James Paxton’s 8 strikeouts not enough as Red Sox blow late lead in 5-4 loss to Reds; Masataka Yoshida, Enmanuel Valdez homer

For the second night in a row, the Red Sox fell short of a comeback win over the Reds in the process of suffering their second straight one-run loss and their third straight loss overall.

Despite receiving a strong performance from James Paxton and leading after six innings, Boston fell to Cincinnati by a final score of 5-4 at Fenway Park on Wednesday to drop back to one game of .500 at 28-27 on the season.

With right-hander Luke Weaver starting for the Reds, the Red Sox opened the scoring when Masataka Yoshida belted a 359-foot solo shot down the right field line to lead off the bottom half of the second inning. Yoshida’s seventh home run of the year, and first since May 4, left his bat at 97.8 mph.

An inning later, Connor Wong extended his hitting streak to seven by reaching base on a one-out single. He then moved up to second on an Alex Verdugo groundout before coming into score on an opposite-field RBI double from Rafael Devers. The run-scoring knock was the 200th two-base hit of Devers’ career, but he was left at second as Justin Turner grounded out to end the third.

Boston would maintain a two-run lead through four innings. Paxton, who to that point had experienced very little turbulence in his fourth start of the season for the Sox, then ran into some trouble in the fifth. After recording the first two outs of the frame via strikeout, the veteran left-hander issued a four-pitch walk to Jose Barrero.

Luke Maile, Cincinnati’s No. 9 hitter, wasted no time in making Paxton pay for the free pass by driving in Barrero all the way from first on a towering RBI double off the Green Monster. Maile then advanced to third on a Kevin Newman single, but Paxton stranded the runners on the corners by fanning the final batter he faced in Matt McLain.

All told, Paxton allowed just the one earned run on four hits and one walk to go along with eight strikeouts over five solid innings of work. The 34-year-old finished with exactly 100 pitches (68 strikes) and induced 22 swings-and-misses, the most of any big-league pitcher on Wednesday. He also lowered his ERA on the season to 4.26.

With Paxton’s night done, the Red Sox got that run right back in the bottom of the fifth when rookie Enmanuel Valdez took Weaver 356 feet over the Green Monster for his fourth homer of the year. The 99.1 mph blast put Boston back up, 3-1, going into the sixth.

Kutter Crawford received the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen from manager Alex Cora. Making his first appearance since tweaking his right ankle in Arizona this past Saturday, Crawford immediately issued back-to-back walks out of the gate. The righty then retired Tyler Stephenson and the pinch-hitting Jake Fraley on a pair of flyouts, but he could not escape the jam entirely.

Instead, Crawford extended the inning by giving up an RBI single to Nick Senzel that cut Boston’s lead down to one at 3-2. Josh Winckowski came on to record the final out of the sixth but he, too, was not his usual self in the top of the seventh.

After Maile reached on a Devers throwing error to lead off the inning, Newman and McClain delivered back-to-back singles to fill the bases with no outs. Winckowski then got Jonathan India to ground into a a 6-4-3 double play, but it was enough to allow the pinch-running Will Benson to score from third to knot things up at three runs apiece.

Just moments after they tied the game, Spencer Steer gave the Reds their first lead of the night by crushing a go-ahead, two-run home run into the Monster seats off Winckowski, who was ultimately charged with a blown save as well as the losing decision.

Trailing 5-3 now, the Red Sox had a golden opportunity to respond in the latter half of the inning. Valdez, Verdugo, and Devers all reached to fill the bases with two outs. But lefty reliever Alex Young got Turner to ground out to short to extinguish the threat.

Following a 1-2-3 top of the eighth from Chris Martin, Yoshida led off the bottom half with a hard-hit double off new Reds reliever Lucas Sims. Jarren Duran then drove in Yoshida from second with a two-base hit of his own. Alas, the potential tying run was left on base as the pinch-hitting Raimel Tapia (lineout) and Valdez were each retired by Sims.

Like Martin, Nick Pivetta put up a zero in the top of the ninth to give the Red Sox one more shot in the latter half. With two outs and the bases empty, Devers lifted a 104.6 mph line drive to center field off Buck Farmer, but it fell well short of the bleachers and was caught by Senzel on the warning track for the final out.

Next up: Sale gets ball in series finale

On the heels of a 13-13 May, the Red Sox will look to open the month of June by putting an end to this three-game losing streak and avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of the Reds in Thursday’s series finale. Left-hander Chris Sale will get the start for Boston while Cincinnati will counter with hard-throwing right-hander Hunter Greene.

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

(Picture of Josh Winckowski: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)


Tommy Pham scratched from Red Sox lineup

Tommy Pham was originally leading off and starting in left field for the Red Sox in their season finale against the Rays at Fenway Park on Wednesday afternoon. He was instead scratched from the lineup minutes before first pitch.

With Pham out, center fielder Enrique Hernandez moved from the six-hole to the leadoff spot while Abraham Almonte was inserted into the lineup as the No. 9 hitter and starting left fielder.

Acquired from the Reds for minor-league infielder Nick Northcut on the eve of the trade deadline, Pham has batted .234/.298/.374 with 12 doubles, six home runs, 24 RBIs, 32 runs scored, one stolen base, 14 walks, and 67 strikeouts in 53 games (235 plate appearances) with the Red Sox.

The right-handed hitting 34-year-old initially got off to a hot start to begin his tenure in Boston, as he clubbed four homers and posted an .812 OPS in 25 August contests. Since the calendar flipped to September, though, Pham has cooled off at the plate significantly and is slashing just .176/.268/.269 with two homers and nine RBIs over his last 28 games. He was in the midst of an 0-for-19 skid before being scratched on Wednesday.

Defensively, Pham has played exclusively left field for the Red Sox and has been quite good there. The 6-foot-1, 223-pounder has recorded eight outfield assists across 419 1/3 innings at the position. Combine that with the seven he notched with the Reds, and Pham finishes the year with a major-league-best 15 outfield assists.

When Pham signed his one-year, $6 million contract with Cincinnati back in March, it was reported at the time that the deal came with a $6 mutual option for 2023. According to MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, it is actually worth $12 million. If Boston declines its side of the option, Pham will be owed $1.5 million in the form of a buyout.

Pham, who turns 35 in March, would join a long list of pending Red Sox free-agents if his option is declined. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. already have plenty of decisions to make when it comes to the futures of Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Wacha, Rich Hill, J.D. Martinez, and Xander Bogaerts, who is expected to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract this winter and hit the open market for the first time in his career.

(Picture of Tommy Pham: Brian Fluharty/Getty Images)

Red Sox send power-hitting prospect Nick Northcut to Reds to complete Tommy Pham trade

The Red Sox have sent infield prospect Nick Northcut to the Reds to complete last month’s trade for outfielder Tommy Pham, the club announced earlier Wednesday afternoon.

Boston acquired Pham from Cincinnati in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations on August 1. It turns out that player to be named is Northcut.

Originally selected by the Red Sox in the 11th round of the 2018 amateur draft, Northcut is a Cincinnati-area native who attended William Mason High School in nearby Mason, Ohio. He forwent his commitment to Vanderbilt University by signing with Boston for $565,000.

Now 23 years old, Nortchut opened the 2022 season with High-A Greenville. The right-handed hitter batted 223/.286/.530 with 13 doubles, 26 home runs, 58 RBIs, 43 runs scored, 21 walks, and 118 strikeouts in 77 games (322 plate appearances) with the Drive before earning a promotion to Double-A Portland in late July.

From there, Northcut slashed .208/.245/.376 with five doubles, four home runs, 17 RBIs, 12 runs scored, one stolen base, four walks, and 37 strikeouts over 26 games (106 plate appearances) with the Sea Dogs. His 30 homers are currently the most in the organization.

Despite the impressive power numbers, Northcut was not regarded by any major publication as one of the top prospects in Boston’s farm system. That likely has to do with a .276 on-base percentage, a 35.3% strikeout rate, and a 5.8% walk rate between Greenville and Portland.

On the other side of the ball, Northcut has seen the majority of his playing time on the field this season come at either first or third base. The 6-foot-1, 206-pounder has logged 518 1/3 innings at third, 276 innings at first, and six innings at shortstop.

Northcut, who does not turn 24 until next June, can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career this winter. The Reds will have until late November to add him to their 40-man roster if they intend on protecting him from it.

Pham, meanwhile, has slashed .262/.321/.416 with eight doubles, five home runs, 17 RBIs, 25 runs scored, one stolen base, nine walks, and 50 strikeouts in 36 games (162 plate appearances) with the Red Sox since the trade.

(Picture of Nick Northcut: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox acquire Tommy Pham from Reds

The Red Sox have acquired outfielder Tommy Pham from the Reds in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations, the team announced Monday night.

According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, the player to be named later going from Boston to Cincinnati is not expected to be a prominent prospect.

Pham, 34, signed a one-year, $6 million contract with the Reds back in March. That deal included a $6 million mutual option and a $1.5 million buyout, so it is worth $7.5 million in guaranteed money.

In 91 games with Cincinnati this season, the right-handed hitter batted .238/.320/.374 (92 wRC+) with 11 doubles, one triple, 11 home runs, 39 RBIs, 57 runs scored, seven stolen bases, 42 walks, and 100 strikeouts over 387 plate appearances.

Defensively, Pham has seen all his playing time this year come in left field, registering seven outfield assists and three defensive runs saved across 716 innings at the position. He also has past experience in center and in right field.

A former 16th-round draft pick of the Cardinals, Pham broke in with St. Louis in 2014 before putting his name on the map three years later, when he finished 11th in National League MVP voting.

The following July, the Cardinals traded Pham to the Rays. The Las Vegas native spent the next season-and-a-half in Tampa Bay, where he had the chance to get acquainted with Chaim Bloom.

Since being traded from the Rays to Padres in December 2019, shortly after Bloom left for Boston, things have not gone all that well for Pham. Dating back to the start of the 2022 season, he owns a .701 OPS over his last 277 games between San Diego and Cincinnati.

In late May, Pham made headlines when he slapped Giants outfielder Joc Pederson across the face during batting practice at Great American Ballpark because of a dispute centered around fantasy football. He was handed down a three-game suspension as a result.

(Picture of Tommy Pham: Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers commit costly errors as Red Sox squander late scoring chances in 2-1 loss to Reds

The Red Sox closed out their month of June by nearly getting shut out for the second straight night. They instead fell to the Cincinnati Reds by a final score of 2-1 to kick off a two-game interleague series at Fenway Park on Tuesday.

With the loss, Boston finishes the month having gone 14-14 and comes into June sporting a record of 23-27 on the season.

Michael Wacha, making his eighth start of the year for the Sox, allowed one unearned run on three hits and no walks to go along with three strikeouts over 5 2/3 solid innings of work.

The veteran right-hander retired each of the first 12 batters he faced, taking a bid for a perfect game into the fifth inning before giving up a leadoff double to Joey Votto that nearly left the yard. He then stranded Votto at third base, but ran into additional trouble in the sixth by yielding back-to-back singles to Albert Almora Jr. and Matt Reynolds.

Those two hits put runners at the corners with no outs for Aristedes Aquino, who grounded into a fielder’s choice that resulted in Almora getting tagged out between third and home. After retiring Brandon Drury, Wacha was just one out away from getting through sixth scoreless frames. He got Nick Senzel to hit a groundball to Rafael Devers at third, but Devers’ throw to Franchy Cordero was wide of the mark and allowed Reynolds to score all the way from second to give Cincinnati a 1-0 lead.

At that point, Wacha was given the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora in favor of Austin Davis. The 30-year-old hurler finished with a final pitch count of 72 (53 strikes) and lowered his ERA on the season to 2.43. Davis, meanwhile, got himself in and out of a bases-loaded jam before recording the first two outs of the seventh. He then made way for Tyler Danish, who ended things in the inning and gave up a 398-foot double to Votto in an otherwise clean top half of the eighth.

After Danish got the first out of the ninth, Cora turned to another left-hander in Jake Diekman. Diekman surrendered a one-out single to Mike Moustakas, who was pinch-ran for by Alejo Lopez. Lopez advanced to second on an Almora groundout. Diekman then got Almora to ground out, meaning he was one out away from keeping the Reds at one run.

That did not happen, though, as Diekman was able to get Reynolds to hit a grounder to Xander Bogaerts. Bogaerts fielded the ball cleanly, but made a throw that Cordero was unable to come up with at first base. Bogaerts’ throwing error allowed Lopez to score from second to make it a 2-0 game in favor of the Reds.

Going into the latter half of the ninth, the Red Sox lineup had been thoroughly held in check by Cincinnati’s pitching staff. Luis Castillo led the way by striking out 10 over six dominant and scoreless innings.

After yielding a one-out single to Devers in the first, Castillo proceeded to sit down 14 of the next 15 batters he faced. In the bottom of the sixth, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Enrique Hernandez led off the frame by drawing back-to-back walks. Following what would turn out to be a well-timed mound visit, Devers grounded into a 4-6-3 double play and J.D. Martinez fanned on six pitches to extinguish the threat.

Fast forward to the ninth, the Sox were now matched up against Reds reliever Tony Santillan. A Hernandez single and Devers double to lead off the inning put runners at second and third with no outs. Martinez and Bogaerts were unable to push across a run, but Alex Verdugo came through with a two-out RBI single on a 101.7 mph grounder that got the best of Votto.

Devers advanced to third on the play. Santillan, however, rebounded by getting Trevor Story to strike out on three pitches and end the game with a final score of 2-1.

All told, the Red Sox went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left five runners on base as a team. They are now 2-4 on their seven-game homestand that ends on Wednesday.

Next up: Greene vs. Whitlock

On that note, the Red Sox will wrap up their quick two-game series against the Reds on Wednesday night. Boston will turn to righty Garrett Whitlock in the finale while Cincinnati will roll with rookie right-hander Hunter Greene.

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

(Picture of Rafael Devers: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox add flamethrowing right-hander José Adames on minor-league deal

The Red Sox have signed free-agent right-hander Jose Adames to a minor-league contract for the 2021 season, per MLB.com’s transaction wire. It’s unclear at this point if the deal includes an invite to major-league spring training.

Adames, who turned 28 earlier this month, has spent the last eight seasons with the Reds and Marlins organizations.

Originally signed by Miami out of the Dominican Republic in 2010, Adames has never pitched above the Class-A level due in part to the amount of time he has missed because of injury.

The 6-foot-2, 165 lb. hurler has undergone Tommy John surgery on two separate occasions in his professional career — the first of which came in September 2016, the second of which came in June 2018 — which resulted in him missing the entirety of the 2017 and 2018 minor-league seasons as well as the majority of 2019.

In brief stints with the Ariziona League Reds and rookie-league Billings Mustangs at the tail end of the 2019 campaign, Adames “came out firing fastballs in the upper 90s each time, and struck out 8 of the 16 hitters he faced,” according to RedsMinorLeague.com’s Doug Gray.

This past season, Adames was not included in Cincinnati’s major-league spring training roster, though he did get the chance to appear in two Cactus League games against the Rangers and Cubs on February 24 and March 7.

The fireballer managed to work a scoreless frame in each of those outings while also topping out at 100 mph with his fastball at one point.

With the 2020 minor-league season getting cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Adames did not get the opportunity to pitch in organized games over the summer, nor was he part of the Reds’ 60-man player pool at any point last year.

He did however pitch for Águilas Cibaeñas of the Dominican Winter League, allowing six runs (five earned) on three hits and five walks over two relief appearances and 2 2/3 innings of work.

With his new organization, Adames, who projects as potential upper minor-league bullpen depth, will look to make a positive first impression in Fort Myers if he is indeed invited to big-league spring training.

He does bring with him some rave reviews from members of the Reds’ player development staff, including pitching coordinator Kyle Boddy.

So far this offseason, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have either signed or re-signed the following players to minor-league deals:

C Roldani Baldwin
C Jhonny Pereda
1B Joey Meneses
1B Josh Ockimey
INF Jack Lopez
INF Jeremy Rivera
OF Cesar Puello
OF Michael Gettys
OF Johan Mieses
LHP Emmanuel De Jesus
LHP Stephen Gonsalves
RHP Kevin McCarthy
RHP Seth Blair
RHP Raynel Espinal
RHP Caleb Simpson
RHP Zack Kelly
RHP Jose Disla
RHP Daniel Gossett
RHP Zac Grotz
RHP Jose Adames

(Picture of Jose Adames: Águilas Cibaeñas/Twitter)

Former Red Sox catcher Deivy Grullón claimed off waivers by Reds

Before signing right-hander Matt Andriese to a one-year deal on Wednesday, the Red Sox needed to clear a spot on their 40-man roster, which at the time was at full capacity.

Well, it turns out they accomplished this by placing catcher Deivy Grullon on waivers recently, and he was claimed off waivers by the Reds on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old backstop appeared in just one game for Boston this past season after getting picked up off waivers from the Phillies in early September.

In that one game, which came against Philadelphia in the nightcap of a day-night doubleheader on September 8, the Dominican national went 1-for-3 at the plate with one walk, one RBI, and one strikeout while catching all seven innings.

Grullon was subsequently optioned back down to the alternate training site the following day, where he spent the rest of the season before returning to the Dominican Republic to play for Aguilas Cibaenas of the Dominican winter league.

Since reporting back home, Grullon has struggled a bit on both sides of the ball, as noted by SoxProspects.com’s Chris Hatfield.

With the Reds, Grullon will presumably slide behind Tucker Barnhart and Tyler Stephenson in terms of catching depth. He has two minor-league options remaining on his current contract.

As for how this affects the Red Sox, catching prospect Connor Wong is now without a doubt the No. 3 backstop on Boston’s 40-man roster behind Christian Vazquez and Kevin Plawecki.

The 24-year-old was added to the 40-man in late November and is projected to begin the 2021 season with Triple-A Worcester.

Red Sox’ Jose Peraza ‘Excited’ to Begin New Chapter of Career, Play at Fenway Park

Going into this past offseason, Jose Peraza was looking forward to what was supposed to be his fourth full season with the Cincinnati Reds and his first as an arbitration-eligible player.

Instead, the Reds did not feel the need to pay Peraza the $3.6 million he was projected to make in arbitration, and subsequently non-tendered him in early December.

When speaking with reporters at Fenway Park via Zoom on Tuesday, the Venezuela native said through team interpreter Bryan Almonte that he “was surprised” to be non-tendered by Cincinnati.

Granted, the 2019 season was not a great one for Peraza, as he slashed an underwhelming .239/.285/.346 with six homers and 33 RBI over 141 games played. But considering how he experienced some moderate success the year before, it had to have come as a shock to be let loose so quickly.

Just over a week after getting cut by the Reds, Peraza inked a one-year deal with Boston, where he now has the chance to be a part of the team’s infield picture for years to come seeing how he is under team control through the 2022 season.

With the addition of Peraza also comes the addition of more positional versatility, something teams can never seem to get enough of these days. The 26-year-old said that much on Tuesday, stating that he’d be willing to play “second base, shortstop, third base, whatever [Red Sox manager] Ron Roenicke” asks him to do. Not to mention he is capable of playing a little bit of outfield as well.

Prior to joining the Sox over the winter, Peraza had never had the chance to play inside Fenway Park. He now has the chance to do that on a regular basis, and he even said that Fenway will be “a good ballpark for [me] to hit in” and he’s “excited to be playing there.”

Upon signing with Boston, Peraza probably expected to make his Red Sox debut back in March. He has instead had to wait for that to happen due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but the league-wide shutdown did allow him to work out at home in Miami and “make a few adjustments” with his swing.

“The thing I really focused on in the offseason in Miami was just my leg kick,” Peraza added. “One of the changes that I made was altering that. … I’m a little bit more confident. I’m seeing the pitches better as well. At first, when we first got back, I was just trying to get my rhythm going. But now I have the confidence where I’m going out there, (and) I just feel good about where I stand right now in terms of my hitting.”

Because of those adjustments made during the layoff, Peraza now says, on top of “feeling great physically and mentally,” he also feels “more confident” at Summer Camp in Boston than he did at spring training in Fort Myers.

Roenicke echoed that same sentiment last week, saying he’s “so impressed with what [Peraza’s] doing,” when asked about the infielder’s offensive approach at camp.

A former international signee of the Braves ten years ago, Peraza will earn approximately $1.11 million with the Red Sox in 2020 when taking this season’s prorated salaries into account.

Red Sox Manager Ron Roenicke on Jose Peraza: ‘I’m So Impressed With What He’s Doing’

Jose Peraza has not gotten a whole lot of attention since signing with the Red Sox back in December, but manager Ron Roenicke has been impressed with what he has seen from the 26-year-old since Summer Camp broke at Fenway Park last week.

“Everyday I watch him, and I’m so impressed with what he’s doing,” Roenicke told reporters via Zoom on Wednesday in regards to Peraza and his swing.

The Sox inked Peraza to a one-year deal for the 2020 season worth $3 million plus more in incentives on December 12th, less than two weeks after the Venezuela native was non-tendered by the Reds.

Because he was cut loose by Cincinnati prior to his first season of arbitration eligibility, Pereza could be under team control with the Red Sox through the end of the 2022 campaign if all goes according to plan.

A once touted prospect in the Braves and Dodgers’ organizations, Peraza has struggled to consistently find his footing in the majors to this point in time.

Since the start of the 2017 season, the right-handed hitter has posted fWARs of -0.3, 2.6, and -0.6 respectively while with the Reds.

Despite those inconsistent tendencies, upside is certainly there with Peraza, who is capable of playing both middle infield positions and even some outfield if need be.

With Boston, the former 2010 international signee figures to split time with Michael Chavis at second while also providing some insurance for Xander Bogaerts if the All-Star shortstop needs time off for whatever season.

Prior to the pandemic-induced layoff that began in March, Peraza slashed .233/.233/.300 with two doubles, one RBI, and one stolen base for the Red Sox in 12 Grapefruit League games.

Former Red Sox Utilityman Brock Holt Garnering Interest From Blue Jays in Free Agency, per Report

Former Red Sox utilityman Brock Holt is reportedly drawing interest from the Toronto Blue Jays in free agency, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

This news comes two days after it was reported by the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Bobby Nightengale Jr. that the Reds were “one of the teams interested” in acquiring the 31-year-old’s services.

Holt, who has spent the previous seven seasons with Boston after coming over from the Pittsburgh Pirates in a December 2012 trade, is a free agent for the first time in his career.

A fan-favorite in Boston for what he has done both on and off the field, Holt has expressed interest in a reunion with the Sox, and chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom even said at the Winter Meetings last month that what the Jimmy Fund captain has done for the community “has not been lost on any of us.”

However, bringing Holt back now seems out of the question due to the influx of infielders the Red Sox currently have on their 40-man roster.

If he were to sign with the Jays, the Texas native would be a suitable replacement for fellow utility infielder Eric Sogard, whom Toronto dealt to the Rays last July.

A veteran presence in the clubhouse with the ability to play multiple positions and hit for average on the field. That is what Holt can bring to the table for a young team that includes rising talents such as Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and Cavan Biggio.

Of course, seeing Holt in a division rival’s uniform would take some getting used to, but it would also allow Red Sox fans to see him up to 19 times per season between Fenway Park and Rogers Centre.

In 33 career games north of the border, Holt owns a lifetime .308/.352/.419 slash line to go along with one home run and 12 RBI.

Back in November, MLB Trade Rumors predicted that Holt would sign a two-year, $8 million deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Arizona seems to be an unlikely destination at this point, but how much Holt signs for will be interesting to see once it finally does happen.