Red Sox pitching prospect Josh Winckowski will officially make major-league debut against Orioles on Saturday

Red Sox pitching prospect Josh Winckowski will make his major-league debut and start Game 2 of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles at Fenway Park.

Winckowski, who is already in Boston and has a locker in the Red Sox’ clubhouse, told reporters (including The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey) that he received word of the team’s decision on Friday and will have eight or nine people on-hand to watch his debut in-person.

The 23-year-old right-hander has made seven starts for Triple-A Worcester this season, posting a 3.13 ERA and 2.80 FIP to go along with 34 strikeouts to six walks over 31 2/3 innings of work. His last outing for the WooSox came on Sunday, so he is lined up to pitch on regular rest this weekend.

Among International League pitchers who have at least 30 innings under their belt to this point in the year, Winckowski ranks ninth in strikeout rate (27.9%), eighth in swinging strike rate (13.6%) sixth in walk rate (4.9%), fifth in batting average against (.183), first in WHIP (0.85), 13th in ERA, second in FIP, and second in xFIP (3.11), per FanGraphs.

Originally selected by the Blue Jays in the 15th round of the 2016 amateur draft out of Estero High School, Winckowski was dealt to the Mets in the same trade that sent left-hander Steven Matz to Toronto last January. Less than two weeks later, the Florida native was involved in a three-team trade that sent him to the Red Sox and outfielder Andrew Benintendi to the Royals.

Now in his second full year with the Sox, Winckowski is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 12 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks sixth among pitchers in the organization. The 6-foot-4, 215 pound hurler works with a three-pitch mix that consists of a high-90s fastball, a changeup, and a slider. He projects as either a back-end starter or reliever in the future.

Winckowski, who was added to Boston’s 40-man roster last November, is slated to become the first Red Sox player to make their big-league debut this season.

Fellow righty Nathan Eovaldi is expected to get the start in the first game on Saturday afternoon (12:10 p.m. eastern time). Winckowski would then get the starting nod for the night cap (6:10 p.m. ET), likely serving as the Sox’ 27th man by doing so.

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

Red Sox’ Alex Verdugo removed from Saturday’s game after experiencing flu-like symptoms

Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo was removed in the first inning of Saturday’s 6-5 win over the Mariners because he was experiencing flu-like symptoms, manager Alex Cora announced.

As relayed by The Eagle-Tribune’s Mac Cerullo, the Sox are hopeful that it is nothing COVID-related, but are currently going through protocol to ensure all the necessary steps are taken.

Verdugo batted fifth and started in left field for Boston on Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park. After a drawing a four-pitch walk off Seattle starter Chris Flexen in the bottom of the first, the 26-year-old was greeted by Cora upon reaching first base. He remained in the game through the end of the inning, but was taken out in the top half of the second.

Bobby Dalbec then took Verdugo’s spot in the Sox’ lineup while Franchy Cordero moved from first base to left field. Dalbec went 1-for-2 off the bench with an RBI (the 100th of his career) and a walk. Cordero, batting out of the seven-hole, went 1-for-4 with a 110.5 mph triple in addition to scoring the game-winning run in the eighth inning.

Including Saturday’s lone trip to the plate, Verdugo is now slashing .214/.255/.321 with six doubles, three home runs, 16 RBIs, 13 runs scored, nine walks, and 16 strikeouts across 38 games (153 plate appearances) this season.

At present, it is unclear if Verdugo will be able to suit up for Sunday’s series finale against the Mariners. The Red Sox are likely to know more about his status later Saturday night and will presumably go from there.

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

Rafael Devers homers twice as Red Sox erase 5-run deficit and come from behind to beat Mariners, 6-5

The Red Sox once again fell behind early against the Mariners on Saturday but battled their way back at Fenway Park. Boston defeated Seattle by a final score of 6-5 to win their fourth straight game and third consecutive series while improving to 18-22 on the season.

Before the Sox could even take their first at-bats of the afternoon, they already found themselves trailing by four runs. Garrett Whitlock, making his sixth start of the year, allowed the Mariners to score four times in the top half of the first inning.

After getting through a scoreless second inning, the right-hander ran into more trouble in the third by giving up back-to-back two-out hits to Mike Ford and Luis Torrens, which resulted in another Seattle run crossing the plate.

The third would prove to be Whitlock’s final inning of work, as he wound up surrendering a season-high five earned runs on 10 hits, no walks, and three strikeouts on 71 pitches (48 strikes). The 25-year-old’s ERA now sits at 3.58.

To that point in the contest, the Boston lineup had yet to do anything of significance against opposing starter Chris Flexen. That changed in the bottom half of the third though, as Rafael Devers got his productive day at the plate started by crushing a 413-foot solo shot into the bleachers to get his side on the board and make it a 5-1 ballgame.

Fast forward to the fifth, after Tyler Danish had hurled two scoreless frames out of the Sox bullpen, and Devers struck again. Following a leadoff double from Enrique Hernandez, the left-handed slugger took Flexen 386 feet over the Green Monster for his second big fly of the game and ninth of the season.

Devers’ two-run blast, which had an exit velocity of 102.1 mph, cut the deficit down to two runs at 5-3. But the Red Sox were not done there. A J.D. Martinez double and Xander Bogaerts single chased Flexen from the contest and put runners on the corners for Bobby Dalbec, who greeted new Mariners reliever Sergio Romo by lifting an RBI single to center field to drive in Martinez and move Bogaerts up to third. Trevor Story followed with a sacrifice fly that scored Bogaerts to tie things up at five runs apiece.

From there, Jake Diekman punched out the side in the sixth, Hansel Robles worked his way around a two-out double in the seventh, and John Schreiber retired the only three batters he faced in the top of the eighth to keep the 5-5 tie intact.

With one out in the bottom half of the eighth, Franchy Cordero laced a 110.5 mph triple off the Green Monster to put the potential go-ahead run in scoring position for Christian Vazquez, who came through with the game-winning single off Drew Steckenrider that plated Cordero and gave the Sox a 6-5 lead.

Looking to protect that lead, Red Sox manager Alex Cora called upon Matt Barnes to take the mound in the ninth inning. Barnes, in turn, needed just 15 pitches (and a little defensive help from Hernandez) to slam the door shut on the Mariners and notch his second save of the season.

All told, five Boston relievers (Danish, Diekman, Robles, Schreiber, and Barnes) combined to toss six shutout innings in relief of Whitlock on Saturday. The Red Sox lineup, meanwhile, went 4-for-6 with runners in scoring position while putting together their largest comeback win of the season thus far.

Next up: Gilbert vs. Eovaldi in series finale

The Red Sox will look to close out the weekend with a four-game sweep over the Mariners on Sunday afternoon. Veteran right-hander Nathan Eovaldi will get the start for Boston opposite fellow righty Logan Gilbert for Seattle.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

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

Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts considered day-to-day with back discomfort after colliding with Alex Verdugo in left field on Friday

Xander Bogaerts is considered day-to-day after colliding with Alex Verdugo in the eighth inning of the Red Sox’ 7-3 win over the Mariners at Fenway Park on Friday night, manager Alex Cora announced.

“We’ll see how he feels tomorrow and go from there,” Cora said while adding that Bogaerts was specifically dealing with lower back discomfort on his left side.

On a 221-foot fly ball lifted to shallow left field off the bat of J.P. Crawford, both Bogaerts and Verdugo converged on the ball, with Bogaerts pedaling backwards and Verdugo charging inward.

Looking to avoid any contact, Verdugo began to slide but wound up taking out Bogaerts, who landed awkwardly on his left side and remained on the ground in visible pain. The ball the two were going after popped out of Bogaerts’ glove, thus allowing Crawford to move up to second base while Verdugo was charged with a fielding error.

After staying on the ground, Bogaerts got back to his feet upon receiving a visit from Cora and a trainer and stayed in the game for the rest of the half-inning. He was, however, pinch-hit for by Franchy Cordero in the latter half and was later replaced at shortstop by Enrique Hernandez as the Red Sox went on to win their third straight game.

Following Friday’s victory, Cora was asked if Verdugo should have called Bogaerts off since the outfielder has priority over the infielder in that particular situation.

“There’s 35,000 people here so it’s not that easy,” Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo). “Here, lately with the wind, it feels like it’s playing different the last few years. Sam [Kennedy] is going to hate me, but with the buildings and everything that’s going on, it’s a little different out there.”

Before being removed on Friday, Bogaerts had gone 0-for-2 at the plate with one walk, one strikeout, and one run scored. Assuming the 29-year-old is out of Boston’s lineup on Saturday, it will mark his first off day since April 28, though he did pinch-hit in that game against the Blue Jays in Toronto.

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Trevor Story stays hot with grand slam as Red Sox extend winning streak to 3 with 7-3 victory over Mariners

The Red Sox continued their winning ways on Friday night with a 7-3 victory over the Mariners at Fenway Park. Boston has now won three straight games for the first time in 2022 to improve to 17-22 on the season.

Matched up against reining American League Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray out of the gate, the Sox did all of their damage in their half of the third inning.

There, Xander Bogaerts drew a two-out walk to fill the bases for Trevor Story. Coming off a historic three-homer night on Thursday, Story picked up where he left off by unloading the bases with a 378-foot grand slam over the Green Monster.

Story’s sixth home run of the season and fourth in the last 24 hours was caught by former Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes in the first row of Monster Seats and gave Boston an early 4-0 lead.

To that point in the contest, Michael Wacha was already through three scoreless frames in his first start since returning from the injured list earlier in the day. All told, the veteran right-hander allowed two earned runs on four hits and three walks to go along with three strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings of work.

Both of those Seattle runs came in the top of the fifth, when Wacha gave up a leadoff double to Eugenio Suarez that was followed by a two-run home run off the bat of Abraham Toro. He then retired two of the next four batters he faced before getting the hook from manager Alex Cora.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 75 (44 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied on his changeup 43% of the time he was on the mound Friday and induced six of his eight swings-and-misses with hit. He also sat between 90 and 96 mph with his four-seam fastball.

In relief of Wacha, Austin Davis came on with two runners on and one out to get in the fifth. The left-hander got that out by fanning J.P. Crawford on six pitches, then proceeded to retire the side in order in the sixth as well. Fellow southpaw Jake Diekman followed suit by stranding one runner in an otherwise clean seventh inning to pace the way for John Schreiber in the eighth.

Schreiber, working in yet another high-leverage situation, witnessed a scary moment when he got Crawford to lift a softly-hit, 22-foot flyball to shallow left field. While converging on the ball, a sliding Alex Verdugo took out Bogaerts, who appeared to be in serious pain as he landed on his back.

The ball popped out of Bogaerts’ glove during that sequence, allowing Crawford to reach second base safely while Verdugo was charged with a fielding error. Crawford came into score on an RBI single from Jesse Winker, but Schreiber was able to hold the Mariners to the one run. Bogaerts is now considered day-to-day with left back tightness.

After coming on as a defensive replacement for Christian Arroyo the previous inning, Jackie Bradley Jr. provided some late-game insurance in his lone plate appearance of the night in the bottom of the eighth. After J.D. Martinez and Franchy Cordero (pinch-hitting for Bogaerts) reached base, Bradley Jr. greeted new Mariners reliever Anthony Misiewicz by cranking a three-run homer 359 feet to the opposite field.

Bradley Jr.’s first big fly of the year put the Sox up 7-3. Matt Strahm then slammed the door on the Mariners in the ninth inning to secure his team’s third consecutive win.

Next up: Flexen vs. Whitlock

The Red Sox will go for their third consecutive series win in the third game of this four-game set against the Mariners on Saturday evening. Boston will turn to right-hander Garrett Whitlock while Seattle will roll with fellow righty Chris Flexen.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Trevor Story: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Trevor Story crushes 3 home runs, collects 7 RBIs as Red Sox overcome early deficit to defeat Mariners, 12-6

The Red Sox fell behind early, but ultimately prevailed against the Mariners for their second straight win on Thursday night. Boston defeated Seattle by a final score of 12-6 to improve to 16-22 on the season.

Rich Hill made his seventh start of the year for the Sox, but really served as more of an opener. The veteran left-hander allowed four earned runs on six hits and one walk to go along with two strikeouts over just two innings of work.

All four runs Hill surrendered on Thursday came in the top half of the second. He yielded a leadoff double to Eugenio Suarez and one-out single to Abraham Toro before Dylan Moore cranked a three-run home run over the Green Monster. Adam Frazier then reached base via a two-out walk and scored all the way from first on an RBI double off the bat of Ty France. That gave the Mariners a 4-0 lead before Hill was able to get through his second and final inning.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 56 (35 strikes), the 42-year-old southpaw may not have been able to provide Boston with length, but it had a fresh bullpen to work with following Nick Pivetta’s complete game two-hitter the night prior.

Before the Red Sox bullpen was called into action, the lineup got things going against Mariners rookie starter George Kirby in their half of the second. Alex Verdugo broke out of of a prolonged slump with a leadoff single. Trevor Story followed by crushing a towering two-run home run 402 feet to dead center field to cut the deficit in half at 4-2.

An inning later, Story struck again with a runner on base ahead of him. Following a leadoff single from J.D. Martinez, Story clubbed his second two-run blast of the game — a 403-foot shot down the left field line — to knot things up at four runs apiece.

To that point, Tanner Houck had already received the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in relief of Hill and worked a 1-2-3 third inning. The right-hander picked up where he left off in the fourth by retiring nine of the next 11 Mariners he faced while keeping that 4-4 tie intact going into the middle of the sixth.

Seattle was ready to take Kirby out of the game in favor of veteran reliever Sergio Romo, but the rookie had to face at least one batter since he had already taken the mound. That one batter he did face, Verdugo, led the bottom of the sixth off with a sharply-hit double. Romo was then greeted by Story, who managed to plate Verdugo on a single back up the middle that was accompanied by a fielding error. After taking their first lead of the night at 5-4, Story stole third base and scored from third on an RBI double from Jackie Bradley Jr.

John Schreiber took over for Houck following his four impressive frames in the seventh and retired the side in order. In the bottom of the seventh, the Sox padded their lead as Bobby Dalbec, Christian Vazquez, and Bradley Jr. were either walked or hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

The Mariners got one of those runs back in the top of the eighth when Hirokazu Sawamura loaded the bases with one out and Matt Strahm walked one of those runners in before ending the inning.

A half-inning later, Martinez and Bogaerts reached on back-to-back one-out singles to put runners on first and second for Story, who capped off his memorable night by depositing a 358-foot three-run home run into the Monster seats.

Story’s third big fly of the game and fifth of the season gave Boston a commanding 12-5 lead. Ryan Brasier gave one of those runs back on a Julio Rodriguez solo shot in the top of the ninth, but was able to slam the door on Seattle to secure a 12-6 victory.

Some notes from this win:

Trevor Story went 4-for-4 with three homers, seven RBIs, five runs scored, one walk, and one stolen base. It was the second three-home run game of the 29-year-old’s career and undoubtedly his best all-around performance with the Red Sox so far this season.

From MLB Stats, Story is the first second baseman in major-league history to hit three home runs and steal a base in the same game.

J.D. Martinez went 4-for-5 with three runs scored while Alex Verdugo went 3-for-5 with four runs scored.

Rafael Devers also extended his hitting streak to 13 straight games as part of a 1-for-5 night at the plate.

Alex Cora won his 300th game as Red Sox manager on Thursday.

Next up: Ray vs. Wacha

The Red Sox are expected to activate right-hander Michael Wacha from the 15-day injured list and have him start against the Mariners on Friday night opposite reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray.

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

(Picture of Trevor Story: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Nick Pivetta tosses complete game 2-hitter as Red Sox take series from Astros with 5-1 win

The ball was once again flying out of Fenway Park on Wednesday night as the Red Sox bounced back with a series-clinching win over the Astros. Boston defeated Houston by a final score of 5-1 to improve to 15-22 on the season.

After Nick Pivetta surrendered a leadoff home run to Jose Altuve, the Sox lineup quickly responded by scoring two runs in their half of the first inning. Matched up against Jose Garcia, Rafael Devers ripped a one-out triple down the right field line and scored from third on a J.D. Martinez sacrifice fly that nearly left the yard.

Xander Bogaerts followed by actually leaving the yard, as he crushed a Garcia cutter 358 feet over the Green Monster for his fourth home run of the season. Fast forward to the third, Enrique Hernandez led off by reaching base on a fielding error and scoring all the way from first on a wallball double off the bat of Devers.

An inning later, Trevor Story drew a leadoff walk and moved up to second when Franchy Cordero reached base on an Altuve fielding error. Both runners were driven in on back-to-back run-scoring singles from Christian Vazquez and Hernandez, which gave the Red Sox a commanding 5-1 lead.

Pivetta, meanwhile, had settled in nicely after giving up that leadoff homer to Altuve. In what was his eighth start of the season for Boston, the right-hander retired 18 consecutive batters at one point before yielding a leadoff double to Michael Brantley in the top of the seventh. He stranded Brantley on second and then sat down the side in order in the eighth.

Coming back out for the ninth, Pivetta put the finishing touches on a complete game two-hitter as well as a 5-1 win with yet another scoreless frame. He becomes the first Red Sox starter to record an out in both the eighth and ninth inning of a game this season.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 112 (78 strikes), Pivetta wound up allowing just one earned run on two hits, no walks, and eight strikeouts over eight solid innings of work. It is the second complete game of the 29-year-old’s career.

The Red Sox have now won their last two series. While Martinez saw his hitting streak come to an end, Devers extended his to 12 consecutive games. Pivetta, on the other hand, picked up his first home win of the year while lowering his ERA on the season to 4.22.

Next up: Welcoming in the Mariners

The Red Sox will next welcome the Mariners into town for the start of a four-game weekend series on Thursday night. Veteran left-hander Rich Hill will be getting the start for Boston while rookie right-hander George Kirby will be doing the same for Seattle.

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

(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Nathan Eovaldi gives up 5 home runs in single inning as Red Sox get blown out by Astros, 13-4

The Red Sox fell behind early and could never recover against the Astros on a breezy Tuesday night at Fenway Park. Boston fell to Houston by a final score of 13-4 to drop to 14-22 on the season.

Matched up against Jose Urquidy to start things out, the Sox got off to a quick start thanks to Rafael Devers. With one out in the bottom of the first inning, Devers extended his hitting streak to 11 consecutive games by crushing a one-out home run 108.7 mph to center field. Moments later, J.D. Martinez extended his own hitting streak to 18 straight games with a single.

After needing just five pitches to retire the side in the top half of the first, Nathan Eovaldi took the mound in the second inning with a 1-0 lead to work with. Despite those two things working in his favor, the right-hander did not make it out of the second.

Instead, Eovaldi served up a leadoff homer to Yordan Alvarez that saw that one-run lead disappear. Yuli Gurriel then reached base on a missed catch error and Kyle Tucker capitalized on Boston’s mistake by mashing a two-run home run over Houston’s bullpen. Jeremy Pena, who played his college ball at the University of Maine, followed with a solo blast to left-center.

So the Astros had plated four runs without recording an out in the second. Eovaldi got that elusive first out, but then ran into more trouble by giving up back-to-back one-out hits to Martin Maldonado and Jose Altuve. Michael Brantley capitalized on the opportunity in front of him by cranking a three-run home run to right field. Houston batted around in the inning as Alvarez singled with two outs and Gurriel ended Eovaldi’s night with a 381-foot two-run blast.

Eovaldi’s eighth start of the season was also his shortest. The 32-year-old allowed nine runs — six of which were earned — on eight hits, no walks, and no strikeouts over just 1 2/3 innings of work. He also became the first Red Sox pitcher to ever give up as many as five home runs in a single inning, per MLB.com’s Ian Browne.

Tyler Danish took over for Eovaldi and ended things in the second. An inning later, Devers stayed hot by ripping a leadoff double to left field. Martinez followed — and also stayed hot — by hitting his fifth big fly of the season. A 401-foot two-run shot trimmed the Sox’ deficit down to six runs at 9-3.

Danish, meanwhile, had gotten through a scoreless third inning before loading the bases with one out in the fourth. The reliever then yielded a 386-foot grand slam to Kyle Tucker that put the Astros back up by 10 runs.

Following a perfect top half of the fifth from Hirokazu Sawamura, Boston got one of those runs back in the latter half when Trevor Story scored on an RBI groundout off the bat of Kevin Plawecki.

Ryan Brasier, Matt Barnes, and Jake Diekman worked one shutout frame each, as did Austin Davis.

Down to their final three outs in the ninth, Alex Verdugo, Story, Franchy Cordero, and Plawecki went down in order against Blake Taylor to seal a 13-4 defeat for the Red Sox.

Boston went 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position on Tuesday and left 13 runners on base as a team. Despite those situational struggles, Devers and Martinez combined for six hits as they each finished a triple shy of the cycle. Verdugo and Story also had four hits between them.

Next up: Garcia vs. Pivetta

The Red Sox will look to bounce back as they go for the series win over the Astros on Wednesday. Boston will turn to right-hander Nick Pivetta while Houston will roll with fellow righty Luis Garcia in the series finale.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Nathan Eovaldi: Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)

Xander Bogaerts homers after Red Sox fans call on team to re-sign him: ‘I heard it. If I struck out, it wouldn’t have helped my cause’

After a 98-minute rain delay, the majority of the 29,706 fans on hand for Monday night’s game between the Astros and Red Sox at Fenway Park had already left the premises.

The ones who stuck around, however, made their voices heard. Especially in the eighth inning as Xander Bogaerts stepped up to the plate looking to follow J.D. Martinez’s go-ahead RBI double with a productive hit of his own.

As Bogaerts prepared to face off against Astros reliever Hector Neris, the Red Sox fans still at Fenway began to break out into a “Re-sign Xander! Re-sign Xander!” chant.

On the sixth pitch he saw from Neris, Bogaerts turned on a 94 mph fastball and crushed it 397 feet over the Green Monster to score both Martinez and himself to give the Sox a 6-3 lead. That would go on to be Monday’s final score.

“I heard it,” Bogaerts told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo) early Tuesday morning. “If I struck out, it wouldn’t have helped my cause.”

Bogaerts has the ability to opt out of his contract with Boston and become a free-agent this winter. While the 29-year-old has expressed a desire to remain with the organization he began his professional career with for the foreseeable future, the two sides have yet to come to terms on a potential extension.

Despite the distractions contract extension talks can present, Bogaerts has not been phased by them to this point in the season. Following Monday’s clutch performance, the right-handed hitter is now batting .346/.403/.477 with three home runs and 15 RBIs on the year.

“He’s not the first guy in this situation,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Bogaerts. “From my end, he is the shortstop, he plays everyday, he posts and he’s a good player.”

Since debuting with the Red Sox in 2013, Bogaerts has gone from a soft-spoken rookie playing out of position to one of the more respected and admired individuals in the organization. Even while in the midst of his 10th season in the big-leagues, the Aruban still appreciates the support from fans that was on full display Monday night.

“You always feel the love and appreciation around here,” said Bogaerts. “Just coming up through the system and being here for a long time up to this point. It has been fun. A game that (was delayed), you don’t even know how many people are going to be sticking around to see if the game is going to go ahead. I heard it.”

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Trevor Story and Xander Bogaerts come through with late homers as Red Sox defeat Astros, 6-3

Right before the clock struck midnight on Monday, the Red Sox put the finishing touches on a series-opening win over the Astros at Fenway Park. It took nearly five hours to do so because of the weather, but Boston defeated Houston by a final score of 6-3 to improve to 14-21 on the season.

Matched up against veteran starter Jake Odorizzi to begin things on Monday, the Sox did not register their first hit of the night until the fourth inning, when Enrique Hernandez led off with a line-drive single. J.D. Martinez extended his hitting streak to 17 straight games and advanced Hernandez up to second base before Xander Bogaerts drew a five-pitch walk to fill the bases with one out.

Alex Verdugo followed by lifting a 235-foot fly ball to center field that was just out of the reach of sprawling Chas McCormick and brought in Hernandez from third to give the Red Sox an early 1-0 lead. Martinez was thrown out at third on the play and Trevor Story popped out to end the inning.

To that point in the contest, Garrett Whitlock had gotten through his fifth start of the season without yet giving up a run. The right-hander’s fortunes changed in the fifth, though, as he served up a solo homer to McCormick that pulled the Astros back even with the Sox at 1-1.

Shortly after that happened, Franchy Cordero led off the latter half of the fifth by showing off his power and speed on a 104.3 mph double off the Green Monster. Cordero then moved up to third on a Jackie Bradley Jr. groundout and scored on a pitch that got past Astros catcher Jason Castro.

Odorizzi was able to limit the damage to one run in the fifth, but in the process of getting Hernandez to ground out to first for the final out, suffered a serious injury while running off the mound. He fell to the ground and was ultimately taken off the field. The Astros described Odorizzi’s injury as lower left leg discomfort.

Whitlock came back out in the sixth but immediately gave up a leadoff ground-rule double to Michael Brantley that was followed by a four-pitch walk of Alex Bregman. He was then given the hook by Red Sox manager Alex Cora in favor of Jake Diekman, who walked the first batter he faced before yielding a game-tying sacrifice fly to Yuli Gurriel.

John Schreiber was called upon to finish the inning, and he officially closed the book on Whitlock’s outing by striking out McCormick on eight pitches to keep the 2-2 stalemate intact.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 80 (52 strikes) Whitlock wound up allowing a total of two earned run on three hits, two walks, and one hit batsman to go along with three strikeouts over five-plus innings of work. The 25-year-old’s ERA on the season now sits at 2.43.

As soon as Schreiber recorded the final out of the sixth, the skies above Fenway began to open and the rain started to pour. A rain delay that lasted 98 minutes started and the game did not resume until approximately 10:45 p.m.

Matt Barnes was dispatched for the seventh inning and only saw his struggles continue by giving up a leadoff double to Castro. A sacrifice bunt allowed Castro to advance to third and Jose Altuve drove him in by ripping an RBI single back up the middle. Barnes faced just three batters and was replaced by Matt Strahm, who proved to be far more effective. The left-hander worked his way around a hit batsman by striking out two in the seventh, then worked his way around a two-out double in an otherwise clean eighth inning.

Moments before the eighth inning began, though, Trevor Story came through in the clutch to lead off the bottom of the seventh. Matched up against Astros reliever Phil Maton, Story crushed a solo home run 428 feet over the Green Monster.

Story’s first Fenway Park homer as a member of the Red Sox had an exit velocity of 106.7 mph. It also knotted things back up at three runs a piece. This tie, however, did not last too long.

On the heels of what Strahm did in the top of the eighth, Hernandez led off the bottom half against Hector Neris with a double to left field that was deflected by Bregman. Martinez plated him with the go-ahead double while also putting a runner in scoring position with one out for Bogaerts.

As the fans who remained at Fenway started a “Re-sign Xander!” chant, Bogaerts heard them and delivered with a clutch, two-run blast over the Monster to give Boston a commanding 6-3 advantage. Bogaerts’ third big fly of the year left the shortstop’s bat at 103.7 mph and traveled 397 feet.

With a three-run lead to protect now, Hansel Robles got the call for the ninth inning. He yielded a leadoff single to Mauricio Dubon, but negated it by getting Altuve to ground into a 6-4-3 double play. Robles then got Brantley to fly out to left to slam the door on the Astros and pick up his second save of the year.

Next up: Urquidy vs. Eovaldi

The Red Sox will send right-hander Nathan Eovaldi to the mound as they go for a series victory on Tuesday night. The Astros will counter with fellow righty Jose Urquidy.

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

(Picture of Trevor Story: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)