lucroy, 34, originally inked a minor-league deal with Boston back in February and was one of three backstops to make the club’s Opening Day roster late last month.

That being said, even despite enjoying a fair amount of success during spring training and Summer Camp, Lucroy got the short end of the stick in terms of playing time behind Christian Vazquez, as Kevin Plawecki emerged as the Sox’ true backup.

Prior to getting DFA’d, the two-time All-Star appeared in just one regular season game for Boston as a defensive replacement on Opening Day and never got an at-bat.

Now, after no other team put in a claim for him, Lucroy will remain with the Sox organization as serviceable roster depth at the catching position if he so chooses. Of course, seeing how he has accrued more than nine years of major-league service time, it would not shock me if Lucroy has the choice to become a free agent, either. We’ll have to wait and see on that.

For the time being, as the above tweet states, the Red Sox have 60 players in their 60-man club player pool.

Red Sox’ Christian Vazquez Emerging as One of Baseball’s Best Catchers

As the Red Sox have put together their first winning streak of the 2020 season over the past two games, Christian Vazquez has emerged as one of the more daunting figures in Boston’s everyday lineup.

In their last two victories over the New York Mets, the Sox have plated 10 total runs. Vazquez, by himself, is responsible for exactly 60% of that offensive production.

While playing at Citi Field for the first time in his major-league career, the 29-year-old went 4-for-8 (.500) with three home runs, six RBI, and three runs scored.

It’s a small sample size, sure, but when taking into consideration what he did at the plate last season and what he’s doing at the plate thus far in 2020, it’s becoming more and more apparent that Vazquez is emerging as one of the backstops in all of baseball. His manager Ron Roenicke said as much earlier this week..

“As a catcher, he’s really got to be up there at the top at what they do and the offensive part,” Roenicke said in regards to Vazquez via Zoom on Wednesday. “I know (Buster) Posey has always been one of those guys and (J.T.) Realmuto is one of those guys. And it used to be (Yadier) Molina. So Vazquez has put himself in a category with the best catchers. Defensively we know he does a good job. Offensively, last year, I thought he really stepped it up, showed us what he can do and he’s looking right now like he’s going to be that type of player again. So great for him.”

Vazquez himself has an adequate reason for upping his offensive game. Following a two-homer performance against the Metropolitans on Thursday, the Puerto Rican national recalled how he was once viewed as a defense-first catcher and how he wanted to prove that stereotype wrong beginning last year.

“I was tired of hitting ninth,” said Vazquez. “I want to be a different player. I want to feel like I’m helping the team both ways, hitting and catching. I’m trying to do my best.”

In addition to crushing two big flies off Mets starter Steven Matz on Thursday, Vazquez also helped Red Sox starter Martin Perez out by nabbing Michael Conforto at second on a failed stolen base attempt in the second inning. That play, as well as calling a fairly good game behind the plate, also got the attention of Roenicke.

“He’s doing both things,” the Sox skipper said Thursday. “Called a really nice game, blocked well, the throw from his knees to throw out the baserunner and obviously, the offense. We’ll keep him out there. As long as he’s catching like this and he’s feeling strong, we’ll keep putting him out there.”

According to FanGraphs‘ 2020 leaderboards, Vazquez leads all major-league catchers in fWAR (0.7) just about a full week into the new season. Again, it’s a small sample size and it’s also early, but it just goes to show that Vazquez could be among baseball’s elite behind the plate. Only time will tell if he is able to keep it up.

Christian Vazquez Comes Through With Two Homers as Red Sox Sweep First Part of Road Trip Against Mets

For the first time this season, the Red Sox have strung together consecutive victories, as they defeated the Mets by a final score of 4-2 on Thursday night to sweep the mini two-game series at Citi Field.

Martin Perez got the start for Boston in this one, and contrary to his team debut at Fenway Park over the weekend, the left-hander was much more impressive in his first start of the year away from home. That being the case because over 5 2/3 innings of work, Perez yielded just two runs, both of which were earned, on two hits, four walks, and one hit batsman to go along with five strikeouts on the night.

Both of those Mets tallies scored off Perez came in the bottom half of the third, when with one out and runners on the corners, the 29-year-old single to Jeff McNeil, which at the time put New York up 2-1.

Fortunately for the Sox, Perez was able to avoid any further damage in the frame and proceeded to sit down seven of the final nine hitters he faced from the middle of the fourth up until when there were two outs in the bottom of the fifth, the point in which his outing came to a close.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 88 (49 strikes), the Venezuelan southpaw relied on his changeup more than 35% of the time he was on the mound Thursday, inducing nine swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 91.5 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 15 times.

Able to pick up his first winning decision as a member of the Red Sox, Perez will look to carry this momentum into his next start, which should come against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg on Wednesday.

In relief of Perez, Heath Hembree came on with one out to get in the sixth, got that out by fanning Yoenis Cespedes on seven pitches, and proceeded to toss a scoreless seventh inning as well.

From there, Matt Barnes labored in the eighth with a one-run lead to protect, but despite dealing with runners on the corners with one out and the bases loaded with two, the flame-throwing right-hander escaped the inning unscathed by getting Mets rookie Andres Gimenez to ground out to first.

In the ninth, Brandon Workman appeared in a game for a third consecutive day, struck out the final two hitters he faced, and secured his second save and the Red Sox’ third victory of the season as 4-2 would go on to be Thursday’s final score.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against an unfamiliar opponent in the form of Mets left-hander Steven Matz, who was making his first career start against Boston in this one.

A scoreless first inning against Matz didn’t damper the Sox’ mood too much, as Christian Vazquez led off the top of the second by crushing a 2-1, 85 mph changeup down the heart of the plate 411 feet to left-center field to give his side an early lead.

Later on in the fourth, the red-hot Boston backstop struck once more, this time following up a Xander Bogaerts leadoff single with a 373-foot two-run blast off an 0-2, 94 MPH sinker from Matz. That put the Sox up by one once again at 3-2.

Flash forward all the way to the ninth, with the score still 3-2, and the Red Sox took advantage of a Mets reliever struggling with his command, as Alex Verdugo, Michael Chavis, and Andrew Benintendi all reached base off Edwin Diaz with no outs in the inning.

Rafael Devers punched out while pinch-hitting for Jonathan Arauz, but by taking a 90 mph slider off his elbow a few moments later, Jose Peraza was able to drive in a very important insurance run from third in the form of Verdugo.

That put the Red Sox up 4-2, which as previously mentioned, would go on to be the final score in Boston’s second straight win.

Some notes and observations from this victory:

Michael Chavis broke out of an 0-for-9 slump to to start the season by going 2-for-4 on Thursday.

Christian Vazquez’s OPS on the season is now up to 1.555.

From NESN’s Tom Caron:

From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:

From Red Sox Notes:

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll open a three-game weekend series against the Yankees in the Bronx on Friday.

Right-hander Ryan Weber will get the ball for Boston, while left-hander Jordan Montgomery will do the same for New York.

Weber, 29, will be looking to rebound from a tough start against the Orioles last Sunday in which he surrendered six earned runs over 3 2/3 innings pitched. In three career outings against the Yankees, all of which have come in relief, the St. Petersburg native owns a lifetime 2.84 ERA and .182 batting average against over 6 1/3 total innings of work.

Montgomery, meanwhile, will be making his first appearance of the 2020 season for New York. The 27-year-old owns a career 4.40 ERA over three starts and 14 1/3 innings pitched against Boston.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN, MLB Network, and WEEI. Red Sox going for their third straight win.

 

Red Sox Lineup: Jonathan Arauz Set to Make First Big-League Start in Series Finale Against Mets

After barely holding on for their second win of the season on Wednesday, the Red Sox will look to put together their first winning streak of the year on Thursday against Steven Matz and the New York Mets.

Left-hander Martin Perez will be making his second start in a Red Sox uniform and his first away from Fenway Park. The 29-year-old surrendered five runs (four earned) over fine innings of his work in his team debut against Baltimore last Saturday, but he did end his outing by twirling three scoreless consecutive frames en route to picking up the losing decision.

In two career appearances (one start) at Citi Field, Perez owns a 3.60 ERA and .171 batting average against over 10 total innings pitched. Here’s how the Red Sox will be lining up behind the Venezuelan southpaw.

With the left-handed Matz getting the ball for New York in this one, the left-handed bats of Rafael Devers, Jackie Bradley Jr. Mitch Moreland will start Thursday’s contest on the bench.

Taking that into consideration, Jose Peraza will be making just his sixth career start at third base in place of Devers while batting out of the leadoff spot, Kevin Pillar will be making his first start at center field as a member of the Red Sox in place of Bradley Jr. while batting out of the five-hole, and Michael Chavis, who is off to a 0-for-9 start at the plate, will be getting the start at first in place of Moreland while batting out of the seven-hole.

Alex Verdugo and Andrew Benintendi, who collected his 500th career hit Wednesday, are the only two primary left-handed hitters in Boston’s starting lineup Thursday.

Rookie infielder and 2019 Rule 5 Draft selection Jonathan Arauz will be making his first career major-league start at second base. The 21-year-old out of Panama, who will be batting out of the No. 9 spot, can hit from both sides of the plate and is still looking for his first big-league knock.

Other than that, J.D. Martinez has been dropped to the No. 3 spot after starting his team’s first six games in the two-hole, Xander Bogaerts is back in the cleanup spot after being limited to pinch-hitting duties on Wednesday, and Christian Vazquez, fresh off clobbering his second homer of the season, will be catching Perez while hitting out of the five-hole.

That just about covers everything as the Red Sox look to split this four-game, home-at-home series with the Metropolitans. First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. eastern time on FOX and WEEI.

Christian Vazquez and Mitch Moreland Combine to Drive in Five Runs as Red Sox Hold on for 6-5 Win Over Mets

It was far from easy, but for the first time since last Friday, the Red Sox have won a baseball game, as they defeated the Mets by a final score of 6-5 on Wednesday night in their first road game of the season at Citi Field.

Making his second start of the season for Boston in this one was Nathan Eovaldi, fresh off tossing six quality frames in his last time out against the Orioles, which also happened to be his first career Opening Day start as you may remember.

Tossing five full innings this time around, the right-hander certainly wasn’t as dominant as he was against Baltimore, but he still got the job done by holding the Mets to just two runs, both earned, on eight hits, one walk, and one hit batsman to go along with four strikeouts on the night.

Those two Mets tallies came in Eovaldi’s first and final innings of work, with Dominic Smith grounding into a bases-loaded forceout in the first and Brandon Nimmo crushing a one-out solo home run in the fifth.

Seeing how the bases were loaded for Eovaldi almost right away in the bottom half of the first, it was certainly encouraging that he was able to get himself out of that early mess with just one run on the board for the opposition.

As for the Nimmo home run in the fifth, that was a result of a 3-1, 93 mph cutter on the inner half of the plate from Eovaldi that the Mets outfielder took 414 feet to right-center field. All things considered, the bottom of the fifth could have been even worse for Boston, but after serving up that solo blast, walking Pete Alonso, and putting Jeff McNeil on first on a one-out single, Eovaldi again evaded any serious damage by getting the dangerous Michael Conforto to ground into an inning-ending 4-3 double play.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 89 (57 strikes), Eovaldi relied on his four-seam and cut-fastball a combined 74% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing nine total swings and misses with the two pitches while topping out with 98.4 with the heater.

Hit with the no decision, the 30-year-old flamethrower will look for win No. 2 in his next time out, which should come against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg on Tuesday.

In relief of Eovaldi, Marcus Walden got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen for the sixth, got the first two outs of the inning pretty easily, but then gave up back-to-back hits to Robinson Cano and Andres Gimenez, with the latter driving in the former on an RBI triple to make it a 3-2 game in favor of New York.

From there, left-hander Josh Osich allowed two of the first four Mets he faced in the seventh to reach base, which led to Ron Roenicke dispatching Heath Hembree, who got out of the two-out jam in a tied game by fanning J.D. Davis on three straight fastballs.

That tie turned into a 6-3 advantage for Boston following a three-run top of the eighth, which we’ll touch on later, but Matt Barnes allowed that lead to shrink to two in the bottom half  by surrendering a leadoff solo shot to old friend Yoenis Cespedes in an otherwise scoreless inning of relief thanks to a nifty twin-killing started by Jose Peraza and turned by Jonathan Arauz.

The ninth inning is where things got really dicey, as Red Sox closer Brandon Workman came in with his side up 6-4 while looking for his first save of 2020. It took quite a while to get there, but after loading the bases with no outs, allowing Davis to drive in a run on an infield single to third that was well-played by Rafael Devers, and punching out Cespedes on five pitches, the right-hander got Cano to lift a pop fly to Peraza in shallow center field and that was that. Workman gets his first save and the Red Sox get their second win of the season in one-run fashion as 6-5 is your final score.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against the best pitcher in the National League in two-time Cy Young award winner Jacob deGrom for the Mets, who like Eovaldi pitched on Opening Day.

It took until their half of the fourth inning, but the Boston bats finally got to deGrom courtesy of back-to-back one-out doubles from Devers and Mitch Moreland, with the first baseman plating the third baseman for the Sox’ first run of the evening.

Two wild pitches from deGrom allowed Moreland to advance to third with Christian Vazquez at the plate and to score from third with Alex Verdugo at the plate. Just like that, the Red Sox had themselves their first lead in nearly five days at 2-1.

Fast forward to the seventh, with Seth Lugo in for deGrom, and Vazquez continued his hot start to the 2020 season by taking the Mets reliever 396 feet deep to left field off a one-out, 3-2 80 mph curveball that was essentially down Broadway. 3-1 Boston.

An inning later, Roenicke dove into his bench while the Mets turned to left-handed reliever Justin Wilson. Kevin Pillar, pinch-hitting for Jackie Bradley Jr., led the eighth off with a single to left, while Xander Bogaerts, pinch-hitting for Lin, drew a four-pitch walk and was immediately replaced by Arauz at first.

Andrew Benintendi advanced both Pillar and Arauz into scoring position with a beautifully-executed sacrifice bunt down the first base line, and an intentional walk of J.D. Martinez filled the bases for Devers.

Devers only managed to strike out on five pitches, but Moreland and Vazquez made the most of their opportunities with two outs in the inning by lacing consecutive run-scoring singles off Wilson to ultimately drive in all three of Pillar, Arauz, and Martinez to make it a 6-3 contest.

As it turns out, that would end up being much-needed insurance with the Red Sox just barely holding onto this one in 6-5 fashion to lock down their second win of the 2020 campaign.

Some notes and observations from this victory:

From The Providence Journal’s Bill Koch:

It’s still early in the season, obviously, but Mitch Moreland, Christian Vazquez and Kevin Pillar have OPS’ of 1.214, 1.304, and 1.571, respectively.

Rafael Devers has collected four doubles and one single over his last four games.

With a two-out double in the ninth inning, Andrew Benintendi collected the 500th hit of his major-league career. Congratulations to him on that.

I wouldn’t mind seeing Alex Verdugo make more hard contact soon.

The Red Sox are unbeaten in games away from Fenway Park this season.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this four-game, home-at-home series against the Mets on Thursday.

Left-hander Martin Perez will be making his second start of the season for Boston, while fellow southpaw Steven Matz will be doing the same for New York.

Perez struggles for the most part in his Red Sox debut on Saturday, but he did end his outing with three consecutive scoreless innings, so perhaps he can carry that momentum over into this start against the Metropolitans.

Matz, meanwhile, will be making his first career start against the Sox.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. eastern time on FOX and WEEI. Red Sox going for the series-split.

 

 

Red Sox to Add Chris Mazza, Remove Jonathan Lucroy From Roster Ahead of Wednesday’s Series Opener Against Mets

UPDATE: Jonathan Lucroy has been designated for assignment.

Before taking on the Mets in Queens on Wednesday, the Red Sox will be recalling right-hander Chris Mazza from the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket, according to The Athletic’s Chad Jennings and Ken Rosenthal. In order to make this happen, veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy will be removed from the Sox’ 30-man roster.

A somewhat surprising move considering the player taken off the roster, but on a team that needs plenty of pitching help at the moment, removing another catcher in Lucroy for a fresh arm in Mazza makes plenty of sense for the Red Sox.

Starting with Mazza, the 30-year-old right-hander was left off Boston’s Opening Day squad earlier this month, nearly seven months after he was claimed off waivers from the Mets back in December.

Throughout Summer Camp workouts at Fenway Park, Mazza looked like a potential candidate to open games for the Sox, but instead of including him on the Opening Day roster, the club opted for more unproven pitchers like Dylan Covey or Phillips Valdez instead.

Now, after joining the Sox in New York for this upcoming road trip, Mazza will get the chance to prove he belongs with his new team. He only has nine career major-league relief appearances under his belt, all of which came with the Mets last season.

As for Lucroy, the 34-year-old backstop made the Sox’ Opening Day roster as the club’s third catcher but only got into one game as a defensive replacement against Baltimore last Friday, and as Jennings mentions in the tweet above, never got an at-bat.

At the time he signed a minor-league deal with Boston back in February, it appeared as though Lucroy could legitimately contend with Kevin Plawecki for the Red Sox’ backup catcher spot behind Christian Vazquez.

Both Lucroy and Plawecki were impressive during the spring, and because of the 30-man rosters for the first two weeks of the season that were implemented as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Red Sox were able to carry all three backstops on their Opening Day squad.

But, as SoxProspects’ Ian Cundall notes, “It didn’t make much sense to carry three catchers when you can have one on the taxi squad, who doesn’t take up a roster spot. With the Red Sox pitching struggles, another arm is much more useful at this point.”

Former Brewers and Angels catcher Jett Bandy will now be the third catcher on the Sox’ taxi squad and will not take up a roster spot in doing so.

Following Wednesday’s moves, the Red Sox could have an open spot on their 40-man roster depending on what happens with Lucroy. Perhaps they could use that opening on someone like Tanner Houck?