Rafael Devers Takes Justin Verlander Deep as #RedSox Salvage Another Series Against Astros with 4-1 Victory

For the second straight week, the Red Sox entered Sunday down two games to none in their series against the Houston Astros, and the for the second straight week, the Red Sox came away with a series-closing win. They did that first with a 4-3 victory at Fenway Park on May 19th, and then again with a 4-1 victory at Minute Maid Park on Sunday.

Making his 11th start of the season for Boston was Eduardo Rodriguez, whose spot in the rotation did not come up the last time these two clubs met a week ago.

This time around, the left-hander thoroughly impressed Sunday, tossing six innings of one-run ball on four hits, one walk, and one HBP to go along with five strikeouts on the afternoon.

That lone run came in Rodriguez’s first inning of work, when an Aledyms Diaz leadoff single resulted in Houston getting on the board with a two-out RBI infield single off the bat of Saturday’s hero Carlos Correa to plate Diaz from second.

The thing is, that run could have been prevented had Eduardo Nunez, filling in for Xander Bogaerts at shortstop, made a better throw to the plate and  if Christian Vazquez didn’t lose the ball on the attempted tag of Diaz.

Other than that one blip though, Rodriguez had a relatively simple time of things in this one, consistently maneuvering his way around the few baseruners he had to deal with while also receiving some help from his defense.

Retiring 11 of the last 12 hitters he faced, the 26-year-old’s fine day came to a close after getting Yuli Gurriel to pop out to second and end the sixth with his team ahead.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 98 (63 strikes), Rodriguez turned to his four-seam fastball 39% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing two swings and misses and getting 13 called strikes with the pitch. He also topped out at 94.4 MPH with it in the fifth inning.

Improving to 5-3 on the year while lowering his ERA down to 5.04, the Venezuela native provided the Red Sox with a start they very much needed after the whole David Price situation the day before. Rodriguez will look for win number six in his next time out, which will come against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium sometime next weekend.

In relief of Rodriguez, Brandon Workman got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen with a two-run lead to protect going into the bottom half of the seventh.

Making his 26th appearance of the season and first of the series, Workman fanned a pair in a 1-2-3 inning before making way for Matt Barnes in the eighth.

Fresh off of getting walked off on on Saturday night, Barnes did allow the tying run to come to the plate with a one out walk of Tony Kemp, but did recover by sitting down the next two hitters he faced to send this one to the ninth.

And in that ninth and final inning, after his team tacked on an extra insurance run in the top half, Marcus Walden shut the door on the Astros to earn his first save of 2019 and lock up the 4-1 win for the Red Sox.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against veteran right-hander and future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander for the Astros, who like Rodriguez, did not pitch in the series at Fenway Park.

Going down by one run right away in the first, a Steve Pearce leadoff single later turned into Boston’s first run of the afternoon crossing the plate on a one-out sacrifice fly off the bat of Andrew Benintendi to knot this one at one all.

An inning later, Rafael Devers’ hot streak continued, as the 22-year-old led off the fourth by demolishing his seventh home run of the season 423 feet to dead center field to give his team a lead they would not have to look back from.

In the fifth, the Boston bats capitalized on some sloppy defense from the Astros infield, with Nunez scoring all the way from second thanks to Yuli Gurriel misplaying a grounder from Andrew Benintendi, who reached first safely with one out in the inning.

The Astros committed another error in the same time frame courtesy of Alex Bregman over at third, but the Sox were unable to capitalize there.

And finally, in the ninth, more misjudgements allowed Boston to push another run across, with reliever Framber Valdez letting Jackie Bradley Jr. advance to second after drawing a one-out walk and also advance to third on a ball that got past Robinson Chrinos behind the plate.

That particular sequence of miscues set up Eduardo Nunez in a prime RBI spot, and he took full advantage by driving in his club’s final run of the day on an RBI grounder to second which gave Bradley Jr. more than enough time to score from third and make it a 4-1 contest, which would go on to be Sunday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

From Red Sox Notes:

From Red Sox Stats:

From the Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s a quick turn around with a three-game series against the Cleveland Indians set to kick off Monday evening back at Fenway Park.

Coming off a 4-3 road trip, this one home series will be all for the Sox before they head back out on the road again later this week.

Despite their reputation, the Indians are no longer the best team in their division at the moment, as that title currently belongs to the 36-16 Minnesota Twins, while the Tribe sit at an even 26-26.

Right-hander Rick Porcello is set to get the ball for the Red Sox in the series opener, while fellow righty Jefry Rodriguez will do the same for Terry Francona’s Indians.

Over his last seven starts dating back to April 20th, Porcello owns a 2.78 ERA and .196 batting average against over 45.1 innings pitched. The Red Sox are 6-1 in that span.

In 24 career starts against Cleveland, Porcello has posted a lifetime 3.57 ERA over 141 total innings of work.

Rodriguez, meanwhile, has never faced the Red Sox before in his young big league career. The 25-year-old is currently 1-4 with a 4.08 ERA through six starts so far this season.

First pitch Memorial Day Monday is scheduled for a rare 4:05 PM EDT start time on NESN. Red Sox looking to start another winning streak.

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#RedSox’ David Price Removed from Start Against Astros Due to Flu-Like Symptoms

In his second start since returning from the 10-day injured list last Monday, Red Sox left-hander David Price was removed from Saturday’s contest against the Houston Astros due to flu-like symptoms, per multiple reports.

Just 15 pitches into his outing, the 33-year-old appeared to come up wincing in his first inning matchup against Michael Brantley Saturday.

That, along with a handful of underwhelming fastball velocities from Price, led to Sox manager Alex Cora coming out to the mound without a trainer by his side, and ultimately made the decision to pull his starter for precautionary reasons.

So, unless the club is trying to cover something up, it appears that the Red Sox avoided a major scare with Price. I’m sure more details will become available at the conclusion of Saturday’s game.

 

Four Home Runs Power #RedSox to 12-2 Win over Blue Jays in David Price’s Return from Injured List

Coming off a 5-3 homestand, the Red Sox opened up a seven-game, two-city road trip on Monday afternoon with a dominating 12-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays in their first visit to Rogers Centre of 2019.

Making his seventh start of the season and first since May 2nd was David Price, who spent nearly two weeks on the injured list due to left elbow tendinitis.

Activated from the IL earlier on Monday, the left-hander shook off the rust and looked solid this time around, limiting Toronto to just two unearned runs on three hits and zero walks to go along with four strikeouts on the day.

Both of those unearned runs came in the bottom half of the second inning, when with two outs and Billy McKinney aboard first, Luke Maile drilled a two-run home run to left center field to put the Blue Jays on the board.

That all could have been prevented though, had it not been for a Michael Chavis fielding error which allowed McKinney to reach base in the first place instead of grounding into the second out of the inning.

Still, Price didn’t allow the homer to phase him, as he went on to toss three more scoreless, no-hit frames from the middle of the third on to the conclusion of the fifth, retiring the final 10 Blue Jays hitters he faced to wrap up his outing.

Finishing with a final conservative pitch count of only 67 (48 strikes), the one-time Blue Jay, with Sandy Leon back from paternity leave and behind the plate for this one, turned to his cutter nearly 30% of the time he was on the mound Monday, inducing one swing and miss with the pitch. He also topped out at 94.7 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 14 times.

Eventually picking up his second winning decision of the season while lowering his ERA down to 3.29, Price will look for win number three in his next time out, which should come against the Houston Astros next weekend.

In relief of Price, the Red Sox bullpen did not allow a single hit over four collective innings of work, with Brandon Workman, Heath Hembree, Ryan Brasier, and Hector Velazquez combining to sit down 12 of the last 13 Blue Jays he faced.

The only Toronto hitter to reach base over that span was Freddy Galvis, who drew a leadoff walk off of Hembree in the seventh in what was an otherwise shut-the-door kind of performance from the pen to secure the blowout win.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against veteran right-hander Edwin Jackson for the Blue Jays.

Now with his 14th big league club since 2003, the Sox bats got to Jackson beginning right away in the first, all with two outs in the inning.

Back-to-back singles from Mitch Moreland and Xander Bogaerts led to the Sox’ first two runs of the day crossing the plate on a Rafael Devers RBI single to score Moreland and an errant throw from Blue Jays cathcer Luke Maile trying to nab Devers stealing second that allowed Bogaerts to score from third with Michael Chavis at the plate. 2-0.

Two innings later, after Toronto had battled back with two runs of their own, Bogaerts was at it again, this time driving in both Mookie Betts and Moreland on a one out, two-run single to left.

Following a Rafael Devers lineout to center, Chavis bounced back from that punchout in the first by scoring Bogaerts and himself on a two-run, 389 foot homer to left field to make it a four-run game. His ninth dinger of the season already.

Fast forward all the way to the sixth, and the bottom of the lineup came through in a run-scoring spot with Steve Pearce drawing a one-out walk and Jackie Bradley Jr. depositing his first big fly of the year off Jays reliever Elvis Luciano, another two-run shot to give his team an 8-2 lead.

Another inning later, a Mitch Moreland leadoff two-bagger resulted in two more Red Sox runs coming across thanks to another RBI base knock from Devers and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Pearce to score Devers from third and make it a 10-2 contest.

And in the ninth, just for good measure, Bogaerts and Devers capped off their fine days at the plate by going back-to-back with solo jacks off Toronto reliever Ryan Tepera to leadoff the inning.

Per Statcast, Bogaerts’ eighth of the season registered at 417 feet and 104.1 MPH off the bat, which is pretty incredible when you see the way the shortstop swung at that 1-1 face-high changeup.

Devers’ fourth of the year, meanwhile, was hit even further and harder, registering in at a whopping 445 feet and 114.4 MPH off the bat. In other words, crushed.

Anyway, those two solo home runs put the Red Sox ahead 12-2, which would go on to be Monday’s final score in the first of four between these two clubs.

Some notes from this win:

From Red Sox Notes:

From Red Sox Stats:

The Red Sox’ 3-6 hitters on Monday (Moreland, Bogaerts, Devers, Chavis):

11-for-20, three home runs, nine runs scored, and eight RBI.

Through 27 games this month, Rafael Devers owns a .562 slugging percentage.

The Red Sox are 8-3 in their last 11 games.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the second game of this series against the Blue Jays.

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will get the ball for Boston in what will be his 10th start of the season, while right-hander Marcus Stroman will do the same for Toronto.

Despite giving up five runs in his last time out against the Colorado Rockies, Rodriguez still owns an ERA of 2.84 through three starts this month. As a matter of fact, the Red Sox are 7-0 in the southpaw’s last seven outings.

In four career outings (three starts) at Rogers Centre, Rodriguez is 2-1 with a 2.75 ERA over 19.2 total innings pitched.

Stroman, meanwhile, got off to a scorching hot start to the 2019 season, but has since cooled off. That much is evident by the fact that the Blue Jays are 0-4 in the Duke University product’s last four starts.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:07 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for their third straight win.

Xander Bogaerts Drives in Game-Tying and Game-Winning Runs as #RedSox Salvage Series Against Astros with 4-3 Victory

After dropping three of their last four at home, the Red Sox salvaged their three-game series against the Astros with a tight 4-3 win on Sunday to put an end to Houston’s 10-game winning streak.

Making his 10th start of the season for Boston in this one was Chris Sale, fresh off a career-high 17 strikeouts over seven innings in his last time out against the Colorado Rockies.

Pitching into just the sixth inning Sunday, the left-hander had to grind his way through a tough lineup, as he surrendered three runs on four hits, a season-high five walks, and one HBP to go along with 10 strikeouts the afternoon.

For the fifth time in his last six starts, Sale did reach the double-digit mark for punchouts. That much was encouraging to see. The five walks, tied for the most the southpaw has yielded in a single game, were not. Entering Sunday, Sale had given out only two free passes since the beginning of May.

Two of those walks directly led to Astros runs, with the first coming on a leadoff walk drawn by Yuli Gurriel in the second, who would eventually come around to score from third on a two-out wild pitch with George Springer at the plate.

Judging by where that slider was located, it would appear as though Christian Vazquez, who doesn’t usually catch Sale, was looking for something different and thus got crossed up, which in turn allowed the run to cross the plate.

Able to escape the second without any further damage, walks hurt the Florida native yet again an inning later, with Carlos Correa mashing a one-out, two-run homer to deep center after Alex Bregman, like Gurriel, led the frame off by drawing a seven-pitch free pass.

From that point, Sale settled in a bit by retiring eight of the next nine Houston hitters he faced before running into some more trouble in the sixth.

There, a Gurriel leadoff double, followed by back-to-back one-out walks of Robinson Chirinos and Josh Reddick loaded the bases for the Astros yet again, consequently putting an end to Sale’s outing thanks to a pitch count north of the century mark.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 106 (63 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied heavily on his slider, as he turned to the pitch more than 47% of the time he was on the mound Sunday and induced a game-high 10 swings and misses with it. He also topped out at 96.4 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 36 times.

Hit with the no-decision, Sale will look for his second win of the season in his next time out, which will come against these same Astros at Minute Maid Park on Friday.

In relief of Sale, Marcus Walden was thrown into the fire, as he came on for his 16th appearance of the year with two outs to get and the bases full.

Having never faced the Astros before in his career, the right-hander managed to get the only batter he faced in the inning, Jake Marisnick, to ground into an inning-ending 6-3 double play before tossing another scoreless frame with the help of another inning-ending twin killing in the seventh.

After the Red Sox jumped ahead by one run in their half of the seventh, that set up Matt Barnes with the chance to preserve that lead in the eighth, and the versatile righty did just that by sitting down the only three Astros he faced in order to make way for Brandon Workman in the ninth.

In what was the first save opportunity of his career, the 30-year-old worked his way around walking the potential tying run with one out by getting Tony Kemp to line out to Jackie Bradley Jr. to secure the 4-3 win for his team, thus securing career save number one as well.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against an old friend in Astros left-hander Wade Miley, who spent the 2015 season with Boston.

Pitching in a venue with some familiarity, the Sox bats jumped early on Miley, with Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts both reaching base and advancing 90 feet to second and third with one out thanks to a wild pitch from the Houston starter.

With runners in scoring position and two outs to work with, JD Martinez drove in Boston’s first run of the afternoon on a simple RBI groundout to short that gave Betts enough time to score from third. 1-0.

Fast forward to the fifth, after the Astros went ahead with a 3-1 lead of their own, the Red Sox erased that deficit very quickly thanks to the top of their lineup, headlined by rookie Michael Chavis making his big league debut in the leadoff spot.

On the very first pitch he saw from Miley with two outs in the inning, Chavis demolished a 88 MPH cutter and sent it 420 feet over the Monster for his eighth big fly of the season to make it a one-run game.

Just a few moments later, Betts put the tying run in scoring position with a line-drive double, and Bogaerts came through with his first of two clutch hits on the day, this time plating Betts from second on a fly ball RBI single that honestly should have been caught. Instead, the ball evaded Yuli Gurriel, Jake Marisnick, and Josh Reddick, and found a nice place to land in shallow right field. 3-3 ballgame.

And in the seventh, it was the Xander Bogaerts show once more with Betts representing the go-ahead run at first and two outs in the inning.

Facing off against Astros reliever Frambler Valdez for the first time ever, the 26-year-old shortstop laced a 1-1 RBI double off the center field wall, scoring Betts all the way from first to make it a 4-3 contest, which would go on to be Sunday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

Since April 23rd, Chris Sale has recorded a nice 69 strikeouts over his last 38.1 innings pitched. That’s good for a K/9 of 16.3.

Speaking of nice, Marcus Walden owns an ERA of 0.69 in his last six appearances out of the Red Sox bullpen.

Matt Barnes has not given up a run in his last nine relief outings.

Through 13 games this month, Christian Vazquez is slashing .476/.511/.714 with two home runs and three RBI.

Next up for the Red Sox, they head north of the border for the first time this season to take on Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the 19-27 Toronto Blue Jays.

Following Sunday’s win, the club optioned right-handed pitcher Josh Smith and catcher Oscar Hernandez to Triple-A Pawtucket, meaning David Price and Sandy Leon are likely to be activated from the injured list and paternity leave list respectively on Monday.

Price is already slated to get the ball in the first of four against his former team, while right-hander Edwin Jackson, now with his 14th big league club, will start for Toronto.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 1:07 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to start another winning streak.

 

 

David Price Hits 10-Day Injured List with Left Elbow Tendintis

Earlier Monday, the Red Sox placed left-hander David Price on the 10-day injured list with left elbow tendinitis, retroactive to May 3rd.

To fill in Price’s spot on the active roster, right-hander Ryan Weber was added to Boston’s 40-man roster and recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket. He will wear the no. 65.

The club made the roster move official Monday morning with the following tweet.

This news comes less than four days after Price’s last start for Boston, one in which he surrendered three earned runs over six innings in an eventual losing effort against the Chicago White Sox last Thursday.

There were no reports sufficing about the southpaw dealing with any sort of discomfort in his pitching elbow over the weekend, so this may be something went down as late as Monday morning.

Price, 33, was slated to start against the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday, but that spot will be filled by the just called up Ryan Weber.

As things stand right now, the Red Sox have lost 40% of their Opening Day rotation to the injured list, with right-hander Nathan Eovaldi still recovering from an April surgery to remove loose bodies from his pitching elbow, and now this with Price.

Looking back at the 2017 season, Price was sidelined twice due to similar issues with that same elbow.

The first occurrence came during spring training and lasted until the end of May, where he made 11 starts before hitting the shelf again in July and was held out until the middle of September and was limited to a relief role out of the Red Sox bullpen for the remainder of the regular and postseason.

During that time in the spring, Price visited prominent orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews in Indianapolis, where he was diagnosed with, “a very unique elbow” and avoided any potential season-ending surgery.

Now, any timetable for Price’s return is not yet clear.

On the other side of this transaction, expect Weber to start against Baltimore on Tuesday.

Signed by the Red Sox as a minor league free agent back in December, the 28-year-old right-hander posted a 5.04 ERA over 25 innings pitched in five starts with Triple-A Pawtucket this season.

If any further details regarding Price are revealed, this will be updated, so stay tuned for that.

 

Three-Game Winning Streak Comes to an End for #RedSox in 6-4 Walk-Off Loss to White Sox

Coming off a three-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics, the Red Sox kicked off a seven-game, two-city road trip on Thursday night by getting walked off on by the Chicago White Sox in a gut wrenching 6-4 loss on the South Side.

On a night where the conditions looked downright miserable in the Windy City, it was David Price who made his sixth start of the season for the Red Sox in this series opener.

Working the first six innings Thursday, the left-hander surrendered three earned runs on seven hits and two walks to go along with five strikeouts on the night.

Two of those runs charged to Price came immediately in the bottom half of the first inning, when White Sox backstop James McCann, who caught the lefty 15 times when the two were with Detroit, launched a two out, two-run home run just out of the reach of Jackie Bradley Jr. in center to give his team an early 2-1 lead.

Other than that though, Thursday’s outing went relatively smoothly for Price up until his final inning of work in the sixth.

It could have been worse had it not been for an errant send of Jose Abreu attempting to score all the way from first on a James McCann double that was snuffed out by Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts for the second out of the frame, but back-to-back base hits from Yoan Moncada and Jose Rondon did indeed allow McCann to score Chicago’s third run of the contest to knot things up at three runs a piece.

After all that commotion, Price ended his outing by getting Yonder Alonso to ground out to Mitch Moreland to put an end to the sixth, notching his second straight quality start in doing so.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 97 (64 strikes), the 33-year-old hurler turned to his changeup nearly 29% of the time he was on the mound Thursday while inducing five swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 93.1 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 24 times.

Unable to pick up his second winning decision of the season, Price’s next start should come against the Baltimore Orioles in Baltimore next week.

In relief of Price, the Red Sox bullpen was fairly effective up until things got away from them in the ninth.

But, before that disaster, Brandon Workman and Matt Barnes tossed a scoreless frame each while both of them faced the minimum three hitters and combined for four total strikeouts.

That paved the way for Ryan Brasier to pick up the save with a one-run lead to protect in the ninth, but just about everything that could have gone wrong for the Red Sox did.

The inning started with a five pitch strikeout of Yoan Moncada for the first out. On the very next play, a ground ball off the bat of Jose Rondon should have been good for the second out, but instead the base runner reached first safely thanks to a botched effort from Rafael Devers fielding the ball down the third base line.

Still, even with the tying run reaching first when it was completely avoidable, you can’t put this one all on Devers. The nine errors in 32 games is far from ideal, but Brasier did not exactly come through in an important situation either.

Anyway, a single from Yonder Alonso allowed Rondon to advance to third, meaning the tying run was just 90 feet away from scoring. But, that didn’t really matter though, because Nicky Delmonico ended this game two pitches later by mashing a three-run walkoff dinger over the center field wall to give the White Sox the win.

First losing decision and second blown save of the year for Brasier.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito, who was making his first start since April 17th after missing time on the injured list due to a strained left hamstring.

The top of the Boston lineup really brought it in this one, and that was evident right away in the first inning when Mookie Betts, JD Martinez, and Xander Bogaerts all reached base with one out to load the bases for arguably the team’s hottest hitter in Rafael Devers.

On the sixth pitch he saw from Giolito in his first at-bat of the night, Devers lined a sacrifice fly with an exit velocity of 98 MPH to left field, plating Betts from third and giving his club an early lead. That was the only run they could come across in their half of the first, and that was essentially the theme of the night: failing to capitalize on multiple-run scoring opportunities.

Fast forward to the third, and Andrew Benintendi led things off against Giolito by tattooing his third big fly of the season to the left field seats. A 376 foot shot momentarily tied the game at two momentarily.

After Betts and Martinez followed that up with their second hits of the contest to put runners on first and third, Devers collected his second RBI by grounding out to second, which allowed Betts to score and make it a 3-2 game in favor of the away side.

From that point on though, the Boston bats were unable to get to the White Sox starter again and only managed one more run, which came on a JD Martinez force out to drive in Benintendi from third in the seventh.

That did put the Red Sox ahead 4-3, and they had the chance to add on what would have been some important insurance in the ninth, but ultimately came up short in a 6-4 defeat.

Some notes from this loss:

From r/baseball:

The Red Sox 1, 2, and 3 hitters Thursday night: 8-13 2BB, 2 RBI, 1 HR, 1 K. The Red Sox 4-9 hitters tonight: 0-20 2 RBI, 3 BB, 9 K

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

Also from Smith:

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll look to start a new winning streak in the second of this four-game set later Friday night.

Ex-White Sox star Chris Sale will get the start for Boston, still looking for his first winning decision of the season.

On the other side, right-hander Reynaldo Lopez, who was included in the same trade with Giolito that sent outfielder Adam Eaton to Washington, will get the start for Chicago.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 8:10 PM EDT on NESN.

 

David Price Impresses with Six Quality Innings but #RedSox Manage Only One Run in Frustrating Loss to Rays

After rain postponed their initial series opener on Friday, the Red Sox officially welcomed the Tampa Bay Rays into town for the first time Saturday, and unlike last weekend, things did not get off to that great of a start.

Former Ray David Price made his fifth start of the season for Boston in this one, and he delivered yet another quality performance, which probably goes down as one of, if not the only bright spot for the Red Sox Saturday.

Working six full innings, the left-hander yielded two earned runs on four hits and three walks to go along with seven strikeouts on the evening.

Given the way things began with Rays leadoff man Yandy Diaz taking Price deep on the second pitch of the game in the first, it certainly looked as though it could have been much worse.

But, despite the home run and the five-pitch walk that followed it, the 33-year-old settled in nicely and retired the next eight Tampa Bay hitters he faced before running into more trouble in the fourth.

There, the top of the Rays order gave Price more fits, with Tommy Pham leading off the inning with a double and Daniel Robertson drawing a walk to put a pair of runners on with still three outs to get.

After needing six pitches to strike out Avisail Garcia, Rays backstop Mike Zunino would be the one to break this one open, as he ripped a line drive RBI double to left field on a 1-2 88 MPH changeup from Price to give his team a 2-0 lead.

The Rays would threaten again thanks to a Kevin Kiermaier RBI single moments later, loading the bases with just one out in the inning, but Price pulled through and kept them off the board by striking out Guillermo Heredia and getting Willy Adames to ground into an inning-ending force out at third base. Damage limited.

From the top of the fifth on, the Tennessee native ended his outing on a more positive note, sitting down five of the final six hitters he opposed to lower his ERA down to 3.60 on the season.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 93 (57 strikes), Price turned to his changeup 32% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing nine swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 94.5 MPH with his four-seam fastball.

The recipient of the bad luck losing decision to fall to 1-2 on the year, Price’s next start should come against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field sometime next week.

In relief of Price, the Red Sox bullpen was nearly perfect over the final three innings on Saturday to keep the Rays within striking distance. Brandon Workman recorded the first two outs of the seventh before walking two straight and making way for Marcus Walden, who retired the side in the inning while also getting the first two outs of the eighth.

Similar to Walden, Colten Brewer came to relieve Walden with one runner on and one out to get. He did just that, but did not come back out for another frame of work in the ninth.

That inning belonged to Matt Barnes, who needed just nine pitches to sit down the only three hitters he faced to keep it a one-run contest.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar foe in Rays right-hander Charlie Morton, who they got to for five runs last Saturday. This time around, it was a different story for both sides.

With JD Martinez a late scratch due to back spasms, the Red Sox were held to just one or fewer runs for the sixth time already this season.

Morton held them to just two hits while also walking four and hitting another over the first six innings of this one, but the Boston bats could not take advantage of any early run scoring opportunities.

It wasn’t until the eighth when the Sox finally got on the board, and that came when Mookie Betts led the inning off against new Rays reliever Diego Castillo with his fifth home run of the season. A 406 foot shot to center field to make it a 2-1 game.

Five batters and two outs later, with Jose Alvarado now pitching for Tampa Bay and the bases now loaded for Boston, Jackie Bradley Jr. came to the plate with the chance to be a hero.

Entering Saturday with a lifetime .300 batting average against Alvarado in 10 career at-bat’s, Bradley Jr. got the count in his favor twice at both 2-1 and 3-2, but came up swinging and missing on a 92 MPH cutter low and away to end the inning and any chance at a rally.

An inning later, a Christian Vazquez leadoff single off righty Emilio Pagan gave a brief glimmer of hope with the tying run on base and the top of the Red Sox lineup due up, but a las, Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, and Mitch Moreland all went down in order, capping off another disappointing defeat for the defending World Series champions.

Some notes from this loss:

From the Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

Since being activated from the injured list on April 4th, Steve Pearce is slashing .114/.184/143 with no home runs and one RBI so far this season.

Jackie Bradley Jr., meanwhile, currently has an OPS of .399.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll look to bounce back in the final game of this series on Sunday afternoon.

Right-hander Tyler Glasnow is slated to get the start for Tampa Bay, while Chris Sale will do the same for Boston.

Last time out on Easter, Glasnow limited the Red Sox to two runs in 5.1 innings pitched in a game the Rays would eventually drop.

Sale, on the other hand, has yet to receive the winning decision in any of his first five starts of the year. Even stranger, Red Sox are 0-5 in those games started by their ace.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT on NESN.