Blogging the Red Sox presents: A discussion with Brian O’Halloran

To say Red Sox general manager Brian O’Halloran’s baseball journey has been unique to this point would be an understatement.

Whether it be studying abroad in the then-Soviet Republic of Georgia, working for an international logistics company in Moscow, or substitute teaching in his hometown, the Weymouth native has certainly seen plenty on his way to spending the past 19 years with the Red Sox occupying the following positions:

  • Baseball operations assistant (2002-2006)
  • Director of baseball operations (2006-2010)
  • Vice president of baseball operations (2011)
  • Assistant general manager (2011-2019)
  • General manager (2019-)

A member of four World Series-winning front offices in Boston, O’Halloran, affectionately known as “BOH,” recently took some time out of his busy offseason schedule to answer a handful of questions from yours truly via email.

Among the topics discussed were O’Halloran’s upbringing in Weymouth, his experience overseas, getting his foot in the door with the Red Sox, what it has been like working under Theo Epstein, Ben Cherington, Dave Dombrowski, and Chaim Bloom, and focusing on team goals over individual ones. Enjoy.

What do your favorite memories of growing up in Weymouth entail?

Brian O’Halloran: That could be a really long answer, so I will try to keep it short! I loved growing up in Weymouth. My favorite memories mostly center around my group of close friends I grew up with, many of whom I am still close with today. This includes a few that I’ve been friends with since elementary school at the old Hunt School. I have a lot of great memories around sports – youth soccer and little league baseball in particular. Perhaps the most notable is being a member of the 1983 Eagles of East Weymouth Little League, with an undefeated regular season and a hard-fought win in the championship series, two games to one, against a very game Weymouth Elks club lead by head coach and Weymouth sports legend Mark Ducharme.

Is there anything that you learned or picked up while living in Georgia or Russia that you apply to your role as general manager of the Red Sox?

O’Halloran: I think my experience overseas helps me every day. Living and working in a totally different culture, far from home, and meeting people with all different backgrounds, provides great perspective and opportunity for growth as a person. I encourage anyone who can get such an experience to jump at the chance.

What were some of the benefits and challenges of working unusual hours when you first joined the Red Sox?

O’Halloran: There definitely were challenges — some nights I would work until 5 a.m. and then substitute teach in Weymouth a few hours later. I guess the benefit was that I got an opportunity to show my level of commitment to working in baseball.

On that note, does the Red Sox’ baseball operations department still work out of the Fenway Park basement?

O’Halloran: No, we are upstairs now.

What role, in baseball, politics, etc., do you think Theo Epstein will pursue next?

O’Halloran: I don’t know, but whatever he does, I’m sure he will be successful at it!

Speaking of Epstein, what have been the similarities and differences between working with him, Ben Cherington, Dave Dombrowski, and now Chaim Bloom?

O’Halloran: The biggest similarities are competitiveness and burning desire to win, as well as a love of and commitment to the game of baseball. Of course they are all different personalities with different ways of going about their jobs. I certainly have learned a lot from all of them!

As you see former colleagues such as Mike Hazen and Jed Hoyer become heads of baseball operations for different clubs, do you start to wonder when you will get that opportunity?

O’Halloran: No, not really. Although I am happy for my friends and colleagues who earn such great opportunities. Personally, I am 100% focused on working with Chaim and our group to bring more championships to Boston. I have always tried to focus on team goals over individual ones. When the team succeeds, individuals who have contributed tend to get increased opportunities, either within their current organization or outside it.

Finally, what do your December plans look like now that there will be no in-person winter meetings?

O’Halloran: Our day-to-day is very similar to usual, except we are working from home. We are talking to other teams and agents, looking for any opportunities to improve the team and achieve our goal of building a sustainable, championship caliber team year-in and year-out. It’s a little strange not to be able to do that in the office or at in-person winter meetings, but it’s 2020, we have to adapt! That includes adjusting to the fact that my office-mates now include two teenagers (doing distance learning from home) and a dog!

Thank you to Brian O’Halloran, who recently teamed up with the Red Sox Foundation to offer fans the chance to win his personal collection of over 20,000 baseball cards in support of the foundation’s ongoing commitment to Social Justice, Equity and Inclusion, for making this possible.

That sweepstakes has since ended, but a pretty nice gesture nonetheless.

Red Sox free agency rumors: Astros prioritizing signing Jackie Bradley Jr., per report

The Astros are reportedly interested in signing free-agent outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. — so much so that the club is making it a priority — per MLB Network’s Peter Gammons.

Bradley Jr., 30, declared for free agency late last month after spending the first eight years of his major-league career in Boston.

The former first-round draft pick is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to net himself a two-year deal worth somewhere around $16 million this winter, with the ‘Stros being the favorite to acquire his services.

The Red Sox, meanwhile, are reportedly interested in bringing back Bradley Jr. “for the 2021 season and beyond,” according to WEEI’s Rob Bradford.

In his eighth season with the Sox this year, Bradley Jr. put up quality numbers, slashing .283/.364/.540 to go along with seven home runs and 22 RBI over 55 games played.

While producing at the plate at that impressive level, the 2018 Gold Glover also provided superb defense in center field, ranking second among major-league centerfielders in outs above average (7), per Statcast.

That defensive prowess of Bradley Jr.’s, as noted by Gammons in the above tweet, has become quite significant for the Red Sox and Red Sox pitching over the years.

Going back to the start of the 2016 campaign, when Bradley Jr. essentially established himself as Boston’s everyday centerfielder, the Sox have had the sixth-best centerfield defense in baseball in terms of Ultimate Zone Rating (18.1).

Given the possibility that Bradley Jr. could depart for Houston or elsewhere this winter, the Red Sox would be faced with the reality that without Bradley Jr. manning center field on a regular basis, the club’s pitching could struggle as a result. That being the case because the flashy outfielder is capable of turning potential extra-base hits into outs at a moment’s notice.

With this in mind, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom addressed the team’s outlook for its outfield alignment going into 2021 when speaking with reporters earlier this week.

“I think we have guys on this club who are capable of playing center field,” Bloom said Wednesday via Zoom. “But we certainly would like to be in as strong of a defensive position as you can. We know we play in a ballpark where you basically have two center fields here in Fenway Park. So we want to be mindful of that.

“We’d certainly like to have as strong of a defensive outfield as possible,” he added. “And a lot of that is contingent on having multiple guys who can play center field.”

Whether it be Bradley Jr., a free-agency or trade acquisition, or one or several internal candidates, Bloom and Co. have to determine what the Red Sox will do at center field moving forward. They do not have a great deal of time to do that if Bradley Jr.’s market is indeed heating up.

Chaim Bloom felt Alex Cora was ‘right choice’ for manager in order to move Red Sox forward

Upon his hiring last October, Red Sox chief baseball officer got the chance to become familiar with Alex Cora, who he likely presumed would be his manager for the foreseeable future.

Instead, as a result of his involvement in the 2017 Astros’ illegal stealing of signs, Cora and the Red Sox mutually agreed to part ways in January.

That left Bloom with a rather sizable hole to fill at the managerial position in a relatively short period of time.

Ron Roenicke, Cora’s bench coach the previous two seasons, eventually landed the job in February, but he served as more of a stopgap as anything upon his dismissal from the club in September.

Again, Bloom was tasked with finding the Red Sox’ next manager, this time with a little more time do so and a greater number of candidates to consider.

One of those candidates, Cora, could not be interviewed until after this year’s World Series ended, so that left Bloom with about a month to contemplate who else may be qualified for the job.

“When we started the process after the season, we spent a lot of time coming up with a really good list of candidates,” Bloom said at Cora’s re-introductory press conference Tuesday. “We vetted them very thoroughly, we talked to a number of people.”

Still, even when interviewing external candidates such as Sam Fuld or James Rowson, Bloom knew he wanted to talk to Cora before arriving at any final decision.

“I knew at that time that I wanted to have some kind of conversation with Alex when it was okay to do so, which wouldn’t be until after the World Series,” he continued. “I really didn’t know then if he was, in my mind, in real consideration for the job. I just thought it would be good for me, good for him, good for the organization since we really hadn’t spoken since everything happened in January.”

So, Bloom, general manager Brian O’Halloran, and Cora talked. That dialogue, by all accounts, was initiated by Bloom, and it led to a group of Red Sox officials flying down to Puerto Rico to speak with Cora in-person at his home.

“When the time came time to speak with him, we had a lot of different things to work through,” said Bloom. “We were able to have some really intense conversations. Obviously, everything was happening quickly within the week-plus after the World Series, but we got to work through a lot of things. It was really just a question of trying to get as much information as I could to see Alex in full; everything that he had done, good and bad, and everything that he might do.”

Of course, Cora was viewed as one of, if not the favorite to return to Boston even before his suspension had ended. That was mainly due to how highly Red Sox ownership thinks of Cora, which led to speculation that the likes of John Henry, Tom Werner, and Sam Kennedy would overrule Bloom on this matter if the latter was not in on Cora.

Speculation aside, Bloom assured the masses on Tuesday that he had full backing from ownership regardless of the decision he made on this matter.

“First and foremost, it was important that they play a role,” Bloom said of Henry and Co. “They’re responsible for the entire organization. I respect that there’s a lot of different opinions out there on Alex on what he did and what that should mean for any organization that might think about employing him. And it’s obviously important, since [ownership] is responsible for the organization, for me to know how they felt. To understand that if it was something baseball operations saw fit to do, that it was something they would support.

“Obviously, if that weren’t the case, it would have obviously been a different process,” he added. “So, not only do I think that that was appropriate, I actually think it was necessary to know how they felt. They also made sure I knew that if I or baseball ops. felt differently, then that was okay, too… They were emphatic that it’s very important that this be a baseball operations decision and they would fully back whatever decision we came to.”

At the end of the day, or last Thursday to be more specific, Bloom and his team ultimately decided that Cora’s strengths, such as his ability to effectively communicate information to players, outweigh any red flags that come with the hire, such as history with the Astros.

“I felt he was the right choice to move us forward,” Bloom said of Cora. “The goal in this process for me was to find the right person to lead the Boston Red Sox.”

Cora has already shown that he can move the Red Sox in the right direction before, as evidenced by leading the club to a World Series title in 2018. The 45-year-old will now get another shot to lead a team that looks quite different from the one he initially left nine months ago.

How Cora and Bloom’s relationship continues to develop over the course of the offseason and into spring training should be interesting to monitor as well.

Red Sox Owner John Henry in Talks With Acquisition Firm To Take Fenway Sports Group Public

Want to own a share of the Red Sox? Well, according to The Wall Street Journal’s Cara Lombardo and Miriam Gottfried, that could become a realistic possibility relatively soon.

Per Lombardo and Gottfried, Red Sox principal owner John Henry is in preliminary talks with blank-check firm RedBall Acquisition Corp. to take Fenway Sports Group public.

The plan would be for RedBall to raise $1 billion in funds that would coincide with the $575-plus million the firm raised over the summer. With those funds, RedBall in turn would be able to purchase a stake in FSG which would be worth no more than 25% of the company.

Because talks between the two sides are still ongoing, it is worth mentioning that this deal could fall apart. If talks do not fall through, though, the Red Sox could become one of the few publicly traded American sports franchises. The NFL’s Green Bay Packers are a prime example of one.

Henry, who turned 71 last month, originally purchased the Red Sox for $660 million in February 2002. Since that time, Henry has seen his club end an 86-year championship drought and win four World Series titles.

According to Forbes, the Red Sox are currently worth $3.3 billion, while Fenway Sports Group, which includes the Sox, Liverpool Football Club, Fenway Park, and New England Sports Network, is worth a total of $6.6 billion.

FSG going public with RedBall would reportedly raise its value to approximately $8 billion including debt. For more details on this, I would recommend checking out the above tweet.

Red Sox’ Alex Verdugo on Aggressive Baserunning Style: ‘When You’re Sniffing a Hit, You’re Going to Do Whatever You’ve Got to Do to Get That Hit’

Going into Thursday night’s game against the Orioles, Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo has accrued a team-leading 62 hits so far this season. Out of those 62 knocks, at least three were infield singles where the 24-year-old found himself sliding head-first into first base.

That kind of approach is typically frowned upon due to the potentially painful consequences involved, but that has not prevented Verdugo from being aggressive coming out of the batter’s box. And because said approach is resulting in base hits, it has not been put to a halt by Sox manager Ron Roenicke, either.

“I know he plays all-out and some of that, he’s going to get banged up,” Roenicke said of Verdugo earlier Thursday. “The diving head-first into first. But, it’s hard to tell a guy not to do that. I mean, both times he’s done it lately he got base hits, so it’s hard to tell him not to do that. But, he’s going to get banged up because he plays hard. He prepares hard, he’s emotional, he’s got energy, he’s got all the things you like in a ballplayer that just loves to go out there and get dirty.”

In his first season with Boston, Verdugo has proven to be one of the more energetic players on the field at any given moment whether he is at the plate, on the base paths, or in the outfield. That is the kind of athlete he strives to be, and since that style has produced quality results thus far, the Arizona native is not planning on toning it down with his approach anytime soon.

“I don’t like scaling it back,” Verdugo said during his pregame media availability on Thursday. “I start scaling it back and I feel like I fall into the trend of what a lot of players do and that’s not running down the line hard. For me, I had my times where I did that and my parents would get on me and say that’s not the way to play the game. They’re right. They’re absolutely right. I just figured you got to bust your butt, you got to play hard. There are just times where the play is in front of you, and you feel like you can get there a little quicker diving and I do it. It’s just a natural habit.

“I’m very well aware of the injuries,” Verdugo added. “Your shoulder, jamming it, your thumb, anything like that. I also try not to hit the very front of the bag… I try to get the front part of the bag, but like on top so I slide right over it, so it’s not really like it’s that dangerous. Plus, I feel like I’m somewhat athletic enough to have body awareness and know how to get in there. When it’s out there right in front of you and you’re sniffing a hit, you’re going to do whatever you’ve got to do to get that hit.”

According to FanGraphs, Verdugo currently leads qualified Red Sox position players in runs scored (35), on-base percentage (.383), wOBA (.382), wRC+ (140), and fWAR (1.8). In other words, the former second-round pick has essentially been Boston’s most valuable player in an otherwise down year for the club. He also leads the majors in outfield assists (7) so far this season and could very well be in contention for his first Gold Glove Award.

Red Sox Call up Top Prospect Bobby Dalbec From Pawtucket

In the wake of trading Mitch Moreland to the Padres, the Red Sox are calling up top prospect Bobby Dalbec, manager Ron Roenicke announced Sunday.

Dalbec, who is regarded by MLB Pipeline as Boston’s No. 3 prospect behind only Jeter Downs and Triston Casas, could be in Sunday’s starting lineup against the Nationals depending on what time he arrives at Fenway Park from Pawtucket.

The 25-year-old corner infielder was originally drafted by Boston in the fourth round of the 2016 amateur draft out of the University of Arizona and in that time has established himself as one of the most dangerous power hitters in the organization.

In 135 games between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket last season, Dalbec slashed .239/.356/.460 while clubbing 27 home runs and collecting 73 RBI. As was the case when he was in the minor-leagues, the Washington native will be competing with Michael Chavis for playing time at first base. Roenicke is very much looking forward to that.

“I think it’s really important to see the possibility of what the future could look like,” Roenicke said of Dalbec. “Getting Bobby up here, who has been a guy who has been on our radar for a long time as one of our top prospects. Knowing the upside to what we think this guy can become. I think it’s important to see him, to see what he can do, and for him also to get comfortable with being in the big leagues. It’s still a weird atmosphere. It’s not the same as it was. I still think the atmosphere, knowing you’re in the big leagues will be important to him.”

Alex Verdugo Picks up League-Leading Seventh Outfield Assist as Part of Red Sox’ 5-3 Win Over Nationals; Ron Roenicke Says ‘You’re Not Going To See Too Many Plays Better Than That’

Alex Verdugo picked up his major-league leading seventh outfield assist on Saturday and in doing so prevented the Nationals from scoring what would have been their fourth run of the night.

On the play, the 24-year-old fielded a two-out single off the bat of Trea Turner. With his momentum carrying him towards the left-center field gap, Verdugo gathered the ball while simultaneously inching closer to home plate.

“You got Turner at the plate swinging a hot bat,” Verdugo said. “Just through the whole game I was watching his swings and he was kind of on everything. For me, I was ready for him to put the ball in play. It just felt like whatever you throw him, he’s going to hit a line drive.”

Upon transferring the fielded baseball from his glove hand to his throwing hand, Verdugo cocked back while still on the run and unleashed a laser back towards the infield.

“I had a good jump on it, a line drive right over the shortstop’s head,” he added. “I got to it quick enough to feel like I was able to throw across my body and it was just a good throw.”

On just one hop, the outfielder’s bullet of a throw reached Christian Vazquez, who had more than enough time to nab Kurt Suzuki, who was trying to score all the way from second base.

Once that final out of the top of the fifth inning was recorded, Verdugo flexed a little bit as he darted back towards the Red Sox dugout after orchestrating what would turn out to be a pivotal play in Saturday’s 5-3 win for Boston.

“I keep my throws low and a lot of times [Xander Bogaerts and Jose Peraza] are doing the hard part,” Verdugo continued. “They got to cut it and get me a couple outfield assists. But, there’s a few where I have to throw it all the way there myself. The main thing for me is to try to keep my throws low, to try to blow up the cutoff man and throw it right through his chest. Sometimes they cut it, sometimes it goes through and we get them.”

One factor that aided the Arizona native in racking up yet another outfield assist is the fact that he throws with his left hand. It certainly doesn’t hurt that he was a legitimate pitching prospect coming out of high school, either.

“For me, it just helped that I’m a lefty, too,” said Verdugo. “With that specific play, it was my glove side, so all I had to do was backhand it and I had to make sure I worked one shuffle forward toward the plate… I had a good understanding of where I was on the field. From there, it was just stop my momentum, try to make a shuffle, and get rid of it as quick as I can.”

When asked about this specific play during his postgame media availability Saturday, Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke seemed rightfully impressed with the arm strength Verdugo displayed while gunning down Suzuki earlier in the night.

“That’s as good a play as you can make,” Roenicke said. “To go over that far and get that ball like he did and still be under enough control to get something on it and one-hop it home. You’re not going to see too many plays better than that.”

With his league-leading seventh outfield assist, Verdugo now has more OF assists than 27 MLB teams so far this season. Pretty impressive.

Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom Drove To Pawtucket To Meet With Nick Pivetta This Week; Right-Hander Still Needs To Get Stretched Out Before Getting Called up

With right-hander Nathan Eovaldi hitting the injured list due to a mild calf strain on Saturday, the Red Sox find themselves down another starting pitcher. Granted, Eovaldi should only be out for the next week since his IL stint is retroactive to August 26, but Boston will need someone to fill in for the righty in the meantime.

Nick Pivetta, who was one of two pitchers acquired from the Phillies in the Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree trade, could have been viewed as a potential rotation option during Eovaldi’s absence, but Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke snuffed out any chance of that happening when speaking with reporters on Saturday.

“Chaim [Bloom] actually drove out to Pawtucket a couple days ago to talk to him and to feel out where we should be with him and when we should have him come up and pitch for us if he’s going to pitch for us,” Roenicke said of Pivetta via Zoom. “We need to stretch him back out again. He hasn’t pitched for a while. So, right now, we’re going to stretch him out and just see where that allows us to bring him up where we feel really confident that he’s ready and he’s extended out and has built up enough strength to pitch the innings that we’re going to have him go.”

Pivetta, 27, was traded to Boston on August 21 and was subsequently optioned to the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket that same day.

The 6-foot-5, 214 lb. right-hander appeared in three games for the Phillies this season prior to the trade, allowing 10 earned runs in just 5 2/3 innings out of the bullpen. Per Statcast, he operates with a four-seam fastball, a curveball, a changeup, and a slider.

“He’s a big, physical, power pitcher,” Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said of Pivetta the night the trade went down. “He’s got a really good fastball. Good breaking ball. He also has a changeup. A guy that’s shown the ability to carry a starter’s workload. And a lot of the underlying traits there have shown the potential for a lot more success than he’s enjoyed in terms of his results. Again, power pitcher that we think should be capable of holding down a rotation spot. Really feel like he’s a good fit going forward and that we’ve got a chance to help him reach a level he has not yet in his career despite his big stuff.”

As Bloom’s words indicate, Pivetta, a former fourth-round pick of the Nationals in the 2013 draft, has not exactly lived up to his former top prospect status in his time with Philadelphia, but the Red Sox are hoping to unlock something within him.

Along with fellow righty Connor Seabold, Pivetta arrived at McCoy Stadium this past Wednesday. Considering the fact that he is already on Boston’s 40-man roster, the British Columbia native could make his Red Sox debut sometime next month depending on how the organization views him in the short and long-term. The Providence Journal’s Bill Koch made this point as well.

Red Sox Right-Hander Nathan Eovaldi Placed on Injured List Due To Mild Calf Strain

Before taking on the Nationals on Saturday, the Red Sox placed right-hander Nathan Eovaldi on the 10-day injured list retroactive to August 26 and recalled right-hander Chris Mazza from the alternate training site, manager Ron Roenicke announced.

Eovaldi was originally slated to start against Washington on Sunday, but Roenicke said Friday that the 30-year-old hurler would not be ready in time due to a right calf cramp suffered in Baltimore last weekend.

As it turns out, an MRI on Eovaldi’s calf revealed a mild strain, hence the move to place him on the IL Saturday.

“We feel like, to do it right, we want him to throw two bullpens before he pitches,” Roenicke said of Eovaldi’s status going forward. “He’ll be eligible [to return] Saturday. He’ll throw a bullpen tomorrow. He’ll throw an up-and-down bullpen Wednesday to try and make sure we don’t spike too much after his layoff, and then he’ll be eligible to pitch in Saturday’s game.”

That start on Saturday, September 5, would come against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park.

Prior to straining his calf, Eovaldi had posted a 4.98 ERA and 4.58 FIP through his first six starts and 34 1/3 innings pitched of the season. Other than lefty Martin Perez, the Houson native is just about the only starter the Red Sox can rely on to make it through at least five innings when he takes the mound. And even if he is only out for another week, the reliability that Eovaldi provides will surely be missed in the meantime.

“We’ve been kind of chasing this thing around with the calf,” Roenicke continued. “Yesterday’s bullpen was definitely the best we’ve had. I kind of felt like it was going to be a while anyway, being able to back-date it and have a plan for him, we feel really good about him being ready on Saturday. Even though we know we’re losing him, I know now with the MRI that it’s nothing serious and that we can get back on the mound and have him pitch games again. You always wonder what’s going on and how long is this going to last? We feel pretty good about what it is and when he’ll be back.”

With Eovaldi sidelined, Mazza will start against the Nationals on Saturday night, while right-hander Zack Godley will do the same on Sunday afternoon to close this three-game weekend series out.

Red Sox Strike Out 11 Times Against Max Scherzer, Fall To Nationals 10-2

Celebrating Jackie Robinson Day four months later than usual on Friday night, the Red Sox fell to the Nationals by a final score of 7-1 at Fenway Park to drop to 10-22 on the year.

Martin Perez made his seventh start of the season for Boston in this one as he was coming off his best outing of 2020 thus far in his last time out against the Orioles.

Working just four innings this time around, the left-hander got rocked for six runs, all of which were earned, on eight hits and no walks to go along with one lone strikeout on the night.

The first five of those Washington tallies came in the top of the third, when after retiring the first six hitters he faced rather easily, Perez yielded a leadoff single to Josh Harrison.

That simple base hit would wind up being Perez’s undoing, as it was followed by a pair of one-out doubles from Victor Robles and Trea Turner, which brought in two runs, and a pair of one-out home runs from Juan Soto and Howie Kendrick, which brought in three additional home runs to put the Sox in a 5-0 hole.

In the fourth, the Venezuelan southpaw saw another Nationals run cross the plate when with two outs in the frame, runners on the corners, and Juan Soto at the plate, the speedy Trea Turner attempted, and failed, to steal second base, but gave Victor Robles enough time to score from third before getting tagged out to retire the side. That simultaneously marked the end of Perez’s evening as well.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 82 (55 strikes), the 29-year-old hurler relied on his cutter 35% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing zero swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 95 mph with his heater, a pitch thrown 21 times.

Hit with his fourth losing decision while raising his ERA on the season to 4.58, Perez will look to rebound in his next time out, which should come against the Braves on Wednesday or Blue Jays on Thursday depending on how many days of rest he gets.

In relief of Perez, right-hander Robert Stock got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen, and he faced the minimum in a scoreless top of the fifth before surrendering one run on two hits, one of which was an infield single, and a walk in the sixth, which increased his side’s deficit to six runs.

From there, Jeffrey Springs, similarly enough to Stock, didn’t give up anything in his first frame of work in the seventh, but served up a two-run blast to Josh Harrison and an RBI double to Turner in the eighth before getting out of the inning. Josh Taylor, meanwhile, stranded a pair of base runners in an otherwise clean ninth to keep the Nats at 10 runs. It didn’t make too much of a difference in the end, but it was still something.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up their most accomplished opponent thus far in Nationals ace Max Scherzer, who was making his first appearance at Fenway Park since 2014.

Despite coming into the weekend with a 4.31 ERA through his first six starts of the season, the 36-year-old was dominant on Friday.

The only damage the Boston bats were able to do off Scherzer came in their half of the third inning.

There, after Alex Verdugo reached base on a two-out single, Rafael Devers drove the outfielder in on a blistering, 108 mph run-scoring double to the gap in left center field, which actually happened to be the 100th two-base hit of the 23-year-old’s young career.

Other than that, though, the Sox could not get anything going against Scherzer. Not even a single base on balls as the three-time Cy Young Award winner fanned 11 over six strong innings of work.

When Scherzer’s night ended after those six frames, the Washington bullpen didn’t make things any easier for the Red Sox, either.

As a matter of fact, it wasn’t until the bottom half of the ninth when Boston got on the board again. That came courtesy of a Kevin Pillar RBI single to drive in Tzu-Wei Lin.

Alas, even after loading the bases with two outs, Verdugo flew out to shallow center field, and 10-2 would go down as Friday’s final score.

Some notes and observations from this defeat:

The Red Sox are now 4-11 at Fenway Park this season.

The Red Sox went 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position on Friday and left eight runners on base as a team.

Jackie Bradley Jr. (.680) now has a higher OPS than J.D. Martinez (.663)

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the middle game of this three-game weekend series against the defending World Series champs.

Right-hander Chris Mazza will be serving as the opener for Boston, while veteran righty and former Red Sox minor-leaguer Anibal Sanchez will be doing the same for Washington.

A roster move will have to be made in order to add Mazza, who last started on August 16 against the Yankees, to the active roster.

Sanchez, meanwhile, will be making just his second career start at Fenway Park since debuting with the Marlins back in 2006.

Originally signed by Boston as an international free agent out of Venezuela in 2001, the now 36-year-old Sanchez was part of the trade that brought Mike Lowell and Josh Beckett to the Red Sox in 2005.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking to halt a two-game skid.

RIP, Chadwick Boseman.