Red Sox Designate Eduardo Nunez for Assignment, Option Hector Velazquez to Triple-A Pawtucket in Slew of Roster Moves

Before kicking off a four-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday, the Red Sox announced that infielder Eduardo Nunez had been designated for assignment and right-hander Hector Velazquez had been optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket.

In a pair of corresponding moves, right-hander Ryan Weber and first baseman/outfielder Sam Travis were both recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket. The club made the transactions official earlier Monday.

Nunez, 32, slashed .228/.243/.305 with two home runs and 20 RBI over 60 games with Boston this season after picking up his 2019 player option last November.

Originally acquired from the San Francisco Giants back in July of 2017, the Dominican Republic native came through with two of the biggest plays for the Red Sox during last year’s postseason run in Game 4 of the ALDS against the New York Yankees…

…and Game 1 of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, where Nunez came off the bench and mashed a pinch-hit, three-run home run in the seventh inning off left-hander Alex Wood to give his team an 8-4 lead.

This decision made by the Red Sox is certainly a surprisnig one, as Nunez was well regarded in Boston’s clubhouse by players and coaches alike.

But, with infielder Marco Hernandez emerging and outperforming Nunez since he was recalled from Triple-A on June 8th, it appears that the Sox decided to go younger with a right-handed bat that can play all along the infield and come off the bench when necessary.

Nunez was due to earn $5 million in the final year of a two-year pact signed with Boston two Februarys ago, so it will be interesting to see if another club claims him before he would become a free agent.

On the other side of this news, Hector Velazquez was optioned to the PawSox one night after he surrendered three runs in the 12th inning of a 7-4 loss to the Dodgers.

Through 24 appearances (eight starts) so far in 2019, the 30-year-old hurler has posted a dismal 5.67 ERA and .262 batting average against over 46 total innings of work.

Velazquez has twice spent time on the injured list this season with a lower back strain, but the Red Sox decided to use one of the right-hander’s last two minor league options this time around.

In place of Nunez and Velazquez, Sam Travis and Ryan Weber were both recalled from the PawSox.

Last we saw Weber at the big league level, the 28-year-old was struggling to fill the fifth spot in the Sox’ starting rotation, but with the addition of Andrew Cashner, Weber more or less fills the spot left by Steven Wright, who was placed on the 10-day injured list Sunday.

In a span of six outings (three starts) with Boston from May 6th to June 6th, Weber posted an ERA of 5.12 and batting average against of .296 over 19 1/3 frames pitched.

Sam Travis, meanwhile, is up with the Red Sox for the fourth time this season. The 25-year-old has not done much (6-for-31) in the limited opportunities he has seen so far in 2019, but he has picked things up at Triple-A lately by slashing .329/.363/.553 over the last month, per Red Sox Stats.

First pitch against the Blue Jays Monday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Here’s how the Red Sox will be lining up behind Rick Porcello.

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Red Sox Crumble Late, Fail to Pick up Series Win in Grueling 12-Inning Loss to Dodgers

In a game that took nearly six hours and 12 innings to complete, the Red Sox failed to pick up the series victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday night/Monday morning, falling to the team with the best record in the National League by a final score of 7-4 to mark their second consecutive defeat.

Making his 17th start of the season for Boston was David Price, who entered the weekend having given up three or fewer runs in four consecutive outings.

Tossing five full innings this time around, the left-hander surrendered four runs, only one of which was earned, on four hits, three walks, and one HBP to go along with seven strikeouts on the night.

The first three of those four Dodgers runs came right away in the top half of the first, when with two outs and runners on first and second following a leadoff walk drawn by Chris Taylor and fielding error committed by Xander Bogaerts on a Justin Turner grounder, A.J. Pollock put his team on the board by punishing a 1-1, 94 MPH two-seam fastball from Price and sending it 326 feet down the right field line to make it a 3-0 contest early.

From there, Price settled in a bit and sat down 11 of the next 15 hitters he faced before running into more trouble in the fifth, where a pair of doubles from David Freese with one out and Pollock with two outs widened Los Angeles’ advantage from one to two runs at 4-2.

A nine-pitch punchout of Max Muncy to retire the side in the fifth would be how Price’s outing came to a close.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 113 (75 strikes), the 33-year-old hurler relied on his two-seamer nearly 33% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing two swings and misses with it. He also topped out at 94.5 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch thrown 33 times while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Hit with the no-decision while his ERA on the season dropped down to 3.16 despite the four-run performance, Price’s next start should come this Friday against the Orioles in Baltimore. How he responds from this so-so outing will be something to watch for then.

In relief of Price, the Red Sox bullpen put together a solid collective effort, with Josh Taylor tossing a scoreless sixth inning, Colten Brewer a scoreless seventh, Ryan Brasier a 1-2-3 eighth, Brandon Workman a scoreless ninth to preserve the fresh 4-4 tie, Matt Barnes a two-strikeout, shutout 10th, and Heath Hembree working his way around a hit, a walk, and a HBP in a scoreless 11th thanks to Andrew Benintendi nabbing Alex Verdugo at home for the final out of the frame.

The 12th is where things got dicey for Boston, as they were down to either Marcus Walden or Hector Velazquez out of the ‘pen.

So, in came Velazquez for the third straight night, and that showed considering how the right-hander walked pinch-hitter Joc Pederson to lead off the inning, allowed Cody Bellinger to reach safely on an interference error committed by himself, and loaded the bases with no outs on a Pollock single to left.

A five-pitch, bases-loaded free pass to Max Muncy brought in the go-ahead run for the Dodgers, and a one-out RBI single from Verdugo, as well as Russell Martin grounding into a run-scoring force out at second, gave Los Angeles a 7-4 lead, which would turn out to be all they would need in this one.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Dodgers left-hander and 2019 All-Star Game starter Hyun-Jin Ryu, who came into Sunday with the lowest ERA among qualifiers in all the NL at 1.73 on the season.

Andrew Benintendi kicked off the scoring for Boston against Ryu with a two-out, bases-loaded RBI single in the first, plating Mookie Betts from third and also consequently Xander Bogaerts from second due to an error by Chris Taylor on the throw over from short. That cut Los Angeles’ lead down to one run at 3-2.

In the fifth, a two-out single off the bat of Rafael Devers and six-pitch walk drawn by Bogaerts to follow it gave the Sox another golden scoring chance, but nothing came of it with J.D. Martinez ripping a single to left and Verdugo gunning down Devers at the plate to keep it at a 4-2 contest.

Fast forward to the eighth, with Ryu out and right-handed reliever Pedro Baez in for the Dodgers, Bogaerts struck again, this time staying red-hot with his third home run of the series and 20th of the season. This one a 352-foot, opposite field bomb off a 1-1, 95 MPH heater from Baez.

Just two pitches later, J.D. Martinez came through in the clutch with his 19th big fly of the year, a 402-foot shot hit deep to center off a 1-0, 88 MPH slider to knot this contest up at four runs apiece.

Baez did recover by striking out the side after that, but the Sox had the opportunity to win this thing in the ninth with Jackie Bradley Jr. drawing a leadoff free pass against left-hander Zac Rosscup.

A pinch-hitting Marco Hernandez laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt against new Dodgers hurler Yimi Garcia to advance Bradley Jr. into scoring position, and an intentional walk of Betts brought Devers to the plate against the vaunted Kenley Jansen.

Neither Devers nor Bogaerts could do anything against the Dodgers closer though, and this one headed into extras.

There, in the 10th, Christian Vazquez reached base on a one-out walk, successfully stole second, but could not be driven in.

In the 11th, the same situation that occured two innings prior essentially presented itself again, with Bradley Jr. lacing a leadoff double off of righty Dylan Floro, meaning the winning run was only 180 feet away from scoring.

Rather than laying down another potential sacrifice bunt, Hernandez instead grounded into a fielder’s choice, resulting in Bradley Jr. being tagged out at third.

So, instead of having the go-ahead run at third with just one out for Betts, the reigning AL MVP came to the plate with one out and a runner at first. He could not advance him.

An intentional walk of Devers and infield single off the bat of Bogaerts moved the winning tally in the form of Hernandez to third, but Martinez, despite his earlier efforts, grounded into a simple force out at second to end the threat.

Finally, in the 12th, after falling behind by three yet again, the Sox did manage to get the tying run on deck thanks to Vazquez reaching on a walk to lead off the inning.

Benintendi fanned for the first out of the frame, and in came Joe Kelly for the save against his former club.

The flame throwing right-hander did just that, notching save number one in a Dodgers uniform by punching out Holt and Bradley Jr. in consecutive order to wrap up a disappointing 7-4 loss for the Red Sox.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox with runners in scoring position on Sunday: 5-for-14. They left 13 men on base as a team.

Xander Bogaerts this weekend: 6-for-12 with three homers and six RBI.

With the loss Sunday night, the Red Sox have fallen to 10 games off the pace for first place in the American League East.

Next up for the Red Sox, they welcome the 35-59 Toronto Blue Jays into town for a four-game series.

 

 

Chris Sale Fails to Get Through Five Innings, Falls to 3-9 on Season as Red Sox Get Blown out by Dodgers

After opening up an important three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers with a convincing 8-1 victory on Friday, the Red Sox fell back to earth less than 24 hours later, falling to the reigning National League champions by a final score of 11-2 on Saturday to snap a five-game winning streak.

Making his 19th start of the season for Boston was Chris Sale, who entered Saturday having given up four or more runs in all of his last three outings.

Working into just the fifth inning this time around, the left-hander yielded another five runs, all of which were earned, on seven hits, one walk, and one HBP to go along with seven strikeouts on the night.

The first of those five Dodgers runs came right away in the first, when a leadoff walk of Chris Taylor came back to bite Sale on a two-out, RBI single off the bat of A.J. Pollock put the Red Sox in an early hole.

Following a second inning in which he retired the side in order, Dodgers third baseman widened the gap even further by taking Sale deep to left on a one-out, first-pitch, 91 MPH fastball down the heart of the plate, making it a 2-0 game.

Again, the Florida native recovered nicely, sitting down four of the next hitters he faced before ultimately meeting his doom in the top half of the fifth.

There, a leadoff single from Kike Hernandez and an Austin Barnes HBP put runners at first and second with one out for Turner.

This time, on a 2-2 slider from Sale, Turner ripped a line-drive double to left, plating Hernandez and moving Barnes up to third.

A brief mound visit made no difference in the next at-bat, as David Freese followed suit with another run-scoring two bagger to left, this one scoring both Barnes and Hernandez to put the Dodgers up 5-1.

Sale remained in and got Cody Bellinger to line out to right for the second out of the frame, but his disappointing evening would come to a close right after that.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 92 (57 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball more than 43% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing three swings and misses and topping out at 96.7 MPH with the pitch while Sandy Leon was behind the plate.

Falling to 3-9 on the year with his ERA inflating up to 4.27, the last few weeks have clearly been a difficult time for Sale. It’s not a Christian Vazquez or Sandy Leon problem. It’s a Chris Sale problem, and that falls on the Red Sox’ coaching staff, per manager Alex Cora.

Sale’s next start should come against the Toronto Blue Jays next Thursday, a team that has given him plenty of trouble so far this season.

In relief of Sale, Heath Hembree came on with a runner on second and one out to get, and he did just that by punching out Max Muncy on five pitches after plunking Pollock.

From there, Colten Brewer worked his way around a pair of walks in a scoreless sixth, and Steven Wright served up back-to-back one-out solo jacks to Bellinger and Pollock in the seventh before taking a comebacker off his foot on a Muncy comebacker.

Marcus Walden entered in place of Wright, and he officially closed the book on the knuckleballer’s outing by getting Corey Seager to ground out to Christian Vazquez at first, but in his first ever start at first, Vazquez made the mistake of trying to lead Rafael Devers with a throw across the field which got through to shallow left and allowed Muncy to score all the way from first.

Walden also surrendered a run of his own by walking Hernandez with two outs and giving up an RBI triple to Barnes, which should have been caught by Andrew Benintendi in the first place.

It was not, however, and the Dodgers went up 9-2 because of it.

Ryan Brasier allowed a run on a Bellinger sacrifice fly in his lone inning of work in the eighth, and Hector Velazquez got taken deep by Muncy to lead off the ninth in an otherwise scoreless frame. That Muncy homer gave Los Angeles an 11-2 advantage.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against right-hander Ross Stripling, who has worked both out of the rotation and bullpen for the Dodgers this season.

Starting the scoring for Boston Saturday was Xander Bogaerts, picking up right where he left off on Friday by blasting his 19th big fly of the year 386 feet off the left-most light tower in left field to tie this contest back up at one run apiece.

Fast forward to the sixth, with Stripling done and old friend Joe Kelly in for the Dodgers, Bogaerts struck again, driving in Mookie Betts from third on another one-out knock, this one an RBI single to right field to pull his team back to within three runs.

A six-pitch walk drawn by Andrew Benintendi and wild pitch from Kelly put runners in scoring position with two outs for Christian Vazquez, but the former Red Sox flame thrower won the battle, fanning his old battery mate on a 3-2, 98.4 MPH heater to end the threat.

That was all the offense the Sox could muster, as they went 0-for-their-last-9 over the final three innings, and this one concluded with a final score of 11-2.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox are 44-29 in games not started by Chris Sale this season.

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

Since June 21st, Sale is 0-2 with an ERA of 7.59 over his last four starts. He has not won a decision at Fenway Park since July 11th, 2018.

The Red Sox’ 4-6 hitters (J.D. Martinez, Andrew Benintendi, Christian Vazquez) on Saturday: 0-for-11 with one walk and five strikeouts.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the series finale of this World Series rematch on Sunday night.

Left-hander David Price will get the start for Boston, while fellow southpaw and National League All-Star Game starter Hyun-Jin Ryu will do the same for Los Angeles.

Holding opponents to a .233 batting average against over his last four starts going back to that meltdown against the Texas Rangers, Price enters Sunday with a rotation-best 3.24 ERA on the 2019 season.

In two prior career starts against the Dodgers, Price owns a lifetime 2.25 ERA over a small 12 inning sample size.

Ryu, meanwhile, currently owns the lowest ERA in the National League at 1.73 through 17 starts on the year.

The 32-year-old got the start for Los Angeles in Game 2 of the 2018 Fall Classic, where he allowed four runs on six hits over 4 2/3 innings and eventually took the loss. That’s the only experience he has at Fenway Park.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 7:05 PM EDT on ESPN. Red Sox going for the series win.

 

Andrew Benintendi Celebrates 25th Birthday with Four Hits, Finishes Home Run Shy of Cycle as Red Sox Take Series from Tigers with 10-6 Victory

After waiting out a four-hour-and-five-minute rain delay, the Red Sox rattled off their third straight win on Saturday, clinching their series against the Detroit Tigers with a closer-than-the-scoreboard-indicated 10-6 victory.

Making his 18th start of the season for Boston was Rick Porcello, who picked up the win the last time he faced off against his old club back on April 25th

Coming off one of the worst starts of his career in his last time out against the New York Yankees in London, the right-hander’s struggles continued in this one, as he surrendered six runs, all earned, on nine hits and one walk to go along with five strikeouts on the night.

The first pair of those Tigers tallies came in the fourth, when with no outs and a runner on first, Jeimer Candelario got his team on the board with a 398-foot, two-run shot to right field.

It looked as though that would be Porcello’s lone mistake leading into the sixth, but Candelario struck again, mashing his second big fly of the evening to cut into Boston’s lead even further at 7-3.

Able to get the second out of the inning on a force out at second, a single from Gordon Beckham, as well as a wild pitch to the next man he faced in Bobby Wilson, put runners at second and third for the Tigers backstop, and he drove in both runs while simultaneously ending Porcello’s night on a two-run single to left.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 106 (75 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball nearly 35% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing four swings and misses and topping out at 92.8 MPH with the pitch while Sandy Leon was behind the plate.

Improving to 6-7 despite another poor performance that bumped his ERA on the season up to 5.33, Porcello will look to put a forgettable first half of the 2019 campaign behind him in his next time out, which should come against either the Los Angeles Dodgers or Toronto Blue Jays after the All-Star break.

In relief of Porcello, Colten Brewer came on with one runner on and one out to get in the sixth, and he officially closed the book on the Boston starter’s outing by allowing that sixth run to score on a Victor Reyes RBI triple before ending the inning.

From there, left-hander Josh Taylor loaded the bases with three of the first five hitters he faced in the bottom half of the seventh, which paved the way for Matt Barnes to enter with the go-ahead run at first.

Appearing in his third straight game going back to July 4th, Barnes did not falter this time around, punching out Gordon Beckham on three straight curveballs to escape the jam with the lead still intact.

Brandon Workman retired the only three hitters he faced in a scoreless eighth, and Steven Wright locked down the 10-6 win for the Sox with a shutout frame in the ninth.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against veteran right-hander Jordan Zimmermann for the Tigers, who opposed Porcello at Fenway Park back on April 25th and took the loss in that contest.

Starting the scoring for Boston right away in the first inning of this one was Rafael Devers, plating Mookie Betts from third following a leadoff triple on a simple RBI groundout to first.

Two batters later, Andrew Benintendi made his return to the Sox lineup after two days off in triumphant fashion, ripping another three-bagger off Zimmermann and coming in to score on a Michael Chavis bloop RBI single.

In the second, back-to-back singles from Brock Holt and Marco Hernandez to lead off the inning, followed by a successful Sandy Leon sacrifice bunt put runners in scoring position for Betts.

Betts took advantage of the situation in front of him, this time lining a double off Zimmermann to plate both Holt and Hernandez.

Christian Vazquez came through with two outs in the same frame, scoring Betts from second on a hard-hit RBI back up the middle to put his team up 5-0 early.

Fast forward to the fourth, and hits from Devers and Vazquez to lead off the inning brought Andrew Benintendi with runners at second and third, and the birthday boy delivered with an RBI double to left that probably should have been caught by Tigers outfielder Christin Stweart. But, it wasn’t, and Devers scored because of it. 6-0.

A pitching change that saw left-hander Blaine Hardy take over for Zimmermann and a one-out walk of Jackie Bradley Jr. meant that runners were on the corners for Brock Holt, who brought Vazquez home from third with a sacrifice fly to center, making it a 7-0 game.

That seven-run cushion quick;y shrunk to just one though, and it wasn’t until the seventh inning when the Sox bats got back on the board, with Hernandez scoring from third on a simple one-out, bases loaded grounder from Devers that was mishandled by Detroit reliever Buck Farmer on the throw back to home.

An inning later, in his second at-bat of the night after pinch-hitting for Holt in the seventh, Eduardo Nunez provided some more insurance for his side, plating Benintendi from second on a two-out, run-scoring single off Farmer. 9-6.

And in the ninth, a Vazquez sacrifice fly with runners at the corners yet again allowed Leon to coast in from third and put the Red Sox up 10-6, which would go on to be Saturday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

Andrew Benintendi on his 25th birthday, batting cleanup: 4-for-6 with one double, one triple, two runs scored, and one RBI. Finished a home run shy of the cycle.

Michael Chavis, through five games in July: .333/.364/.571 with two doubles, one homer, and four RBI.

Mookie Betts’ last seven games: .407/.528/.593 with three RBI and eight walks.

Through his first 18 games this season, Marco Hernandez is slashing .348/.362/.565 with two homers, four doubles, and seven RBI.

Rafael Devers extended his hitting streak to 10 games on Saturday.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this three-game weekend set and the last game before the All-Star break on Sunday afternoon.

Another former Tiger in the form of left-hander David Price will get the ball for Boston, while fellow southpaw Gregory Soto will do the same for Detroit.

Since that six-run meltdown against the Texas Rangers on June 13th, Price has recovered nicely, posting a 2.65 ERA and .239 batting average against over his last three starts and 17 innings pitched.

In 22 prior appearances (20 starts) at Comerica Park, the 33-year-old owns a lifetime 2.99 ERA and .249 batting average against over a total of 141 innings of work.

Soto, meanwhile, will likely serve as the opener for the Tigers on Sunday, as he tossed a scoreless seventh inning of relief against Boston in the series opener on Friday.

Through seven outings (six starts) in 2019, the 24-year-old rookie owns an ERA north of eight at 8.06 over 22 1/3 innings. The Tigers are 2-5 in those games.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for the sweep in the final action before the All-Star break.

 

 

 

 

Home Runs from Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts Lift Red Sox to Rain-Filled 9-6 Win over Tigers

After a series-clinching 8-7 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday, the Red Sox opened another three-game set, their last before the All-Star break, in Detroit on Friday, where they topped the lowly Tigers by a final score of 9-6.

Making his 18th start of the season for Boston was Eduardo Rodriguez, who picked up the win the last time he faced Detroit back in late April at Fenway Park.

This time around, in his first outing at Comerica Park in over two years, the left-hander surrendered just one earned run while scattering four hits and one walk to go along with four strikeouts over five rain-shortened innings of work.

That one Detroit tally came in the bottom half of the fourth, when with two outs and Brandon Dixon at first, Jeimer Candelario came through with with his team’s first RBI of the night on a line-drive double to left that Xander Bogaerts was nearly able to snuff out on the relay from J.D. Martinez.

A las, Dixon narrowly evaded the tag from Sandy Leon, and the Tigers were on the board.

Other than that one blip though, Rodriguez retired four of the next five hitters he faced leading into the end of the fifth inning, where his outing came to a premature close due to the weather.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 76 (49 strikes), the 26-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball more than 43% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing four swings and misses and topping out at 95.4 MPH with the pitch while Leon was behind the plate.

Improving to 9-4 while also lowering his ERA on the season down to 4.65, Rodriguez will look to kick off the second half of his season in similar fashion to how he capped off his first half in his next time out, which should come against the Toronto Blue Jays.

In relief of Rodriguez, Marcus Walden came on in the sixth more than two hours after the Venezuela native had thrown his last pitch, and he allowed the Tigers to climb their way back into this contest with a one-out walk of Miguel Cabrera, a one-out single from Dixon, and another run-scoring base knock off the bat of Candelario that was not handled cleanly by Mookie Betts in right field.

Seven pitches later, Harold Castro hit what appeared to be a hard line-drive back up the middle at Jackie Bradley Jr. in center, but the ball knuckled a bit, which caused the Sox outfielder to try and make a basket catch, but that did not pan out, as the ball deflected off Bradley Jr. and two more Detroit runs crossed the plate because of it.

So, in came Ryan Brasier with two outs still to get in the inning, and he got those outs, but not before allowing one of his inherited runs to score on a two-out RBI single from John Hicks, cutting Boston’s lead to just one run.

Fortunately though, Brasier ended the sixth by fanning Jordy Mercer on three straight strikes, and the right-hander also worked his way around a two-out Miguel Cabrera single in a scoreless seventh.

From there, Matt Barnes entered with a new four-run lead to protect, and he needed just 13 pitches to hurl a 1-2-3 eighth inning, punching out two along the way.

Finally, in the ninth, Heath Hembree made his first appearance since being activated off the injured list on Thursday, and he served up a solo home run to Hicks to lead things off before settling in and locking down the 9-6 win for his side.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against left-hander Ryan Carpenter for Detroit, not lefty Gregory Soto as originally thought on Thursday.

With virtually no experience against Carpenter entering the weekend, Xander Bogaerts got the scoring started for Boston in the first by driving in Mookie Betts from third on an RBI groundout to short for an early 1-0 lead.

Fast forward to the third, and a red-hot Rafael Devers stayed the course following a one-out single from Betts, extending his hitting streak to nine games by blasting his 16th home run of the season, a 357-foot opposite field shot off a first-pitch, 81 MPH slider from Carpenter. 3-0.

In the sixth, with Tigers reliever Jose Cisnero on the mound after a rain delay that lasted more than two hours, a Christian Vazquez leadoff double and Michael Chavis single in consecutive order put runners at the corners for a slumping Jackie Bradley Jr.

Entering the frame 0-for-his-last 13, Bradley Jr. broke out of said skid by ripping a line-drive, RBI double down the left field line on a 2-2 heater from Cisnero, plating Vazquez and moving Chavis up to third.

Two batters and one out later, Sandy Leon followed suit and drove in Chavis by reaching on a fielding error committed by Tigers third baseman Jeimer Candelario.

Again with runners at first and third as the lineup turned back over, Betts made it a five-run contest with a sacrifice fly hit deeply enough to center field to score Bradley Jr. 6-1.

And in the eighth, Xander Bogaerts put an exclamation point on this one by launching his 17th big fly of the season, a 441-foot, three-run shot launched over everything in left field off Tigers reliever Austin Adams.

That dinger opened this one up and gave the Red Sox a 9-5 advantage, and after Detroit got one back in their half of the ninth, 9-6 would go on to be Friday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

The Red Sox are 3-1 since returning from London.

Rafael Devers has already hit four home runs this month, matching his total for all of June.

Eduardo Rodriguez against the Detroit Tigers this season: Two starts, 11 innings pitched, six hits, two earned runs, four walks, 11 strikeouts. That’s good for a 1.64 ERA.

Xander Bogaerts’ 441-foot home run was his longest of the Statcast era. (h/t @gfstarr1)

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the middle of this three-game series on Saturday afternoon.

Right-hander Rick Porcello is set to take the mound for Boston, while fellow righty Jordan Zimmermann will do the same for Detroit.

Porcello struggled mightily in his last start against the New York Yankees in London, where he gave up six runs and only managed to record one out, but he did pick up the win over his former club back on April 25th when he allowed three runs over six quality innings.

In his career at Comerica Park, the one-time Tiger owns a lifetime 4.53 ERA over 91 starts and 542 total innings pitched.

Zimmermann, meanwhile, opposed Porcello in that same game back in April and took the loss, as he yielded five runs, all earned, in just three innings of work.

In his career against the Red Sox, the 33-year-old is 2-2 with a 5.46 ERA over 31 1/3 innings.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 4:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for their third straight victory.

Marco Hernandez Comes Through with Go-Ahead Home Run in Ninth Inning as Red Sox Complete Comeback with Tight 8-7 Win over Blue Jays

After dropping the middle game of this series in disappointing fashion on Wednesday, the Red Sox bounced back and celebrated their Independence Day with a comeback 8-7 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday.

Making his 21st appearance and eighth start of the season for Boston in the finale of this three-game set was Hector Velazquez, who hadn’t started a game since May 18th against the Houston Astros.

Working into just the third inning of this one, the right-hander yielded three runs, all earned, on five hits and two walks to go along with one lone strikeout on the night.

The first pair of those three runs came right away in the bottom half of the first, when following two two-out walks to load the bases for Toronto, Rowdy Tellez got his team on the board and gave them the lead with a two-run single up the middle off a 1-0, 87 MPH changeup from Velazquez.

An inning later, the Mexico native could sneak a 3-2, 92 MPH sinker past a red-hot Danny Jansen, as he led things off by blasting his seventh home run of the season to put the Blue Jays up 3-1.

Velazquez recovered nicely enough by retiring four of the next six hitters he faced after giving up that bomb, but his outing came to quick close with a one-out double off the bat of Justin Smoak in the third.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 50 (28 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball exactly 34% of the time he was on the mound Thursday, inducing two swings and misses and topping out at 93.9 MPH while Sandy Leon was at the plate.

Eventually hit with the no-decision while his ERA on the season was bumped up to 5.65, Velazquez’s performance shows that the fifth spot in Boston’s rotation continues to be a legitimate issue. If Velazquez is to start again, expect that to come sometime after the All-Star break.

In relief of Velazquez, Colten Brewer came in with a runner on second and two outs to get in the third. He got out of the inning just fine, but the bottom of the fourth was a different story.

There, Jansen struck yet again, leading another frame off with his second big fly of the night to make it a 4-1 game.

Brandon Drury followed with a line-drive double, and two batters and one out later, Freddy Galvis took Brewer deep for his 15th of the year on a first-pitch, 95 MPH cutter down the heart of the plate, giving Toronto a five-run edge.

From the middle of the fifth inning up until the middle of the eighth, the Red Sox bullpen did settle in a bit, with Josh Taylor, Ryan Brasier, and Matt Barnes combining for three scoreless frames, all while the Boston bats rallied to take a 7-6 lead going into Brandon Workman’s 41st appearance of the season.

A one-out double from Jansen in that eighth inning put the tying run in scoring position for the Jays, and after getting Drury to fly out to left, Workman was unable to do the same against Eric Sogard, as the Toronto leadoff man came through with what was at the time a game-tying RBI double to plate Jansen and knot this contest up at seven runs a piece. That marked the 18th blown save of the season for Boston relievers.

Fortunately for Workman, the right-hander was able to keep the stalemate intact by fanning Freddy Galvis on four pitches.

And in the ninth, with his team now in front 8-7, Workman worked his way around two one-out walks and notched his eighth winning decision of the year with the help of a quick Rafael Devers on a soft grounder from the pinch-hitting Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Fielding the ball with his glove, Devers managed to make the transfer over to his right hand hastily enough so that the Blue Jays rookie was out on a bang-bang play over at first. \

That was the third out of the ninth, and that was how Thursday’s contest finished with a final score of 8-7.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Blue Jays right-hander Derek Law, serving as the opener in this one.

Starting the scoring for Boston was Rafael Devers, who extended his hitting streak to eight games with his 15th homer of the season with one out in the first inning, a 360-foot wall scraper that had an Expected Batting Average of .180, per Statcast.

Fast forward all the way to the sixth, after Toronto had jumped out to a 6-1 lead and left-hander Thomas Pannone had been dealing, Mookie Betts turned out to be the catalyst for a six-run inning by drawing a leadoff walk, something he has made a habit of so far in 2019.

Two batters later, after Devers advanced Betts to third with a ground ball single, back-to-back RBI base knocks from Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez cut Boston’s deficit down to three and put runners at first and second.

Pinch-hitter Eduardo Nunez could not advance Bogaerts nor Martinez against new Blue Jays reliever Tim Mayza, but a wild pitch with Christian Vazquez at the plate moved both runners into scoring position and Vazquez drew a walk anyway to fill the bases for Jackie Bradley Jr.

Bradley Jr. came away with one RBI to make it a 6-4 contest, but could have had more had it not been for a fine defensive effort from Freddy Galvis at shortstop to snuff out Vazquez at second.

So, with two outs and runners once again at the corners, Michael Chavis had the chance to put his team ahead, and he did just that by punishing a 2-2, 87 MPH slider from Mayza and depositing it 391 feet into the right field seats for his 15th dinger of the season, this one a three-run shot that gave the Red Sox a one-run edge at 7-6. Six-run rally completed.

The Blue Jays did answer back in their half of the eighth to tie things back up at 7-7, but the Sox showed some more resiliency when they were down to what could have been their final three outs in the ninth.

With closer Ken Giles on the mound for Toronto, a strikeout of Michael Chavis would have brought Sandy Leon to the plate with one out in the frame, but Red Sox manager Alex Cora decided to go back to his bench, and in came Marco Hernandez for his first at-bat of the series.

Having never faced off against Giles before Thursday, Hernandez took the first pitch he saw from the right-hander, a 96 MPH fastball that went for a ball.

The very next pitch from Giles was another 96 MPH heater from Giles, the only difference being this one caught the outer edge of the plate, and Hernandez took full advantage of that by ripping it 348 feet down the left field line for his second home run of 2019.

Hernandez’s opposite field blast put the Red Sox ahead 8-7, and that would go on to be Thursday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

Red Sox pinch-hitters this season: 20-for-48 (.417) with four home runs and 14 RBI.

J.D. Martinez during his seven-game hitting streak: .467/.500/.767 with two home runs and six runs driven in.

Rafael Devers during his eight-game hitting streak: .558 batting average with four home runs and 12 RBI.

It certainly was not easy, but the Red Sox came away with a series over the Blue Jays to improve to 46-41 on the season.

Next up, the Sox head to Detroit to take on the 28-54 Tigers in their first stateside action since June 26th.

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will get the ball for Boston, while fellow southpaw Gregory Soto will do the same for Detroit.

Back on April 24th, Rodriguez had one of his better starts of the season against the lowly Tigers, allowing just one earned run on two hits, three walks, and seven punchouts over six quality innings in a winning effort at Fenway Park.

In one previous start at Comerica Park, his first of the 2017 campaign, the 26-year-old surrendered four earned runs over five innings of work, eventually taking the loss.

Soto, meanwhile, is a 24-year-old rookie who has yet to pitch against the Red Sox in his young career

Through six starts in 2019, the lefty is 0-2 with an 8.44 ERA and 6.54 FIP over 21 1.3 innings pitched.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to build some momentum going into the All-Star break.

Chris Sale Allows Five Runs on Three Homers as Red Sox Fall to Blue Jays 6-3

After snapping a three-game skid with a 10-6 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday, the Red Sox fell flat once again on Wednesday, dropping a 6-3 contest to fall back to 45-41 on the season.

Making his 18th start of the season for Boston in the middle game of this three-game series was Chris Sale, who capped off his month of June with two subpar outings against these Blue Jays and the Chicago White Sox.

That trend continued in his first action of July, as the left-hander surrendered five runs, all earned, on a season-high nine hits, two walks, and one HBP to go along with just five strikeouts on the night.

All five of those runs came courtesy of three different home run balls, with Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Danny Jansen, and Brandon Drury taking Sale deep in this one.

Gurriel Jr. struck first in the bottom half of the third, putting his team on the board right after Vladimir Guerrero Jr. grounded into a 1-2-3 double play with a 406-foot solo shot off a 1-0 93 MPH fastball on the inner half of the plate.

Jansen made Sale pay for walking Justin Smoak with one out in the fourth by launching his sixth homer of the year, a 421-foot shot to deep left field on a first-pitch 95 MPH fastball from Sale.

That dinger knotted things up at 3-3, and it seemed as though Sale would be able to escape the sixth unscathed following another GIDP to erase a leadoff HBP.

Unfortunately for the Florida native, a Rowdy Tellez two-out single brought Brandon Drury to the plate for the third time, and he unloaded on a 1-1 91 MPH heater down the heart of the plate by depositing it 408 feet over the center field wall.

The Blue Jays went up 5-3 on that booming shot, and Sale’s evening quickly came to a close before Drury had even crossed home.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 104 (69 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler turned to his four-seamer more than 44% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing one swing and miss and topping out at 96.5 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez, not Sandy Leon, was behind the plate.

Falling to 3-8 with his ERA jumping up to 4.04 on the season, the first half of Sale’s 2019 did not go unexpected. Inconsistent would be a better way to put it. He’ll look to begin the second half of the year on a more positive note in his next time out, which should come against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first series out of the All-Star break.

In relief of Sale, Marcus Walden came on with one out to get in the sixth, got that, and worked his way around a one-out walk in a scoreless seventh as well.

Finally, Steven Wright got the call for the eighth, yielded one run on a sacrifice fly from Freddy Galvis to add on another run to the deficit at 6-3, and that would go on to be Wednesday’s final score.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Blue Jays right-hander Jacob Waguespack after fellow righty David Phelps served as Toronto’s opener and tossed a scoreless first.

Fast forward to the third, Rafael Devers got the scoring started for his team with a two-out, two-run single off Waguespack, plating Mookie Betts and Brock Holt from second and third to make it a 2-0 game early.

An inning later, Christian Vazquez came through with two outs this time around, taking the first pitch he saw from the Jays right-hander, a 90 MPH cutter on the outer half of the plate, and sending his 13th big fly of the season 408 feet to dead center.

Vazquez’s monstrous blast gave the Sox a 3-1 advantage, but it would be the last run they scored all night.

Oh sure, they had their chances, especially in the seventh with one out and runners on second and third in a 5-3 game for the pinch-hitting Eduardo Nunez following a Michael Chavis double.

New Toronto reliever Daniel Hudson held his own though, getting Nunez to fly out to left and fanning Mookie Betts on six pitches to kill any shot of a rally.

In the eighth, Hudson stranded J.D. Martinez at first after he reached on a two-out single, and Blue Jays closer Ken Giles needed just 10 pitches to retire Vazquez, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Chavis in order in the ninth, all but wrapping up the 6-3 loss for Boston.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox went 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position Wednesday and left five men on base.

On the day he was named an All-Star for the second time in his big league career, Xander Bogaerts picked up his first ever Golden Sombrero by punching out four times Wednesday.

During his seven-game hitting streak, Rafael Devers is slashing .516/.531/.935 with two homers and 10 RBI.

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

In his last three starts, Chris Sale has posted a 7.02 ERA over 16 2/3 innings pitched.

The Red Sox are 6-12 in games started by Chris Sale this season.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this three-game series on Thursday.

Right-hander Hector Velazquez is set to get the ball for Boston, while fellow righty Marcus Stroman is expected to do the same for Toronto.

With Brian Johnson on the shelf due to “non-baseball” reasons, Velazquez has taken over the fifth spot in the Sox’ rotation for the time being.

As a starter this season, the 30-year-old is 1-3 with a 6.41 ERA and .239 batting average against over 19 2/3 innings of work.

In five career appearances (two starts) at Rogers Centre, Velazquez owns a lifetime 2.57 ERA and .292 batting average against over a small seven inning sample size.

Stroman, meanwhile, has already faced the Red Sox twice this year, and has only allowed one earned run in those two starts and 12 innings pitched. The Blue Jays are 2-0 in those games.

In his last start against the Kansas City Royals this past Saturday, Stroman left early with a cramp in his left pectoral muscle, so it will be worth seeing if that has any impact on Toronto’s ace.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 7:07 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for the series win.

Happy Independence Day, everyone.