J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers lead the way with pair of grand slams as Red Sox even ALCS with 9-5 win over Astros

After squandering multiple scoring opportunities in a Game 1 loss to kick off the American League Championship Series on Friday, the Red Sox bounced back in a tremendous way against the Astros in Game 2 on Saturday afternoon.

Boston mashed their way to a 9-5 win over Houston at Minute Maid Park, meaning this best-of-seven ALCS is now tied at one game each as it heads back to Fenway Park.

Matched up against Astros rookie right-hander Luis Garcia to begin things on Saturday, a hungry Sox lineup kicked off the scoring right away in their half of the first inning.

Kyle Schwarber led off with a double, Rafael Devers and Alex Verdugo each drew a walk to fill the bases with two outs, then — following a brief mound visit — J.D. Martinez unloaded the bases on a 1-0, 94 mph fastball from Garcia and crushed it 363 feet over the right field wall.

Martinez’s grand slam, which had an exit velocity of 106 mph, gave Boston an early 4-0 lead, but they were not done there.

That being the case because an inning later, the Red Sox threatened once more after Kevin Plawecki began the top half of the second by drawing a leadoff walk off Garcia.

To that point in the contest, Garcia had struggled with his command, with only 14 of his 33 pitches through one-plus innings going for strikes. As a result, he left the game with right knee discomfort and was replaced by Jake Odorizzi.

Odorizzi, a traditional starter, then went through his regular warmup routine on the field, which took quite a bit of time before he was ready to face Christian Arroyo with no outs and a runner on in the second.

Arroyo, coming off that long layoff, promptly ripped a single to right field before a one-out base hit of the bat of Enrique Hernandez filled the bases for Boston yet again.

Devers then followed in Martinez’s footsteps by clubbing the Sox’ second grand slam of the day, making them the first major-league team to ever hit two grand slams in a single postseason game.

While the long layoff caused by Garcia’s injury played into Boston’s favor on the offensive side of things, it also resulted in Nathan Eovaldi having to wait a while in between innings.

Eovaldi, making his third start of the postseason for the Sox, got his day started against his hometown team by retiring six of the first seven Astros batters he faced. From the time he recorded the final out of the second inning, though, he had to wait a grand total of 41 minutes before throwing his first pitch of the third.

The veteran right-hander had a sizable 8-0 cushion to work with at that point, and that lead only increased after he got through another 1-2-3 frame.

In the top of the fourth, with Odorizzi still on the mound for Houston, a sizzling Hernandez stayed hot at the plate by tattooing yet another home run — a 395-foot solo shot into the Crawford Boxes.

By doing so, Hernandez became the first Red Sox player to ever hit five homers in a five-game span during the postseason. He also gave his side a commanding 9-0 lead.

While Eovaldi had been able to keep the Astros at bay in his first three innings on Saturday, he ran into some two-out trouble in the bottom of the fourth after issuing his first walk of the afternoon to Yordan Alvarez before giving up a hard-hit single to Carlos Correa.

Kyle Tucker then plated Houston’s first run of the contest with an opposite field RBI double, while Yuli Gurriel tacked on two more on a two-run single down the right field line.

That sequence cut Boston’s advantage down to six runs at 9-3, but Eovaldi countered by getting out of the fourth before tossing a scoreless fifth inning that included a visit from a team trainer.

An inning later, Eovaldi got the first out of the sixth on an Alex Bregman groundout before giving up a one-out single to Alvarez — at which point his afternoon came to a close as he got the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora in favor of Adam Ottavino.

Ottavino proceeded to officially close the book on Eovaldi’s outing by stranding the lone runner he inherited while also maneuvering his way around a bit of a jam.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 81 (53 strikes), the 31-year-old hurler (Eovaldi) wound up allowing three runs — all of which were earned — on five hits and one walk to go along with three strikeouts on the afternoon.

Garrett Whitlock took over for Ottavino in a 9-3 game in the seventh, and he worked his way around a one-out walk of Jason Castro with some defensive help from Arroyo, who made a fine play while in the shift to get Michael Brantley at first base for the final out of the inning.

From there, Whitlock rolled on by sitting down the side in order in the eighth, thus paving the way for Darwinzon Hernandez in the ninth.

Hernandez, making his first appearance of the postseason, served up a pair of solo solo home runs to Gurriel and Castro, which trimmed Houston’s deficit down to four runs.

Ryan Brasier was forced to come on for the second straight day in relief of Hernandez. He was able to slam the door on the Astros in order to secure a series-evening 9-5 victory for the Sox.

With the win, the Red Sox even up this series at one game apiece while guaranteeing it will go at least five games. They have also taken homefield advantage away from the Astros for the time being.

Next up: Back to Boston for Games 3, 4, and 5

The Red Sox will board a flight to Boston and enjoy a well-deserved off day on Sunday before resuming the ALCS against the Astros at Fenway Park on Monday night.

Boston has yet to officially name a starter for Monday’s contest, while Houston will go with right-hander Jose Urquidy for Game 3.

First pitch from Fenway Park on Monday is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. eastern time on FS1.

(Picture of: J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers: Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Red Sox injuries: Josh Taylor to have MRI on back; X-rays on Kevin Plawecki’s foot come back negative

In the process of blowing a late one-run lead and dropping a heartbreaker to the Yankees by a final score of 5-3 at Fenway Park on Saturday, the Red Sox were also dealt two blows on the injury front, though one may be considered more significant than the other.

For starters, Josh Taylor was not available out of the bullpen because of a back issue, Sox manager Alex Cora relayed following Saturday night’s defeat at the hands of the Yankees.

“Taylor is down,” Cora said. “He’s actually going to have an MRI tomorrow. His back has been bothering him, so we’ll see where we’re at with that, but he was down.”

With Taylor unavailable, Boston was left without an additional left-handed relief option in its bullpen, leaving Austin Davis and Darwinzon Hernandez as the two primary lefties who could be called upon.

After Tanner Houck issued a pair of two-out walks to New York’s No. 1 and No. 2 hitters in the top of the eighth inning, Cora was put into a spot where his side had a 2-1 lead to protect with a left-handed hitter in Anthony Rizzo due to hit next for the opposition.

That led Cora to turn to Hernandez for the left-on-left matchup with one out to get in the eighth. Hernandez, however, plunked Rizzo on a 3-1, 96 mph fastball to load the bases as the ever-dangerous, right-handed hitting Giancarlo Stanton loomed in the on-deck circle.

While Cora could not make another pitching change since Hernandez had yet to face the minimum of three batters, he did pay the 24-year-old a visit on the pitcher’s mound to have a brief conversation with him — as well as the rest of the Red Sox infield.

Cora’s pep talk did not pay off, though, as Hernandez proceeded to groove a first-pitch fastball down the heart of the plate to Stanton that the Yankees slugger crushed 452 feet over the Green Monster for what would turn out to be the game-winning grand slam.

In choosing Hernandez over Davis to face Rizzo, Cora was left to defend his decision during his postgame media availability, and he did just that.

“I mean, the fact that his stuff plays, right? He’s been throwing the ball well, and you always have to be prepared for the next hitter, right?” Cora said in regards to having Hernandez pitch in that spot. “It’s not that you’re thinking something negative is going to happen with the lefty (Rizzo), but we do believe that he can get the righty out, too, in that spot so we went with him.”

Coming into play on Saturday, Hernandez had actually fared better against right-handed hitters (.615 OPS) than left-handed hitters (.736 OPS against).

Davis, on the other hand, has given up just four hits to the 31 left-handed hitters he faced since joining the Red Sox as a trade deadline acquisition.

On the flip side of that, however, Davis has struggled against right-handed hitters (.886 OPS against) dating back to July 31, so Cora truly did have a difficult decision to make when taking the three-batter minimum rule into consideration.

“There’s two outs. We’ve got to get him (Rizzo) out there,” said Cora. “That’s why we went with Darwinzon. Because we do believe he can get the lefty and the righty out. It just didn’t happen. But the rules are the rules. We’ve been playing with them all season. It’s not the first time we had a situation like this. Just like he wasn’t able to pound the strike zone with the lefty.”

Regardless of which reliever was tasked with getting out of the eighth inning, Boston’s late-game collapse stems from Houck’s inability to throw strikes consistently.

The right-hander was dispatched in the seventh inning and walked the first two batters he faced on eight straight balls before escaping the jam on a double play off the bat of Gleyber Torres and a three-pitch strikeout of Gary Sanchez.

Houck proceeded to fan the first two Yankees he faced in the eighth as well and appeared to be on the verge of punching out the side when he had leadoff man Brett Gardner in a 1-2 count. He instead walked Gardner on six pitches before getting in another two-strike count against Aaron Judge that ultimately resulted in a six-pitch walk to bring Rizzo to the plate.

“We didn’t throw enough strikes in that inning,” Cora said. “We had two outs, 1-2 count, we weren’t able to put [Gardner] away. Then 2-2 count against Judge, we didn’t put him away. Obviously the walk to Rizzo [by Hernandez], but I think it goes back to the leadoff hitter. We had two outs and we made some good pitches, but not in the strike zone.”

In other injury-related news, Red Sox catcher Kevin Plawecki, who went 2-for-2 with a walk and a home run in Saturday’s loss, was struck in the right foot by a 98.5 mph fastball from Aroldis Chapman during final plate appearance of the night in the ninth inning.

A hobbled Plawecki was removed from the contest and replaced at first base by the pinch-running Christian Vazquez, but Cora later revealed that X-Rays on the veteran backstop’s foot came back negative.

“It’s feeling better now. X-rays are negative, so that’s good,” Plawecki said. “Obviously sore, but we’ll get some treatment on it tomorrow and it shouldn’t be anything for me to really worry about. So, I dodged a bullet, I guess you could say.”

(Picture of Josh Taylor: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Darwinzon Hernandez gives up game-winning grand slam to Giancarlo Stanton as Red Sox squander late lead in 5-3 loss to Yankees

No longer donning their yellow City Connect threads, the Red Sox squandered a late lead and dropped their second straight to the Yankees in dramatic fashion at Fenway Park on Saturday.

Despite a strong performance from Nick Pivetta, Boston fell to New York by a final score of 5-3, marking their second consecutive defeat coming on the heels of a seven-game winning streak.

Pivetta, making his 29th start of the season for the Sox, rebounded from a rather short outing against the Orioles in his last time out by providing more length in Saturday’s contest against another American League East foe.

Over 5 1/3 frames of work, the right-hander surrendered just one run on three hits and zero walks to go along with seven strikeouts on the night.

One of the three hits Pivetta gave up came on a leadoff single off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton to begin things in the top of the second, but he kept Stanton at first base by punching out the next three batters he faced.

Pivetta nearly ran into more leadoff trouble in the third when Rougned Odor lifted a 385-foot fly to ball to the deepest part of right field, but it was one that stayed in the park for Hunter Renfroe, as the right fielder took a potential home run away while up against the wall for the first out of the inning.

While the Yankees had a home run taken away from them in their half of the third, the Red Sox made sure the same did not happen to them in their half of the third.

To that point, Yankees starter Nestor Cortes Jr. had held the Sox hitless by retiring each of the first seven batters he faced, but Kevin Plawecki quickly changed things in that regard.

Plawecki, catching Pivetta in place of Christian Vazquez, took the second pitch he saw from Cortes Jr. — a 1-0, 86 mph cutter on the inner half of the plate — and crushed it 408 feet off the leftmost light tower over the Green Monster.

Plawecki’s third homer of the season left his bat at a sizzling 106.9 mph, and it also gave the Red Sox their first lead of the day at 1-0.

Kyle Schwarber doubled that lead in the bottom of the fifth, as he led off against Cortes by drilling a single to right field. Bobby Dalbec, like Odor, nearly clubbed a two-run homer that was instead robbed by Aaron Judge in right field. Schwarber then advanced up to second on a base hit from Plawecki and an infield single from Jose Iglesias that loaded the bases with one out.

With right-handed reliever Michael King deployed to face off against Enrique Hernandez, Schwarber easily scored from third when a wild pitch from King that eluded Sanchez wound up rolling all the way towards the visitor’s dugout.

Though Schwarber was the only one to score in the inning, Pivetta was now given a 2-0 advantage to operate with. Unfortunately for him, he was unable to get through the sixth inning, as he issued back-to-back one-out hits to Gio Urshela and Brett Gardner that put the tying run in scoring position.

That sequence resulted in Pivetta getting the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora, with the 28-year-old finishing with a final pitch count of 90 (60 strikes). Of those 90 pitches, 55 were four-seam fastballs — seven of which led to swings-and-misses from Yankees batters.

Cora, in a tough spot, turned to Hansel Robles, who promptly uncorked a wild pitch past Plawecki that allowed Urshela to score from third while Judge was at the plate.

Gardner also moved up an additional 90 feet on the play, but he was gunned down at home plate by Devers when he attempted to score on a soft grounder from Judge, thus keeping the 2-1 lead intact for Boston.

From there, Tanner Houck took over for Robles in the seventh, walked the first two Yankees he faced on eight straight balls, but escaped the jam by inducing a 4-6-3 double play before getting Sanchez to whiff on an 0-2 slider in emphatic fashion for the final out of the inning.

In the eighth, after recording the first two outs, Houck issued another walk to Gardner, who — while representing the tying run — successfully stole second base. The righty then issued another free pass to Judge to put runners at first and second, and that prompted Cora to roll with Darwinzon Hernandez with the left-handed hitting Anthony Rizzo looming for New York.

Hernandez, however, plunked Rizzo to load the bases, meaning he was now tasked with facing the ever-dangerous Stanton, who wasted no time in taking advantage of the opportunity in front of him even after Cora took the time to talk things over with the lefty on the mound beforehand.

On a first-pitch, 94 mph fastball that was grooved down the heart of the plate by Hernandez, Stanton absolutely demolished a 452-foot grand slam well over everything in left field.

Stanton’s go-ahead, bases-clearing grand slam, which had an exit velocity of 114.1 mph, put the Yankees up for the first time all day, as it gave them a commanding 5-2 lead.

Luis Severino took that brand-new three-run advantage and ran with it, tossing two scoreless frames in the seventh and eighth before making way for Aroldis Chapman in the ninth.

Chapman, New York’s closer, got the first out of the inning before serving up a solo shot to Dalbec (his 24th) and plunking Plawecki on the right foot, which brought the tying run to the plate as Vazquez replaced his fellow backstop as the runner at first base.

Iglesias, representing that ever-important tying run, fanned on three straight strikes, leaving things in the hand of Hernandez.

Having gone 0-for-4 with two strikeouts to that point, Hernandez was unable to come through in the clutch — as he worked a full count before ultimately grounding out to seal the 5-3 defeat for the Sox.

With the loss, their second straight coming off a seven-game winning streak, the Red Sox fall to 88-67 on the season. They are now locked in a tie with the Yankees (also 88-67) for the top American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: Rodriguez vs. Montgomery in rubber match

The Red Sox will wrap up the home portion of their regular season schedule by looking to salvage this series against the Yankees on Sunday night.

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will get the ball for Boston in the finale of this three-game set, and he will be opposed by fellow southpaw Jordan Montgomery for New York.

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

(Picture of Kevin Plawecki: Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Red Sox roster moves: Xander Bogaerts, Darwinzon Hernandez activated; Kaleb Ort selected from Triple-A Worcester; Chris Sale, Jonathan Araúz placed on COVID-19 related injured list

Before opening up a three-game weekend series against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on Friday, the Red Sox made an extensive flurry of roster moves.

First off, shortstop Xander Bogaerts was activated from the COVID-19 related injured list, while left-handed reliever Darwinzon Hernandez was reinstated from the 10-day injured list. Right-handed reliever Kaleb Ort also had his contract selected from Triple-A Worcester.

Secondly, ace left-hander Chris Sale and infielder Jonathan Arauz were both placed on the COVID-19 related injured list, while lefty reliever Austin Davis was placed on the paternity leave list.

The Red Sox made all of these transactions official earlier Friday night.

Bogaerts will return from the COVID-19 related injured list after initially testing positive for the virus while the Red Sox were taking on the Rays in St. Petersburg on August 31.

The 28-year-old was forced to exit in the second inning of that contest at Tropicana Field on account of that positive test and was immediately placed into a mandatory 10-day quarantine at the team’s hotel.

Since those 10 days are now up, Bogaerts was eligible to be activated on Friday, which winds up being the case. The three-time All-Star will be starting at shortstop and batting cleanup in the first of three against the American League Central-leading White Sox.

Joining Bogaerts on the active roster will be two relievers in the form of Hernandez and Ort.

Hernandez returns to the Boston bullpen after missing slightly more than six weeks of action due to a right oblique strain he sustained in a relief appearance against the Blue Jays back on July 29.

Placed on the 10-day injured list on July 31, the 24-year-old southpaw was sent out on a rehab assignment with Worcester this past Tuesday. He appeared in one game for the WooSox later that same day and worked a scoreless eighth inning in which he walked one and struck out another in a 5-4 win over the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at Polar Park.

Ort, on the other hand, is called up to a major-league roster for the first time in his professional career, as he will take the place of Sale on Boston’s 40-man roster for the time being.

The Red Sox originally selected Ort from the Yankees in the minor-league phase of last winter’s Rule 5 Draft — shortly after they picked up Garrett Whitlock from New York as well.

A former undrafted free agent who initially signed with the Diamondbacks in 2016 but joined the Yankees organization a year later, the 29-year-old righty has emerged as the bona fide closer for the WooSox this season.

In 40 appearances out of Worcester’s bullpen, Ort has posted a respectable 3.12 ERA and 3.56 FIP to go along with 59 strikeouts to 20 walks over 43 1/3 total innings of work. He also leads the WooSox with 18 saves on the year.

As previously mentioned, the Sox were able to call up Ort, who will wear the No. 85, without having to remove someone from their 40-man roster because of Sale being placed on the COVID-19 related injured list.

It was revealed earlier Friday that the ace left-hander had tested positive for the virus, and would subsequently be forced to miss his next scheduled start on Sunday as a result.

In testing positive for COVID-19, Sale becomes the 10th Red Sox player to do so since August 27 while also becoming the 12th player the club has had to place on the COVID IL since that date.

Boston’s starting rotation for this weekend’s series with Chicago initially had Tanner Houck starting the opener, Nick Pivetta starting the middle game, and Sale starting the finale.

Pivetta, who has been on the COVID IL since September 5 since he, too, tested positive, could be able to take Sale’s spot and start on Sunday.

Saturday’s contest, meanwhile, will likely fall to right-handed pitching prospect Connor Seabold, who — like Ort — traveled with the Sox to Chicago as part of the team’s taxi squad.

In addition to Sale, the Red Sox also placed Arauz on the COVID-19 related injured list, meaning the 23-year-old has now become the 13th player Boston has had to place on the COVID IL since their initial outbreak began in Cleveland two weeks ago.

Per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the reason for Arauz being placed on the COVID IL is a precautionary one, as the Panamanian-born infielder has been exhibiting virus-like symptoms, but has tested negative “multiple times.”

Along with Sale and Arauz, the Red Sox will also be without Davis for the time being since he is headed out on paternity leave, though the timing of his absence is in sync with the return of Hernandez.

Put another way, as Boston temporarily loses one left-handed bullpen option, they get another back in the Venezuelan southpaw.

Following Friday’s series of moves, the Red Sox’ major-league roster is at full capacity (26 players), while their 40-man roster currently sits at approximately 39 players.

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Darwinzon Hernandez set to begin rehab assignment with Triple-A Worcester

Red Sox reliever Darwinzon Hernandez has been sent out on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Worcester, per The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Hernandez, 24, has not appeared in a game for the Sox since July 29 after being placed on the 10-day injured list on account of a right oblique strain two days later.

At the time Hernandez initially hit the IL, it did not appear as though the left-hander would be out for long, but he wound up undergoing an MRI — which came back clean — in early August.

On August 15, Hernandez resumed playing catch and threw a bullpen session at Fenway Park the following weekend. He completed his second live bullpen session on Sunday, which seemed to be one of the final hurdles he needed to clear.

That being the case because Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters (including The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey) on Sunday that the team was trying to determine if Hernandez would need to go on a rehab assignment or if he would just be immediately activated from the injured list.

As it turns out, Hernandez will indeed head out to Worcester to join the WooSox ahead of their six-game series against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs that begins Tuesday night at Polar Park.

Before straining his right oblique in late July, the Venezuelan southpaw had posted a 3.44 ERA and .697 OPS against to go along with 46 strikeouts and 26 walks over 41 relief appearances spanning 34 innings of work out of the bullpen.

In the time that Hernandez has been sidelined, the Red Sox have used four additional left-handed relievers in Josh Taylor, Austin Davis, Martin Perez, and Stephen Gonsalves.

Those four lefties have combined to put up a 4.98 ERA, a 3.72 FIP, a 4.08 xFIP, and strikeout-to-walk ratio of 37:16 over 34 1/3 total innings pitched in Hernandez’s absence dating back to July 30.

As noted by Speier, Hernandez’s time away from the team has been ‘significant’ given his ability to induce punchouts at a relatively high rate (29.9% this season).

(Picture of Darwinzon Hernandez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox manage just 5 hits in 9-1 defeat to Yankees, marking third straight series loss

For the third straight time dating back to before the All-Star break, the Red Sox won the first game of a series and followed by dropping the next two contests, as they fell to the Yankees by a final score of 9-1 at Yankee Stadium on Sunday night.

After starting the season with seven wins in seven tries against their division rivals, the Sox have lost their last two to the Bronx Bombers and a scored a total of two runs in those defeats.

Martin Perez made his 19th start of the season for Boston on Sunday, and he ran into some early trouble shortly after tossing a 1-2-3 first inning.

That being the case because Gleyber Torres greeted the veteran left-hander by crushing a leadoff home run off him to begin things in the bottom of the second before back-to-back one-out singles in the third resulted in another New York run crossing the plate on an RBI groundout off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton.

The Yankees added on to their lead in the fifth, which turned out be an inning in which Perez failed to record an out in, as he yielded two straight singles to Rougned Odor and Ryan LaMarre that put runners at second and third with no outs on account of a throwing error from right fielder Hunter Renfroe.

At that point, Red Sox manager Alex Cora pulled Perez in favor of right-hander Garrett Whitlock, who allowed an inherited runner to score on a Greg Allen sacrifice fly before getting out of the inning.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 62 (41 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler ended up surrendering three runs — all of which were earned — on five hits, one walk, and five strikeouts over just four-plus innings of work. His next start should come against this same Yankees team back at Fenway Park on Saturday.

The Red Sox lineup, which had struggled mightily throughout the night against Yankees starter Jameson Taillon, had a golden opportunity to get on the board in their half of the sixth, with one out and runners in scoring position following a hard-hit double from Xander Bogaerts.

That double knocked Taillon out of this contest, and the Yankees brought in Chad Green to face off against Rafael Devers in a prime run-scoring spot, but the slugging third baseman struck out on a controversial check-swing call, while Hunter Renfroe grounded out to third to extinguish the threat.

Whitlock, after recording the final out of the fifth, came back out for the sixth and proceeded to sit down the final three hitters he faced in order to keep his side within the three runs they trailed by.

From there, however, the Red Sox bullpen let this one get away from them, as Darwinzon Hernanez entered in the seventh and gave up a leadoff single to Brett Gardner before serving up a two-run blast to Rougned Odor to put Boston in a 5-0 hole.

The left-hander then walked LaMarre and Allen back-to-back, prompting Brandon Workman to take over for him to only issue three consecutive free passes — two of which came with the bases loaded — with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, allowing New York to jump out to a 7-0 advantage.

In the bottom of the eighth, after plating their only run of the evening on a Renfroe RBI single in the top half of the frame, the Red Sox fell victim to more walk issues, as Yacksel Rios walked the first batter who came to the plate against him in Odor before giving up a two-run homer to LaMarre, who spent part of the 2016 season in the Boston outfield.

That put the Yankees up by a commanding eight runs at 9-1, which would go on to be Sunday’s final score.

All in all, the Red Sox went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position on Sunday. They left nine men on base as a team.

With the loss, the Sox fall to 56-38 on the season as they have now dropped six of their last eight games despite clinging on to a half-game lead over the Rays for first place in the American League East.

Arroyo suffers hamstring injury

Christian Arroyo was originally starting Sunday’s contest at first base for the first time in his professional career, but his debut at the position did not go according to plan.

The 26-year-old suffered a left hamstring strain after attempting to stretch out for a ball in order to complete a 6-4-3 double play in the bottom of the third inning.

After doing a split and rising to his feet, Arroyo was in visible discomfort and had to exit immediately. He was replaced by Bobby Dalbec at first base and seems likely to land on the injured list.

Next up: Blue Jays in Buffalo

The Red Sox will make the trek from the Bronx to Buffalo to take on a surging Blue Jays club in the first of a three-game series at Sahlen Field on Monday night.

Right-hander Nick Pivetta is slated to get the ball for Boston in the opener, while fellow righty Ross Stripling is lined up to do the same for Toronto.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Rafael Devers: Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Lifeless Red Sox drop third straight to Astros, 2-1; Nick Pivetta hit with first loss of season despite striking out 9 over 6 innings

A stagnant Red Sox offense was once again held in check by the Astros at Minute Maid Park on Wednesday night.

Houston starter Framber Valdez gave Boston a chance to get something going immediately in the first inning. The left-hander loaded the bases with two outs and walked in a run by issuing a free pass to Hunter Renfroe.

Bobby Dalbec was presented with the opportunity to do some more damage in his first at-bat of the night, but he grounded out sharply to shortstop to extinguish the threat.

As it would later turn out, that lone run is all the Sox could get off of Valdez, as the southpaw settled in after a rough first inning and strung together six straight scoreless frames to get through seven strong when all was said and done.

The Boston bats did not fare much better against the Astros’ bullpen, with all three of Alex Verdugo, J.D. Martinez, and Xander Bogaerts lining out to center field against reliever Ryne Stanek in the top half of the eighth.

In the top half of the ninth, a one-out single from Renfroe and two-out single from Vazquez off Astros closer Ryan Pressly provided the Red Sox with some late life and the chance to at least tie things up at two runs apiece.

Alas, Christian Arroyo hit a broken-bat pop-up to the infield, and 2-1 would go on to be Wednesday’s final score.

By dropping their third consecutive contest to the Astros, the Red Sox fall to 32-23 on the season (16-10 on the road), yet still remain two games back of the Rays for first place in the American League East.

Pivetta grinds through first two innings, winds up turning in solid performance

Red Sox starter Nick Pivetta needed 57 pitches to get through the first two innings of his 11th start of the season on Wednesday. Like Valdez, he also put himself in a bases-loaded jam right away in the first, but got out of it having allowed just one run.

From that point, though, the right-hander locked in and put together one of his best outings of the year to this point all things considered.

Over six innings in total, Pivetta yielded two runs — both earned — on three hits and two walks to go along with nine strikeouts on the night.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 111 (72 strikes) to set a new season-high, the 28-year-old was ultimately hit with his first loss of the year — and his first since coming over to the Red Sox from the Phillies last August. His next start should come against the Marlins back at Fenway Park on Monday.

Red Sox bullpen takes over

In relief of Pivetta, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez tossed a perfect seventh inning while Hirokazu Sawamura and Josh Taylor combined to toss a scoreless bottom of the eighth with the help of Christian Vazquez snuffing out Alex Bregman at second base.

Next up: Perez vs. Odorizzi

The Red Sox will send left-hander Martin Perez to the hill on Thursday afternoon as they look to halt this three-game losing streak, avoid a sweep and in turn end an otherwise forgettable series against the Astros on a positive note.

Perez will be opposed by veteran right-hander and his former Twins rotation mate Jake Odorizzi for Houston.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 2:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Red Sox ride bullpen to 3-1 victory over Marlins in Will Venable’s managerial debut

With Alex Cora in Puerto Rico for his daughter’s graduation from high school and a paid attendance of over 25,000 at Fenway Park, the Red Sox were able to hold on and secure a series victory over the Marlins with a 3-1 win on Saturday.

Nathan Eovaldi made his 11th start of the season for Boston in the middle game of this three-game set and provided the Sox with 5 1/3 quality innings of work.

Over those 5 1/3 innings, the veteran right-hander kept Miami off the scoreboard while scattering just four hits and one walk to go along with seven strikeouts on the evening.

While he did retire 16 of the 22 hitters he faced on Saturday, Eovaldi also dealt with his fair share of foul balls — 26 to be exact — which ultimately led to an uneconomical outing, if that makes sense.

By the time he issued a one-out single to Garrett Cooper in the top half of the sixth, Eovaldi’s pitch count was already over 100, and that resulted in his day coming to a close right then there.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 101 (71 strikes), the 31-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball 46% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing six swings-and-misses while topping out at 98.2 mph with the pitch.

Able to improve to 6-2 on the season while lowering his ERA to 4.01, Eovaldi’s next start should come against his hometown Astros in Houston next Thursday.

In relief of Eovaldi, left-hander Josh Taylor got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen, and he stranded the runner he inherited by retiring the side in the sixth before allowing two of the three batters he faced in the seventh to reach base.

Of the three hits Taylor gave up (a single, a ground-rule double, and an infield single, the average exit velocity on those balls put into play was 58.4 mph, so it goes without saying that the lefty was the recipient of some tough luck.

Adam Ottavino came on to face the right-handed hitting Starling Marte, who he walked on five pitches to fill the bases for the meat of the Marlins’ order.

A lengthy battle with Jesus Aguilar wound up going Ottavino’s way, as he got the Miami slugger to whiff on a 3-2 slider. He followed that by fanning Cooper on four pitches, with the fourth and final pitch being an 82 mph slider that got a fiery reaction out of the usually-tepid righty as he made his way back to the Red Sox dugout.

From there, Darwnizon Hernandez got the first two outs of the eighth before handing things over to Hirokazu Sawamura, who, like Ottavino, induced a dramatic, inning-ending strikeout that got him to emphatically pound his chest as he took his leave.

An inning later, Matt Barnes was deployed with a three-run lead to protect, and despite surrendering a run, the Sox closer did just that when he got Cooper to ground into a game-sealing 4-6-3 double play to preserve the win and pick up his 12th save of the year.

All in all, bench coach Will Venable — filling in for Cora — and the rest of the Red Sox coaching staff pieced together a pitching performance in which five relievers were used, only one run was given up, and the final 11 outs were recorded by the Boston bullpen. Not too shabby.

Because of the impressive showing from the Sox’ pitching staff, the Red Sox lineup did not need to do much in terms of offensive firepower on Saturday.

Matched up against Marlins left-hander Trevor Rogers, Bobby Dalbec got the scoring started for Boston with an RBI single in the bottom half of the second.

In the fourth, Kevin Plawecki doubled his side’s lead with another run-scoring that plated Hunter Renfroe from second to make it a 2-0 game.

Renfroe himself delivered with an RBI base hit later on in the bottom of the eighth off Miami reliever Adam Cimber, this time driving in Rafael Devers on his third knock of the day.

That put the Red Sox up 3-0, and 3-1 would go on to be Saturday’s final score from Fenway.

Next up: Alcantara vs. Rodriguez

Sunday’s starting pitching matchup between the 24-28 Marlins and 32-20 Red Sox will feature right-hander Sandy Alcantara getting the ball for Miami and left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez doing the same for Boston.

First pitch Sunday (weather permitting) is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. eastern time at Fenway Park. Red Sox will be looking to complete the sweep.

(Picture of Fenway Park: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Alex Verdugo celebrates 25th birthday by breaking out of slump, crushing home run as Red Sox blank Angels, 9-0

Alex Verdugo celebrated his birthday in style at Fenway Park on Saturday afternoon.

Coming into the day in the midst of a chilly 2-for-24 slump, the newly-turned 25-year-old set the tone for the Red Sox by taking Angels starter Dylan Bundy deep to right field for his fifth home run of the season right away in the first inning.

Verdugo’s solo blast put Boston up by a run early on in what would turn out to be a commanding 9-0 victory over Los Angeles.

With the win — their third straight, the Sox improved to 25-16 on the season and 13-11 at Fenway Park.

Dalbec, Cordero collect two doubles each

As was the case on Friday night, the bottom of the Red Sox lineup continued its recent run of success thanks to the efforts of Bobby Dalbec and Franchy Cordero on Saturday.

Dalbec added on the Sox’ early lead by plating two more runs in the bottom half of the fourth, driving in Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers on a sharply-hit double off the base of the Green Monster.

Franchy Cordero followed with a hard-hit double of his own that had an exit velocity of 110 mph and brought in Dalbec from second to make it a 4-0 game.

Fast forward to the sixth, and the Dalbec-Cordero combination struck again. This time with the former leading off the inning with his second two-base hit of the day and the latter scoring him on his second two-base hit of the day as well.

In total, Dalbec — who now has multiple hits in two of his last three games — and Cordero combined to go 4-for-8 on Saturday with four doubles, two runs scored, and four RBI.

Bogaerts, Devers homer

Boston’s No. 8 and No. 9 hitters were not the only dynamic duo the Red Sox rode to a blowout win on Saturday, as the No. 4 and No. 5 hitters enjoyed productive days at the plate as well.

Bogaerts took advantage of Verdugo and J.D. Martinez reaching base with no outs in the fifth by clubbing a monstrous 446-foot three-run shot over everything in left field to give his team a 7-0 lead.

Devers, meanwhile, wrapped up the scoring for his side and put the finishing touches on this one when he crushed his team-leading 10th home run of the season to right-center field in the seventh.

The 24-year-old’s 408-foot big fly put the Red Sox up 9-0, which would go on to be Saturday’s final score.

Perez picks up first win of season

Backed by an offensive outpouring, Martin Perez had plenty of run support on his way to tossing six solid innings in his eighth start of the season.

Over those six frames, the left-hander kept the Angels off the scoreboard while scattering three hits and four walks to go along with five strikeouts on the afternoon.

For how shaky of a first inning Perez had by issuing two walks to the first three hitters he faced, he settled in nicely and wound up retiring 14 of the final 18 Angels who came to the plate against him.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 97 (60 strikes) while getting through six full innings for the first time this season, the 30-year-old hurler threw 31 cutters, 24 sinkers, 21 changeups, 11 curveballs, and 10 four-seam fastballs. He topped out at 95.1 mph with his heater.

Able to pick up his long-awaited first win of the season in addition to lowering his ERA to 3.40, Perez’s next start should come against the Phillies in Philadelphia next Friday.

Red Sox bullpen preserves the shutout

In relief of Perez, the three three relievers the Red Sox turned to were able to see the club’s second shutout of the season through to its completion.

Despite dealing with their collective fair share of traffic on the base paths, Phillps Valdez, Darwinzon Hernandez, and Austin Brice combined to toss three scoreless frames to secure the 9-0 victory for the Red Sox.

Next up: Going for the sweep

The Red Sox will go for the series sweep over the struggling 16-22 Angels and their fourth consecutive win overall back at Fenway Park on Sunday afternoon.

Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi will get the start for Boston in the series finale, and he will be opposed by left-hander Jose Quintana for Los Angeles.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox held in check once again in 3-2 series-opening loss to Athletics

For the second straight night, the Red Sox were held to just four hits in a 3-2 loss at the hands of the Oakland Athletics at Fenway Park on Tuesday night.

Despite the offensive struggles, the Sox still found themselves in a position where they could steal a win from the first-place A’s in the bottom of the ninth inning.

There, Oakland reliever Jake Diekman walked two of the first three hitters he faced to put the tying and winning runs on base in Alex Verdugo and Xander Bogaerts.

Both Verdugo and Bogaerts advanced into scoring position when Rafael Devers grounded into a force out for the second out of the frame, leaving the potential tying run just 90 feet away from scoring.

With the game in his hands, Christian Vazquez undramatically popped out to A’s first baseman Matt Olson in foul territory to strand Verdugo and Verdugo where they were and end things at 3-2.

With the loss (their second straight), the Sox fall to 22-15 on the season.

Sox bats held in check by Bassitt

The primary reason the Red Sox offense really could not get anything going on Tuesday was because of Athletics starter Chris Bassitt.

Coming into the day with a 3.70 ERA on the season, the veteran right-hander recorded a season-high 10 strikeouts while limiting Boston to just two runs on three hits in seven innings.

Interestingly enough, the Sox drew first blood in this one when after reaching base on a one-out single in the bottom of the first, Verdugo advanced to second and again to third on a pair of Bassitt wild pitches, which allowed the outfielder to easily score on a sacrifice fly off the bat of J.D. Martinez.

Eovaldi bounces back with solid outing

Given an early one-run lead to work with, Nathan Eovaldi rebounded nicely in his eighth start of the season for the Red Sox on Tuesday.

Over six innings of work, the right-hander allowed just one run on two hits and two walks to go along with four strikeouts on the night.

The lone run he gave up came in the fourth when Olson got his side on the board with a one-out RBI single.

Besides that, though, Eovaldi did manage to retire seven of the final eight hitters he faced to lower his ERA on the season to 4.20.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 102 (65 strikes), the 31-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball 49% of the time he was on the mound Tuesday, inducing just one swing-and-miss while topping out at 99.3 mph with the pitch.

Later hit with the no-decision, Eovaldi’s next start should come against the Angels on Sunday.

Hernandez’s struggles at Fenway continue

In relief of Eovaldi, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in the seventh inning of a 1-1 game.

Matched up against Oakland’s 4-5-6 hitters, Hernandez surrendered a leadoff walk to Olson before serving up a go-ahead, run-scoring single to Matt Chapman.

Adam Ottavino would have to come in to finish the seventh, but he allowed an inherited runner to score on an RBI single of his own to make it a 3-1 contest.

From there, Hirokazu Sawamura wrapped things up by tossing two scoreless frames of relief to hold the Athletics at three runs.

Devers hits ninth homer

After falling behind by two runs in the top of the seventh, Devers brought the Sox back to within one by crushing his ninth home run of the season — a 353-foot solo shot off Bassitt — to cut Boston’s deficit to 3-2, which would ultimately go on to be Tuesday’s final score.

Next up: Kaprielian vs. Rodriguez

The Red Sox will look to snap their two-game skid against the Athletics on Wednesday night back at Fenway.

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will be making the start for Boston, and he will be opposed by rookie right-hander James Kaprielian for Oakland.

Kaprielian, 27, will be making his first career major-league start after debuting out of the bullpen with the A’s last season. The former Yankees prospect is probably best known for being part of the 2017 trade that sent right-hander Sonny Gray to New York.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Nathan Eovaldi: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)